Last Week’s Comics 9/14/2011

Action Comics #1

(DC – writer: Grant Morrison; art: Rags Morales)

If there’s one person who can actually write Superman, it’s Grant Morrison. His inimitable All-Star Superman set the bar for recent Superman stories, so I felt confident that he would deliver a stellar first issue. Action Comics isn’t stellar, but it sure is fun. For the first time in a long time, Superman looks alive again.

Morrison has written minor changes, but they work well. Superman doesn’t fly (yet). He jumps from place to place (which is what he did in the original Action issues). He also sustains injuries, a welcome sight for a character who is usually presented as invincible. It wasn’t necessarily fun to see Clark injured, but it was humanizing. I hope this trend continues because then there’s a real threat in each issue. Gone are the days where Superman can take a tank bullet to the chest without moving. Now, he’s going to be bruised and bleeding. Lois and Jimmy are here too, as is General Lane and Lex Luthor, but none of these characters really makes an impact.

Superman is also different in that he reads much more like Batman. He chastises the police for allowing a politician (or other high-profile public figure) to be above the law. He even threatens the police, telling them that if the people of Metropolis aren’t treated right, they can expect a visit from Superman. The altruism and the earnestness of the character are things that haven’t changed – even if the costume has.

Now Superman wears a T-shirt with his symbol, a short cape and a pair of jeans and work boots. I’m not sure what the purpose of this is, other than to try

something different, but after seeing the complete redesign of the costume in both Justice League and Swamp Thing, I’d like to see Rags Morales draw Supes in his new duds. The cheap costume is clever, but its appeal doesn’t last beyond this issue.

The issue is full of the usual Morrison quirks like quick cuts between scenes, the often confusing transitions in dialogue and action and the hokey Smallville dialogue (which I don’t object to, but I’d like Superman to be more intimidating). Despite these things, the character feels more animated than I can remember, and the issue made me feel hopeful about the future of Superman.

For the first time in a long time, Superman looks alive again.

The team on this book is full of talent and skill, and they’re people who really care about the character. With the new Superman movie in full production, this is a great time to renew interest in the character, and I think Morrison gets what makes Superman so lovable. He stands for everything that people could be if they only tried. After all the sadness our world has experienced, this issue is an example of why people love delving into comic books, especially the fictional world of Superman. His hope is palpable, his solemnity honest and his character impeccable.

There is no greater symbol of mankind’s potential than Superman. And there’s no person more suited for his return than Grant Morrison.

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