ACTION COMICS #9
What did the
Art by Gene Ha & Cully Hamner
Colored by Brad Anderson
Cover by Gene Ha & Art Lyon
Size: 40 pages
Before I started working in comic retail, I was almost exclusively a Marvel guy. I liked some of the Bat titles, but most of the DCU just didn’t appeal to me. All the alternate universes, the continuity that I didn’t grow up familiar with (really, the only reason I was a Marvel guy was because that was the company whose comics I read first), and the goddamned Superman.
I know there were a series of articles recently on iFanboy talking about how much they loved Superman. I don’t begrudge anyone what they like. Personally, he’s not a hero I enjoy reading. I rarely like his own books, and he’s one of the primary reasons I can’t get into the various incarnations of the Justice Leagion of Dark International Society (if that sounds disparaging, you should hear what I call the various X-books, which I generally enjoy). You’ve got to make me work to love a Superman story.
And Grant Morrison? I don’t hate him. Hate’s way too hyperbolic. If Morrison’s “Final Crisis” and Millar’s “Nemesis” had a baby, I would be seriously annoyed by it, but I don’t think I’d hate it.
And typing of Millar, it’s my understanding that it was his idea to kill Peter Parker in The Marvel Ultimate Universe, in order to create a Black Spider-Man. It seemed more about marketing than story, conceptually, but the actual story Bendis is weaving around Miles Morales is every bit as interesting as the story he wove around Parker, so I love it.
However, it seems to have started a trend where, instead of investing their creative energies in creating interest in new or already established Black characters, the big three (that’s right, Image, I see your Invincible)seem to think it’s easier to just create Black versions of the more popular characters. I think that’s a weak device, and speaks more of marketing than of storytelling or interest in diversifying their brand.
All of this is why I looked at this issue, shook my head, and thought “Fuck you, Didio. Fuck you, Morrison.”
I was wrong.
Yes, making the Superman of Earth 23, Black, is a cheap gimmick. Yes, Luthor yelling that he’s not racist, he just hates Superman is a bit over the top. And, yes, making the names of the Kryptonian cities this version of Kal-El comes from sound more African is pretty gross. All of these things are ridiculous, and deliberately provocative (a deliberately provocative Morrison is as surprising as a misogynist Frank Miller); they’re also completely superfluous.
Morrison has written a really great Elseworld Superman tale with a President Superman who happens to be Black. But, once past the first few pages, the emphasis is not on a Black President or a Black Superman, it’s on a President Superman, which is much more interesting. Oh, he’s Black, but, he’s also a man with five fingers. It’s part of who the character is, but it’s not the focus.
This is a story about what happens when President Superman of Earth 23 meets Clark Kent, Lois Lane, and Jimmy Olsen from Earth…some other number..who are being pursued by a Superman who seems to be the worst nightmare scenario of Frank Miller: Corporate Superman THE RO…BOT? The vibrational construct? Whatever it is, it’s controlled by lawyers, and lawyers are bad.
The story goes from there. It’s a story I’d love to see fleshed out like Millar’s “Red Son”, but if Morrison decided this was all he wanted to say about Earth 23 Superman, I’d be okay with that, too. (And I’m so sure he’s been seeking my personal approval.)
Gene Ha’s art is supremely adequate. There’s nothing about it that I don’t enjoy, but apart from a few really good close up shots, nothing blew me out of the water, either.
The Sholly Fish/Cully Hamner backup story was underwhelming. It attempts to expand on the Superman of Earth 23, but the at is….unfortunate. The shadowing on Nubia (shudder..what an awful rename of Wonder Woman)is terrible, and makes her look like she has sideburns, fish cheeks, and a Nu Metal goatee on the last page. There are also some unusual choices in how to draw eyes. From manga happy slits to dead, expressionless ovals to red, for no reason, pupils. The story sure is made of words. Well intended, but not very interesting.
My scores ignore the backup story, because the issue would be worth $3.99 if it were just the Morrison story. The backup would get a 2 for writing, and a 1 for art.
Art: 4 - Very Good