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Action Comics #1 - Superman Versus the City of Tomorrow Review

5

We have a younger, brasher Superman on our hands courtesy of Grant Morrison and Rags Morales in the 'New 52' relaunch of Action Comics. While it appears like we have a completely different Superman, he's actually closer to his original roots.

Now that DC's "The New 52" has begun, this is our chance to see the early days of Superman. Dressed in jeans, boots and a Superman t-shirt, he feels as far from the Superman we all know. It turns out there is something to this re-interpretation.

The Good

I was extremely nervous over the apparent direction of this title. From the covers to the first three issues along with the fact that Superman is wearing a Superman t-shirt with jeans and work boots...how could we not be concerned. What happened to the Superman we all knew?

Let's note that this is written by Grant Morrison. That gives some reassurance but the preview for this issue showed us a more violent-on-crime Superman versus the big blue boy scout we've been used to. I gave this some thought. Morrison did some crazy things on Batman but it turned out a lot had ties to past issues, more specifically the Silver Age books. I re-read my reprint copy of the original Action Comics #1 and of course, Morrison is on to something here. Superman was a bit of a jerk in his first appearance. He busted down doors and coerced the villains into confessions. Just like we have here.

This is a new Superman for all of us. Yes there is some inspiration from the original vibe of the series but it is also completely updated for today's age. Last week's Justice League took place five years ago. This issue doesn't specifically say when it takes place but we know it's before Justice League due to his costume (or lack of). We still have some of the anti-superhero feeling that was present in Justice League. Superman is a hero but not the hero everyone loved from the beginning. This adds a different and welcomed twist to Superman.

Rags Morales' art here grows on me more and more after re-reading (yes, I read this more than once). I really didn't like the costume design (not sure if he came up with the jeans, t-shirt and boots look) but it makes sense in a way. I always felt Superman got his costume too easily. I also like the idea of us not knowing right away when and how he got his Kryptonian armor. Superman clearly looks a lot younger. He's not quite Superboy here but definitely looks younger than he will in his other appearances.

The Bad

While I do like the idea of Superman being an enemy of the city, it's hard to say how long that could be entertaining. Even though he was a little abrasive in his original appearances, we never really saw him as being feared. Superman should be feared at first. Especially if people knew he was from another planet.

There are also some other minor differences that will have to play out for a bit to see how they work.

While reading, I kept expecting to have the typical 'Grant Morrison blew my mind' moment but there really wasn't much of one. Maybe next issue.

The Verdict

This is not the Superman you're looking for, and that's a good thing. From the first images of a younger Superman in jeans, work boots and a S t-shirt, we were left wondering what Grant Morrison and Rags Morales were up to. With the intentions of giving us a Superman that was different from what we've been reading the last couple decades, they have succeeded. This Superman acts closer to his 1938 appearance mixed in with the world that isn't too crazy about superheroes (that we got a glimpse of in Justice League #1). This younger Superman might think he has the answers with his brash approach to dealing with crime but he will soon find out he might be in over his head. With plenty of familiar faces presented again for the first time, we have a new world to get used to. Morrison doesn't blow our minds away with his typical fashion but we are definitely off to a good start. This Superman is familiar yet different enough to feel like we're seeing the character for the first time.

81 Comments
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Posted by ssejllenrad

Gonna buy this for sure! thanks for the review!

Posted by monopolyloser

I've been waiting for this book ever since I heard Morrison was writing it.

Posted by higher_evolutionary

will buy

Posted by VanAce

Sounds like a very interesting concept and I am very interested to see how this goes. According to interviews he has the first 16 issues planned out so that means he will be on the series for some time to come. Hopefully making it quite interesting.

Posted by Eyz

So like usual, it'sMorrison looking back and paying images to comics from the past I take it :P
 

This Superman acts closer to his 1938 appearance

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

This better be up on comixology 

Posted by The Poet

this is going to be interesting....

Moderator
Posted by GTG12

looks good
Posted by mikeclark1982

this is... epic. 

Posted by _jackbauer

I'm picking this up later today.  The variant is nice but my comic book store charges too much for  them.

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

When is this going to be available on digital comics because there's nothing about it on Coimixology?

Posted by Scodiac

Super pumped to pick this up later today!

Posted by G-Man

@spiderbat87: I think they go live digitally at 2 p.m. ET in order to give comic shops first shot at selling them.

