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New 52 Review: Action Comics #1 Tags: Superman Action Comics 52 Grant Morrison Rags Morales

Whether you like it or not, you have a brand new Superman ... or perhaps a familiar old one.

Action Comics #1 arrived in the first full week of releases of the DC relaunch.  In this one, in a tale from five years ago, we meet a Superman who invades the penthouse home of a Mr. Glenmorgan, a local developer who uses bribery and substandard materials to fill his coffers.  The Metropolis police arrive to see Glenmorgan in the arms of a character who holds the man effortlessly over his head and then leaps over the side to easily survive the fall.  Needless to say, the criminal begins to confess to his many misdeeds.  But instead of being grateful (and probably aware of what a confession under duress means in court), the cops pursue the man in blue and red, but to no avail.  The Superman disguises himself as Clark Kent, a crusading reporter for The Daily Star.

However, General Sam Lane has his eye on Superman as does consultant Lex Luthor.  Since sighting Superman six months prior, the being's power seems to have increased.  To prove his point, Lex stages a trap for the Man of Steel, knowing it would endanger innocent lives.  But after repelling the military's attack, the people put themselves in harm's way to allow Superman time to escape.

Clark warns his friend Jimmy Olsen to not board the local trains, saying that they are part of Glenmorgan's retaliation for being arrested.  However, Lois Lane of The Daily Planet tracks Glenmorgan's muscle to one of those trains ... which begins to pick up speed.  Clark changes to Superman in time to stop the train.  However, pinned against the side of the Daily Planet building, our hero appears to be drained of all strength ... as Lex Luthor tells General Lane that he's made good on his promise to deliver the alien.

I'm NOT a huge Grant Morrison fan.  He can be absolutely brilliant (Animal Man, 52, Zenith, Batman, All-Star Superman) or lose sight of his plotting in the light of his high concepts (Infinite Crisis, The Invisibles, Skull-Kill Crew).  In this story -- and it is a story -- he is focused like a laser.  This Superman is a bit cocky, morally outraged, and willing to use his powers to help the helpless.  A nod is given to events in the original Action #1 ("I heard about a woman in Bakerline whose husband was beating her every night until Superman heard her crying and threw the guy out the window and into the river.") along with a nod towards the real life consequences ("Broke both his hips and six ribs.").  His Clark Kent is capable and low key, similar to the George Reeves and John Byrne versions.  In fact, the supporting characters all ring true as well.

If Rags Morales had any reservations about accepting the art assignment, as evidenced in his blog, he doesn't show it.  The storytelling is solid and a good balance between cartoony and more realistic.  Inker Rick Bryant and colorist Brad Anderson round out the visuals with rich blacks and plenty of light, bright colors.

Complain all you want about the end of the Modern Age Superman ... this is a Superman with solid roots in the past who shows traces of the hero and inspiration he will become, wrapped in a well-paced story that makes a good jumping on point for new readers and a solid read for veteran readers who are giving it a chance in droves (Action #1 will go through a second printing soon).  My only complaint about this issue might be that I have to wait a month between issues.

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