Let’s talk Action Comics #1 (vol. 2) first. I mean really, were there other books out this week? I guess there were because I bought some, but Action stood out. I had limited expectations for this book; like most everyone else, I was really worried after the first images of the t-shirt and jeans came out with no explanation. I was feeling better after reading that it’s early days Superman. So by the time August rolled around, my only hopes were that: a. we weren’t being forced into another effing origin story, and b. SOMETHING had to happen. I still contend that Morrison’s one page origin in All-Star Superman #1 is the last origin story for Supes that needs to be written. I also firmly believe that a book called Action needs to be more than explaining. So the good news is that Action Comics #1(vol. 2) has no origin elements at all. The best news is that stuff happens.
If you’ve never heard of Superman, you get a strong sense of who he is and what he’s about because Morrison SHOWS the reader. It’s a truly accessible book; not to beat a dead horse, but if a someone new to comics picked up a copy of last week’s Justice League, they would not walk away with any kind of idea what a Justice League is. Based solely on issue 1, it’s two guys in masks having a pissing contest and some crap blew up. It’s the beginning of the beginning of a story. Nothing happened. Not so with Action. You get both an in issue conflict, and an on going conflict is established. By the end of this issue, a reader knows the following things:
a. Superman is an alien with strange powers far beyond those of mortal men masquerading as a human named Clark Kent,
b. He’s a reporter focusing on the crime beat/ social injustice stories of his city (Metropolis),
c. Some guy named Luthor, who is a civilian adviser to a General Lane, resents and fears the hell out of Superman for his powers,
d. Like his reporter alter ego, Superman exposes criminals of all social strata while protecting the weak,
e. Clark’s best friend is a guy named Jimmy Olsen who works closely with rival reporter Lois Lane.
Character-wise, this is a Superman we have not seen in a long time. He’s young, brash, and quite the theatrical crime fighter. It’s truly a back-to-basics hero we’ve got here; he’s essentially ripped from the pages of 1938’s Action Comics #1 (vol. 1).
Story-wise, things happened in a straight forward uncomplicated way. Superman takes down a big money criminal as well as fights off not one but two traps set by the team of Luthor and Lane. It’s nearly non-stop action. Superman doing super things (even if he’s back to 1938 power levels) is okay in my book.
Unlike last week, I feel like I got my $3.99’s worth. This had a beginning, middle, and end with a larger story looming overhead. Impressive.
As a side note, I’m confused as to how the whole Five Years Ago conceit works. If Action is set in the DCnU past and JL is happening at the same time, when did Superman have time to go from tee and jeans to battle suit?
Never mind. I don’t care. I’m just going to read Action as long as Morrison is writing it, and I’ll treat it as a prequel to All-Star Superman. To my mind, that’s the best way it makes sense.