During two security guards shift at the Metropolis Astrodome they notice a small fire that disappears and reappears. One of the guards investigate only to never return. In the city, Superman apprehends some criminals stealing a tanker. Suddenly, he's under attack by what appears to be a fire being. Is there some type of connection? And if so, why is Superman the target? -summary
Here's one of those nothing new occasions where I completely go against general consensus, and it's not at all because I just want to be different. It happens I just see something different from many others. Many people appear to have enjoyed Superman Actions Comic Vol. 1 in DC's New 52 reboot while I just didn't. They admired it for the somewhat fresh take on the character. To me, fresh isn't always good and it felt as if it was trying new things only for the sake of it. The story felt way too gimmicky, and it suffered from quite a bit of cramming and forced character presence. Superman Vol 1. may not feel fresh, in fact, it feels quite familiar, but it was a story I enjoyed for the most part. Written by George Perez, Superman Vol 1. - What Price Tomorrow? collects issues 1 - 6.
One of the things I enjoy about the story is continued development on public sentiment in regards to Superman. Is he a hero or menace? I know this is all too similar to Spider-Man, but when you have super powerhouses who can hurl trucks like Matchbox cars in your very neighborhood, well, it's a question I doubt that can ever grow old. Despite Superman doing what he can to save lives and prevent criminals from having their way, it's always that possibility his very presence can be worse. Lois Lane's father General Sam Lane is never lost for words when Superman is on the scene. There'a also a reporter who happens not to be a fan of the Man of Steel. I like how George Perez later on brings the people's worries to light. The only problem I have is how things predictably turn out towards the end, with basically everyone taking back their criticism. It feels way too unbelievable.
I have to also give credit to how Perez handles the set ups of the multiple confrontations. I do not enjoy the monster of the week format; it's far too simple at times, it lacks imagination, and it feels like anyone from the street can pull it off. However, it's worked out very well here with the constant mystery. We all know Superman is attacked by something that even knows his identity, but you'll be kept in the dark for a very long time, and I enjoy how it worked out playing off an event that took place in Action Comics. The villain isn't someone I would say is memorable, yet he isn't cookie-cutter either. Character development is not kicked to the curve, as Clark Kent, Lois Lane, only to name a few are interesting in their rebooted roles. Kent is a bit too isolated here, yet I feel it works out and there's potential to create some interesting possibilities.
The artwork by Jesus Merino, Nicola Scott, and Trevor Scott is pretty good, with some emotional, detailed facial designs; some very good outlining along with vibrant colors. There are plenty of flashy moments delivered through elemental attacks, plus the fisticuffs are fun to see. I definitely like the attention to detail in the background. Static backgrounds are minimal, and you never forget that the battles are taking place in the city. It's obvious that the backgrounds are a strong part of the story, because this is playing into public opinion. Each time Superman was crashed into a building during the fights, I kept wondering how was this going to play into his image. Hero or menace? I think some times readers forget just how important the backgrounds can be in a story.
There's no doubt in my mind I enjoyed this more than Action Comics Vol. 1. I won't say this is among the best stories the New 52 has to offer. At times the villain does feel quite pedestrian. On the plus side, Superman is built up well as a power to be taken seriously. If I could rate this a 3.5 I would be completely satisfied. It's not a great book, but it's not a bad jumping on point either.
Pros: -Story has more depth than its given credit, artwork
Cons: -Pretty forgettable villain
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