Superman may be the protector of the City of Tomorrow, but can he save the world today? And what does he do when the citizens turn against the one who wants to protect them all?

ACTION COMICS #3
Writer: Grant Morrison
Pencillers: Rags Morales and Gene Ha
Inkers: Rick Bryant and Gene Ha
Colorists: Brad Anderson and Art Lyon
Letterer: Patrick Brosseau
Cover: Rags Morales and Brad Anderson
Variant Cover: Gene Ha and Art Lyon
Editor: Matt Idelson
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in Action Comics: Having been captured by the military thanks to a devious scheme by Lex Luthor, Superman escapes his confines after enduring all manner of torture at the hands of his captors.

FINDING HIS WAY IN THE WORLD

The issue kicks off with a look at the final days of Krypton, when the Terminauts begins sampling the population for storage. I don’t know if Brainiac is being replaced with this Terminaut, but the alien entity pops up again at the end of the issue when machines and technology are once again taken over. That will spell big trouble for Superman (and turns the tables on the Metallo/John Corbin origin story as well).

But before any of that happens, the bulk of the issue is spent with the revelation that Superman’s assault on Glen Glenmorgan has backfired, and the media mogul is using the power of the press to turn the citizenry against the hero. Even something as simple as rescuing a girl about to be run down by a truck turns into an ugly mob scene, and pushes Clark to the brink of giving up the heroing business. There’s also an interesting moment where Clark’s landlady discovers his secret. That moment doesn’t play out to the full conclusion, which is disappointing, but it should allow for more story moments down the road.

For some reason, the story feels more rushed than it should, and certain scenes seem forced, while others seem cut short. With the brouhaha around the death of Krypto and the six legged goat seen in issue #2, the one panel exchange Clark has with a homeless woman who exclaims a white ghost dog is watching over him seems like something fitted in as a reaction, rather than a natural part of the story. Overall, I like what Morrison presented to the reader this issue, but the feeling of editorial meddling is present.

THE ART OF TWO WORLDS

It’s always risky when you mix artists in a single issue, but Rags Morales keeps things grounded by providing the art for the real world, while Gene Ha delivers up a unique look at Krypton in Clark’s dream. I really like Ha’s interpretation of the clothing and architecture of Krypton – it’s a modern interpretation of the Deco period that still makes everything seem futuristic.

On the Morales side, I still like how Rags keeps Clark looking meek and abused, while Superman is clean and strong. There may be an underlying message from Morrison on the view of the alien (clean and good) vs. humans who generally come off as dirty looking.

BOTTOM LINE: HOLDING THE LINE AT $2.99?

I understand DC’s desire to make the general public think that they are really concerned about prices. Action Comics #3 features a $3.99 cover price for 20 pages of story and 8 pages of supplemental content that gives a behind the scenes look at the rest of the Superman books the company publishes. I could care less about the bonus content, I’m here for the story of Superman, and that page to price ratio is pushing the limit. I like what Grant Morrison is serving up; there are interesting twists to the old myths and the art by Rags Morales continues to rock. I want to see how one man (albiet a super man) defends the planet from a real alien menace, when the entire populace of Krypton couldn’t do it. I want to see Morrison take the Superman mythos to a whole new level, but by “holding the line at $2.99” with a $3.99 book, I’m not sure I’m going to continue much longer. The story is fantastic, but the cover price should give you pause, and ultimately hurts the overall rating of the issue. Action Comics #3 earns 4 out of 5 Stars.

Rating: ★★★★☆

The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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9 Comments

  1. November 4, 2011 at 2:37 pm — Reply

    I couldn’t agree more about the price tag and I can’t figure out why more aren’t talking about it.

    I almost feel like we get less than other comics for 25% more. I’m dropping it and it’s sad because I love the story, art, and direction. Let’s face it. Comics aren’t cheap.

  2. MarkW
    November 4, 2011 at 2:44 pm — Reply

    Sure $3.99 for 20 pages is a rip, but at least in this particular issue you get at least twice as much story as the average DC 20 pager. This issue justifies it’s price more than any of the $2.99 DCnU books that I’ve read so far have.

