DC Comics is blowing readers away with tons of great new comics in “The New 52” reboot. The current standout is Action Comics #2. In this book, we continue to see the evolution of the edgier, less innocent Superman introduced in issue #1. He is confident and defiant; a hero but his own man. He recognizes inequities in our legal system, as well as the evils of corporate greed and unjust, oft illegal employment practices. He will not tolerate this in Metropolis, his city.
In Action Comics #2 we learn to relate to the hero of today. Following up the excitement of Action #1 when Superman stopped an out-of-control bullet train and was left decimated, we now find him in the hands of the military. We discover a more vulnerable Superman than has been seen in years. He is being tortured and he feels it.
This is what many readers have been missing-a Superman who struggles to survive. He does what is right because he must, with full knowledge that he will reap consequences for his actions. He is all the good that we want in our Superman; he just is not a god anymore. Now, we not only admire his sense of right, but can also believe in and relate to his humanity. In an ever confusing world, with evil at every hand this is the Superman for today. His enemies are everywhere; in political office, on the police force, in the military, and of course in the criminal underbelly. Knowing this, there must be a nemesis that epitomizes the ever-present evil that holds our hero in ongoing conflict. Lex Luther fills this role. He is the moral opposite of Superman. He is to be hated from the beginning. This is not your semi-likeable, best friend of Clark Kent that you have seen in “Smallville”. He is Doctor Luther who is willing to do anything in order to achieve his goals. Although Dr. Luther truly is human, he is the being whose sense of right is alien and is lacking any moral fiber. A world with men like this needs a bigger than life hero. Without abandoning the best of the man from the past, DC helps us find this new Superman for today!
Note that I have drawn in elements from issue #1, as it is a must read in order to get the most out of issue #2. Just as continuity exists in the storyline of these issues, so an appropriate review of issue #2 had to recognize the developing themes and characters. That being said I have chosen to look at Action #2 because it stands out as a second issue that is even better than the first. One was good and two is phenomenal.
Issue #1 let us know that Superman is the hero of the downtrodden. It seemed to be a social statement. It left me feeling that I might be receiving a social, maybe even political message in each issue. Honestly, class warfare as the primary driving force for today’s Superman books would be disappointing. Action Comics #2 let me know that, at heart, the book will be fun and exciting.
The story had me pulling for Superman in his pain and struggle. I was tortured by Lex Luther and escaped with Superman. I felt light-hearted upon seeing Lois Lane in passing. The book brought me back into the excitement of comics. This is just the start. The book leaves plenty more to imagine in future issues. I can’t say more.
Issue #2 draws on great writing by Grant Morrison, while the action is carried through with dramatic art by Rags Morales. The team-up is fantastic. I am struck by the fact that I, quite literally, experience the intensity of Superman’s anger, pain, and of his empathy for the downtrodden. The art captures the feeling of our hero while the writing lets us know who he is. Through this talented duo, a new Superman is woven together.
If these two can carry this kind of intensity in to subsequent issues, Action Comics will be hugely successful for a long time. Enough said. I cannot begin to give an adequate idea of the excitement that awaits the reader in the pages of this book. Action Comics is a must read! If you don’t have a copy yet, go out and pick up a current printing of #1. You can’t pass on Action Comics #2 because you missed the first printing on #1. Some comics are simply worth READING! You won’t be disappointed. Read both and then together we will impatiently wait for next month’s issue.
Reviewing Action Comics #2 has been thought provoking. I feel even more excited about keeping up with this hero. Honestly, Superman books were never my favorite to read. Who knows, they may be from now on? That said DC has put out a lot of great books with the renovation of their line. I will likely pick another one of “The New 52” for my next article. Possibly being a more “colorful” title. I have enjoyed so many of the 52. Until next time, read up and pass your comic picks on to me.
Off like a Speeding Bullet,
[Yes, there is indeed a new writer on staff. Dan is my dear brother who, if you read “Why Weird” on this site, you may surmise, works in a comic shop. He and other family members run two comic and game shops in Grand Rapids, Michigan area and I recently asked him to write reviews of comics for me. They are also likely to appear on the stores’ websites and we may be doing some exchange on that end soon. – John]