Comics / Comic Reviews / DC Comics

Action Comics #12 Review

By Zak Edwards
August 3, 2012 - 17:31

With Grant Morrison announcing at least a sabbatical from DC next year, these issues of Action Comics have become more precious for those who love Morrison’s work.  For those who hate it, it doesn’t bear the same weight, but I am not one of those.  Personally, I have been quite the fan of Morrison and his work on Action Comics since the reboot, having previously penned one of the very few Superman stories that don’t bore me (All Star Superman).  Rather than coming up with huge threats, Morrison has kept the young Superman battling things he doesn’t fully understand and can’t quite effectively punch.  For example, last issue, Superman saved a burning tenement housing unit and quickly rebuilt it, only to have it pointed out that the property value just skyrocketed.  Effectively, Superman threw an entire building of people on the street and gave even more money to those he famously fought in the first issue.  Watching a young Superman try to figure out what he’s doing is much more interesting than the usual 'punch until better' formula and Morrison (who mentioned he was starting to feel the need to do something different in his book Supergods last year) keeps Action Comics reading differently as well.

Action Comics #12 is an event, or maybe more than one, in a single issue.  The sheer amount of what happens in this issue fights against the years of decompression comics have been mimicking and brings an entire epic in just thirty pages.  Granted, its a third longer than DC’s other books, but it packs a lot into those pages.  Just like every other issue in the series, the book feels like a continual in media res, where the reader is dropped into the middle of things over and over again, much of the story feels like it’s happening just outside the panel (something Scott McCloud argues is the purpose of the space between panels, what he refers to as the gutter) and keeps the reader questioning and engaged.  I’ll admit, the breakneck pace of these books, bringing characters into desperate situations with little to no context and resolving things every issue, is actually quite exhilarating and never am I left feeling in the dark.  Time, or the lack of using it sequentially, is something Morrison has no problem with, and the comic skips along at a daring pace; introducing a villain, giving a comprehensive background, tying him to a larger threat, and defeating him (among other things) while giving glimpses of past Superman stories and the possible future of the hero.  The book seems to happen almost simultaneously and fans of Morrison’s independent work will know this is just how he likes it.  Seeing this level of experimentation in one of the most heavily followed DC books is exciting, but I’m even more excited to see Morrison return to doing what he wants with things he makes himself.  He may be doing less drugs, but he is still one of the most important writers in Britain today, and certainly one of the most under-appreciated.

I wish I could say the same about the art in this book, which is rushed and, judging by the multiple art credits, suffering from the strict deadlines DC is imposing.  It’s no secret DC is making their creators pump out books on a strict schedule and I think the art has been the most obvious aspect to suffer across the entire line.  Books are using multiple artists, switching artists, and not giving them time to draw quality work and that much is obvious with Action Comics.  Giving the even higher page count, it’s a miracle this book came out on time.  That being said, I’ve never really been a fan of Rag Morales work, it makes me long for Mark Bagley more than anything else (who is also known to be a machine at drawing, Ultimate Spider-Man came out every three weeks for years), an obvious influence on Morales work.  However, characters sort of just look continually off, too squashed, too elongated, faces too screwed up or simply too blank.  The book’s writing suffers at the hands of an art team simply trying to keep up and it’s unfortunate.  That being said, the final conversation between Superman and his landlady, where she turns Cubist, is quite well done.  Overall, the art shows a stressed art team who will complain about the working conditions in a few years.

Grade: 6.5/10    Art suffers in a brilliantly written book.

Last Updated: July 2, 2020 - 16:53

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