Grounded, Part One
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Pencils: Eddy Barrows
Inker: J.P. Mayer
Colors: Rod Reis
Covers: John Cassady & David Baron; Cassady, Alex Sinclair and Joe Shuster
When I saw the premise of this upcoming Superman arc, I immediately pegged this as being a terrible idea. Superman walking the Earth? This is bound to end with Supes being a preachy gasbag, right? Boy, am I glad I’m wrong.
So, the first thing we get is Superman helping some schmucks with their car, and then being a overly cryptic dick to a reporter.
See, after being off world for a year, Sueprman returns to Earth and is promptly slapped by a woman who blames Supes for letting her husband die of brain cancer. This is what we call a plot device. Sadly, this plot device makes no sense. Superman has no cancer healing powers! And, well, I think we all remember what happened when Supergirl tried to do that sort of thing. So when Superman is so jarred by this that he decides to walk cross country to try and reconnect with humanity, it leaves me scratching my head.
But, in spite of this, the first issue of Grounded really is pretty amazing. Superman is constantly hounded by reporters, but refuses to yield as he walks across the country, being somewhat of a dick to the hounding reporters but the nicest guy alive to the rest. When he stops at a restaurant for food but doesn’t have enough cash, he refuses to take charity and cleans a storeroom at super speed. When he encounters a woman who is threatening suicide, he obliges her wish not to catch her if she decides to leap, and then hovers there until she’s comfortable enough to talk.
It’s Superman as he should be written. Too often writers focus on the Super aspect of him. He’s too busy fighting giant monsters and maniacal scientists to be seen as more than a overly powered demi God with a superiority complex. At the end of the day, Superman is a small town boy raised by farmers to just be a damn nice guy.
JMS’s Grounded has all the potential to be terrible, but it starts out at a wonderful pace. The story is concise and well meaning without getting overly preachy, and its’ the Superman we’ve been wanting to read about for years. As long as he can keep Grounded from getting too long-winded, this could very well be the best Superman story in a long while.