Staff
Posted by Jonny_Anonymous
@G-Man said:

@spiderbat87: I think they go live digitally at 2 p.m. ET in order to give comic shops first shot at selling them.

Ah ok the same a JLA #1 then? means I have to wait till 7:00 : (
Posted by papad1992

Im soooo liking that he doesn't have the vibrant red underwear over his pants anymore!! Always seemed a little too revealing!!
Posted by BatUniverse

I love this comic!

Posted by Deranged Midget

Excellent review! I am really excited!

Moderator
Posted by longbowhunter

After reading the preview for this a week ago I could tell Morrison was pulling his inspiration from the early, tough on crime Superman all of us are too young to remember. I even said as much in the comment section.
Posted by JonesDeini

For the first time ever I'm truly tempted to read a Superman book and this' the first time I've checked for Grant Morrison in a minute. Man this reboot's doing all kinds of crazy things to me. 

Posted by Benuben

Can everyone please stop using "it's closer to the original Superman" defence? Batman used guns, rode a red car, had purple gloves and killed people when he first appeared. I am pretty sure, if that would be the Batman, you would read about in his new series, you would not like it.
Posted by ltbrd

@Benuben....why should everyone stop using that reference for Superman when its an accurate statement. Action Comics #1 in 1938 showed Superman leaping instead of flying, busting down doors, smacking people around and running with them hoisted in the air, not on perfect terms with the police and everything else we see in this Action Comics #1. 
 
This has nothing to do with Batman. Why would you even bring it up? Nobody has said Action Comics is better than Detective Comics because Action Comics returns to its 1938 roots. Your absolutely right that nobody wants Batman to revert to guns, red car, purple gloves, etc.... but that doesn't mean Superman can't. If anything Superman should because the common complaint of Superman is that he's too clean cut and a lame. People want heroes a bit more like Batman. So what do you do when revamping Superman? Make him slightly more like Batman, at least at the beginning, to bring in new readers. But nobody is comparing the two series on the basis of being close to their origins or not. 
 
Overall this was a great restart for the Action Comics series. I was a bit hesitant to read it because I really wanted Action Comics to turn into a Brave and the Bold-esque title where it would would take the place of team-up series like Brave and the Bold, World's Finest, and Superman/Batman so that there was always something new to the book than just another Superman story. But I am happy with the way a young Clark is being depicted and his attitude towards the rest of the world. However I do have one fault......... 
 
The little red cape. I'm sorry but this should not have been a part of this first "costume" by any means. But again it does harken back to the 1938 titles in that Superman had a cape even though he couldn't fly. I just think being a modern revamp of the character that Morrison and Morales would have realized the cape wasn't necessary at this point considering Superman can't fly yet. The shirt, jeans and boots would have worked fine and been a constant reminder of Clark's simple, rustic upbringing. The little cape just looks silly and unnecessary and introducing it only when he gets his kryptonian armor makes more sense than it does now. 
 
Only other thing that worries me about this series is the lack of flying due to the fact that Smallville left all of us quite disappointed in Clark's inability to fly but allowed every other Kryptonian to do so immediately upon arriving on Earth. Knowing that we have a Supergirl and Superboy titles coming up and I'm sure there will be a random Kryptonian popping up here and there in both Action Comics and Superman, I hope they keep the kryptonian abilities consistent.

Posted by scnjedi

I don't think we should expect Morrison to blow our minds within a single issue. He's at his best writing long form stories. I pretty much guarantee that there's stuff here that won' pay off for months, and that's where the 'mind blowing' will occur.

Posted by Jekylhyde14
@Benuben said:
Can everyone please stop using "it's closer to the original Superman" defence? Batman used guns, rode a red car, had purple gloves and killed people when he first appeared. I am pretty sure, if that would be the Batman, you would read about in his new series, you would not like it.
It's cool. I've moved on to the "this is REALLY good" defense anyway. 
Posted by aldenconner112
@JonesDeini: cant agree more DC really has me pumped and buy way more comics than ever before hope this works well for DC
Posted by Or35ti

I think the city will slowly warm up to Supes until he becomes there symbol for hope again.

Posted by MagusMaleficus

Can't wait for this to show up on Comixology so I can tear through it.

