The police respond to a distress that leads them to the doorstep of a wealthy, corrupt businessman named Glen Glenmorgan. The police are taken by surprise to see him hoisted in the air by a hulking young man wearing a T-shirt sporting an "S". The man claims his purpose is to force a confession from Glenmorgan. The police attack him with no success. Who exactly is this man that the Daily Planet has dubbed, "Superman"? -summary
Back in 1985 with about 50 years kicking out comics, DC thought it was time to reboot their entire universe with intentions on making their stories more accessible to new readers. In order to accomplish this, they wanted an event of epic proportions and they got it with Crisis on Infinite Earths. Basically, this story was "in with the new and out with the old". It introduced either new or tweaked origins for their characters, along with DC putting out darker and edgier stories to change with the times. It was indeed a success, and DC had many moments of great stories in the mid to late 80's; even the 90's and 2000's had their fair share of gems. The point is, the reboot felt very necessary as it cleaned up years of messy continuity. In 2011, DC thought it was time once again for a monumental change. The story this time would follow the Flash aka Barry Allen, who was back from the dead after the events of Final Crisis, in his crossover titled Flashpoint. Ironically, in 1985's Crisis event, Barry Allen had played a crucial role in revamping the universe even then which would lead to his death, quite possibly the most important death ever in all of comics. At the conclusion of Flashpoint, DC began their newest reboot which would be titled the New 52. DC completely did away with all of their past titles and introduced new #1's for 52 of their titles; with intentions on catering to a new audience. This time it doesn't feel as necessary, this time it doesn't feel as refreshing, this time it feels massively forced, and although some of their titles would be great. This sure as hell isn't one of them. Superman: Action Comics #1 to me embodies just about everything wrong with DC.
Collecting issues 1-8, Superman - Action Comics 1: Superman and the Men of Steel is written by Grant Morrison, and the issues manage to hit on around four of Superman's most notorious enemies with Lex Luthor and Brainiac being among them, as well as other classic characters from his original universe. The story begins quite promising as the world isn't too accepting of Superman. They are quite skeptical, especially when they learn he's an alien. Along the way Lex Luthor attempts to capture him dead or alive, and soon another threat arises to attack Metropolis.
We're introduced to a young Superman whose powers have not fully developed. He retains a good portion of his selfless personality, while at the same time appearing very brash and free-spirited. It is clear this Superman has some growing up to do, as he's very different from the boy scout we all know. Morrison appears to be paying homage to the Superman of the late 30's, as this kid can't even fly yet. There are various traces from the Golden, Silver, and even modern ages sprinkled across the book, and as a long time fan it was somewhat refreshing. I admire the fact DC in a way chose to give something to older fans, while at the same trying to appeal to newer ones. I actually think it's good for comics, because many of these younger fans probably never knew there was a time Superman couldn't fly. It may encourage them to dig deeper and research some older stories.
Morrison continues to explore more of Superman's universe such as bringing in his Kryptonian heritage, as well as introducing a small roster of the Legion of Superheroes. And quite honestly, here lies much of the problem. I'm not really a fan of Grant Morrison and some of this has to do with his previous run on Batman. In the case of Superman, I have to mention I did enjoy his All Star Superman run; with that said, I'm definitely sure he knows this character, therefore my disappointment in these issues has more to do with DC's obvious ear-dragging all over this project. Once I got around the mid way point, or even before that, the story had many moments of feeling too forced. There was too much of an effort to cram in Supes universe, and give face time to all the characters who played an important role in his development. Due to this, the story has a convoluted feel that hurts the flow of the narrative. I felt as if I was reading dissected versions of Superman: Secret Origin, Brainiac, and the more recent Earth One; the storyline is being built as something new, yet it doesn't really feel new at all. As a result, this kind of brings the homages into questioning in which I stated they only felt somewhat refreshing. DC went to the well too many times way too damn quick. It feels as if they are trying way too hard to make this work, and the more New 52 titles you read, it really begins to show.
The reader will get a taste of Lex Luthor's personality, but it feels too brushed upon as if you should already know something about him. This goes the same for Brainiac, and I have to tell you, this may be one of the most uninteresting portrayals of the character as a long time reader. I thought the use of Superman sporting a pair of jeans and a T-shirt with an S was indeed a gritty make over. But I do not enjoy that he's sporting a set of armor as his costume. Superman doesn't need armor, he is the man of steel. I'm guessing DC may make changes later on as his powers develop, but this feels too much like new changes for the sake of it.
Rags Morales artwork has a small amount of inconsistency, fortunately, it's so well done and the colorist do such a splendid job, it's not very easy to notice its flaws. Superman definitely looks like a young man in his very early 20's, and he's still well built. The new costume with its futuristic design still looks great, I won't take that away from it. I like all of the character designs and even the tame female fan service. The action has some pretty good moments with a minimum amount of blood. However, the show stealer is probably the attention to detail in the backgrounds. There's a few panels of Krypton that provides an awesome blend of sci-fi and fantasy. And even though there's a strong pop culture influence, the dialog is still smart and witty. It definitely sets in stone DC's promise to bring a more up to date Superman to the table.
I really wanted to like these stories coming in. Despite not caring for DC's decision for a reboot, I was still probably one of their bigger supporters urging people to give it a try before passing concrete judgment. I still feel this way now, and I believe Superman-Action Comics will straighten out eventually, because well, it just has to. If you're new to DC comics then you'll more than likely enjoy this more than I did. Long time fans, do not come into this expecting what you read nearly 25 years ago when John Byrne penned Superman: Man of Steel. It is not in the same league.
Pros: -Nice artwork
Cons -Feels forced, and quite gimmicky as well
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