WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Superman: Year One #2, by Frank Miller, John Romita Jr., Danny Miki, Alex Sinclair and Jonathan Workman, on sale now.
Superman: Year One is another take on the world-famous origin story of the Man of Steel. However, this time it's an Elseworlds-esque tale from Frank Miller and John Romita Jr that's in continuity with Dark Knight Returns. Although fans have seen quite a few of Kal-El's early day adventures retold over the years in stories like Superman: Secret Origin, Superman: Earth One and Superman: Birthright, Year One is charting a new path through those well-worn years.
As Miller and Romita tread uncharted waters in Issue #2 of the three-issue Black Label miniseries, the story surprisingly details a young adult Superman as a symbol of hope, not on land, but for Atlantis. Only this time, he's not just a visitor or someone randomly offering help to its people; Clark actually becomes king of the undersea city after a series of benevolent acts in the name of love.
This chapter focuses on Clark training with the U.S. Navy in Colorado, perfecting everything from his combat skills to his sniping. He's the golden boy of the camp, and Clark heads off to the bottom of the Pacific after spotting some mermaids for some R&R. Of course, the sirens' songs might have played a role, but when he gets there, he resists their call and decides to help fix the damaged kingdom which has been hit by a derelict submarine. This wins the heart of Lori Lemaris, a mermaid who just so happens to be the child and soon-to-be bride of the creepy merman, Poseidon.
The king doesn't like Kal-El courting the princess, and when Clark gets booted from military duty for not wanting to kill pirates, he heads to Atlantis to meet Lori to become an official couple. Since he can breathe underwater and both can use telepathic skills, they're a perfect match. However, just before that, a jealous Poseidon puts Kal put through several Herculean trials that see him don his Superman costume for the first time. Although Poseidon wants Lori for himself, after establishing a bond, Clark and Lori make it clear they'll risk it all for each other. Clark fights off various monsters, including the sacred Kraken, and this battle proves to be a most pivotal one as it determines who should rule Atlantis.
Clark is battered and bruised, but as he's spat out by the creature, Poseidon concedes defeat. Like the readers, he witnesses a Superman born out of romance, love and a desire to wander freely, which was why he wasn't disappointed he was booted from the Navy. This expulsion wasn't even that bad, since the regiment knew he was destined for something much greater than fighting wars. To Superman, this greatness has been found with someone he loves even more than Lana Lang back home in Smallville.
Clark steps up as the people of Atlantis sing his name loudly, branding him the true king. Lori's role is similar to her early DC days where she and Superman forged a similar bond in the '50s when she was created by Bill Finger and Wayne Boring.
Except rather than having a human form, Lori's a full-blown mermaid with female features that Kal-El can't resist. It's an interesting direction and it remains to be seen how Miller will eventually tie him in as a savior on the surface alongside Batman and Wonder Woman in the final chapter of the story. But for the moment, the people of Atlantis are joyously celebrating the Man of Steel as their new king.
Superman: Year One #3 goes on sale Oct. 16.