Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Action Comics #1 (2011)

I wasn’t originally planning on buying this, as I am not a big fan of Superman comics.  I like most of the Superman movies a lot, even the most recent one, and even quite enjoy watching Smallville, but Superman comics have just never really done it for me.  I am generally not a big fan of any DC comics, have very little interest in the recent DC reboot, of which this is a big part, and as regular readers of this blog (I know there are at least two of you out there) will know, I am not even that keen on the writing of Grant Morrison.  However, one of the few Superman comics I have enjoyed in recent years is All Star Superman, which is also one of the few Grant Morrison books I really like, and as Action Comics #1 has received rave reviews pretty much everywhere, I thought I should check it out.  And – surprise, surprise! – I didn’t like it that much.

I do like the fact that Morrison has taken Superman back to basics, has made him less powerful, and has him tackling crooked businessmen at the beginning of the comic, rather than super-villains – which seems like a good / obvious move in this post-credit crunch era we live in.  However, I can’t imagine that Superman’s reduced power levels will last long and Superman versus big business didn’t even last until the end of this first issue, as the main villain was quickly revealed as yet another version of Lex Luthor.  Another positive is that, unlike many other comics written by Grant Morrison, this issue actually made sense to me.  Actually, I wouldn’t have guessed it was the work of Grant Morrison if it didn’t say so in the credits.  There were no really weird bits – nobody took acid, nobody hallucinated, nobody broke through any fourth walls – but there also weren’t any really good bits either.  It was certainly an action packed comic, but it was also kind of dull.

With better art, this might have seemed like a better comic.  Rags Morales is not a bad artist – he is certainly well above average – and I seem to remember quite enjoying his work on the couple of issues of the First Wave mini-series I read, but on big superhero books like Identity Crisis, and on this, his art just reeks of the old DC house style – not bad at all, but really quite variable (some panels appear to be the work of a superior artist, while many others look hurried) and also not particularly stylish.  Had this been drawn by Frank Quitely, I probably would have thought a lot more of the whole endeavour, but as it is, this just seemed like a an above average Superman comic from the 1990s, in which Superman wears jeans and throws villains off of tall buildings to force a confession out of them, even though said confession probably wouldn’t stand up in a court of law.   

This issue ends on a cliffhanger, but I must say that I am remarkably uninterested in what happens next, and won’t be buying the next issue – I feel like a bit of a sucker for falling for the hype and buying this issue!  I bought the digital version of this comic, from Comixology, and paid $3.99 (about £2.54) for it.  That was the full cover price, but it still worked out cheaper than buying the paper version of this comic from my local comic shop, as UK comic shops have to take into account shipping costs, etc., and I think my LCS charges £3.30 for a $3.99 comic.  Still, if I’d waited a few weeks, I could have got this from Comixology for $2.99 or less – in my defence, I was drunk when I bought this – and I really wish I hadn’t bought it at all. 


  1. You're comic shop charges £3.30 for a $3.99 floppie. Ouch! Far be it from me to say (which of course means I'm going to say it doesn't it), and I don't know what your options are but you need another LCS!. That's as much as 40p more expensive than my LCS (the wonderful if old skool Sheffield Space Centre, in Shef... oh that's not necessary is it).

    I have to be honest I don't pay that much attention to the individual prices as they check out but I know last time I looked (about 6 months ago) it they only charged £2.90 and I don't think the £ has moved that much against the $ since then.

  2. Yep, £3.30 for a $3.99 floppie. Their TPBs are usually at least a pound or two above the RRP, too. I can usually get a floppie cheaper on eBay, even taking into account postage costs. I'll have to start searching for a cheaper comic shop in Kent, but I'm not hopeful.

  3. For somebody not interested in DC's reboot you bought a lot of the comics, Rob. :-)

    Fun review but despite your criticisms, I'm still going to watch for this (on the ration, of course) as Morrison rarely disappoints me.

  4. I know. The only one I thought I would be remotely tempted by is the new All-Star Western comic, which isn't out yet, but then I got tempted by Swamp Thing, and then I got swayed by reviews of some of the other titles, and when I went to Comixology the other day to buy two other (non-DC) comics (which I haven't reviewed yet), I ended up buying four DC reboot titles, too! I will probably stick with Swamp Thing for a couple more issues, I will probably try another issue of Animal Man, and I may as well check out All-Star Western, but I will definitely wait until they drop in price to at least $1.99, as I feel stupid paying more than that for a digital comic with no resale value.

  5. Yeah, but you can't sell downloads on eBay when you're done with them to make some of your money back.

  6. The lack of resale value is why I won't normally pay more than $1.99 for a digital comic, and prefer to pay nearer 0.99c. Although I have a lot of graphic novels, I don't really collect monthly comics anymore, so most of the comics I do buy I tend to read once and then sell on eBay. This usually results in a large loss, if I manage to sell the comics on at all, and these days I would rather just spend a smaller amount on a download and save myself the hassle and disappointment of having to sell stuff on eBay. (Note: The last time I looked, Action Comics #1 was selling at well above cover price on eBay, so I would have been better off buying the actual comic, but most stuff I buy tends to plummet in value very quickly and I'm lucky if I manage to get 99p.)