This ain’t your daddy’s Superman. Sorry… I had to say it. Grant Morrison has stated in interviews that he was bringing us a blue collar Superman who stands up for what is right, regardless of what is legal. Morrison delivers on his promise in spades! The new DCU’s Superman might wear a big “S” on his chest, wear a red cape, and shoot beams from his eyes but, if this issue is any indication, his past reputation as a “big blue boy scout” is a thing of the past. Morrison’s Superman is a rather smarmy, almost extremist superhero. That said, Morrison’s writing feels at once classic and modern. It harkens back to those early issues where Superman is a real American homespun boy while giving him a harsh anti-establishment edge at the same time.
[Warning: spoilers below!]
The issue opens as scary red-eyed Superman, wearing a t-shirt, jeans, and work boots, crashes a meeting where corrupt businessman, Mr. Glenmorgan, is wrapping some nefarious deeds. Supes proceeds to smash up Glenmorgan’s security team before grabbing Glenmorgan himself and threatening to toss him off of a skyscraper unless he confesses to his crimes. As this scene is taking place, General Lane and Lex Luthor are preparing an anti-Superman team to bring down the “alien”. Superman defends himself and does a lot of property damage before disappearing into the sky.
When we next see Superman, he’s reverted to his Clark Kent persona. Clark is living in a run down apartment in the bad part of town. He is a reporter for the opposing newspaper as Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen. Despite working for the competition, Clark is pals with Jimmy as we learn when Clark calls Jimmy’s phone to warn the duo not to get on a bomb-rigged subway. Jimmy’s phone drops the call so he doesn’t get the full message and he and Lois hop on the train anyway. Naturally, it’s Superman to the rescue. Supes stops the train but not before being smashed into a building and left unconscious. The issue ends with the reveal that this was Lex Luthor’s plan all along as the military closes in to arrest Superman.
If this is any indication of where the New DCU is going with Superman, I am 100% behind it! I’m an avid lover of Superman in all his incarnations but I realize that he’s grown stale to the general populace. He’s been portrayed as too goody-goody and nice. Modern readers like a flawed hero. Plus, as a superhero, his powers are often portrayed as nearly godlike so creating an enemy for Superman has always been a bit problematic for writers. Morrison gets around this by depowering Superman quite a bit. The New DCU Supes is not a strong as the previous incarnation. In fact, Morrison brilliantly created a Superman that reminds readers of those thrilling days of yesteryear as he is now literally “faster than a speeding bullet, stronger than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound”. I love it and I’m hopping on Morrison’s Superman train with the hopes that it doesn’t derail like the one in this issue!
ACTION COMICS #1
Written by GRANT MORRISON
Art by RAGS MORALES and RICK BRYANT
Cover by RAGS MORALES