Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Comic Book Review: ACTION COMICS (Series Two) # 1 (2011).

ACTION COMICS (Series Two) # 1 (2011)

Cover Date: November, 2011. Published by DC Comoics.

Beginning a (possible) series of looong Comic Book Reviews by Joe Torcivia – and with the title that “began it all”!

Superman Versus The City of Tomorrow” 28 Pages.

Writer: Grant Morrison. Penciller: Rags Morales. Inker: Rick Bryant.

But, first… some historical perspective. The first “Crisis” (of the “on Infinite Earth’s" variety) shook the DC Comics Universe throughout the year of 1985, modifying, or outright nullifying, decades of prior continuity with it.

From that point on, periodic “Adjustment Crises” would take place, from “Zero Hour” to “Final Crisis”, each in its own way (all together now) modifying, or outright nullifying, the adjusted continuity that developed in the interim.

But, could even the World’s Greatest Superheroes be prepared for the seismic shock that occurred in September, 2011! For, DC Comics would cancel its entire line… and begin anew.

Calling their stunt “The New 52”, 52 DC titles either began or restarted with Number One issues.

If the inflated prices for certain issues offered at this past month’s New York Comic Con were any indication, the move has resulted in some initial success. But, as with all things in the comic book industry, it will eventually “cool”, and things will return to normal.

Two ironies that result from this move is that

(A:) the DC Universe of this new continuity has NEVER experienced a “Crisis” -- it just all rebooted without all the wrenching trauma of a “Crisis” (… or WAS THERE a “Crisis” after all, and they characters simply don’t remember and, thus, do not reflect it in the new continuity)

(B:) I had walked away from DC Comics completely in the last 2-3 years, and this stunt was enough to draw me back in for a limited peak.

And, there was no better place to begin that “limited peak” than with the brand spanking new ACTION COMICS # 1) cover dated not 1938, but November, 2011!

The creative team of – not Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster, but Grant Morrison and Rags Morales, sure made it interesting. Honestly, it was not the greatest comic book ever (I never expected it to be!), but it was the equal of a good nineties “Elseworlds”.  And, by today's standards, that's good enough!

As is our custom in our DVD Reviews, we’ll inaugurate this new series of Comic Book Reviews by breaking it down into CONS and PROS.


3.99 Cover Price: Now, really! Isn’t FOUR BUCKS a little much for…

A Small Piece of the Story: Yeah, I get it. This IS how modern comics are done, and the aim is to bring you back for more next month. But, if only for the stunt of STARTING THE ENTIRE DC COMICS LINE OVER AGAIN, perhaps they could have TRIED for a more single issue / done-in-one approach in tribute to the way these things were done in ages past. Ahhh, I can’t be too hard on them for this.


It’s Superman: No matter the era. No matter the format. No matter the cover price and bite-size pieces of story. Superman is still the greatest superhero of them all! And, at least for now, we get an ongoing saga of his earliest days reimagined for modern sensibilities – yet, simultaneously remaining “classic".

It’s Grant Morrison: Since the mid/late ‘90s, few writers have turned out as many interesting (if not outright fascinating) stories as Grant Morrison. From his amazing run on ‘90s JLA to the 21st Century’s ALL STAR SUPERMAN (the latter adapted for a direct-to-DVD production by Bruce Timm and Warner Bros. earlier this year), Grant Morrison stands above the modern-day pack. In a time where I find myself enjoying the work of modern comic book writers less-and less by the HOUR (let alone by the day), Grant Morrison has become a precious resource – if not an outright “national treasure”!

It’s Rags Morales: Let the cover art and interior page sample speak for themselves. No, we’ll never have Curt Swan back (more’s the pity), but this is great stuff – in an “Image Comics” sort of way. And, best of all (beyond the “Image” influence, it seems more influenced by the great Brian Bolland than by Anime and Manga. That’s a good thing ANY day of the week!

It’s 28 and not 22: At least we get 28 pages of story (and not the standard 22) for that 3.99!

Not that the ad content is deceased by any means. This issue (and presumably future ones) has 40 interior pages, rather than the traditional 32. I guess the comic book as we know it will be subject to constant “re-jiggering” of its page count and content until it someday disappears altogether.

