Action Comics, vol. 1: Superman and the Men of Steel by Grant Morrison and Rags Morales

Sep 24, 2012

DC Comics made a controversial move last year by ending all of their comics, rebooting the popular (but increasingly crowded and convoluted) DC universe, and starting their titles over at #1. Although their sales have been good, many long-time fans—including me—complained and chastised DC for doing this. I stopped buying comics and declared I wasn't at all interested in DC's "New 52." DC has started releasing collections of its rebooted titles, and because I really can't fight my curiosity, I've begun reading the collections to see how my favorite heroes are being handled. I just can't quit them!

Grant Morrison, the trippy, magic-wielding madman of comics, was given the reboot of Action Comics to work with. The original Action Comics #1, for those who aren't familiar with comics history, featured the premiere of the first modern superhero, Superman, who has gone on to be one of the most iconic heroes of all time. When Superman first appeared, he was much less powerful than he is today, and he tackled more down-to-earth problems, like abusive husbands, political corruption, and the mistreatment of the poor. Taking the character back to those "New Deal Crusader" roots in the reboot, Grant Morrison and artist Rags Morales show Superman at the beginning of his career. His costume is a T-shirt with the famous "S" symbol, a red cape, jeans and work boots. He's super strong and tough, but he can still be hurt by powerful weapons. The people of Metropolis view him with suspicion and fear as he fights to protect the poor and take down corrupt businessmen. Things quickly get larger in scale and more out of this world, presenting a fresh take on Superman's home planet of Krypton and classic Superman villains Metallo and Brainiac, but Morrison and Morales never lose the energy and edginess of the young Superman, fighting for the downtrodden with a smirk on his face and swagger in his walk.

I loved Morrison's previous take on Superman in All-Star Superman, and I love this take on Superman as well. Morrison writes Superman with so much verve and imagination, I couldn't help but grin as I read Superman and the Men of Steel. The characters are smart and sarcastic, the action is non-stop, and things are both familiar and fresh. This is the kind of visual storytelling that will keep me being a fan of comics, superheroes and Superman.

Reviewed by Josh N.
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