Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Rags Morales
After what I would consider a lackluster first showing in Justice League #1, the second week of DC’s New 52 had a lot of ground to cover from my perspective, as a comic reader, and as a person holding out hope that this massive overhaul would bring in and maintain new readers.
Week 2 of the New 52 saw the release of some laughable titles like O.M.A.C. #1 and Hawk Dove #1, one of the most talked about and controversial relaunches of the New 52 in Batgirl #1, and two of the DC Universe’s heaviest hitters in two of the most well known comic titles in the history of the industry; Batman in Detective Comics #1, and Superman in Action Comics #1. Batman had already hogged most of the spotlight in Justice League #1, but we only got a glimpse of the new Superman for this new universe. Action Comics #1 expands upon this new direction for arguably the most biggest name in superheroism.
Action Comics #1, a title and numbering not seen since June 1938, had a lot working against it in my eyes, including my disinterest in the Superman character, and my frothing hatred for the prose of the book’s writer, Grant Morrison. However, not only did Action Comics #1 give me a new take on Superman that errs on the side of the vigilante Batman, but Morrison’s writing was mostly devoid of his usual flair for the ridiculous, non-sensical, and pretentious.
Superman arrived in Metropolis some 6 months ago, and is dealing out his own brand of justice, while feared and hunted by the very city he has come to protect. This Kal-El (we can assume his birth name is still Kal-El in this universe, right?) isn’t the red, white, and blue boyscout of Superman past. This Superman is violent, cocky, and morally questionable. It seems as if his drive to protect the innocent isn’t that of “truth, justice, and the American way”, but more of a tic, an obsessive-compulsion that forces his hand to save a building of civilians from an incoming wrecking ball. Surely, the “classic” Superman is in there, somewhere, but this iteration is too concerned with corruption in the private sector and the Metropolis PD to play nice.
While Justice League #1 dilly-dallied, dragging out the narrative to accommodate the final page reveal, and bait-and-switched new readers with a cover featuring the entire team, only half of which appeared in the first issue, Action Comics #1 hits all of the prerequisites of an introductory Superman book. To the book’s namesake, it’s action-packed. Superman does some major damage, showcasing his bevy of skills in the process. AND, most importantly, the yin to Superman’s yang, Lex Luthor, figures prominently into the story and the cliffhanger of the first issue. That being said, how much does Grant Morrison want to be a real-life Lex Luthor? He’s one doomsday device away from a manifesto, methinks.
In conclusion, Action Comics #1 was one of the most accessible, well-written and drawn Superman books I’ve ever picked up, and is exactly the type of story DC needs to tell in the beginning of this New 52 universe, for new and old fans alike. If only this book, as well as Detective Comics #1, were released on week 1 of the New 52 along with Justice League #1, I’d wager that DC would’ve held onto more new readers.
4 out of 5 ‘GD‘s