It’s Action # 1: Now, I can say I own “ACTION COMICS # 1"!

You can say it too! We can ALL say it! It’s kinda like when Oprah Winfrey gave everyone a car!


Superman plays ROUGH! He puts guys through WALLS! And he still LEAPS, rather than flies.

We are in a world not yet used to super-beings. The cape is mistaken for a “red parachute” (presumably seen that way as the downside of a mighty leap!)

Cop: “How do you do this to a gun?” (seeing it mangled)

Lead Cop: “We used to have LAWS in this town – like GRAVITY. You remember GRAVITY, right?”

The Superman costume is not yet complete. Clark wears jeans – not trunks and tights.

Is Luthor a businessman or has he reverted to a scientist? Can’t quite tell yet.

Clark works for the Daily Star – and George Taylor, as he did in the very early Golden Age!

Jimmy Olsen is STILL “Superman’s Pal” and Lois Lane (NOT Mrs. Clark Kent) is classically reckless in pursuit of her story. They work for the rival Daily Planet.

A magnificently handled runaway train sequence.


The bottom line is that I was more impressed than I expected to be!

Given this, I’d say they are off to a good start.


Comicbookrehab said...

There was NEVER a crisis?

I think we're in that period where some writers have an idea of what's going on and some don't but are just winging it, because there was a lot of continuity tied in with the last 3 or 4 Crisis events. Ralph, Sue, Ted, Billy, Vic, even Ratcatcher... could they still be around? Does this mean the old Parallel universe rules are in play again? Questions, questions, questions... ;)

Joe Torcivia said...

Always glad to see your thoughts posted here, ‘Rehab!

First, for those who may not know, click on “Comicbookrehab”’s Blogger profile above, and follow the link to his great comic book Blog. Indeed, he may be the only one, other than me, who likes the DuckTales episode “Ducky Horror Picture Show”.

But, back to DC Comics…

It was exactly the thought of “…some writers have an idea of what's going on and some don't but are just winging it,” that lead me to totally abandon DC Comics in recent years, after literally decades of support.

The continuity shifts came too fast, too furious, and seemingly without reason – and, as just as quickly forgotten (…Remember “The Viceroy” and his talking robotic owl? Don’t feel bad, if you don’t! DC probably doesn’t!) to the point where someone as devoted to the cause as I was could no longer keep up. This would be the period of about 2004-2010. By this time, the lingering influences of Paul Levitz were no longer felt, and Dan DiDio appeared to be remaking DC in his own image. It was more work than fun to read those comics – and reading comics should NEVER become “work”!

If some of the things (especially those done in the last few years) are undone, that’s perfectly fine with me. I’d really like to forget anything involving Sue, Jean, Ralph, and especially Doctor Light! Again… especially Doctor Light! In an ideal DCU, I’d also erase Damian Wayne and keep Tim Drake as Robin, but I can live with that, if need be.

That’s why (…despite my disappointment at finding Damian) I returned for a peek at the “New 52”.

I REALLY want to like DC Comics, but I want them to be “comics I like”. There were some really gruesome goings on in the new DETECTIVE COMICS # 1-2, but because it didn’t “injure” specific characters that hold a special place – and, in a mere two issues, continuity issues have not cropped up – I still liked it overall. I’ll take the ride for a limited time. Hopefully, longer.

I just don’t have faith in DiDio and the crop of modern creators to “do it right” over the long haul. We’ll see…

Ryan Wynns said...


Glad that you decided to check Action #1 out -- I knew you'd, overall, like it!

I think you'd like (if you haven't read it) the new Justice League, too. Some priceless exchanges between Batman and Green Lantern/Hal Jordan in #1, and in #2, a subtle tribute to the Silver Age Green Lantern-Flash team-ups.

Although not a Crisis proper, this past summer's Flashpoint mini-series is supposed to have something to do with the creation of this new universe. But I haven't read Flashpoint.


Joe Torcivia said...


You saw the ten-dollar price tags on JUSTICE LEAGUE # 1 at New York Comic-Con. That’s why I haven’t read it. That and another good friend of mine (unnamed here) did not recommend it. No matter, I can’t bring myself to give in to that kind of unnecessary extortion. Hopefully, a second printing or TPB will come my way.

