Metallo revealed! Steel arrives! Robots rampage, cities shrink, and Superman wears white after Labor Day!

ACTION COMICS #4
Writer: Grant Morrison
Penciller: Rags Morales
Inkers: Rick Bryant and Sean Parsons
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Patrick Brousseau
Cover: Rags Morales and Brad Anderson
Editor: Matt Idelson
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in Action Comics: Having escaped the clutches of the military, Superman has retreated into his Clark Kent persona, hoping to gain respect as a reporter. Unfortunately, while covering a factory story, the robots take on a mind of their own… or more specifically the mind of the alien force orbiting the planet from above.

TWEAKING HISTORY

It’s mayhem and madness in the streets of Metropolis as robots, calling themselves Terminauts, begin collecting artifacts that need preserving. Though they aren’t causing immediate harm to the citizens of Metropolis it is clear the citizens need Superman to save the day. And when he does appear, it’s a robot kicking display of man and metal that we haven’t seen since Max Fleischer brought us The Mechanical Monsters.

Not only do readers get a chance to see the metal menaces maraud through Metropolis, what we assume is Metallo appears as John Corbin’s anti-Superman suit is fully fueled and ready to give Superman the ol’ what for. And in an attempt to outdo himself, Morrison also gets John Henry Irons into the act as he suits up and becomes Steel for the first time in the New 52. While all this is going on, Lois and Jimmy attempt to capture the story, and Lex Luthor does everything he can to escape the fate of the fair city – being shrunk into the Bottled City of Metropolis.

There is a lot of action in this particular issue leading up to the big reveal that the city is now at the mercy of a still mysterious alien (Brainiac?), and that Superman and the army come to a truce so Superman can save General Lane’s daughter. The one odd bit of storytelling comes in Steel’s battle with Corbin, as readers are asked to jump to the eight page backup to see that fight in full. And since the backup isn’t written by Morrison, the transition seems screwy.

Though I’ve been on both sides of the Love-Morrison-Hate-Morrison debate, I think Superman is the one character Morrison loves enough to tell decent stories. There are some great one-liners as Superman tells the police to step aside, and Luthor scrambles to save his sorry hide, and overall there is a sense of hero worship going on

A FEW ICONIC PANELS… and a few party fouls

Rags Morales once again delivers some superb art. THere’s something about the way Morales draws Superman in a t-shirt and jeans that look like the character has been wearing that costume style since the 1930s. The change in shirt color from blue to white is still a mystery to me, and probably others as well. Maybe Clark tossed in one too many cap fulls of bleach in the last wash…

And while Morales offers up some great panels, he also throws up a couple of panels that look goofy. The panel where Superman tells the police to let him do his job features the Man of Steel in a pose and look that should go down as an iconic panel – it simply shines, but then four panels later Superman looks like he has a bad case of amblyopia.

BOTTOM LINE: STILL A FUN RIDE

DC is riding high on the success of this rebranding/relaunch/reboot and Action Comics is a great example of what a company can do with the right talent, the willingness to take a risk in retelling origins, and keeping fans (new and old) interested in the story. While I don’t like the jump in the Steel story, and some of the Luthor silliness is rather anti-lex, the art is good and the overall roller coaster ride of a story Morrison is serving up earn this issue 3.5 out of 5 Stars.

Rating: ★★★½☆

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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6 Comments

  1. Ian
    December 13, 2011 at 12:28 am — Reply

    The robot on the cover looks like it could be the villain for a Pixar movie (Wall-E 2 or something)

  2. Oldcomicfan
    December 13, 2011 at 5:39 am — Reply

    Okay, I know Grant Morrison likes to play fast and loose with continuity like an ADD inflicted child with half a set of Legos, but one of the mainstays of continuity in the DC universe is that Superman was never able to figure out how to unshrink the Bottled City of Kandor. So now, all of sudden, Metropolis get shrunk. You know by the end of the next issue Supes will have figured out how to unshrink Metropolis, Kandor be damned. Otherwise it would be like Bruce Wayne discovering that the Bat Cave had been filled with E.T. the Video Game cartridges by a renegade toy company. Oh, wait, I shouldn’t have said that. Grant Morrison would totally steal that idea and use it.

    • Q
      December 13, 2011 at 2:15 pm — Reply

      Geoff Johns did this with the “Brainiac” storyline in Action Comics. iirc, both Kandor and Metropolis were brought to full size in the end.

  3. Ari
    December 13, 2011 at 7:28 am — Reply

    I really felt like the layouts in this issue were confusing. That was true before I got to the weird editors note telling me I would see the resolution to the fight at the end of the issue. This issue and the last one seemed like there were panels missing or maybe pages missing. I don’t know if that’s on Morales or Morrison, but I really hope it clears up, because $3.99 is not something I would tender for more issues like this.

    Also, John Henry Irons is a tan, more fit Luthor. I was confused for a second on that page.

    • December 13, 2011 at 7:51 am — Reply

      Yes… that was also very confusing when he appeared…

  4. TaZ
    December 13, 2011 at 9:45 am — Reply

    The problems with the art and coloring were distracting but I am still enjoying this version of “Superman lite”. Having Steel be the person that “created” Mettalo is interesting.

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