We Got Reviews: Action Comics #7-12

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My previous O.M.A.C. love fest aside, I believe that the Grant Morrison Action Comics run is going to be one of a couple things that will convince Dan Didio and Jim Lee that the New 52 was worth the experiment.

I recently saw a collection of the first eight issues on the stands. These stories are worth reading, either in this form or the individual issues (any good store should have either in stock). Having followed this run from the beginning, I’m content to revisit the pamphlets for the moment.

For all it’s fun, I think Morrison’s run is going to be almost an afterthought in comparison to his best comics work. Whereas All-Star Superman was almost a graphic novel in disguise as a monthly pamphlet, the New 52 Action Comics can only be seen as a monthly comic with only somewhat tentative ties to the Superman mythos that Morrison has been cultivating for some time.

As a writer, Morrison has not had a great deal of freedom in the earlier days of DC and had mandates handed down to him. Remember when the angel Zauriel was going to be the new Hawkman? And I’m sure when Morrison finally got to write the scene of Superman wrestling an angel, he hadn’t envisioned being forced to do it with Superman wearing his blue Energizer suit. Moving forward, he definitely knew how to hedge his bets in order to get editorial off his back, basing X-Men costumes on the more sensible outfits from the movie and having traces of “Smallville” in the look of this young Superman.

Furthmore, Morrison knows he can’t play in his own playground fully. He knows that no matter how much he tries, he is going to have to put Superman in the effing ridiculous New 52 costume. I don’t think it’s coincidence that Morrison waits for the end of issue #7 to bring the suit in, gives it the ability to change its appearance in issue #8 and by the issue’s end makes Superman look like this…

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What’s crazy is that by the end of the arc, Superman goes from being the people’s champion to having the people’s adoration, his own spaceship and his omnipotent computer. Superman essentially becomes the superhero equivalent of the one percent. Little wonder that fter the issue #9 Super Obama interlude, the book almost takes a step back, keeping the costume scenes sparse and making it plain how much Action Comics is going to pay attention to the Justice League comic.

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I’ll argue this the sole New 52 Justice League appearance to date is Morrison’s way of saying, “Yeah, you have fun doing action movie schlock, and cliched dialogue, Geoff Johns, I’m going off to do my own thing.”

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I have to admit, I laught after reading that above section and wanted to yell, “Oh, grow up, Batman.” Thankfully, Morrison redeems him in the next storyline, where both the identity of Clark Kent and the thrown about idea of young Superman being active as a myth in Kansas before being Superman is delved into just a little bit, but is unfortunately cut off after issue #12, when Clark’s identity problem (identities by this point) is about to be undone by a magic sequence that still shows more credibility than One More Day.

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Of the alternative Superman story I’ll say this: It was fun seeing Morrison bring back the idea of a super corporation as living entity he did so well as Marvel Boy. It’s interesting commentary, and people seem to be giddy over the fact that he commented on a DC property in a DC comic. I equate to the king letting court jester letting the jester do what he wants. Especially since the jester has already netted DC a small fortune over the years.

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I’m going to miss Morrison when he leaves.
When it’s time to condense my collection, I’ll likely get this trade of at least the first eight issues in softcover. It’s going to feel weird reading everything out of order, particularly the Sholly Fisch stories, which while enjoyable to read seem out of place as part of a story that didn’t need back up explanatory filler (they should have put Fisch on Justice League at some point). I’m glad for having read the stories, but for all of Morrison’s touches, Action Comics doesn’t transcend anything past a good monthly comics series. However, in this age of comics as future direct to video movie, even this accomplishment is nothing to scoff at.

About Chad Parenteau

I'm a poet. I run the Stone Soup Poetry series in Cambridge that runs every Monday night. I review comics in my spare time.
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