Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Review: Action Comics #8

Action Comics #8 came out last week, the end of Grant Morrison's first arc looking back at the early days of Superman. It has been a wild ride of an arc moving at a crazy pace as Morrison sets the table for the new Superman continuity. I have been impressed with how Morrison has been writing this book, throwing his usual barrage of ideas at me, re-introducing a number of Superman mythos (including some wonderful homages to the Golden Age), and keeping the energy and action at maximum.

This issue was the finale of the 'Brainiac'/Collector of Worlds arc. It opens up with a miniaturized Metropolis mere minutes away from going into deep slumber and Superman needing to make some tough decisions in a crisis. What I find amusing is that the end of that part of this arc grabbed me the least about this issue. Sure, it is a nice neat ending to the Collector arc. And it was definitely an important step in this Superman's continuity. But for me, it was the pages after this crisis, the pages where we see the reaction of the main characters of the book, as if now we know the direction these people are going, that really got my attention. That was the stuff that made me want to read more.

I will say that the myriad of artists on the book hurt the reading of the book. In particular, the Brad Walker highly detailed pencil-ish pages in the middle of the book sort of stuck out. Beautiful yes ... but being sandwiched between pages of more standard renderings was jarring and made the read feel a bit disjointed. The feel of those pages felt more like the Sholly Fisch epilogues we have been reading.

While Superman battles the Collector/Metallo construct amidst the shrunken cities, the supporting cast of the book continue to discuss their fate in a bottle.

I find this Lex to be growing on me a bit. Early in the books, he seemed to be too squeamish and deferring to be Luthor. Here, he sounds a bit more knowledgeable about the predicament the Collector is battling. He would rather live in the safety of the bottle than face a certain end from an oncoming threat or be beholden to Superman.

Meanwhile, the gnome (who I still think is Mxyzptlk) suddenly is no where to be found. Glenmorgan, who had been working with the gnome, now seems insane or a drunk or both. Nothing is simple with Morrison. Is Mxy really some form of the devil? I wouldn't put it past Morrison. (Also, Glenmorgan call Mxy a Teetotaler, something I think Mxy called himself in his first appearance ever ... give me a day to look that up.)

Meanwhile, Superman battles on. The Collector is conflicted as Corben's Metallo presence has corrupted him with emotions, stymieing the Collector as he tries to defeat Superman. It also gives Corben the chance to blubber over Metropolis about his love for Lois.

But this was the key moment in the battle. Superman threatens to smash the cities if the Collector doesn't back down. But the Collector knows it is an empty threat. Superman has the 'Krypton Moral Imprint' ... he won't kill. So I have that going for me.

And the Collector also mentions the Multitude, the threat coming to Earth which prompted the Collector to collect. Earth is #204 of the 333 planets the Multitude wants to destroy. This has to be somehow linked to Morrison's Multiverse project.

Lastly, the Collector sounds like me when I get at my most fastidious in my comic collecting. He wants his cities, untouched and in mint condition. He sounds almost whiny!

So how to defeat a computer program like the Collector? Re-write his programming with invulnerable code!

Superman flicks his cradle-rocket into the Collector, who suddenly morphs into a crystal computer a la Kryptonian. Simple and efficient. And maybe a smidge anticlimactic.

I do like how the Collector basically becomes the being known as Brainiac, the name of the AI programming from Krypton. Thus, Brainiac is the Collector of Worlds, a sort of backdoor way to get him more in line with prior incarnations. We'll need to see just what happens to this being.

With the physical threat over and the satellite now under his control, Superman 'reinstates' Metropolis in size and place.

But more important than the save is the presentation. This is an angelic Superman, a deified Superman ... eyes closed reverentially, hand up to the sun. This felt almost All-Star Superman like ... and that's okay!

And with the city saved, all that's left is the wrap-up.

Lois has a hug with her father. They may not agree with each other but I am glad to see the family isn't fractured. It is a simple panel that could be overlooked but I loved it.

Jimmy askes John Henry if he going to be a super-hero. Irons' confused look is perfect.

One of my favorite parts of the book is that Clark works for George Taylor at the Daily Star, a pitch perfect nod to the Golden Age. Here Taylor knows that Clark has grown to big for the paper. It is time to move on to the big time of the Planet. Thus, the continuity stars align a bit more!

And Clark's landlady, who I think is also from the 5th dimension, not only knows who Clark is but is willing to hide it.

I mentioned before how Lex' character has been growing on me.

First off, in the aftermath of the regrowth, Lex shrinks from the crowd and goes to contemplate this 'new world' he is in. Here we learn he is Icarus, Clark's informant about Glenmorgan. He wanted Glenmorgan ousted so he could assume power in the city. But this is a world with aliens and super-powered beings. There are bigger fish to fry, bigger arenas than City Hall. I can't wait to see the evolution of Lex.

And then the Walker pages. First off Superman getting the key to the city and admitting he is an alien from Krypton who is here to help. I love the sullen look on the police chief's face. It is a different world.

But more than that, I love the 'really big door' comment .. a foreshadow to an old-school Fortress?

And then, a great scene at the Kent's graves where we learn of his promise to use his powers to help people.

This scene really resonates with 'what has come before'. In the Siegel/Shuster original origin, we see a version of this graveyard vigil. And I know I have seen the Kent's death bed promise by Clark to use his powers for good. So this also was wonderful.

I was initially worried that the lack of the Kents in the DCnU might mean they didn't have an impact on Clark's life. It is clear they did.

And the Collector's satellite? It is now Brainiac-powered and Superman's Fortress. We knew that from the Legion side adventure.

I was of two minds about this ending. One, I want Superman to be a 'man who is super'. I don't want him to think he is above everybody but more of one of us, albeit with special talents. So this view of Superman above the Earth felt a bit off, even if it further strengthens the 'Superman as Supergod'.

So the first arc is over and I have to say I loved it. Like the best of reboots it was both reverential to the old but spiced up with the new. I feel like Morrison respects so much of what came before with Superman that this DCnU Superman will read right.

Most importantly, I feel like the lineup is set. We know enough about the characters here to want to read more, to want to see what they do next, to see how they end up where they are over in the Superman title. And for that I wish we weren't going to a Multiverse Superman story next. I want to read more about this Superman.

Still, I think Action remains the cream of the new 52. Wonderful.

Overall grade: B+


Anonymous said...

Great review!
What was the meaning behind the dialog in the last panel if you don't mind me asking?

Saranga said...

Aww you didn't post the big splash page!
(I'm-a hunting for it for a Super Silly Sunday post)