Thursday, 29 March 2012

The origins of New 52 Action Comics Superman!!!

I just started re-reading the first six issues of Action Comics because, with the final issue of the first arc still to get (the downside of buying comics from a distant shop), and an initial struggle for me to get on board with the series, I decided to re-read issues 1 through to 6 and see if I could get a better feel for the book second time round.
I confess that I have so far, which might end up saving it from the chopping block. However, it occured to me by issue 3 (specifically the scene where the police do a "search" of Clark's apartment) that Clark Kent/Superman is incredibly vocal about corruption, social justice etc. Now, this is most likely what Grant Morrison was going for when he wrote the book, as he had indicated bringing the character back to his 30's roots.
But what I wondered when reading this second time round was, in the story telling sense, how did Superman become this heavily outspoken critic of society and the corruption found within?
If you think about it, the only possible reasoning you could give is that, prior to Action Comics issue 1, something happened directly to Clark Kent (or by connection, Ma and Pa Kent) that was the result of the rich getting what they wanted while the poor suffered.
Now, this is totally conjecture because a lot of people feel the rich get more while they (the poor) suffer and take the hits in the world. However, very few of these people make such an aggressive effort to delve out some form of karma or retribution. No, for Clark Kent/Superman, the only possible reason would be that he directly suffered from social injustice.
How do I see that happening? Well, maybe Ma and Pa Kent were driving home in their nice Ford truck when some rich boy reckless driver ploughed into them, causing their deaths. When the time came for this kid to pay the piper and go to jail, he instead bribed the judge/jury to let him off. This idea (or something similiar), along with what the Kents taught him, would then have given the young man of steel an incentive to make sure that social justice was meted out to whoever escaped legal justice.
One can only hope that Grant Morrison and DC eventually go back to give the reasons behind his taking up the role of Superman beyond beging an alien and "because he is". It would give the character a depth that has never been seen, and I'll be sure to pick up that issue when they do.

Thursday, 1 March 2012

What's to go? X-Force, Action or something else???

Recently I've been having a bit of problem in deciding what to do regarding my comic collection. At present I pick up 10 ongoing comic book titles a month which is all well and good but still costs me more than I can afford.
Sadly, I'm a man of quality and so, as a result, every book I pick up on the monthly basis are titles which I enjoy more than any other in the world. For me, these books are the best of the best, the creme de le creme. But, despite their being the best titles I can find, they are still costing me more than I can (sadly) afford. So the question has to be; when you can't afford all the comics you want in a month, how do you decide what has to get cut?
For me, I simply start by taking all the titles and list them top to bottom. So, to begin with Mark Waid's Daredevil is top dog simply because.....well, it's just awesome (although I never expect anything less from Waid, check out his Fantastic four run for proof) and this is followed by Jeff Parker's Thunderbolts, which itself is a stroke of humourous genius, and new-comer the Activity by Nathan Edmondson which is really interesting and a nice breath of fresh air from the consistency of Superhero titles currently on my pull list.
So, after listing them by their quality (which is difficult) and their enjoyment (which isn't so much) the choices that are up for the cut are Uncanny X-Force, Action Comics and F.F.
Now Uncanny X-Force had a terrific first year, dominating pretty much every top ten and taking more than it's share of high reviewers praise. For me it was a fantastic ride which saw the corruption of Archangel, the ethical nature of a wet works mutant team and a tolerable Deadpool. However, this second year has begun with an incredibly bizarre opening arc which, most likely due to poor art, has really lost me my enjoyment of the title and put me off the book.
Action Comics, on the other hand, has come in as a relaunch, offering fans the chance to see a new take of Superman's early years in Metropolis. For me this book has not offered the same excitement as Uncanny and has given me a Superman who acts in a very "un-superman" manner. While it has maintained a greater consistency compared to Uncanny's year one to year two transition, it has not been anywhere near as compelling and I fear that it only holds on my pull list is so I can say I have a Superman title.
And then there is F.F. Originally a replacement title for Fantastic Four with the death of the Human Torch, this book is now a sister book after the return of the main title, focusing on the younger members of the Future Foundation. While I've always struggled with the title (mostly due to missing the Human Torch and the original line-up), since the return of the mother book, F.F. has fallen in quality, mainly due to my dislike of how main character Valeria is portrayed but also due to the poor artwork.  It's become a book I simply buy because i get the companion title, and that's maybe not the best move when on a limited budget.
However, despite these problems, I can't help but wonder if improvements are just around the corner. Jonathan Hickman (F.F.'s writer) has knocked some awesome stories out in Secret Warriors, Fantastic Four and, according to reviews the Ultimates, Grant Morrison rebuilt the Batman universe from the ground up single handed to make the best comic franchise going and Rick Remender, just prior to his current arc, wrote the Dark Angel saga (and if you ask why that's so special, you obviously haven't read it)
At the end of the day though, a comic book fan with limited funds needs to be cruel. The fact is that all three are coming to the end of their current arcs, with small arcs or single issue stories to follow. Therefore, allowing each book one last arc may give it the chance it needs to convince me it has the goods to stay on my pull list. So watch this space folks, because these next stories may be the last ones I read from one of these books.