Saturday, March 10, 2012
Review: Action Comics #7
Action Comics #7 came out this week, picking up the Collector story after the brief 2 issue side adventure with the Legion. And we pick up just where #4 left off, with Metropolis shrunk down and taken away.
One of the things I have loved about Action has been the crazy pace that Grant Morrison has been bringing to the book. We have started out with a bang and simply haven't let up. This issue is no exception. Morrison continues to re-invent and re-introduce pieces of the Superman legend into this new continuity all while showing us a young, brash, and socially conscious Man of Steel.
But the more we learn, the more we are tantalized with what we don't know. Morrison is giving us just enough information about where we are going with this new Superman to keep the story rolling along, all while whetting our appetite for more.
Rags Morales is back on art and really does a great job showing a bruised, battered, but unbroken Superman. Great expressive work throughout here.
There really is a sense of innocence and newness to this Superman and this Earth. From his brash nature to his simple uniform, we know this isn't an established hero. We also know that this is a simpler Earth. An alien visit is unexpected and the planet is unprepared. And simple things like supervision being renamed Zoom vision are nice flourishes.
This is still a more 'Golden Age' Superman. He can't fly, just leap very far. But even he acknowledges his powers are expanding, greater than what General Lane has documented, and strong enough to hop, skip, and jump his way into space.
Once in orbit, Superman is blasted and brought into the Collector's satellite. There he finds a collection of bottled cities. Well, they aren't Silver Age bottle-sized. These are more barrel sized or vat sized. And next to each city is an accompanying display of normal sized artifacts.
It is here that Superman first gets some concrete proof of his beginnings. He sees Kandor as he has seen it in his dreams. And he sees clothes from Krypton, the white suit we saw in last month's Superman comic.
Inside Metropolis, the supporting cast has serindipitously all gathered at one of Glenmorgan's hotel bars. It is fun to see how each character reacts to this insanity.
This is probably the best I have felt about Morrison's Luthor. In prior issues, Lex has seemed too cowardly to be a strong enough foil for Superman. In this issue, he seems stronger, more arrogant, more Lex-like. He knows that Superman's rocket cradle is a bargaining chip to help him deal with Brainiac. He quiets Lois with a quick finger in her face.
But, he learns that Brainiac keeps his promises ... just not as expected. Brainiac promised Lex he would survive and he will. He'll survive in the bottle.
And Glenmorgan is there. And so is the 'gnome' from issue #1, holding the tie he stole. Why doesn't Glenmorgan recognize him?
And it has to be Mxy, right?
This scene gives Morrison the chance to build up the Metropolis characters, giving them some depth.
This is perhaps my favorite panel of the issue. As Superman towers over the tiny Metropolis, he fills the skyline.
And then Jimmy gives a classic line a new meaning. 'Look, up in the sky!' Just fantastic. And said so deadpan. Wonderful.
The people of Metropolis see it too and start cheering their hero.
The Collector's defenses spring to life and try to overwhelm Superman.
We even get to hear some of his pedigree. He was Brainiac AI on Krypton. He was C.O.M.P.U.T.O. on Colu. This immediately links the Collector to the DCU, showing us his scope while bringing back some old school names.
On Earth, he was the Internet. All these systems allowed the Collector to learn all there is to learn about a culture before he destroys them.
I always knew the Internet would be my undoing.
Superman then receives the gift of a little knowledge. He learns from Brainiac that he is from Krypton, as are the articles behind him, including the indestructible suit.
But for the Collector's Krypton collection to be complete he needs Superman and his rocket inside Kandor. In some ways, he sound like a comic fans, constantly searching for the issues in their collection they are missing.
I also like that Superman is called a cuckoo among primitives. Is that because cuckoos are rare? Or crazy powerful??
But rather than attack Superman, the Collector seems intrigued by his duality. He gives Superman a sort of Sophie's Choice. He can only save one city ... Metropolis or Kandor. Which will it be? The city which holds his true origins? Or the world that just minutes ago shunned him?
A vindictive person ... or even a curious person ... might choose Kandor.
But this is Superman.
He simply won't play ball. He will defend everybody because all life is precious. That is who Superman is! He fights for life.
He puts on his indestructible suit, a suit which recognizes his DNA and colors it appropriately. That is interesting.
But more importantly, this is a key moment in this Superman's history. This is a symbolic turning of the page, a moment when he embraced both sides of his heritage, when he made the leap from jeans and t-shirts to a uniform, when he became something bigger. This donning of ceremonial armor signifies a big step in the hero's journey. I almost wish this was a splash page.
The issue ends with our first good look at the Collector a sort of Brainiac-like centipede, Metallo in tow. It is a nice cliffhanger and a worthy splash page.
So we now have a more classic appearing Superman (albeit it in the new costume), we have Kandor, we have 2 super-villains, and a growing sense of all the Metropolis citizens we love: Lois, Jimmy, Lex. It is like a whirlwind tour of a new mythos, careening along like a runaway train. And I am loving it.
There have been some hits and misses in this new DCnU. But Action has yet to fail.
Overall grade: B+