Review: Action Comics #1

Whenever Grant Morrison is involved with a Superman title, it’s safe to say it’s going to be unique. Lets be honest, Superman or not, Morrison is never business as usual. In my mind, business as usual is the problem with a lot of the major titles in comic books right now, so I was excited to hear Morrison would be taking over Action Comics after the DC relaunch.

Luckily Action Comics #1 fails to disappoint. The basic premise of the new volume is that Superman has just recently arrived in Metropolis and is making a name for himself. Not quite Superboy and not quite Superman, this Super-young-man is more brash and devil may care than most people are used to seeing Kal El. The local police see him as an outlaw vigilante and the military see him as a threat, but underneath all his youthful bravado he’s still the caring and benevolent hero we know Superman to be. Frustrated with the corruption and the impotence of Metropolis PD, he is forced to make a stand not only as Superman but as investigative reporter Clark Kent. It may be nerdy of me, but I am really hoping that Morrison spends a lot of time exploring Clark Kent as a reporter and using both personas as a way to fight crime.

Of course Lex Luthor shows up and instantly shows why he’s one of the best villains of all time. Much like the Joker, Lex is a character that handles like a lightsaber. Sure, every nerd and geek out there would love to have a lightsaber, but 90% of them would kill themselves within the first week of owning one. Lex Luthor is a villain that needs to be handle precisely less you want him to come off goofy or trite. I have high expectations for Luthor in Action, especially after the brilliant way Morrison wrote the character in All-Star Superman. So far the character seems to be right on track.

Grant Morrison really paints a fun picture of Superman and displays his knowledge of the franchise. He has taken a godlike character with unlimited powers and brought him back down to Earth… literally. Going back to the days of “leaping tall buildings in a single bound” this Superman is grounded and has yet to develop his ability to fly. I think it will be fun to see Superman develop his powers and his skills as a super hero through the course of this comic. I’m sure some people won’t like this more youthful Superman, but that’s what the Superman title is for.

The art is just great. I have been a fan of Rags Morales since Identity Crisis and I think he brings his A-game to Action. His work seems to be smoother and rounder, making him perfect for a semi-throw back book. He does a great job capturing the action and attitude of Superman as he flaunts his powers.

More importantly, he does a stellar job of convincing me that Clark Kent doesn’t look like Superman with glasses on. Too often the separation between these two characters is neglected. Morrison also deserves credit in this regard as well. Under his pen, Superman is cocksure and confident, where as Clark Kent seems humble and reserved. It’s depth and attention to the details like this that really make for great comics.

Overall, Action Comics #1 is one of the best comics to come out of The New 52 along with Animal Man and Batwing. It is a must read and I think it could be the comic that Superman has needed for awhile. The comic that shows he’s not perfect and is still human (despite being an alien.) While he sticks to his morals, he isn’t quite the Boy Scout that people might have pigeon-holed him to be over the past few decades. It’s rare that a comic book has me angry that I have to wait a month for more, but Action has done just that. This comic really has the potential of being one of the best ongoing titles of the year.

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