Action Comics (vol.2) #1 (2011)

Action Comics (vol.2) #1 (November, 2011)
“Superman Versus the City of Tomorrow”
Writer – Grant Morrison
Penciller – Rags Morales
Inker – Rick Bryant
Colorist – Brad Anderson
Letterer – Patrick Brosseau
Associate Editor – Will Moss
Editor – Matt Idelson
Cover Price: $3.99

I guess first things first… I never thought I’d actually own a copy of Action Comics #1, but here we are.  Feels kinda hollow, don’t it?  This was one of the very few New-52 titles I actually collected from launch.  In fact, this was a title I had dropped pre-Flashpoint, so I suppose the relaunch/reboot/rewhatever was successful in at least getting my four-bucks back into the coffers,

I read this at launch, and I suppose I was too turned off by the events surrounding it that it affected how I received the story.  As I endeavor to go even further into my New-52 education, I feel it’s prudent to take a second look at one of the more seminal pieces of the lore.  The, if the Who’s Who piece in Justice League (vol.2) #0 is to be believed, first appearance of Superman is a good thing to check out… and yeah, this issue is listed as Superman’s first appearance.  Don’t it make your stomach turn?

Anyhoo… without my post-Flashpoint angst, let’s see how this one holds up!

We open atop the Galaxy Building where Glen Glenmorgan is wrapping up a deal with a fellow who introduces himself as Teetotal.  Suddenly the party is broken up by a caped man wearing jeans and a Superman t-shirt.  This is Superman… when he looked like a boy.

The police arrive at the building and work their way roof-ward at the suggestion of little Teetotal.  Along the way they see Glenmorgan’s men beaten and battered.  When they make it to Superman he is holding Glenmorgan over his head while balancing on the balcony rail.

He threatens to drop Glenmorgan until he admits his guilt for his crimes against society.  When Glen won’t play ball, Superman simply drops him off the balcony several stories above the ground.  Hardly a moment later, Superman swoops down and catches his crook just before he goes splat.  On the ground, Glenmorgan comes clean… he is guilty.  He has ignored safety standards, used cheap labor, and sabotaged the metropolitan trains.

The police swarm and attempt to, get this, arrest Superman.  That goes about as well as you imagine.  One officer fires a shot, and Supes proves that he is indeed “faster than a speeding bullet” by effortlessly catching one.  He flies off… and as he does, Police Sgt. Blake radios a military facility and gives them the okay to “activate the city”.

At the base, we observe General Sam Lane (Lois’ dad) chatting up Lex Luthor.  It is here that we find that in this universe Lois gave Superman his name.  Luthor is acting as a consultant for the military, and is under orders to “deliver” Superman by 8pm.

Luthor activates a wrecking ball to demolish a building in Galileo Square.  This is a building that is currently set to go down, however, has not been completely evacuated as of yet.  This draws Superman to the scene, as he keeps the wrecker at bay while the inhabitants flee.

Street tanks approach, and fire off an electrified net that snares Superman.  He is able to break through before smashing the tank with the wrecking ball.  As more officials approach, the grateful neighborhood inhabitants “cover” Superman as he bails out of dodge.

He catches a lift on a passing blimp (which tells me this Superman can only “leap tall buildings” rather than fly) to his Hob’s Bay apartment.  There we meet his landlady, Mrs. Nyxly.  She expresses concern for his bruised face, and shakes him down for the past few weeks’ worth of rent.  She asks that Clark stay safe, as the writing he does for The Daily Star “changes lives”.

Clark heads out and calls his good buddy (best friend for six-months!) Jimmy Olsen, who is currently about to board a bullet train with Lois Lane.  Clark advises them not to get on any train.  Lois feels this is a trick so that the rival Clark can scoop The Daily Planet with an exclusive story… and boards the train anyway.

We see that Teetotal has planted explosives along the railway.  The train takes off and hits upwards of 200 miles per hour.  The only hope of stopping it is Superman.  He forces his way onto the track, entering the bullet train’s pressurized tube and readies himself to “catch” the out of control vessel.

The train slams directly into Superman who appears powerless to stop it.  The explosives go off causing the elevated rail to collapse.  The train powers on…

Back at the military installation, Sam Lane is spitting nails at the thought that Luthor knowingly put his daughter in potentially mortal danger.  Lex shrugs it all off, and explains that he was just doing what Lane was paying him to do… and that is delivering Superman.

Okay, well I did enjoy this a whole lot more now.  Without my rage-colored glasses, I was able to be more balanced in my appraisal of this inaugural outing.  It’s certainly a beautiful issue to behold.  Rags Morales at his absolute finest.  Hell, the entire art team really brought their A-game in this issue.  The coloring is especially wonderful… striking and lush.

Even with all that said, one of my initial complaints/observations still remains… it’s a very good story… but, I just don’t feel any heart.  When John Byrne reimagined Superman for the post-Crisis DC Univers/fandom, the entire Man of Steel miniseries positively dripped with heart.  This time, however… not so much.  Solid (great, even) storytelling, amazing art… just not a Superman I feel comfortable with.  Of course, this is a new millennium book, and it’s probably unfair to judge a first “story” by a first issue… but, here I am.

During the initial New-52 push, I remember hearing that Superman was going back to his roots… his Golden Age roots, wherein he was a defender of social justice and protector of the oppressed.  That’s all well and good, but… I feel more of an effort could have been made to make him likable.  He just seems so… pardon the semi-pun… alien to me.  As a long-time reader/fan of the character, this just didn’t feel right.  Didn’t exactly feel wrong either… I suppose.  I dunno, this one is a challenge for me to put into words.

What I will say, is that knowing what this Superman becomes, I am reinvigorated in my New-52 Superman (re)reading project.  I am interested in seeing how this Superman becomes the Superman who is currently living out his “Final Days”.

Interesting Ads:

Needs more Triangle Numbers…
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2 thoughts on “Action Comics (vol.2) #1 (2011)

  • SonOfCthulhu

    I have this traded, so as an individual issue it is tough to separate out for me. What I can say is this felt like a good "Elseworlds" Superman tale. It's not what I want THE Superman of the DC universe to be, but I like the story and would want to read his adventures. As you said it lacks "heart" or an emotional hook for the audience to click into.

    • "Elseworlds" is about as apt a descriptor for this one as possible. It's certainly "a" Superman story… but, without the heart and soul, it could never be "the" Superman story.


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