The best thing about Action Comics #3 is the glimpse we get of Kal El’s home world of Krypton. The worst thing about Action Comics #3 is that we get a glimpse of Kal El’s home world of Krypton, and have to relive the whole Kandor tragedy again so soon after Geoff Johns turned the whole saga of Kandor into a the best Superman story written since The Death and Return of Superman was published almost twenty years ago. The past is no longer prologue though in the DCnU. In some cases this is a great thing, in others, particularly Superman’s case, it is a bad thing. It’s what we Superman fans have to deal with though, so no point bewailing it any further…
…so we’ll look at the good and the bad that Grant Morrison is visiting upon our favorite hero. Admittedly, and remember we’re only three issues in, Morrison seems to be doing a better job crafting a meaningfully revised myth of Superman than he did trying to create a new myth by killing off Batman, but revealing that he really wasn’t dead, or whatever. It is very obvious though that the upcoming Man of Steel film and the new, West Coast located, and movie centric DC Entertainment division of the company is dictating to, or at least working incredibly closely with, the comic book division. Morrison’s, most likely visually dictated, take on Krypton is most likely what we’re going to see Krypton as resembling in the new feature film. Just compare these images of Jor El in Action Comics #3 and Russell Crowe decked out as the same character for the upcoming film.
Morrison’s Krypton is populated by an uppity, scientifically gifted, and arrogant society that has mastered their planet, and their lives, through science. Honestly, the conversation snippets we’re privy to, as readers, amongst the denizens of the gathering at the beginning of issue #3, just before a creature, that most likely is Brainiac, attacks and does his thing with Kandor, are frighteningly similar to what one might overhear at an upscale gathering of snobs on Earth. Of course, only Jor El is smart and humble enough to believe that Krypton is nearing its destruction, and, of course, he’s ridiculed for it. We’ve seen all this before, but never looking exactly like this. Jor El’s outfit does contain subtle nods to the Silver Age version of Jor El, but as we’ve seen, is much more in line with Krypton circa 2013 (the Earth year that Man of Steel is to see release). It really is a shame though that there are no nods to Byrne’s Man of Steel era Kryptonian dress. At least Johns kept the Byrne design in continuity by making it the outfit of the Science Guild.
The rest of the issue, which is actually not really consistent with the cover art, often comic book covers don’t accurately portray an event in the book itself instead opting to capture the spirit of the book instead, we see Clark Kent investigated by the Metropolis Police for his rebel rousing writing, the creature suspected to be Brainiac make inroads into destroying Earth (aided by Lex Luthor of course), and the theme that those who are different can be both bad and good is fully established. Superman is different. Brainiac is different. They are both aliens. One is good and one is bad, and Lex Luthor, who is as non-other as possible to those like him, is downright evil. Morrison is obviously setting up the theme that one shouldn’t judge another based on his or her cultural or “alien” status, but by the nobility of their soul. Superman isn’t human, but he’d sacrifice himself out of love for his fellow inhabitants of Earth in order to save them. Luthor is human and he’s trying to collaborate with Brainiac. ‘Nuff said. Nothing brilliant here, but it is good to see that Morrison is shying away from the “sun god” thing and sticking with the social justice commentary instead.
I know Kara...I read Superboy #3 too!
I keep bouncing back and forth in my praise for or against both Action Comics and Superman as they’ve been re-imagined here. At first, Action Comics just completely wasn’t what I expected or hoped to see, but now it is coming around, and at first Superman was incredibly good, but now has fallen behind Action Comics, mostly because of its horrific portrayal of the DCnU Lois. As of this month Action Comics is the one to read, not Superman. Who knows which will be better next month? All I know is that I’m longing for the days when all the Superman Family titles were great. We won’t even talk about Supergirl and the really terrible Superboy…those are topics for another time…
Oh, and I guess the line that was drawn at $2.99 was made of magic ink. It's disappeared. Note the cover price to Action Comics #3.