Posted by TheBlackHood

I really enjoyed this issue.  I haven't been a super big Morrison fan because I feel that he sometimes gets a little weird just for the sake of being weird, but none of that happened here.  What did happen was a really exceptional introduction to Superman that feels more like what I would expect from a young, powerful, orphan from another world.  This was a great read.

Posted by Benuben
@ltbrd said:

@Benuben....why should everyone stop using that reference for Superman when its an accurate statement. Action Comics #1 in 1938 showed Superman leaping instead of flying, busting down doors, smacking people around and running with them hoisted in the air, not on perfect terms with the police and everything else we see in this Action Comics #1. 
 
This has nothing to do with Batman. Why would you even bring it up? Nobody has said Action Comics is better than Detective Comics because Action Comics returns to its 1938 roots. Your absolutely right that nobody wants Batman to revert to guns, red car, purple gloves, etc.... but that doesn't mean Superman can't. If anything Superman should because the common complaint of Superman is that he's too clean cut and a lame. People want heroes a bit more like Batman. So what do you do when revamping Superman? Make him slightly more like Batman, at least at the beginning, to bring in new readers. But nobody is comparing the two series on the basis of being close to their origins or not. 
 
Overall this was a great restart for the Action Comics series. I was a bit hesitant to read it because I really wanted Action Comics to turn into a Brave and the Bold-esque title where it would would take the place of team-up series like Brave and the Bold, World's Finest, and Superman/Batman so that there was always something new to the book than just another Superman story. But I am happy with the way a young Clark is being depicted and his attitude towards the rest of the world. However I do have one fault......... 
 
The little red cape. I'm sorry but this should not have been a part of this first "costume" by any means. But again it does harken back to the 1938 titles in that Superman had a cape even though he couldn't fly. I just think being a modern revamp of the character that Morrison and Morales would have realized the cape wasn't necessary at this point considering Superman can't fly yet. The shirt, jeans and boots would have worked fine and been a constant reminder of Clark's simple, rustic upbringing. The little cape just looks silly and unnecessary and introducing it only when he gets his kryptonian armor makes more sense than it does now. 
 
Only other thing that worries me about this series is the lack of flying due to the fact that Smallville left all of us quite disappointed in Clark's inability to fly but allowed every other Kryptonian to do so immediately upon arriving on Earth. Knowing that we have a Supergirl and Superboy titles coming up and I'm sure there will be a random Kryptonian popping up here and there in both Action Comics and Superman, I hope they keep the kryptonian abilities consistent.



 
 
Actualy, most these people, that use this complain, don't read comics, or never read a Superman story. And frankly, that complain is total nonsence and those people clearly don't understand Superman as a character at all. Superman is supposed to be someone, we want to be like, who inspires people, to be better. Even though, he isn't human he represents the absolute best of our qualities. He is completely uncompromising, when it comes to right and wrong. He stands for everything, that is right and it is nice to see there are still heroes like that in a time when the anti-hero has become so popular. And that also makes him great role-model for younger readers.
 
 
He is not "cool". He is beyond that.  He is epic. Timeless symbol of hope, loyalty and restraint. Everyone knows the story about king Arthur and his knights. The story about heroes, that protected people from evil, despite their diffrences, but in the end, they were divided by their own mistakes and demons. One day, everyone will know the story about Superman, a man who fell from sky and despite everything, he decided to do good. 
 
And I am saying this, as a big fan of Garth Ennis and his work on Punisher, Hitman ect. and you know, I am actualy excited to read Action Comics. I am sure Grant will deliver great story, even if it's maybe little bit diffrent take on the character. After all, It's the same guy, who wrote All-star Superman, one of the greatest Superman stories ever told, so what do you know?
 
Look, you have right to have your opinion and I am not saying it's wrong, but if you don't like these things, then you should not read ANY Superman stories, because they clearly aren't for you.
Posted by okayla

I enjoyed it thoroughly! 

Posted by ltbrd
@Benuben
But does Superman have to be a boy scout for people to be inspired by him? Think about that and the fact that the common perception of Superman as a boy scout came about slowly as his personality was continuously changed to reflect the development of society through the 50's to today. As a character, Superman does not need to be limited by a clean cut personality. Its a personality that was given to him by years of writing because the assumption was that only a clean cut individual with the level of power that Superman has could possibly be accepted by the public and as a way to advocate a moral standpoint of the use of power. 
 
