‘Action Comics’ #4 left readers with a cliffhanger as Brainiac was attacking Metropolis. This issue takes a strange and unexpected turn into left field and, rather than giving us the continuation of the Brainiac story, it gives us a reimagined origin story for Superman and sets up a possible new story arc.
The origin, while updated with a few twists, is essentially the story that I’m sure any comic fan could tell you without a hesitant breath. Jor-El, a scientist on Krypton, has predicted that his planet is in danger. The rest of the greatest minds of the world do not believe him. When it turns out Jor-El is right, he tries to escape the doomed world. He ends up sending his infant son, Kal-El, into space to save him from the imminent destruction of Krypton. The infant crash lands on Earth where he is discovered by the farming family of John and Martha Kent.
See? You’ve all heard that one before. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Grant Morrison tale if there weren’t some twists. First, the new vision of Superman’s origin includes an aside in which Jor-El attempts to escape with his wife and son into the Phantom Zone. I’m sure this will set up some future villains for the New 52 Superman universe. The other addition is that the ship that sends young Kal-El away is powered by “Brainiac A.I.” which is definitely related to what’s going on in Metropolis whenever that story picks back up.
In the framing tale to the origin of Superman, we’re also treated to a new set of villains called the “Anti-Superman Army” and what I can only assume is a future Superman. How either of those things tie to current continuity Superman remains to be seen.
The switch from the Brainiac story to what seems like a completely different arc might be a slight shock to people who haven’t read Grant Morrison’s tales before. However, rest assured… Morrison’s got plans to weave all of these seemingly unrelated threads into what I have no doubt will be an epic tale for the Man of Steel.
With the switch in story, there is also a switch in art. Until now, ‘Action Comics’ has been penciled by Rags Morales (‘Identity Crisis’). With this issue, the art is picked up by the always amazing Andy Kubert (‘Flashpoint’). His detailed line-work gives the origin story a perfect vision for the reimagined New 52 Superman.
As is becoming the norm with many of the New 52 titles, this issue features a back-up story. This time it’s ‘Baby Steps’ written by Sholly Fisch (‘Batman: Brave and the Bold’) and penciled by ChrisCross (‘Firestorm’). It’s a look back at John and Martha Kent and their struggles to have a child before finding their adopted alien son in the wreckage of his ship. It’s a fluffy sentimental piece but it sets up the new version of the Kent family quite nicely.
ACTION COMICS #5
Written by GRANT MORRISON and SHOLLY FISCH
Art by ANDY KUBERT and CHRISCROSS
Cover by ANDY KUBERT, JOE PRADO, and BRAD ANDERSON