Books

Superman Earth-One Volume 1 Cover

Superman: Earth One (Comic Book Review)

DC comic titles employ the concept of a multiverse, which is a fictional intergalactic construct assembling the various universes where the stories take place (click here to read more on the various Earths of the DC multiverse). One recent and popular example is the second season of the hit television series, The Flash, which has recently featured The Flash of Earth 2.

The Flash of Two Worlds

The comic book cover where the multiverse was first introduced and the television series paying homage.

My favorite DC title taking place on one of the alternate Earths is Earth 2. I have long been a fan of the multiverse concept and it was one of the reasons why I purchased a copy of Superman: Earth One (Volume 1) at the 2015 New York City Comic Con.

Earth One presents Superman in a familiar way: rocketed from the doomed planet of Krypton as an infant, landing on earth to be found and raised by Jonathan and Martha Kent. What distinguishes Earth One is how wonderfully grounded it is: we see Superman congruently come to terms with his humanity and Kryptonian nature while trying to save the world from an alien invasion. If this plot seems familiar it is because the 2013 film, Man of Steel, was clearly influenced by this book (published in 2010). What makes Earth One better than Man of Steel are the never-before-seen invading aliens, whose origins were a complete surprise! Bravo to J. Michael Staczynski for brilliantly adding to the already rich Kryptonian mythology. After reading Earth One, I have to again ask: Why do Kryptonians look exactly like Earthlings?

Artist Shane Davis does an outstanding job depicting the well-known characters, Metropolis, the new aliens and all of the science fiction elements of the story. The artwork combines a modern sensibility with a classic color palette.

DC has published two more volumes of Superman: Earth One and has, to date, published two volumes of Batman: Earth One with Wonder Woman: Earth One on the horizon in 2016. If these titles are as good as Superman: Earth One I am going be enjoying some more great comic book reading in the near future.

Earth One

The Earth One versions of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.

The Book Cover for "Not So Frequently Asked Questions: Common Questions, Uncommonly Asked"

Two Helpful Guys, Twenty Questions and One Very Helpful Book

“How do you pick the next book you will read?”

This is one of the questions found in the first book published by popular bloggers Steven Farquharson and Leroy Milton (commonly known as 2HelpfulGuys) titled Not So Frequently Asked Questions: Common Questions, Uncommonly Asked.

How is it that I came to read this book?

Somewhat disappointed with social media, I was looking for a way to connect with others around the globe interested in more than headlines and sound bites. I craved semi-anonymous, but stimulating, conversation that didn’t descend into vitriol and the nasty name-calling that can be ubiquitous on social media. Rather belatedly, I discovered blogging and found individuals sharing concise, thoughtful ideas and exchanges. More importantly, these ideas were coming from independent thinkers that were not associated with big brother media companies. I launched my own blog in January 2014, which led to more connections, including 2HelpfulGuys. The overview of 2HelpfulGuys states:

“Our goal is to impact the world in whatever small way possible through our blog and YouTube videos. If we can impact one person’s life positively, we would consider ourselves incredibly successful.”

Interestingly, I was following the blog for some time before I read any sort of biography on Farquharson and Milton. I was slightly surprised to learn that they were college students because their entries are very insightful. 2HelpfulGuys prove that wisdom and humanity are not always fostered by age. The greatest strength of the 2HelpfulGuys blog is how remarkably personable it is: it feels as if you are conversing with two longtime friends. The book is an extension of the blog’s genial nature.

“What started as two guys just trying to help people is quickly becoming a community of supportive peers helping each other.”

Just before I purchased Not So Frequently Asked Questions: Common Questions, Uncommonly Asked, I discovered the 2HelpfulGuys YouTube channel and saw a video on disconnecting from technology that conveyed, “technology should be a tool and not a crutch.” Inspired by this, I decided to purchase a hard copy of the book instead of the Kindle version.

The book cover was clearly inspired by the For Dummies books. Like the For Dummies books, the prose is simple and direct. Unlike those books, the prose is beautifully soulful.

Each chapter represents one question from individuals who have connected with 2HelpfulGuys via their blog. There are twenty questions and a conclusion. The question topics had great variety:

“What made you guys want to start this website?”

“How can I get my teenagers to listen?”

“How do you overcome homesickness whilst at university?”

Perhaps the most engaging questions were those that were more universal:

“How do I stop worrying?”

“How do I share my feelings with other people?”

“I’m too depressed to get out of bed. What do I do?”

“What is forgiveness?”

My sole criticism of this book is that Farquharson and Milton should have answered more of the questions jointly: it was Farquharson OR Milton instead of Farquharson AND Milton. Take the question “What is forgiveness?” Farquharson answered it and while he gave a really thoughtful response, I would have liked to have also read a response from Milton. In another question, Milton notes that he had a “traumatic past in bullying and grew up in a somewhat broken family.” His insights on forgiveness would have likely taken an approach distinguished from Farquharson. Similarly, Milton answers, “How do I eat healthier?” Farquharson had noted in another question that he had a blood disorder, so his insights on this question would have been rather valuable.

In response to the question “What made you guys want to start this website?” the 2HelpfulGuys note that, “we have no idea how long this going to last. We plan on riding this out for the long haul…” I hope you both do this for this long haul, together. While the Internet and technology has connected us, it is congruently disconnecting us. Farquharson and Milton, whether on-line or in print, are the human touch this over-processed modern world desperately needs.

Edwin Roman reads

Edwin Roman reads “Not So Frequently Asked Questions: Common Questions, Uncommonly Asked.”