Brilliant Morrison stylings or arbitrarily overcomplicated?
Like no other ongoing title I'm reading at the moment (which is more than my wallet appreciates), Grant Morrison's action comics, with each and every issue, leaves me scratching my head trying (and usually failing) to remember what's come before and how that relates to what's happening now. Morrison is a master of complex, multi-layered storytelling where one might have to give it a few reads to see how all the details line up (see "Seven Soldiers", "The Invisibles")... but in Action Comics, nothing really complex is going on. Superman is fighting Brainiac. Pretty simple. And yet the story has bounced around all over time and space, partially to allow for regular series artist Rags Morales to have a breather and catch up on his art duties. Ignoring the past 2 issues' departure from the main story (Morales' breather), the story still feels overly complicated, and there's really no reason for it. Morrison IS capable of straightforward superheroics (New X-Men, Batman), and when he writes those stories they may not be the best "Grant Morrison book" ever, but they have been some of the best superhero books of their moment. But here, in Action Comics, Morrison is leaving me cold. I WANT to like it. I feel like there is something big in the works but it's still taking its time in getting going, and in each issue I just feel confused, and unjustifiably so as nothing much has happened. I'm giving Morrison the benefit of the doubt from one month to the next, but up to now and in this issue as well, this title is just frustrating.
I'm giving it higher marks for art and for value. I'm not that familiar with Rags Morales as I'm a Marvel zombie and I'm pretty sure most of his work has been for DC. His characters are very expressive and his layouts, with characters, backgrounds and all extraneous details, are very complete. Backup story artist Brad Walker is another nice perk of the issue. While Sholly Fisch's Steel backup feels hackneyed and rehashed from any number of blandly inspirational "you don't need to be a superhero to be a hero" stories, it at least LOOKS very good. Walker was the main strength going for Marvel's "Heroes for Hire" title, and having him on hand for a backup is a nice treat. These backup stories have been hit and miss in overall quality, but I am much happier for having them nonetheless, than I was for paying the same extra $1 on the first few issues for mere publicity bonuses.