Now that the hype of DC's New 52 has died down, will the books continue to be well-received? Outhouse reviewer Veggieleezy takes a look at Action Comics #2!
Credits & Solicit Info:
Written by GRANT MORRISON
Art by RAGS MORALES and RICK BRYANT
Cover by RAGS MORALES
Variant cover by ETHAN VAN SCIVER; 1:200 B&W variant cover by RAGS MORALES
In his weakest moment, Superman is taken down – but by whom? And if the world wasn't ready for a man with super powers, they're utterly unprepared for the rage of a Superman cornered! The cornerstone character of the new DCU continues his debut adventure!
Here be minor spoilers. Ye've been warned.
I'm really enjoying the fact that I can say "I've been following [DC book X] since the beginning". The book I'm most looking forward to following is Action Comics. This is in part due to my great respect for Grant Morrison and Rags Morales' work, but largely because I loves me some Superman. The world's first major superhero, they practically invented the term because of him. Now, Morrison and Morales are taking him back to his original roots in a modernized setting. How's it going so far? You've likely read issue #1, but if you haven't, stop reading, go to your comics shop or your digital provider, buy it, and read it. I'll wait.
All caught up? Good, let's move on to issue #2 then.
Writing: Some people are complaining about how Superman comes across as a bit of a dick in this new series. I kind of agree. In this issue, Superman is balanced out by the presence of other characters, such as old favorites like Lois and General Lane and Lex Luthor, as well as fresh to the story John Corben and John Henry Irons. Plus, there's another famous character introduced as well. I'm not going to give away too much about that, but let's just say I didn't see it coming so soon.
One of the highlights of this issue is Lex Luthor. Grant Morrison writes one of the best versions of Luthor I've seen. He's a cold, calculating, emotionless, brilliant man who wants to get rid of the "alien" that threatens humanity. There's a nice monologue Luthor gives that coolly establishes his hatred for Superman. Superman literally laughs him off and then breaks out of the torture chamber Luthor has him in. I think that's a great way to re-instate one of the greatest rivalries of all time. Superman's brash confidence vs. Luthor's conniving genius makes for great storytelling any day.
Overall, the writing in this issue is pretty solid, and is actually a bit of a step up from the first issue. Lois is somewhat back to her "old self" and we get to see the Man of Steel face off against his greatest foe. It's still a little clunky in places, but not enough to stop reading.
Art: Rags Morales' work blends with Morrison's writing once again in this issue. Superman doesn't seem as invincible as he normally does, but that's due to the fact that he's "lost" some of his powers in the reboot. The military compound is intentionally drab and lifeless, the way one would expect such a place to look. There are also a couple of particularly funny sequences aided by the art: one where Luthor is berating Superman with a genetically mutated goat, and another where Lois finds Superman in an elevator with a number of unconscious guards.
There are some problems, as there always are, but to varying degrees. Luthor's appearance seems inconsistent at times. Personally, I would have liked to see a little more color in the palette. Superman's eyes at one point seem to lose their pupils, and one sequence with a Kryptonian spaceship just doesn't look right given the story told prior to its appearance. There's one scene where Superman seemingly uses his X-Ray vision for no apparent reason, but boy, does it look cool.
Rags Morales became one of my favorite artists with his work on Identity Crisis with Brad Meltzer. While I didn't entirely care for the character choices, the story was gripping largely in thanks to Morales' art style. He draws from real people and effectively turns them into cartoon characters. A few minor gripes in this area, but nothing to break the book for me.
Use of characters: This is a section I'm using to replace "accessibility" until the next arc comes around. It's a little tricky to define, but I'll try my best to explain. In this issue, Superman's role is secondary until the latter half of the story. This is actually quite effective. Superman had previously been defeated and is now subject to torture at the hands of Lex Luthor. This issue is all about the man with no hair. Luthor gives his "mad scientist" monologue and establishes himself as a very real threat to Superman. He's written very well.
Secondary characters include Sgt. John Corben, Dr. John Henry Irons, and our favorite girl reporter Lois Lane. Lois is used perfectly in this story. She's trying to sneak onto the military base by using her pull with her father, General Lane, and former boyfriend, Corben. That's something I've never cared for much about Corben. He's far too invested in trying to impress Lois and win her back. Honestly, I hate that part of the character. He should just be an arrogant swine who thinks he can take on anyone and anything. At least that's my opinion.
Oh, and John Henry Irons? He's in the story, but only for a brief moment. It's not very long, but it's just enough of a taste to establish him as a relevant character. It briefly explains his code of ethics and his nature, and leaves you wanting more. Nice work here, but I think a little too much time is spent on the Corben/Lane relationship.
Enjoyability: This series for me is about one thing: action. Morrison says so himself in the interview at the back of the book. Boy, does he mean it. With the torture sequence going on, you get a lot of different effects and things going on there. Once that part ends, it goes right into Superman's escape. This book does not stop moving and that's a huge factor of books. Some may hate that concept, but it's aided by a slow and deliberate build.
Superman's dynamic with Luthor is something I've already brought up a couple of times already. It's just great to get to see it placed into new context and kickstarted with both sides actively disliking each other. Usually, I've seen Superman being restrained against Luthor, trying to hold back his disdain but still letting it show through. Here, they both give as good as they get. It's just fun to watch Luthor get so pissed off at Superman. Also, who doesn't love seeing Luthor as a self-righteous but strangely justifiable mastermind?
Overall opinion: This is a book that made me wish I had a working microwave so I could have some popcorn with it. I'm not saying it's great enough to be a movie, but it feels like that kind of a movie where you just sit back and let yourself enjoy. If you've already gotten #1, get #2. It's a great step along the story. If you haven't decided on Action Comics and were waiting to see how it developed, I can say it's on the right track to be a great run with Grant Morrison and Rags Morales at the helm. Give it a go, but read #1 first. You don't have to, it's just more fun that way.
Review by: Veggieleezy