Writter(s): GRANT MORRISON
Artist(s): RAGS MORALES and RICK BRYANT
US Publisher: DC Comics
Size: 40 pages
I have just fininshed a grueling trip across 8 states and just got back to my home, in NYC.
I got to stop in some casual bookstores and I also ended up looking for comics in racks in gas-stations across New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, Tennessee, Arkansas and Texas.
Whats going on with the floppy racks? Do I have to go to specialty stores to pick a trade paperback on the road? Is it true what I’ve been told that I need to draw a road map, prior starting a trip, if I want to pick up a graphic novel or two along the way?
So, the specialty store is going the way of the dodo and once more we seem to be in a recession when it comes t comics. Except that this time around, (unlike in the 90’s) the quality is at times amazing, and some small publishers are really shinning in ways that the BigTwo can’t or won’t dare.
And so I did.
I actually drew a road map. It was a scarce and light on comic book stores. I had to drive too many miles in the south to find something and then selection was usually limited to recent novels, and almost no independents.
Hey! I am not blaming the LCS (Local Comicbook Store). They are responding to demand, and to the public’s trends.
I was flabbergasted to discover that even a small Wall-mart had more graphic novel selection than some shops I visited.
So where does that put us?
I understand that brick and mortar shops have lots of expenses,and inventory is not a minor one.
But to find Elephantmen (Image comics) at Walmart and nowhere else??
I did manage to pick up a copy of Action Comics #1 (After the reboot), and that was kinda the highlight of my week.
I was pleasantly surprised. Grant Morrison managed to put together a tale that was a perfect homage to the creation that Siegel and Shuster conceived in the late 1930’s, and not the water-down, sugar-coated, kiddie-digestable cartoon that later it became in the late 40’s and 50’s
You see, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were influenced by the era’s pulp fiction when they created their hero, the pulps were rough. Pulp were not kiddy novels. Pulps showed sex, and drugs and all that is “dangerous” in society. Pulps were for adults!
So was the Superman that they came up with. That hero was a man, a super-man, not the demi-god we know today. He couldn’t fly, but could certainly leap the heck out a tall building, and was not invulnerable, but almost.
And this super-man wanted to protect the little guy, and the little guy in those times needed protection against corrupted cops, greedy financiers, lusty carpet-baggers, and regular street thugs. And this superman didn’t mind intimidating a couple of evil-doers here and there when needed, ala Batman, even before Batman was doing it (almost a whole year before batman)
This is what Morrison tries to capture and in my humble opinion succeeds. There is no cousin from Krypton, no funky flying dog, no fortress in the pole that needs a huge key…. No kiddie gimmicks.
Morrison’s superman gets scrapped and bruised, and lives pretty poorly.
And halfway through the book, I found myself respecting this superman, because he seems to have set some pretty high standards and seems to be willing to live by them, no matter what the cost is.
That is something that most Americans seem to have forgotten in our pursues of material wealth. Sometimes we seem to think it is OK to trample, connive and do whatever as long as we get ahead. We forget the blunders of politicians and let them get away with conniving laws, and let a cowardly congress pass laws such as the Patriot act that curtail basic liberties and freedoms sketched in the constitution for the sake of temporary safety.
Now, before some of you stone me for seeming too unpatriotic, let me tell you: I believe in safety, but I also believe that those in power CAN NOT circumvent or compromise the Constitution to grant us safety.
Another great American, Benjamin Franklyn told us once.
“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759
But here we are, giving up essential freedoms that defined us as Americans just to fight a war on something, forgetting to ask for results.
Maybe this superman that Morrison has brought back will teach us a little bit about how to be great again.
And teach us about accountability.
And then we will start holding ourselves to higher standards and holding those who we allow to rule in our stead to higher standards too, and remove them when they can’t come through, and fix the part of the system that those who wanted to take advantage of us broke, so they can cheat us.
I don’t know, but I think the September 11th Memorials made me feel much more “politically conscious”, having lived through that horror in person. And I still feel that the majority of the politicians just used the occasion for posturing and for grandstanding and little got done. And we, as citizens, let it slide, and did not held them accountable.
Yep, I definitely like this more “socially” involved Superman.
OHMYGOD!!! Do you think that he is a ….. SOCIALIST????
I’ll keep my eye out to see if he advocates for “Health-Care For All”… Then I will know for sure that he is against Natural Selection and the laws of nature, and against letting the poor and the frail die off as God intended.
I mean, for starters he does have a RED cape…. maybe China sent him, after all….. MHHHHH….
(NOTE: My last 4 paragraphs are completely sarcastic. If you don’t know what sarcasm it, google it.)
Rag Morales! Love your art man! I hope they keep this guy on the book for a while. He captures a frailty and vulnerability on this character that baffled me. He portrais this Superman as daring and dashing and brash, but then he portrays this Clark Kent as meek and unassuming, and Grant Morrison tells us why: He is on a mission. And he doesn’t want to be stopped before he accomplish his goals. So, he keeps his ego in check, and falls into the shadows, and we, as the readers, are given a great human and realistic reason for Clark Kent to have a secret identity, instead of the old one of just messing with Lois Lane, who was just noisy and wanted to know who Superman was…. just because she was noisy. Or so it came across.
I will admit that I haven’t read any of the other 52 as of this writing yet. I hope I will, eventually (Either I will buy them, or will read them from a friend who did).
But so far, this is a fantastic star, that really got me excited about, and I intend to continue buying it.