REVIEW: Action Comics #0

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DC is still hitting its stride with all the zero issues being released this month, and Action Comics #0 by Grant Morrison and Ben Oliver is here and ready for a Major Spoilers review.

ACTION COMICS #0
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Ben Oliver
Letterer: Steve Wands
Editor: Matt Idelson
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99 ($4.99 Digital Combo Pack)

Previously in Action Comics: Rocketed to Earth from the dying planet Krypton, Kal-El grew up to become the world’s greatest hero – SUPERMAN! But before all of that happens, we need to learn a little bit about Clark Kent’s early days in Metropolis.

BEST. ISSUE. EVER.

No, really, it’s true. Though I’ve had my reservations and some back and forth over Grant Morrison’s handling of DC characters, it’s his run on Action Comics that has blown me away from the first issue. Through the year, we’ve been given glimpses, and pieces of a backstory that we were expected to either scratch our heads and ignore, or just wait for that moment when it all came together.

This is that issue… for the most part.

There are nice little character pieces in this issue that allows Mr. Morrison to give us that origin story that is needed to fill in the holes, but had this been the actual first issue, all the magic revealed later would have been a let down. The magical reveal of Clark’s landlady is so well done and a nod to the Golden Age character all the way down to the bowler hat. We’ve already seen the t-shirt gimmick done, but here Morrison confirms the tale spun in an earlier issue. Even the back-up story (written by Sholly Fisch) turns out to be something more than just another retelling of Captain Comet’s origin, but the origin of one Erik Drekken, who gave the hero no end of trouble way back in issue #5.

Readers also learn more about Jimmy Olsen, and of Clark’s crush on Lois from his first moments in the city. But the best tale told is the one about the boy who stole Superman’s cape. Yes, there may be that bit about the drunk father abusing his children that seems rather tired, but the way Morrison guides the readers through the beats that build to the moment when Superman shows he is more powerful than a locomotive (regardless of what Luthor would do later), and earns (or is it gives away) his hero name. It’s enough to bring a small tear to my eye, and Mr. Morrison deserves credit for creating an origin story that SHOULD be used as the basis for a Superman movie. Alas, it is too late for that now, but this story played out so well for me that I can see this issue serving as the basis for the first 20 minutes of a film.

There are a few things I was hoping to see a bit more of in this issue, specifically more on the black Superman on a parallel Earth, as well as some Legion of Super-Hero action with Clark. There are still more issues to come, and I’m sure these items will be addressed soon.

NOT RAGS MORALES

Rags Morales isn’t doing the art on this book. While I’m okay with that, Rags introduced the world to the blue jean wearing, work boot stomping, screen print t-shirt hero, and I wish we would have had the chance to see his take on that design one more time. Don’t get me wrong, Ben Oliver art is exceptional, and has that soft pastel look that creates a world of wonder, but Mr. Morales is my current go to artist of choice for drawing the adventures of Superman.

What I do like about Mr. Oliver’s style is the way the pages are presented – each page expanding and contracting due to the way the five panels are presented feels like the book is breathing. The use of the close-up is well handled, and the coloring of the glasses – giving the illusion that light is always reflecting off the glass, creates a mask for the hero when he isn’t out fighting for the rights of the downtrodden. This technique, along with Mr. Morrison’s writing, really make me believe that people wouldn’t recognize that Superman and Clark are the same person.

BOTTOM LINE: BUY IT! BUY IT, NOW!

If you are a passing fan of Superman, or have been on the fence about this whole zero issue gambit, do yourself a favor and pick up Action Comics #0. The story is exceptionally told, and though I have a few concerns about the art, I found this issue to be my favorite of the week. I can’t wait to see how Mr. Morrison wraps up his run on the series, and hope that the person who follows up doesn’t screw up this enjoyable story. Action Comics #0 is a must read, earning 4.5 out of 5 Stars.

Rating: ★★★★½