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Superman - Action Comics Vol. 1: Superman and the Men of Steel (The New 52)

Action Comics, Vol. 1: Superman and the Men of Steel - Grant Morrison, Rags Morales, Andy Kubert Not a bad reboot for the franchise. Unlike most of the fanboys, the name of Grant Morrison gives me great trepidation. I don't believe him the golden child most fans think he is. Whether it's poor editing or just poor scripting, I had huge problems with Final Crisis and his work on Batman before the New 52 got underway (minus of course Batman and Robin with Dick Grayson and Damian Wayne, which I thought was inspired). I think the best way to sum up my feelings about Action Comics at this point is relief. Upon completion, I let out a huge sigh of relief that most of the core character that I hold so dearly is still intact, updated and ready for the 21st century while respecting the Siegel and Shuster origins in all that really matters.

Clark Kent is an intrepid reporter fighting for the common man - investigating corrupt corporations and becoming the bane of the wealthy, privileged and inhumane in Metropolis in a way that makes him few friends and very little money while his alter ego gains notoriety and the revulsion of a xenophobic population unaccustomed to "superheroes" in their midst. There's something fresh-feeling about Clark in these pages and Morrison manages to convey that with some degree of subtlety, without having to spell it out in awkward and obvious panels. This is a Clark that's still learning the ropes. He's principled, not invincible and far from in complete control of his emotions. He's a young man on the path to fulfilling the destiny we all know is his and knowing that sort of fills the space between and gives a weight to the story that otherwise wouldn't be there. What remains to be seen is where this Clark will get his grounding; both Martha and Jonathan have passed away. Morrison does more than hint at Lana filling the role of Smallville humanity battery recharger and, interestingly enough, Clark's landlady, the nosy but sweet Ms. Nyxby also appears an early shoulder to cry on and gives us some new dynamics to look forward to.

The new storyline definitely starts off with a bang and keeps you thrilled to the conclusion. In the midst of the alien witch hunt begun by Lex Luthor and paranoid xenophobic military officials, events conspire to put Superman in a more heroic light as defender of the Earth, taking him from zero to hero in the first eight issues of storyline. There are some remarkable similarities between this iteration of the origin story and the one pursued in Earth One. There are some reviewers who've said this reboot kind of makes Earth One redundant. I disagree. Actually, I prefer Earth One and Straczynski's take. A lot of this reboot feels more like the gimmicky retconning I hate in the DC universe's Crisis series. They may be necessary, but the stories are hokey and I don't find them nearly as epic as they're built up to be. They always feel like so much housekeeping to me. Great Superman stories tend to be more introspective than slug-fest, but occasionally the two can coexist like they did in Morrison's [b:Absolute All-Star Superman|7719640|Absolute All-Star Superman|Grant Morrison|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320551085s/7719640.jpg|10465171]. Even better than that though, is a lot Kurt Busiek or Jeph Loeb's work with the character (see Superman For All Seasons and Up, Up and Away to see what you can really do with the character). Still, the series doesn't completely blow it and come unglued and there's foundation for that Loeb-like character development hidden in the tangled back and forth web of storylines Morrison has created here.