We Got Reviews: Action Comics 18

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It’s a little sad that with the last issue of Action Comics I’ll be buying for a while, I am feeling very underwhelmed with the last story arc tying up all the 5th dimensional loose ends.

Amidst all the New 52 hype, the new Action Comics appeared to be an act of defiance by Grant Morrison. I looked at the first issues and saw a continuation of several of the themes found in Morrison’s other Superman work (even if I had to squint). Now at the end, I have to wonder why this wasn’t presented in an All-Star format, free of all continuity that hadn’t even been established yet?

Rags Morales did the best he could with his artwork, and I like several pages of this final chapter, but in the end, he never took the art beyond what you see in a monthly title. This last issue was a double-sized issue, and I still get the sense that this was maybe a little overstuffed with ideas that could have otherwise been allowed to breathe but weren’t. There were a hell of a lot of references which, as a recovering fanboy, I had a hoot figuring out, but the strength of Morrison’s best Superman work was that it expanded the mythos without people having to connect the continuity dots on who the Wanderers are or knowing why Superman with an ant head is funny. There was also an excess of winks, from both Superman and Morrison to the audience.

I’m sure Morrison and Superman fans got what they wanted out of it, and for the most part I did too. Still, for such an epic story, it felt toned down in the end. I’d like to think that was too big to attempt in the New 52 DC. I hope Morrison got what he wanted to do out of the way, or that he’ll be able to explore this idea in a future DC that is kinder to writers thinking outside the box (which is the only way All-Star Superman could have ever happened.

I’ve said several times in the past that I don’t like this current incarnation of Superman, and perhaps it finally seeped into Morrison’s vision too much in the end. I’m not going to bitch again and say it was costume, since Morales actually depicted it pretty well in this last arc (but it didn’t help). After years of comic writers arguing that Superman was too big a concept for most writers to put their heads around, DC has actually made Superman too small for Morrison to write about.

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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