After the conclusion to the “Brainiac” storyline in ‘Action Comics’ #8, we’re taken on a detour to Earth 23 this issue and introduced to a new (yet familiar) cast of characters.
As the issue opens, the Earth 23 Superman is battling his nemesis Lex Luthor. It all seems a bit familiar since Luthor has built a giant battle suit to help him confront the Man of Steel. What’s different is that Superman isn’t the Clark Kent that we know. Instead, he’s Calvin Ellis (Cal El… get it?) and he’s President of the United States. And, in a move that mirrors Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man, Earth 23 gives us a glimpse at a classic superhero reimagined as a different race… sort of… Superman is still Kryptonian so I’m not sure if this change actually qualifies as a race swap.
After his tussle with Luthor, Superman meets the universe hopping group of Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and Clark Kent. Apparently, in the world from which they came, their Superman isn’t an alien. Instead, he’s a construct formed of the wishes of Lois, Jimmy, and Clark. They invented a machine that makes their thoughts physical. Then, when they wished for a world redeemer, they created Superman… temporarily. Without the cash to fund their continued projects, the group turn to a corrupt business to fund their Superman venture. Things quickly spiraled out of control and their world’s Superman became a menace. When they fled their world to find help, the construct Superman followed and began killing the Superman on each world that they encountered… until they arrived on Earth 23.
So far, I’ve enjoyed Grant Morrison’s run on Action. This has been the best Superman title of the New 52… until now. I get that Morrison was trying to say something about the state of the US with his Obama-esque Superman. He even slipped in some blatant criticisms of DC Comics and their disagreements with Superman’s creators in one scene. Despite Morrison’s trying to making this more than just a comic story (and I applaud him for the attempt), this issue comes across as flat and uninteresting.
The pieces of the issue (President Superman and the world-jumping Superman killer) are good. It’s just the way that they’re so clunkily put together that causes them to fail. I’d like to see both of these characters return in another story but hopefully in one that focuses more on story than in trying to shoehorn in some meta-meaning to a comic.
ACTION COMICS #9
Written by GRANT MORRISON and SHOLLY FISCH
Art by GENE HA and CULLY HAMNER
Cover by GENE HA and ART LYON