Action Comics #1
Well this one certainly lives up to the title on the front of the book!
To start off, I think it is inevitable that Superman will go back to the same character we have all know for our entire lives, The Big Blue boy scout. I really don’t see that staying away for very long. The core concepts of the character are pretty much untouchable, but the things that hover just at the edge of that, the apple pie goodness that so many fans find foolish and hokey, seem almost as pervasive. As a quick aside: I am not blind to the fact that many people just don’t like Superman. There is one particular reader out there that seems to
waste focus a great deal of energy on just how much he dislikes the character. First to that person, and the other people out there that calls themselves “fans” of comics… It is perfectly acceptable to dislike everything you read, see, hear and otherwise experience. I would respectfully suggest that if you do not like something, stop trying to explain to everyone why you hate it, and try to spread the word on something that you DO like. On this blog I welcome all views as long as they are reasoned and expressed respectfully to everyone that might read it. To be honest, I am not a Superman fan. Not really. There are people who have an allegiance to a character regardless of any other factors. I am not one of them. I enjoy good comics, and that starts with talented and inspired creators putting that product out there for me to read. Superman, like all other company owned properties, has had many creators far beyond the two kids from Cleveland. Many have been hacks, or at least did not really bring their “A Game”. Many others were masters of their craft. And many more were somewhere in between. I should not really ever say (but sometimes I do slip up on this) that I like or dislike Superman, Batman, Thor, The Avengers and so on. What I should say is I like Thor as written by Walt Simonson, or the Avengers as drawn by George Perez. Saying “I hate Superman” is really not saying anything of substance. Opinions are only valid when expressed with a reason attached, even if that reason is irrational. It is like saying “I hate cabbage”. Well, OK, sure, but WHY? No one NEEDS a reason to hate something, true. But without a reason, you will not get anyone to listen to your opinions. The best way to get people to dismiss or just plain ignore your opinions is to shout them out at the world like an idiot. So if you have an opinion, share it, but do so intelligently and respectfully. The words “Superman Sucks” over and over will lower the interest has of everyone reading it. Even if they agree with you. If you don’t like something here, that I DO, or the reverse, try to change my mind. You probably won’t, even as I cannot change yours. Opinions are like that, once formed, they tend not to change much. But the debate is always more fun and stimulating that just mindless bitching.
Having said that, it is true. I am not a Superman fan. On my shelves right now are 8 trades or hardcovers where they are predominantly Superman books, and that is out of, what I will guess to be something between 750 and 850 similarly formatted books. ( I don’t really do floppys anymore and the New 52 books I am reading now are very much the exceptions to the rule, as I might have something in the area of 100 floppys at any one time. When they are put in a nice trade or HC, I tend to get rid of the originals) Those Superman books are by some of the best of the modern writers. (sorry, not much of the classic stuff out there that I enjoy enough to own and re read) Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman, being the most recent of the really fine books. And that is why the New 52 and the re launch of Action Comics really had me interested.
If you were not previously much into Superman, this might be the book that changes your mind. If you prefer the boy scout as mentioned above, this may really send you screaming. I hope not. As I said, this will not last. The Supes we all know will slowly return. But for now, there is a pretty good take on the character. This Superman has returned to the social crusader that first appeared in the late 1930s and his methods have a lot more in common with Batman than the big blue we all recognize.
This book is in the past, behind the continuity of all the other new books except Justice League. These are here to establish the world as it is now. As I understand it, JL will eventually catch up. That has not been explicitly stated for Action, but that is a safe bet. The world does not understand or really even trust this guy in a tight T-shirt, jeans and a cape. They are wary and frightened of him. The police and military are after him even as he tries to fight FOR them. Lex Luthor is here too, and he is on the side of the average man, much like he has always claimed. The plot really is just “let’s get Superman” at this point. They manage to re-establish that Clark Kent is there and that he still works for a news agency , but Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane work for a rival one. This Superman is FAR from invulnerable. Yes we have seem him take a pounding in books before, but not really like this. The beating he takes has consequences and they follow him. Clark SHOULD have bruises if Superman does. I like that this Superman is more fragile, it adds impact to the story, but I don’t want to see his de power go to far. He should still be the most powerful being on the planet.
That is where I didn’t care for this book. To me, and this is strictly MY opinion, Superman IS a Sun God, just as Morrison has stated. If any but the most amazing mortal was confronted with seeing a being with the kind of power that Superman has, they would likely be unable to function. They would go bibbldy. At least they would wet themselves. That might be why Superman has been a character I have failed to enjoy as regularly, I cannot believe in the more simple aspects of the story. Suspension of disbelief starts with very subtle things, after all. My version would probably not make for very human comics, though, so the approach here is bringing the Sun God down just a bit, and making him more believable.
Grant Morrison and Rags Morales are the writer and artist that are bringing you this book, and I have to say that it met my very high expectations for it. I will be picking up the monthly issues for the duration of the first arc. Morales’ art has found a perfect complement in inker Rick Bryant. The line is stunning and pulls you in and keeps you there. Clark is believably human and he and Superman actually do look like they might fool you into thinking they are different people. Morrison’s new take on Superman is an interesting one and I can only say 2 things: One, please stay on the book as long as you have good stories to tell(with the obvious thought that there are a lot to tell, rather than just this first arc). And two, that they don’t chicken out. Take your ideas to the logical conclusion without making concessions to the commercial aspect of the industry. I doubt DC editorial will allow something with an actual beginning, middle and end, but I can dream.
Buy this book.