The New 52 Review Week 2
Action Comics #1
Or as I like to call it: Superman Returns!
Now, there’s a reason why Hollywood addresses Superman’s origin in every movie they make about him. It’s because for decades, it’s been the most interesting Superman story. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some really good Superman books over the years and some extremely talented writers and artists have hit a few home runs. But it always seems that these are temporary flashes and then Superman stories go back to being boring and predictable. After all, unlike Batman or even The Flash, Superman doesn’t really have a great rogues gallery. At the top you have Darkseid, Lex Luthor, and Brainiac, but then somewhere down the line you get Toyman and Mister Mxyztplk. Let’s face it, there are only so many stories you can mine with these kinds of villains, some good, and some really bad. With this new push by DC to attract new readers, the status quo had to change, and does it ever!
When I say “Superman Returns,” I’m not just playing on the movie title. I mean that in Action Comics #1 we are seeing a Superman that hasn’t been seen since the 1930s and ’40s. DC has brought the man of steel back to his roots. He’s no longer a god-like hero from the stars and his enemies aren’t galaxy-conquering warlords, wielding chunks of kryptonite. This Superman fights against corrupt politicians, greedy businessmen, gangsters, and even men who beat their wives. If you do wrong and hurt people, Superman will find you and knock you to pieces! Grant Morrison has also scaled back his powers to what they were back in the ’30s. For example, he isn’t completely invulnerable and he can’t fly…yet. But he is faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and can leap tall buildings in a single bound!
And with a fantastic story by Morrison and beautiful artwork by Rags Morales, Superman is two other things again: interesting and relevant.
Detective Comics #1
So far, this has been the one book of the new 52 that didn’t really seem to flaunt any of the changes from the old continuity. That’s not to say that it’s a bad thing, but it did surprise me a bit. There are obvious hints that things are not what they once were. Chief among those are the moments where Batman is still trying to understand the Joker’s modus operandi. I really did enjoy this book. To me, it felt like one of those Batman detective stories that I used to read in the 1980s. I always loved those. Tony Daniel has hit every beat with this book and his writing is a lot better than I expected. I’d go so far as to say it’s on par with his pencils. There is a great deal of beautiful artwork to look at here and at times, the combination of Daniel’s art and the colour scheme made me think of Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns. Batman is driven, somewhat detached, extremely intelligent, and a little paranoid —and that’s exactly how I like my Batman. The Joker is his usual lunatic self in this story and after the splash page at the end, you really get the sense that this one is going to be a wild ride.
As I said, the overall changes to the DCU were not as obvious in this book as they were in Action Comics, so it’s hard to say anything else other than that it is a great Batman story and I’m really excited to see where it goes.
Next, I will give you a beast-themed review of Hawk and Dove #1 and Animal Man #1. Here’s a tease: I loved one and I hated the other. ;)
Stay tuned and enjoy the ride. After all, it’s comics.