However his original portrayal, the first idea for the character, well before the personification of the blue boyscout, was that Superman lead through his examples and those examples were that an average person could take a stand to the way society was trending (in the late 30's it was an increase in crime, poverty, slums, etc...) and do something about it. That gave him a greater attitude and directness than he's had in the decades since. 
 
But that's not a bad attitude to have for this Action Comics series or the DCnU as a whole. Seeing him right now as a brash youth makes sense. He's the most powerful being on the planet, how could we not expect him to feel a bit superior and in the right compared to those around him. Plus note that throughout the book he's always trying to do the right thing even if its not the mature way. But that's why Action Comics is set years earlier than Superman, so we can see him mature as he begins to understand what it means to be a hero and symbol. 
 
Yet even when he becomes that symbol doesn't mean he has to drop a bit of attitude and cockiness completely. Why shouldn't he be confident in his abilities? Why do we want to have more and more stories where Superman questions his mission and whether he's truly making a difference or not? They tried this approach back in the 70's and it failed miserably because Superman is defined as a symbol by his actions not by his internal struggles. Its the main reason why people hated the Grounded arc (along with other reasons) because they didn't want to keep reading about Superman's mental fatigue and post-tramatic stress. That works here and there depending on the way an arc is written (he can lament not saving someone for instance and it would make sense) but continually making him completely clean cut and needing to be everyone's friend is an unrealistic image and one that has been proven over and over again to make for really bad Superman stories. 
 
I agree a person is entitled to their opinion but you can't attack people for their viewpoint when you simply state your own without any real back-up. You talk about how Superman is completely uncomprimising when it comes to right and wrong and I agree with you.......and there was nothing in this issue that says anything to the contrary. Speaking of All-Star Superman, the Superman in that story (while contemplative because of his impending death) has a good dose of cockiness and attitude. Just look at how he deals with Samson and a few of the other villains or how he always acts a bit smug around normal people. You seem to love that series so you love a Superman that is a bit more proactive and tough than what we have seen in the last few years of Superman stories and what Morrison is trying to get back to with Action Comics.
Posted by CombatSpoon86

This is definitely different Superman, I'll definitely keep following until I get bored with it.

Posted by Immortal777

Enjoyed the issue cant wait tell next.
Posted by doordoor123

It was good but not amazing. I think it'll only get better. 

Posted by Omertalvendetta

I was extremely underwhelmed...  Detective Comics #1 was much better.

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous
@Or35ti said:
I think the city will slowly warm up to Supes until he becomes there symbol for hope again.
The city already see him as a hero its just the government that dont like him 
 
I really liked it and I am going to love to watch him grow into the hero he will become, its just a shame that some people have already dismissed the new 52 and wont give any of it a chance whether its good or not.
Posted by Primmaster64

Hell to the yeah

Posted by labarith

This was a love letter to the original Action Comics #1. 
 
Which may be fine, except it is also supposed to be the New 52 Superman.  And if the new 52 Superman is the Superman who they're losing the rights to... well, that doesn't seem like a good idea.

Posted by Gambit1024

This issue felt like what the Smallville show should have been about. I'm really into his changes (as minimal or radical as they are) and I hope that it only gets better from here. So don't f*ck up, Morrison. 

Posted by Kal'smahboi

I loved this book, as well. The only complaints I had were Morales' Luthor (he just seemed off to me) and how Clark knew about the train. Out of nowhere, he warns Jimmy not to get on a train and I, for one, can't figure out why. Glenmorgan doesn't appear to have ever participated in terrorism nor does he appear to be associated with Metropolis' railway system. I just didn't get it.

