Action Comics #5
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Andy Kubert, Jesse Delperdang, and Brad Anderson
The short of it:
Big time origin issue? Sort of. This issue debuts Jor-El, Lara, and Jonathan and Martha Kent. Witness the destruction of Krypton, the Phantom Zone, Krypto’s last stand, and the secrets of Superman’s arrival to an alien fearing Earth. The whole issue seems to take place in flashbacks, obviously, and it’s…well, it’s a straightforward issue. Krypton goes boom so Jor-El sends his only son to Earth knowing he’ll be stronger. Jonathan and Martha Kent, a farming couple incapable of having their own kids, find the spaceship and raise baby Kal El on their own as Clark Kent, who one day becomes Superman. It’s the origin of Superman, I mean, seriously. The army taking his ship and the confusing timeline of the final pages in the Fortress of Solitude are the only parts of the issue that don’t seem to refer back to his origin, though in hindsight…the end pages may be happening at the same time as the other issues in the arc. Regardless, there’s an Anti-Superman Army and a big part of Superman’s history confirmed.
What I liked:
- Andy Kubert on art, nice touch. I like Andy’s work, and he really does make a great fit with any of DC’s icons. If anything, I regret that this issue only features two looks at an in costume Superman so he doesn’t even get to draw the action!
- The accelerated origin did a nice job getting the changes across as quick as possible, really just adding in the military helped out. It feels more like a Supreme Power reality, only unlike Mark Milton, Kal El wasn’t promptly found and secured as an asset.
- The ‘alien’ that Jonathan gives the army cracked me up, as after he off handedly mentioned something a few pages earlier I kept saying “I want to see that”.
- For as enigmatic as they were, and for as little as we know about them, the Anti-Superman Army intrigues me. Is each powered by a different form of Kryptonite?
- The backup story about Jonathan and Martha in their years before finding Clark is a bit ham fisted, but I like it. I understand that the Kent’s are dead in this new universe so they really shouldn’t be major factors, but seeing their determination to be parents sets up their raising of Clark as well as a dozen flashbacks to them actually doing it. You root for them while the full time knowing that they get baby Superman…since for one everyone knows the origin, and for two we already saw the end of the story earlier in it.
What I didn’t like:
- We don’t need another origin for Superman, especially when the changes are so….minor. They could have told us that the military swooped in and got his ship, because really, after the Krypton pages the issue sort of just happens for a little while. I know that the Kent’s find the baby and raise him to be Superman. We all know this. Every two years another writer tries to remind us of it.
- I REALLY don’t like the whole ‘weaker gravity lets him seem to fly’. He’s Superman. He flies. Period.
- Superman’s shirt is blue again this issue, which tells me that last month saw a big time coloring error that is just not going to be acknowledged.
- The issue goes through phases of Morrison doing Morrison things, in other words, it’s awesome and you know it’s going to become more awesome, but you have no idea what the hell is happening yet. Case in point, half the ship’s narration, and all of the Anti-Superman Army. So many hints to wrap up an issue that nothing of note happens in doesn’t do any of them justice.
Needless origin issues are needless. Seriously, if Scott Snyder spent an issue talking about the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents I’d be just as annoyed. This isn’t some obscure character that needs a refreshed audience, this is Superman. The changes they did could have been handled with exposition, and really, they should have cut from the Krypton stuff immediately to the present and not spent time reminding us of the obvious.
There were definitely some parts that reminded me of Grant’s All Star Superman, but the pacing is just a completely different beast. There’s the same level of big concept going on, but I’m unsure of when to expect the payoff. That said, the Army just sounds awesome.
Kubert was a great choice for art here, though I’d say that anytime they found something for him to do. I’ll admit that Rags Morales is sorely missed, but that’s mainly due to this being the fifth issue and we’ve already seen three artists on the book. But really, so long as they keep the art quality where it has been at, I don’t think I’ll complain.
Wait, was this a fill in issue? I think this may have been a fill in issue.