Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Rebirth of the Golden Age: A Look at Action Comics #1

Look, up in the sky … it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s probably not Superman just yet.  The comic that single-handedly launched the Golden Age of Super Heroes, Action Comics starts back at number one. DC’s Man of Steel is just developing his powers.  Merely able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, rather than fly, he is brand new to Metropolis.  With many familiar faces showing up in the first issue, this is a stirring new take on one of the most iconic characters of the past century.  Branded as more of a vigilante than a trusted ally of Justice, he is on the run from the cops and not yet working at the Daily Planet.
            Grant Morrison, the writer for Action Comics, has been at this for more than a few years.  After celebrated runs on Batman, Batman & Robin and the two-part graphic novel All-Star Superman, Morrison’s words will now grace the pages of Action Comics.  As he stated in a recent NPR interview, Morrison’s first glimpse of American culture came in the form of Superman.  On a cold day in his native Scotland, the cover of Action Comics had the young Morrison transfixed. With this in mind, is it any wonder that he writes with such enthusiasm?
            The only possible result is a mixture of the powers of Superman/Kal-El with the “humanity” of Clark Kent.  To be fair, we can only guess as to whether he is aware of his extra-terrestrial origins.  He manages to get the most crucial characters of the Superman mythos to play the roles that the readers love.  Jimmy Olsen is exactly as fans remember him while Lois is just as dedicated to the stories as she’s always been.  Lex Luthor, intelligent and arrogant as ever and true to form in every way, is at the center of the events unfolding in this ground breaking first issue.  The dialogue is very real, as if you were over-hearing an actual conversation.  It never seems stiff, and thus makes the characters all the more real.  Beyond that, he makes Superman quite young and a bit cocky, though his heart is obviously in the right place.
            Artwork by Rags Morales is nothing short of inspiring. I haven’t followed Morales’ work as closely as some other artists over the years, but each time I pick it up I see plenty to admire.  The look of both the characters and backgrounds are great.  Add to that, Nick Bryant’s awesome colors and you get a comic that lives up to its hype.  Somehow, Bryant manages to capture the threat of Superman’s heat vision in a way that I’ve never seen done before.
            I would say that this is one of those few titles that you should follow every month. That being said, I give this a 8.7 out of 10.

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