Posted by Jekylhyde14
@Kal'smahboi said:
I loved this book, as well. The only complaints I had were Morales' Luthor (he just seemed off to me) and how Clark knew about the train. Out of nowhere, he warns Jimmy not to get on a train and I, for one, can't figure out why. Glenmorgan doesn't appear to have ever participated in terrorism nor does he appear to be associated with Metropolis' railway system. I just didn't get it.
I'm pretty sure that when Glenmorgan is confessing, he's talking about the building of the railway system. Jimmy remarks how the train isn't even supposed to be running based on Clark's texts. Glenmorgan obviously doesn't confess about the bomb, but Clark may have known something was up thanks to the "hard evidence" he and Taylor collected on Glenmorgan. 
Posted by Kal'smahboi
@Jekylhyde14 said:
@Kal'smahboi said:
I loved this book, as well. The only complaints I had were Morales' Luthor (he just seemed off to me) and how Clark knew about the train. Out of nowhere, he warns Jimmy not to get on a train and I, for one, can't figure out why. Glenmorgan doesn't appear to have ever participated in terrorism nor does he appear to be associated with Metropolis' railway system. I just didn't get it.
I'm pretty sure that when Glenmorgan is confessing, he's talking about the building of the railway system. Jimmy remarks how the train isn't even supposed to be running based on Clark's texts. Glenmorgan obviously doesn't confess about the bomb, but Clark may have known something was up thanks to the "hard evidence" he and Taylor collected on Glenmorgan. 
Yeah I let it go because of the "hard evidence" that they apparently had, but it was still bugging me. That's just Morrison, though. He's very vague about details, sometimes.
Posted by Jekylhyde14
@Kal'smahboi said:
@Jekylhyde14 said:
@Kal'smahboi said:
I loved this book, as well. The only complaints I had were Morales' Luthor (he just seemed off to me) and how Clark knew about the train. Out of nowhere, he warns Jimmy not to get on a train and I, for one, can't figure out why. Glenmorgan doesn't appear to have ever participated in terrorism nor does he appear to be associated with Metropolis' railway system. I just didn't get it.
I'm pretty sure that when Glenmorgan is confessing, he's talking about the building of the railway system. Jimmy remarks how the train isn't even supposed to be running based on Clark's texts. Glenmorgan obviously doesn't confess about the bomb, but Clark may have known something was up thanks to the "hard evidence" he and Taylor collected on Glenmorgan. 
Yeah I let it go because of the "hard evidence" that they apparently had, but it was still bugging me. That's just Morrison, though. He's very vague about details, sometimes.
He definitely has a tendency to leave a lot to interpretation. 
Posted by Booster_Bronze

I sort of enjoyed the issue, but I had alot of problems with the way the dialogue was written. There were a few moments where the sentences seemed kind of disjointed and tough to piece together (as in what the characters were talking about or making reference to). Also, this Superman seems too much like Batman. I liked the Supes who was a foil for Batman's darkness and to see Superman resorting to Batman's methods to obtain information just doesn't seem like him. I know this might be an ode to how Supes WAS, but it felt weird and disjointed overall. I DID like his version of Luthor though. Interesting take on alien species.

Posted by gangly
@Booster_Bronze said:
... to see Superman resorting to Batman's methods to obtain information just doesn't seem like him. I know this might be an ode to how Supes WAS, but it felt weird and disjointed overall.
What's interesting about that for me is that, while their methods may be quite similar (I'm sure we all love the ol' drop-the-bad-guy-off-a-building-to-freak-him-out), their intentions are still very different. 
 
Bruce mainly wants to punish criminals and make them hurt. From this first issue of Action Comics at least, I get the feeling that Clark's main motivation is to prevent innocents from being hurt. Sure, he causes some serious damage in the way that an all powerful pissed of dude may do, but he has greater intentions that set him apart from the Dark Knight. 
 
Batman is focused on his enemies, but Superman is working for the people.
Posted by Primmaster64
@Kal'smahboi: Superman threw some guy in a river.
Posted by Deranged Midget

I laughed out loud when I read "Somebody SAAAVE ME!"

Moderator
Posted by gibson

It was OK, definitely NOT a 5 star rating. I feel some over inflation for the new 52 coming our way.

Posted by haydenclaireheroes

I am glad you gave a good grade for this because i am getting this issue tomorrow and I really got it on whim. 

Posted by zackattack529

this new superman is AWESOME!  if only smallville was more like this comic.  i like how they introduced the world already against superman and how he yet has to develop certain powers. and lex brainwashing the military. and the relationship to jimmy is present but not yet to Lois. he still has yet to get on her good side,

  this was a great start to action comics! unfortunatly at the comic book store i was at they didn't sell too many cause no one wants to read it, no one wants change :/  but they're missing out in my opinion. i will definitely pick up next issue! :)
Posted by iaconpoint
@Benuben: Superman and Batman are a bit different don't you think?
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