    But I am glad to see real backups start next issue, otherwise I’d be dropping it and waiting for the trade. The behind the scenes filler last week was at least interesting. This was just 8 more pages of ads.

  3. Oldcomicfan
    November 5, 2011 at 11:28 am — Reply

    Perhaps it has escaped your notice that many things are “Holding the Line on Price Increases” by making the flipping thing smaller. Have you noticed that tuna cans now hold only 5 oz. instead of 6? Or that Campbells Soup Cans are smaller than they used to be? Or the cardboard cartons of ice cream at Safeway are now half as deep as they used to be but they stock them face on in the store so you hopefully won’t notice? Or that Rocky Road candy bars are half as tall as they were a year ago? Lunchables are smaller and have less in them. And so on. And has the price gone down? Not one cent. So ounce for ounce you are paying more for less. In the eighties, at the height of the comic book explosion, I bought a small fortune in comics every month. One of my favorites was, at the time, The Savage Dragon. I quit buying it, though, when Eric Larson reduced the number of pages of art to 12 a month, and filled the rest of the book with ads and multipage editorial rants in text. It’s always sad when a producer tries to give you less of what you want for more money, and then tries to make you believe they are giving you a bargain. A case in point – the U.S. Postal Service sent mail all over the country for anywhere between 2¢ and 5¢ a letter from the 1860s to the 1970s and made money doing so. Then Congress, in its infinite wisdom “privatized” the post office, and now in spite of twice yearly price increases, and stamp prices so high they don’t even want to put the number on the stamps any more, they are going broke. Hmmm. Comic books used to sell for between 5¢ and 12¢ and it seemed an outrage when they went up to 60¢ an issue! In the late 80s I was paying over five bucks an issue for the color volumes of Ranma 1/2 and the black and white volumes of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (or was it Noisycuss of the Valley of Breaking Wind). Admittedly, they were large, perfect bound volumes with quite a few pages in them, but still… I recently bought a Superman comic and it was $3.99 plus postage (ouch) because we have not comic book store near there. The art, paper, printing and coloring, and even the story were far superior than what we got in the old 60¢ comic days. Only you can decide if this increase in quality is worth the increase in price.

    That does beggar a variation on the post office question above: How come the comic book companies could make oodles of money selling comics at 10¢ apiece but now they have to charge three to four bucks for a comic that is both smaller in size and smaller in page count?

    You only need to look at the circulation numbers to answer that question. In the old days, comics had circulation numbers todays publishers have wet dreams about. Which leads me to believe that it is their marketing and distribution methods that are at fault here. You used to be able to buy comics at every grocery store, drug store, gas station and news stand in town. Now you can only get them at specialty shops which not every town has any more. Maybe, instead of revamping their comic universes every ten years ago and foil embossing their covers and such, the comic book publishers should take a look at how they put their comics into the hands of potential readers.

    • November 5, 2011 at 7:37 pm — Reply

      Amen, amen, amen.

      But the thing is that Diamond has a strangle-hold on comic distribution, and they don’t target anything but specialty retailers. Other retail outlets that were traditional comics outlets (book stores, grocery stores, or news stands) don’t want to add another distributor on if they can help it. As such, it would require comics publishers to make inroads to major magazine distributors OUTSIDE of Diamond, and I’m sure that would make everyone pretty antsy.

  4. Jimmy
    November 5, 2011 at 3:30 pm — Reply

    Did anyone else think that Clark Kent looked eerily like Harry Potter while in his apartment?

  5. hunterDan
    November 5, 2011 at 7:50 pm — Reply

    You’re a Kryptonian HARRY..

  6. Steve
    November 20, 2011 at 7:47 am — Reply

    Am I the only one who never looks at cover price in making decisions? Hell, I didn’t even ask for the total when I paid for last week’s books…

    • November 20, 2011 at 5:43 pm — Reply

      Am I the only one who never looks at cover price in making decisions?

      You’re probably not the only one, but I know *I* have to watch carefully any more…

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