“So I tried to keep the purple while really building up a design based on his powers. He’s hungry, so JMS wanted him to start very small and very malnourished-looking. Later as he drains energy, he amps up and becomes this big Doomsday/Hulk-level character. And I’d seen the Bruce Timm ‘Superman’ cartoon episodes where he chains up Superman to continue to drain him, and that’s a great idea. But except in the scenes where he flies like Superman, you wouldn’t really know he was charged up just by looking at him. So we came up with a stage three, Doomsday-sized bad guy. When he’s been sipping on his Superman energy drink — his Superman Red Bull — you can tell that he’s jacked up. It works for storytelling reasons.”
The artist said that in some ways, coming back to do a second full-on graphic novel gave him a better grasp on the task, though other core elements changed all around him. “It did [make it easier] for most of the cast…except for Clark. Clark Kent in Volume 2 is a completely different Clark than in Volume 1,” the artist explained. “He’s the Daily Planet ‘geek’ Clark. He’s not dressed the same. He’s wearing his geek glasses all the time. I know that doesn’t seem too weird, but actually drawing glasses is one of the hardest things for an artist to draw. That’s why everyone always draws those wire frame glasses because it’s very simple. It’s difficult to line real glasses up in perspective off the nose. Clark’s wearing them all the time, and it makes him look completely different in Volume 2. Aside from that, his wardrobe is really different. It’s all sweaters and button-up shirts. We couldn’t just do the classic Clark Kent. It’s all more modern, ‘geek chic’ type clothing. So it was really different from drawing the character in Volume 1.”
Alongside the more professional Kent came a few new faces to the story — including one who helps balance out the action-oriented nature of the project as a whole. “I got to develop the girl next door, Lisa, who is Clark’s new girlfriend. So on top of these very many fight scenes with side kicks to the head, I also have great scenes of Clark Kent trying to have dinner with a girl, having his first kiss and wondering about the birds and the bees. So it was a great mix to have the great superhero battles along with some romantic scenes.
“With the new cast members coming on board, that added to the change. Probably the thing that stayed the same from Volume 1 was Metropolis. The city had stayed the same because I build a computer model of it [in Volume 1]. That with Lois, Jimmy and Perry is what stayed the same, and in a way, Clark felt like I was drawing a totally different character.”
Davis will next move on to Legendary Comics where he’ll draw the OGN “Shadow Walk” for Mark Waid, though the artist noted that he’s always viewing his freelance life as a hustle to keep work coming to his drawing table. “I didn’t know that there was going to be a Volume 2 [for Superman] until I read it on the internet,” he said. “DC had given me some covers, but I was really just sitting there and waiting — trying to manufacture projects at DC. I honestly had to jump into the book really quick because my workload had been kind of light the previous month.”
That desire to keep working has added a few covers for Marvel Comics on Davis’ plate as well as one DC story that strangely compliments his work on “Earth One” Vol. 2. “When I was finishing it up, I was also finishing a Batman inventory issue I did — a Batman/Clayface one-shot,” he recalled. “So it was weird to be finishing both at the same time. When I’m drawing a graphic novel, I constantly flip through the book to see how it flows and reads. I think just like a movie, the battles should be a visual climax, and I appreciate JMS’ story climaxes a lot. I think this came together pretty well when I look back at it. It’s definitely more the comic I wish I could have composed with Volume 1 — not that I don’t like Volume 1. I just think Volume 2 let me draw a lot more fighting, and I tried to work in as many cool fighting moves between Superman and Parasite. Because there was that action in it, I was happy with the final book. Like any artist, I want every project to be better than the last…if I just went in and did ‘Volume 1 times 2’ then that would be pretty drab. What would be the purpose?”
“Superman: Earth One” Vol. 2 hits stores on October 31 from DC Comics.