Thursday, September 8, 2011

DC Reboot Review: Action Comics #1. Huzzah! Superman is a Dick Again!

Superman wasn't always a blue-eyed boy scout, or USA-approved punch-monkey. Back in the heady Golden Age he was an alien invader who fought hard and rough for the little guy! He was a tough-talking sardonic, man's man who gleefully terrorized corrupt officials and smacked around wife-beaters. The original Superman had a message and that message was strong. It was: "I am Superman. I am a powerful alien maniac. And I can kick your puny ass. Probably into the sun."

For more classic Superman craziness check out Ive's What's Out article here.
Sadly, somehow, over time, Superman began to soften. He gained the American way, a social conscience, manners, grooming, and a hell of a lot of baggage. (A wife?! Come on now!). I'm not too interested in the modern Superman. We prefer Batman, right? Because we love a crazy, screaming aggressor. If mainstream comics are power fantasies then why not be a super-powered dick!

With DC's line-wide relaunch and reboot of all its titles this September, the long running 900+ issues of Superman's debut title Action Comics has come to a close. Today we got a new Action Comics #1, written by Grant Morrison, with art by Rags Morale:

Is this a last-ditch chance for Superman to be a dick again? Join me after the jump to find out what it's all about!

As I intimated in my Justice League #1 review, I am a mainstream comic noob. I haven't been regularly reading DC books. Instead I'm doing exactly what they want me to and checking out their reboots - seeing if they win a lapsed comic reader over - and seeing if these types of comics can interest me again. If you're a long-time DC reader then you probably want to punch me in the face. Hi there! Nice to meet you!

I was relatively cynical about Justice League, partly because of the lack of content, but mostly because of digital download's price. I'm not going to beat that horse again - I killed it the first time and I'm waiting for a new one - but I do still live in hope that by the time DC is rolling out issue #3 we are seeing cheaper downloads or an all-inclusive subscription.

BUT! I did my civic duty and manned up and bought from Comixology again for the iPad. I actually bought six books this time: Action #1, Detective Comics #1, Batgirl #1, Animal Man #1, Justice League International #1 and Rob the maniac Liefeld's crazy looking Hawk and Dove #1. I'll review those later if I have a reaction to them. Action was $4.40, the rest were $2.99. So it cost me around $20 which actually didn't feel too bad. At least until I dig into that Liefeld.

I Tire of Your Preamble! Talk About the Damn Comic!
Why certainly, Sir! Post haste!

I enjoyed this issue. I really did. And I didn't expect to. (HERE BE SPOILERZ!)

This is definitely a homage to the original Golden Age Action Comics. This is a pre-super suit Superman, decked out in work-boots, jeans and an S-shield T-shirt (which sounds super silly, but actually works fine in context). He's only been out in public for some six months and his powers are still developing. This is a young, brash, over-confident, dare I say dickish, Superman finding his place in a new world and working out how to best put his powers to use. This involves embedding crooks in walls, smashing them into chandeliers, strangling them with guns, and damn near terrorizing to death a corrupt old man who looks amusingly like Donald Sutherland. And he smiles while doing it.

You go, Superman! Make that bastard Sutherland shit!
I wish I'd read this before Justice League, because now I understand why he punched Green Lantern. Of course this Superman would punch Green Lantern. He'd punch him a few times, rip him open at the bottom and wear him as a hat. Then he'd prance around the street with a big grin on his face bellowing, "COWER AT MY FANCY HAT!"

Naturally the police fear and hate him, the government want to take him down (and enlist some ominous help) and I loved how he is referred to as an "it" and "the creature". We pay too much attention to the "man" in Superman, but he's not a man, he's a laser-omitting punch-alien super-dick and he calls himself "man" just to keep our guard down.

I like the changes. I like all the changes! He doesn't need to be married. You can't tame Superman. I think it's great that Lois has a different boyfriend (not yet seen in this issue, although I've read the online angst). Let the tension develop. Let Lois get all tingly and obsessed about him. And then maybe Superman can punch this new guy onto the moon and flip the bird at the crater every evening. I'm just happy that Lois is there, and she looks like Lois, and they've got a whole world of unwritten stories to play with. And the plucky ginger Jimmy Olsen is here too! And he already kind of comes across like a moron.

But the best thing for me is that this Superman is vulnerable. He's super strong, yes, but if you hit him hard enough (I won't spoil with what) then you're going to mess him up. He bruises and bleeds. And his overshooting recklessness can hurt him. And for me that makes for a much more interesting story.

It's still a quick read, but I was pretty satisfied. It's a beginning. I get that. There's still a long way to go. The writing's sharp and I enjoy the art. It's clean, clear and iconic, and that's all I want from this. And Morales draws some pretty crazy action. So good for him! You did it, guys!

Would I read more? Yeah. You know, I think I would. And that surprises me, because who cares about Superman in 2011, right? Looks like I kind of do a little (not as much as that idiot Jimmy Olsen though. Jesus. Talk about a man-crush). And wow, my fingers are crossed that Zack Synder's Man of Steel is also super-dickish!

More punching into the sun and/or moon please. I approve!


  1. I am in total agreement. The first thing I thought upon reading issue #1 of Superjerk was "Yeah, if a yokel from Kansas got super powers he would either rob a bank, or he would fight for justice in a really dickish way". Thank goodness that Superjerk chose the path of dickish righteousness!

    I can't wait to see him fold his first mugger into a pretzel.

  2. Grant Morrison can be a bit hit-and-miss for me, but this sounds pretty great!