It’s a new era, a new age of comic books, a new 52 and along with that comes a new Superman. The new Action Comics freshly numbered and starting anew with #1 as written by Grant Morrison gives a new take on a classic comic book superhero. We have some familiarity with the character we all know and love that was launched over 70 years ago, but with modern day changes and a new look.
Action Comics #1 is just that, a comic full of action. We see Superman battle evil business men, tangle with out of control construction equipment and stop a derailed speeding train. This book is faced paced yet is easy to keep up with and fun. Grant Morrison’s writing is very hit or miss with me. I am a fan of a lot of his work, but some of it can leave me confused and dissatisfied. This book was certainly a hit with me. The writing was well thought out and was a very balanced story while at the same time keeping me on the edge of my seat. Rags Morales’ art is excellent and very well done. This is classic Rags all the way!
So what do we get with this new Superman? The best way to describe how this character presented itself to me is a mash up between the Clark Kent of old and Peter Parker/Spider-man. We have the classic Clark who grew up in Smallville. He still has a dedication to uphold what is right and lives by his moral code, yet he is also a single guy living in the big city dealing with real world issues and balancing his personal life with alter ego. Since we are at the start of a world where super powered beings and alien threats are just now being seen Superman is not out fighting the big bads of old. Instead he is dealing with real world criminals, such as the corrupt business men or the thugs down the street and as we see in this issue, dealing with real world problems like out of control machines. He not only puts a stop to a crime, but exposes it publicly and encourages people to do something about it in order to prevent it from happening in the future.
In this timeline, Ma and Pa Kent are already dead; he is not married to Lois and is in fact single. He has very few that are close to him and he tends to keep to himself. Because of this he does not fall into the superhero trope of having to consistently worry about backlash to his close friends and family from fighting evil. This gives Superman a carefree attitude and he goes all in when facing wrongdoers.
The supporting characters in this story are intriguing and enjoyable. We meet Clark’s landlady who plays the typical building “super” well. We also run into Detective Blake who has to deal with tracking Superman all over the city and deal with the situations Superman puts the law in. He is very much the opposite of Commissioner Gordon from Gotham and a welcomed change in the Superman story. We get a brief bit of Lois and Jimmy who works for Clark’s rival newspaper and I have a feeling will become more prominent in issues to come. General Lane and Lex Luthor are still in the Superman mythos, but are much more real world characters than from their previous iterations. General Lane has much more depth to his character and instead of coming off bullish and pig-headed as we are used to, he is more a man who is dealing with a possible threat of an alien invader bringing the unknown to this world. Lex is less the evil mastermind and more the type of man that takes every possible advantage to get ahead. I really like what I am seeing in these old and new characters.
There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this book and the “New 52” as a whole, but I just don’t see a downside to this story or these changes from what I have read. This brings back some of the classic silver and golden age feel of the character while updating it for modern real world situations. I really enjoyed reading this book and highly recommend it. I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars. If you were hesitant to pick up the new DC books, I assure you that you are missing out if you don’t at least get this one.
**Chubtoad is co-host to the Nerd Heard podcast with Kenneth E. Hayes.
Nerd Heard podcast episodes focus on nerd and geek culture. We discuss comics, movies, television, video games and anything else nerdy. The Nerd Heard podcast is hosted by Richard “Chubtoad” Sheldon and Kenneth E. Hayes.
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