Thursday, 1 November 2012

Action comics annual #1

So, yesterday I had to make a difficult choice when it came time to pick up my weekly comic books because all that was in my file waiting for me to pick up was Action Comics Annual #1. This choice was ultimately difficult because, up until now with this series, Grant Morrison's work hasn't exactly made me enthusiastic for the book in either the majority of the stories offered or the portrayal of the man of steel. However, on the flip side, I have got every issue so far and the collector in me desperately wants to have a full collection. Fortunately, Sholly Fisch's story in this annual certain doesn't make me regret the decision to buy.
Fisch's story takes place (as stated in a box on the first page) after issue 8 of the regular series and focuses on the aftermath of events spinning out of that first arc, with Superman visiting John Henry Irons in order to better understand their working relationship while General Sam Lane confronts Lex Luthor over his involvement in the attack by the Collector of Worlds. These two plot threads are then joined by the origin story of the new Kryptonite man, who agrees to become this in order to exact revenge for Superman's prior involvement (which I'm sure was in a prior issue but just couldn't find it).
Honestly, after reading this story, I found myself totally shocked at how good it was, expecting something of a similiar nature to what I had read of the regular series so far, but Sholly Fisch has come in with this book and made an issue that blows Grant Morrison's stuff out the water. The story is incredibly engaging, with aspects which were apparently ignored in the regular series like Luthor's treason and Steel's future being given centre stage here. Also, the characters are written better in this, with Luthor and Gen. Lane having more depth in this one issue than the rest of the series so far, but the main change being Superman himself, who seems closer to how, I think, Superman should be portrayed. He's proactive like he has so far been in this series, but he's much less aggressive and confrontational and more optimistic, as well as coming off more wary where, in other titles, he just seems overly paranoid.
As for the art, Cully Hamner has brought his A game here and improved the title tenfold, though I'm not sure how he did it. His art is a very different approach to what a lot of books are going for these days, but Hamner's work, while not overly counter-culture, is just off centre enough to give it style. The characters in here just radiate a whole new level of class. It's an art that I couldn't tell you why I like it, but it doesn't matter when at the end of the day I think if this art was here all the time I'd be more inclined to read this book first every time.
At the end of this book, after realizing that it was a great book, I had a bittersweet thought: sweet in that I enjoyed this book so much, but bitter because I knew the quality would drop again upon returning to issue 14. All I can say is that this book is the best Action Comic I've read since the series launched and if DC put the Fisch and Hamner on the book full time, they wouldn't hear any complaints from me.

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