Shiny Shelf

Action Comics #1

By Julio Angel Ortiz on 09 September 2011

At long last, ‘Action Comics’ #1 is here. Which is something, considering the last time that legitimately could be said was in 1938, when Superman famously debuted. And the comic book industry has not been the same since.

Will this new iteration of ‘Action Comics’, scripted by Grant Morrison and drawn by Rags Morales, usher in the same fervor that the original had, all those decades ago?

Morrison doesn’t shy away from acknowledging the very large shoes he is stepping into. There are a few subtle nods, in a retro-futuristic way, to the symbiosis between these twin issues (look at the two-page spread on page 4 and 5 and the graphic of Superman breaking out of chains in the lower-left).

But that is where it ends; this Superman is very much informed by the now, and the cynicism society has developed in their justice system.

In this incarnation of the character, we see Superman is all about Truth and Justice – though not necessarily in accord with legal Truth and Justice. As he boldly declares early on, he believes that the law ‘works the same for rich and poor alike.’

It is very telling that this sentiment has crept into the colour-separated world of comics, and and it an interesting angle from which Morrison springboards his series. But that line of dialogue defines who Superman is this early in his career.

It is also curious how Lex Luthor is positioned in this issue, at the complete opposite end (but where else?) of the argument. Luthor doesn’t care what the end result is, as long as his fees are getting paid and he gets the job done, he will sell anyone out. Luthor is the government shill, the Yes Man society despises who has put personal gain above any shred of morality in order to make the rich richer. Luthor is smug and condescending, seeing Superman as nothing more than as an alien parasite that could upset the balance of nature on Earth, possibly pushing humanity to extinction in the process.

Morales’ artwork is rich here, deftly bringing Morrison’s script to life with widescreen vigor. The nuances, such as Superman’s cocky smile, Luthor’s self-assured nonchalance, and Glenmorgan’s panicked demeanor, help sell the story on and give it a cinematic feel.

‘Action Comics’ #1 is a more successful premiere issue than ‘Justice League’. The pacing is better, the action more frenetic, and are left with a more ‘Oomph!’ cliffhanger. As someone known for their high-concept stories and quirky plot twists, Morrison plays it incredibly safe here- which probably works for the best, given the iconic material. This is a solid start to the series, which is all you can ask given the hype.

Line Break

By Julio Angel Ortiz

Julio Angel Ortiz maintains his collection of curiosities at You can also Like him on Facebook as well and check out his latest writing projects.