Friday, September 9, 2011

Action Comics #1 - Review

Action Comics #1

MORRISON RE-IMAGINES THE MAN OF STEEL


In Grant Morrison’s new take on Superman in his early career, Clark Kent is playing more of a rogue than he ever has before on the comics page. In fact many of the methods that he uses remind me more of Batman than Superman, but since this new DC Universe isn’t friendly to the idea of superheroes, at least not when this takes place, it makes sense that they would view Superman as a threat right off the bat. He’s super strong, super fast, and the government can see that every time he shows his face in Metropolis he’s getting more powerful. Which is why they hire Lex Luthor as a consultant to try and capture this “man of steel.”

I really don’t know what to make of this. It’s supposed to happen way before anything else does in this new universe and I really can’t put my finger on it. I’m not a huge Superman fan. Morrison’s All-Star Superman is what made me realize that the character still had a place in popular culture and in our hearts. This is why I was more than willing to give the new series a try. I was expecting him to take the last son of Krypton in a direction that he hadn’t been taken before, and I definitely got what I asked for. This is a version of Superman that I’ve never even conceived of. It did remind me slightly of Superman: Earth One, but only in the sense that he’s very young and trying to make it in the city by himself. Other than that it was more about how bumbling a young person would be in trying to harness more powers than anyone in the history of comics has and develop a secret identity as the world’s first true superhero.

But looking back it might be one of the biggest throwbacks to the original Action Comics #1 that I’ve ever seen. Superman used to be really in-your-face about wrongdoings and crooked politicians, and he’s that way with the Metropolis Police Department in this issue. He’s got a zero tolerance policy for corruption, but that might be something that drags him down in the end. This isn’t the fully developed Superman who made his debut all those years ago. This is a Superman who doesn’t even know the extent of what he’s capable of and is stepping into uncharted territory.

The artwork by Rags Morales and Rick Bryant makes you feel the action right through the inks and pages. Trust me, when they say “Action Comics,” they mean it in this case. There’s a whole lot of things getting smashed and destroyed, mainly on Superman’s end, but not entirely his fault. It was definitely a great pairing for Morrison’s deep writing and I would be happy to see them stay on.

As for a rating for this issue . . . I just don’t know! Part of me wants to give it 5 and another wants to give it a 2 for being so different from what I’m used to. But different is good. Re-inventing characters is a big part of storytelling and I commend Morrison for not doing it just once but twice on the same iconic superhero. So I’m going to split the difference and give it about a 4. I’ll have to read some more of the series before I can really have an opinion on it, because this issue was a major setup for things that are going to happen in the future. You should read it just to set it down, think about it, and read it again.

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