This is another hit from Straczynski and crew. In spite of all the negative "emo" blowback, I rather like this characterization of Clark. This second volume confirms the fact that it's really nothing like what critics have been panning it for. Instead, it's a rather clever, subtle and faithful modern reboot of the Superman franchise that I think is leaps and bounds above the New 52 reboot under the guidance of Grant Morrison.
The format of the Earth One series has much to recommend it. Delivered in graphic novel format rather than as individual issue trade paper backs, the stories just seem much more closed and developed. Straczynski presents a much more mature Clark Kent: aloof, a trifle lost and trying to figure his way in a very dangerous and morally ambiguous world . The approach is far more realistic and Clark is forced to confront the unsavory aspects of the world on a regular basis that he's been shielded from in all but the best of the shorter story arcs in the main continuity. Here, dictators, heroine addicts, prostitutes and over-zealous privacy infringing reporters take center stage while the "big baddies" provide context and the obligatory fist-fest we all really want to see at some point. In the foreground, however, we see fights of a different nature. Fights for self-realization, recognition and self-worth that resound with humanity for all of Clark's alienness.
This volume focuses on the Parasite, a great choice of villain that again shows Straczynski's class as a writer. The Parasite provides the physical reflection of the moral struggle - the parasites - that the characters focus on. The epilogue has some great cameos and twists that show what Straczynski has in store for the long haul and there's much to look forward to. Like the rest of the best in the Superman franchise, the Earth One series uses the immortal and god-like first among heroes to reveal all that is quintessential about the human condition. Superman is the outside observer among us and at the same time, like an observer in a quantum universe, part of the system all the same, and when he acts you're often left with stunning realizations about your own life that leave you standing in the shower thinking about your life for hours. This
is why he's the best and still the most recognizable hero in the world, regardless of how much in vogue dark and morally ambiguous characters become.