Hello all and welcome to this week’s edition of Silverwolf’s Den where I’ll be reviewing the long-awaited Action Comics #1! Before you get excited that I somehow got my hands on the most coveted issue of all time, take a breath and know that I’m instead reviewing the series’ relaunch as I did for Green Arrow last week. Since 1938, Action Comics has spun stories about the world’s best known superhero: Superman. As the comic that introduced the Big Blue Boyscout, Action Comics is also considered one of the defining series in American comic book history. Even today, copies of the original Action Comics #1 sell for close to $1 million and its high collectability makes it the Golden Fleece of the comic book community.
Given its high popularity, history, and world-renowned status, Action Comics is a series that needs to be superb. This series is unable to hide in back racks and simply be forgotten, and has the eyes of even less-devoted comic enthusiasts on it at all times. Did the new #1 live up to this legacy?
The story begins with a group of high-ranking businessmen in the city of Metropolis discussing some sort of shady transaction. Before they can even truly wave goodbye, Superman shows up and grabs one of the businessmen, accusing him of abusing his workers and making money of the suffering of others. As the baffled businessman is lifted into the air, bullets fly uselessly from his bodyguards against Superman’s strong skin. It’s not long before Superman gets this figure to admit his ills, before flying off to save some people in a building that is being demolished with them still inside. Meanwhile, Lex Luthor and General Lane (father of Lois) discuss a plan of Luthor’s to defeat Superman and protect Metropolis from this “alien menace.”
If all of this sounds like classic Superman, that’s because it is. Action Comics #1 goes straight to the core of the Superman story bringing in all the elements the Man of Steel is famous for. The story jumps right in, giving no explanation of Superman’s back story; like with Green Arrow, I think this is, in a way, a good idea as it gets straight to the action and does not waste the audience’s time with lengthy explanations. Given Superman’s universal renown, this is even less of a problem as even people who have never picked up a comic can probably tell you at least a few things about his origin.
I enjoyed reading Action Comics #1. The plot dealt with more modern issues, such as workers’ rights and gentrification, while still remaining true to the Superman mythos. Grant Morrison does a stellar job of keeping the story exciting while still giving it a sense of deeper meaning beyond simple heroics. I also liked that for once a Superman villain had a plan to defeat Kal-El without resorting to Kryptonite, which is my opinion is somewhat of a cop-out at this point. Superman is also seen as more of a menace than a boon by some of the citizens of Metropolis, and I’m interested to see if this plotline will expand at all, perhaps leading to Luthor’s dream of people seeing Superman as a “monster” finally coming to pass; if so, I wonder how the writers would handle Superman against an entire city. The only thing I disliked was that parts of the plot felt a bit rushed, but these threads may develop more as the story continues and thus get better explanations in future issues. I’m looking forward to how the story progresses, especially as this incarnation of Superman seems to be more jaded and less inclined to go easy on his enemies.
The art is Action Comics #1 is excellent, befitting a title that is such a classic and a flagship of DC. The combination of Rags Morales’s pencils and Rick Bryant’s inks make it seem as if Superman is about to fly off the page, while a speeding train and cascades of bullets appear in motion as they ignite their scenes. The characters are drawn exquisitely, though Superman’s current design of wearing just jeans, a t-shirt with his trademark ‘S’ on it, and a cape doesn’t really do it for me; this may be an artistic choice to show Superman’s youth (as in this story he appears to be in his early twenties). I’m guessing that eventually the artists will change to the new Superman design featured in Justice League and the new Superman title, which in my opinion looks much better and hearkens back to the classic costume. I am also surprised that the artists didn’t reference the original Action Comics #1 cover as I expected, but this issue’s cover is so awesome that it’s a minor concern (check out the cover at the top of the post). Even so, the art is amazing and I look forward to what this team will do in future tales.
Action Comics #1 is definitely worth the read and the buy, whether you’re a comic enthusiast or just enjoy a cool story and awesome visuals. It’s not perfect, but as a jumping off point it works very well and I applaud DC for handling this series with the care it deserved. I’m excited to see what will happen in the next issue, especially considering the astonishing cliffhanger at the end of the first installment…but I’ll let you read and decide for yourself! All in all, I was impressed by Action Comics #1 and am glad I picked it up before it sold out (which it did at my local shop anyway…within two days no less!).
Brett Simon is a twenty-one year old recent reconvert to the world of comics. Course deadlines are his Kryptonite and advanced math his Lex Luthor.
Also, the poll results are in! The fifth comic book series from the New 52 I’ll be following is…Red Hood and the Outlaws! Be sure to check out my review coming sometime in the next few weeks!
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