If you asked me a year ago what is the worst thing comics have ever done I would have told you something along the lines of DC ruining Superman. One year and 24 issues (12 Superman and 12 Action) later and I am coming off that statement a bit. In fact I really enjoy the Superman title I think George Perez started a good book and Jurgens has continued and improved the title. Grant Morrison, not so much. Morrison is a great writer and maybe that is the problem, he is talented and he is creative and he is trying to make Superman his own. Superman belongs to the people, not Grant Morrison.
I despised Issue #1 of Action Comics more than I have ever disliked anything in print before. Mostly because I love Superman so much, to watch it be torn apart I felt like the South Park kids after they seen Indian Jones and the Crystal Skull and brought George Lucas And Steven Spielberg up on criminal charges. Issue #2 was not any better. Superman’s early attitude and cockiness is something I can not warm up to or get use to in this title. Society’s distrust and reluctance to welcome Superman is something I found irritating at first but have accepted as not only part of the story, but an interesting change from perfection and happiness that I have read for the past 30 years.
Beyond a rough start I think issues #5 and #6 just got plain confusing, in the middle of a cross issue story line they just up and dropped into a new story set in a different timeline of the DC Universe with characters we don’t know. Looking back on this another year from now it will probably make some sense, DC has a way of back telling a tale and having it make sense in a Momento sort of progression, filling in the holes that you question months later and having it make sense when you have nearly given up only to make more holes for another story to fill.
Superman’s origins have been retold countless times, probably the only one who had an interesting take was Jeph Loeb who rewrote the legend to return Superman to Krypton through his mind with the help of STAR Labs. Why does Morrison feel the need to retell a story told thirty times by each author who takes over the line? His only addition was the twist on Brainiac which could have been done through a quick flashback, I will give Morrison the leeway, maybe DC requisitioned the story as part of the relaunch, but it wasn’t needed.
After all the whining what I did enjoy was the side stories at the end of most issues, many surrounded a young Clark’s time in Kansas on the farm. The stories gave an insight onto the parenting that shaped an impressionable life and how important The Kent’s were on him becoming a hero rather than using his powers to for self-serving fame or villainy
While the Kryptonian Origin story was over and redone to death, the “Collector” line was one of the high points of the main line story. Candor is one of the aspects of Superman that so few authors ever properly use without making a mockery or cheesy plot that usually goes nowhere fast. The story was original (as original as a Candor story can be) and the collection of worlds is something that can be used issues down the line with a chance to bring Zod chasing after something Kryptonian. Morrison’s imagining of Braniac’s form, was not the best choice with him as some half-brain, half-caterpillar. If there is one character across all major comics that readers can give you completely differing descriptions and be right or lying and no one will know the better it would be on of Brainiac’s 1,000 depictions. Aside from his visual form, his implication that Brainiac is everywhere, not just Kryptonian was well thought out, making Brainiac Earth’s internet and presenting as similar across other long conquered planets. Makes you wonder if reading this and any other website is doing you more good or opening you up to Brainiac’s control, you have been warned.
A few minor points that Morrison did get right:
- The origin of the suit being Kryptonian formal wear and more than just fabric was a nice touch almost making this version as good as the classic.
- Luthor as Icarus, Clark’s deep throat informant for his stories that have made him the reporter he is at the Daily Planet and Star.
- The introduction of John Henry in his classic presentation. Glad that he left Steel alone and didn’t change his role.
- The landlady Ms. N who will likely bring Mr. Myxlplyx into the line. Always one of my favorite side characters, I won’t call him a villain as he is more of a nuisance to Superman then an enemy.
The Earth 23 Superman was a pointless issue, then again DC will back use this and make everything I am saying moot. Maybe better suited 120 issues in the future when they are scraping for a story line, but right now it just looks like DC and Morrison are trying to make a political statement and comics are best to stay out of real politics as it never presents or is accepted well. But I wonder was it a pro-Obama homage or a shot at his birther status? At first I was thinking it was Probama , but in the end Superman 23 is questioned by who we are to assume may be Earth-23’s Wonder Woman. She questioned his ethics and for upholding the greater good and where he crosses the line invading a sovereign nation as a hero, but also as a leader. She then quipped, “You were not born on Earth, let alone the United States. just by serving as president you violate the nations laws every day.” I believe they are poking fun at the birther supporters and their claims of the President hailing from Kenya rather than Hawaii and Chicago, IL. But what ever their motives are comics the right place to make a political statement?
Like Superman, Action Comics is well drawn which is nice that they share similar artwork. Over the years the titles have employed artist of differing styles giving Superman a different visual feel from title to title. Even if the stories are independent it is nice to have continuity of presentation.
The last few issues with the “Death of Clark” far exceeded the quality of the first 8 or 9 issues giving the title a chance at redemption. As this story plays out I find myself interested and eager to keep reading, from there we will see how Morrison continues to develop Superman. When he writes he does a phenomenal job, when he creates he ruins a legacy. Write Morrison, please write.