Marvel Reviewer: Dom G
Grant Morrison doesn't mess around when it comes to rebooting and redefining a character. After penning arguably the greatest Superman tale ever with All-Star Superman, Morrison revises the early adventures of Superman using quite literally a grounded approach.
DC is smart. DC understands that their iconic superhero, the one who really took superheroes and comics to unimaginable heights (at the time of Superman's creation), has to be handled by one of the best in the business. Grant Morrison has made his name in comics by reimagining classic characters and presenting them to readers in ways that resonate. He brings a sense of discovery and wonder back to characters that have been around longer than some of us have been alive. Morrison's New X-Men and JLA became huge successes and returned the publishers' big name teams back to the top of the sales charts. Placing Morrison on Action Comics is one of the best aspects of the New DC 52 era.
Okay, so DC has Grant Morrison writing... how did he do with the Action Comics #1?
The foundation has been well laid for Clark Kent/Superman's coming of age story. This new Superman is very different from the one left behind last month, and Morrison's own creation from All-Star Superman. Clark is a young adult who is living a very Peter Parker-like life style: scraping by week to week and living in a small apartment. At first I thought this was a bit annoying, being a Spider-Man fan, but after some thought it does seem to be logical. Living in a big city can be pricey, especially for a young adult. Also, Clark seems to be off chasing down criminals pretty often which means he doesn't need much... just a place to sleep and keep some of his clothes.
One of the major changes to his characterization seems to be the lack of Boy Scout attitude. Throughout Action Comics #1, Clark seems to lack some of the compassion for which Superman has been known. He seems to be a wonderful person towards innocent people, but he has become a little more aggressive towards criminals. At one point he gets a bit Batman-like and threatens to throw a man off a building if he doesn't confess to his crimes. The attitude is that of a young cocky adult. This seems like a natural attitude for a young adult with super powers, but this is Superman! The past Clark Kent attitude was always that of a man who lived by a very strict code of morals, of right and wrong, which was instilled in him by his upbringing. I am very curious to see what Morrison does with his family life and past. It seems as if something has been slightly altered when it comes to the Kent family's nature.
Since Action Comics #1 introduces a younger Clark Kent/Superman, readers get a bit of the Smallville treatment in that we grow with him. Clark's powers are not yet fully developed, he is currently working for a rival news corporation of Lois and Jimmy, and his Superman suit is yet to be developed (he's basically a construction worker with a cape at the moment). I believe the early power set of Superman did not include flying, so I kind of like the idea of going back to the original core power set of the character. The problem with Superman os that he came to be so strong and mighty that he could (for the most part) only be challenged by magic-wielding characters or the super intelligent. What's the fun of having a super strong hero if he never gets to punch people who could punch him back and present a genuine physical challenge? I'm a big fan of the early power nerfing.
What I am not a big fan of is the art. Rags Morales really let Grant Morrison down. I enjoyed the story, but was so distracted by the art that I couldn't help but come away with a bad reaction to the book. I know I am the Marvel Reviewer on Action Comics #1, so this may come off as just playing favorites, but the art on this title is a great indicator of the talent level at Marvel compared to DC. DC only has so many talented artists and writers to go around, so unfortunately they run into the problem of pairing a great writer with a very average artist. Grant Morrison should have an elite artist on his titles. My eyes begged for his buddy Frank Quietly, but instead they were left with Morales. This is Action Comics, one of the greatest comic book titles ever! DC couldn't get anyone better to handle the pencil work?
Speaking of eyes... This was where I had the biggest problem with the art. The eyes were separated at odd distances, and were placed at slightly different heights on the characters' faces. There is a shot of Luthor at the bottom of page 14 where he looks like an alien or the creature from Splice. It was creepy. I'm actually sorry for pointing it out, if you hadn't noticed the weird eye placement before. Now, all you will see are awkward eyes.
I've only ever read Grant Morrison's work in trades, so I am excited to see where he takes Superman/Clark Kent one issue at a time. I will certainly bear with the art as long as I can, to have the pleasure of reading a Grant Morrison reboot.
- Loved the idea of the story, and I trust Morrison with any title.
- Hated the art.
- Everyone has heard of Superman so some foreknowledge may hurt when understanding what's happening.
- The art really soured my initial reaction to the title. But more time away from the visuals softened my attitude towards it.
- Art can really destroy a good thing.
Oh, one last thing. The person in the hood... in the background of every DC title, Waldoing it up... it's kind of annoying. End.