Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Actions Comics #1

Cover by Rags Morales, Brad Anderson

Actions Comics #1 (September 7, 2011)
Writer: Grant Morrison
Penciller: Rags Morales
Inker: Rick Bryant
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Patrick Brossseau

Was I supposed to do some reading before delving into this comic?

Because by the time I finished it, I had the distinct feeling that I was missing something. Could someone care to explain? 

My instinct is to place all the blame on Grant Morrison, a well-respected writer that I just simply cannot get a grip on. I often have difficulty following his train of thought overwhelming pretension. While Action Comics #1 was decidedly not pretentious, it was all over the place and rather trying too hard.  

This was also an unfamiliar Superman, one that seems rather callous and a little Batman-y in the sense that he seems to perversely enjoy messing with criminals. What's more, he felt less like a Boy Scout which, corny as it may be for Superman, is an integral aspect to his personality. He's a goody-goody and really, that's what I want from Superman. I was surprised to read in one panel, Superman dangling a white-collar criminal above a skyscraper's ledge and refusing to put him down until the criminal made a full confession "to someone who still believes the law works the same for rich and poor alike. Because that ain't Superman!" 

I'm sorry, what? Grant Morrison, why did you make Superman so cynical? He BELIEVES in truth, justice and the American way. We may not all believe in it all the time but damn it, Superman does and he will fight for it because we can't! Also, Superman was kind of a show-off in this comic; smirking at stunned witnesses as he stops a bullet with his bare hands just to prove he can. Come on, now.

Aside from these unsettling character quirks, I also found the overall storyline rather muddled. I felt as if Morrison was halfway through telling another story when this issue opens. For a #1 issue in a series, I had to play a lot of guessing games to figure out just where in the Superman mythos we were and who knows what about the Man of Steel. How long has Superman been around in Metropolis and how much does Lois Lane know? I guess that was Morrison's way of maintaining a sense of ambiguity in his comic but I don't understand to what point and purpose he was aiming for.

Also, I was not crazy about the art by Morales. Aside from the pretty cool action sequences (such as Superman stopping a moving subway train), I found the art rather distracting. The facial features of the characters were overdrawn and over-the-top. It was like looking at stills of silent movies: people were just over-emphasizing their emotions on their faces. I couldn't take anything seriously. It also didn't help that Clark Kent seems to favor Harry Potter glasses and Jimmy Olsen is rocking a bowl haircut the likes of which I haven't seen since I was in fourth grade. I kind of wanted to punch Jimmy in the face too but I suspect that that is a normal reaction to that character.

Overall, I finished this comic with a distinct feeling of "bwuh?" I doubt very much I am going to continue with this series and though I am always glad to become more familiar with Superman comics, when they're like this, I would much rather pass.

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