Didn’t know that about FLASHPOINT. Will have to look for a TPB.


Ryan Wynns said...

I haven't read Flashpoint, so I can't recommend it. Yet another here-unnamed friend scoffed at the way in which it accounts for the creation of this new universe, so there very well may be reason to be wary of it...

There already has been a second printing of Justice League #1...that's the only way I was able to read it. Has that sold out, too? Well, maybe there will be a third!


Joe Torcivia said...

Just haven't looked for a 2nd Printing, yet. One way or another, Ryan, I'm certain that DC and Warner will find a way for me to catch up.

Comicbookrehab said...


I am hoping DC will seriously consider my idea to have Damian go to Space University in outer space - he can go hang out with John and Gillian from the Doctor Who comic strip, or evolve into the private eye from the "Who Killed Laurel Kent" story. Whatever. I don't hate Damian, I just think he's just one more cast member that's crowding the batcave. It's no wonder Bruce gets in his moods - he doesn't get enough "alone time" anymore. Last time, he was willing to let everyone think he killed his ex-girlfriend, Vesper - imagine what he'll do for an encore? ;)

The ten-dollar price tags don't surprise me one bit. But we might not be missing much. I think they're pondering what a "Dark-side" is in issue #2. I'll tune in when they're pondering what a "Royal Flush Gang" is, or what does a "The Key" do.

Comicbookrehab said...

Only two fans liked "Ducky Horror Picture Show"? LOL! See, I thought it was great because they managed to juggle so many characters and the pace never let up. It's not unlike some of zany stories Barks would do, like "The Loony Lunar Gold Rush", so I think it's just fans being picky, picky, picky...:)

That episode was part of a group that I like to think of as the 2nd season - "The Uncrashable Hindintanic", "Duckworth's Revolt", "Spies in Their Eyes" "Dime Enough For Luck" "'til Nephews do us Part" - large casts of supporting characters, lots more humor. The two feature-length specials that introduced Bubba and Gizmoduck would be the finale to it.

Joe Torcivia said...


My thoughts on Damian pretty much mirror yours. He’s one bat-cast-member too many. I don’t dislike him as much as I simply wish he wasn’t there.

It would have been more effective to have him not survive his initial story arc – and become one more layer of tragedy for Batman. Or, better still… become the heir to Ra’s Al Ghul that Bruce would never be.

Instead, we got a kid with a bad attitude – worse, even, than Jason… and we all know how that worked out. (…Or didn’t work out! …Or did and didn’t! …Or kinda! …Or Red Hood! …Or Dead Hood! -- all depending on which version of the shifting continuity you follow!) Who needs it!

And it’s TOO EARLY to introduce “Dark-Side” (or whatever)! He should be introduced in a “Big Event”, once the whole thing has been “off the ground” for a while.

Shifting to Ducktales: “Ducky Horror Picture Show” and (especially) “The Uncrashable Hindentanic” were two of my personal favorites.

You can read my thoughts on both (and other favorites) in this old post, where I review the DuckTales Volume Three DVD.


Comicbookrehab said...


After having him stare in the face of death several times, Damian's mellowed out a bit since he first appeared, even though his 1st appearances left a bad taste in everyone's mouth. They were so obviously trying to avoid the fates you described, so now, it seems like he's the new Harold - someone who's there, but not all there to give anyone a headache, or scratching their heads long enough to bother.

Seriously, just one visit from Brainiac 5: "Hello, you won a scholorship to Space U." In fact, didn't they establish that Ra's is alive and well in the Legion continuity? Easy, peasy.

Oh, and Red Hood is the new Grifter, as far as I can tell, with Starfire as the new Fairchild. Yeah, now I know some fans reading this comment will be scratching their heads - "Who?" Just rest assured that they were as famous as they are now almost forgotten.

I have a pet theory about why it seems like every story being told nowadays is a re-intro, but that deserves a blog entry...

Joe Torcivia said...

Harold? …HAROLD?!

Wow! Anyone who remembers Harold gets 100 points and a special shout-out at THIS Blog!

And, yes… Send Damian off into space! Have him get “lost in space”, in fact. Maybe Will Robinson could be a good influence on him!

Do that Blog entry. I’d find it interesting!