Saturday, December 10, 2011

DC New 52 Review: Action Comics #4

Action Comics #4
Written by Grant Morrison
Pencils by Rags Mor
Inks by Rick Byrant
& Sean Parsons
Cover Price: $3.99

In a nutshell:
Braniac attacks using Metallo but we only get a snippet.

The world is under attack when the machines of the world take life and start attacking people. The machines are being controlled by a being that calls itself "The Collector of Worlds" but it's pretty clear that this is the new DC Universe's version of Braniac, which, like Geoff John's and Gary Frank's version in the collected story Superman Braniac, has a Borg like quality a la Star Trek, which was a characteristic in the Superman Mythos since the Silver Age but really hasn't been capitalized in a modern way until this last decade. Lex Luthor helped bring this alien here however when he finds that the alien can't be bothered with him further he ends up acting very wormy (not unlike the way Gene Hackman portrayed him in Superman 2 with Zod). It's obvious that unlike past versions of Lex Luthor that has had this reverence for him as the ultimate Superman villain, Grant Morrison has little respect for him and sees him as a pathetic fool. Which isn't to suggest that I don't think that Morrison will make him a credible threat. But it's not this romantically evil character that we've seen before and I can't help but enjoy this take on this very real character in our society. Suddenly this world that just last issue was crapping all over Superman through it's 24 hour news cycle is suddenly asking itself where he is, and will he help us.

Why did I pick it up?
Grant Morrison has won me over. I used to think he was terribly overrated but this man has consistently proven to me that he can tell many kinds of amazing stories.

The Good:
You have to appreciate the irony here, suddenly everyone who was treating Superman as a threat is asking him for help. And again, I normally expect and appreciate Superman's modest and stoic quality that Christopher Reeves made such an example of, but you know, I think that when we see our world being eaten by the parasites who know how to work the system, not just the ones outside of it, it's hard not to see a man, who has so many powers and abilities and who refuses to challenge the system himself and who refuses to take any kind of stand for people in need if it might be considered political, as anything other than impotent which I think is exactly what Superman had become. Here, when the cops show up to arrest Superman at a moment of world crises, he's flippant. "Are you kidding? Slap on the bracelets boys. Otherwise stand back... and let me do my job!" He's not mocking them for being weak, he's mocking them for being so irrelevant to the real crises. And that's our problem in our real world so there is a payoff here!

The Bad:
It hasn't been that long since we got the Superman Braniac story by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank and so far this story hasn't really added anything to the Braniac Attacks motif. Making the Braniac character an insect of sorts is kind of creepy, which is cool, but it doesn't feel as creepy to me as the way Gary Frank portrayed Braniac and I think that when you rebook something you have to compare it to what it's immediately replacing. The back up story featuring John Henry Irons becoming Steel did nothing for me. It's not that it's poorly written or that the art is bad, I'm just not interested in the character of Steel. He's not who I buy the book for and having a story within a story just feels like a cheap way to squeeze something extra in that really wasn't needed. The art isn't a style that really turns me on. It just felt like filler and distracting filler because it takes place right in the middle of the story but it's by another writer and it just feels like a cheap way to introduce another character, and do we really need another introduction this early?

Is it worth it?
I feel like we haven't gotten enough movement in the main story for two months now and we're going to have to wait until issue 7 to move this story further since the next two issues are going to be an interlude, but it's the subtle presentation by Morrison of the character of Superman that makes this book worth following. I don't think the Steel extra justified the additional dollar that this book costs when compared to the other DC titles so hopefully DC is going to find their groove in justifying the extra dollar instead of just adding in filler.

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