I’ve been a Superman fan for literally as long as I can remember. When I was a little kid I always had a cape on and knew the John Williams Superman score by heart. I grew up as a Superman purist. So when I first heard about the DC New 52 line, I was skeptical. Starting over, practically from scratch with the Big Blue Boyscout was going to be a stretch for me. My mind was eased, however, when it was announced that Grant Morrison would be the writer on Action Comics. Grant Morrison is one of the best writers we have in comics today, and he understands Superman like no other writer I’ve ever seen. He wrote All Star Superman, which is in my opinion the best Superman story ever. So how does he revamp the Man of Steel? He doesn’t. And that’s why it works.
Action Comics opens with the Metropolis Police Department storming an upscale penthouse. They make it to a balcony where Superman, clothed in work boots, scuffed jeans, an “S” tee shirt and his iconic cape holding a wealthy construction mogul over his head. This is something we’ve never really seen before: Superman squaring off against the law. This sets the tone for the whole book. Superman has been at it for only six months. He can’t fly. He’s still bullet proof, but anything stronger can knock him down and make him bleed. And he doesn’t know anything about Krypton. He states his motivation quickly. He believes “the law works the same for rich and poor alike.” Superman is a social crusader here. His abilities are small scale to start with, so it only makes sense that the kind of villains he faces are small scale as well.
This book is not your father’s Superman, although it may somewhat be your grandfather’s Superman. Grant Morrison’s spun gold once again and shows that he may very well be the best Superman writer out there. While we’re not given a whole lot in the way of character driven dialogue for our first issue, this is a fantastic and bold set up. The relationships between Superman and his supporting cast is dealt with quickly and efficiently. Characters are introduced quickly so time is not wasted. It feels like the opening scene of an action movie, which is fitting considering that it’s Action Comics. The book is action packed throughout and does not disappoint in that regard. After the let down that the Grounded storyline delivered, it feels good to see Superman kicking butt and taking names again.
The artwork by Rags Moralis is wonderful. He gets just the right amount of grit and realism in the mix while still maintaining the wide-eyed wonder that we associate with Superman books. He renders Superman as a powerful figure without being overly muscular. Each character looks unique, which is a plus among today’s comic art field since a lot of comic artists these days do not seem to have learned how to make each character look like their own person.
Action Comics No. 1 is a great introduction to the world of the New 52. This is the comic that should’ve been used to start out the relaunch, since Justice League No. 1 really felt like a missed opportunity. This issue ends on a great cliffhanger that leaves you wanting more, but not in an unsatisfactory way. This is a must buy for Superman fans, DC fans, or comics fans in general.