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Mild Mannered Reviews - Action Comics

Action Comics #0 Action Comics #0

Action Comics #0

Scheduled to arrive in stores: September 5, 2012

Cover date: November 2012

"The Boy Who Stole Superman's Cape"

Writer: Grant Morrison
Penciller: Ben Oliver
Inker: Ben Oliver

"Origin of the Species"

Writer: Sholly Fisch
Penciller: Cafu
Inker: Cafu

Michael Bailey Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

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Action Comics #0 Action Comics #0 "The Boy Who Stole Superman's Cape"

Clark Kent arrives in Metropolis and orders 200 shirts with a red S on them. Soon after he is hired by George Taylor of the Daily Star. Still later he moves out of Jimmy Olsen's apartment. Still even later he stops a gang of Glenmorgan's men from kidnapping the last witness that was supposed to testify against the CEO. One of the gang members shoots Superman with a rocket launcher and the explosion sends the Man of Steel plummeting to the ground. The fall and the shock of getting hit with a rocket launcher knock Superman unconscious and he "sleeps" right through a small boy finding him and stealing his cape.

It turns out that the boy comes from an abusive home but the cape provides some protection when the abuser comes after him. The boy and his brother run for it and their abuser follows them to the train yard. When the boy's foot becomes caught in the track it looks like he is going to die but Superman arrives and proves to be faster than a locomotive. Later, at the Daily Planet, Lois Lane gives Metropolis' new savior a name; Superman.

4Story - 4: Despite my usual problems with Grant Morrison's run on this title (I almost wish we could do old school editor's notes here like, "See Mike's review for Action #9!" but it's not that kind of party so I will move on) the main story in this zero issue was rather good. I am the type of reader that likes to see a character's back story get filled in and because of how Morrison is structuring his stories there hasn't been a lot of time to explore Clark's early days in Metropolis, which is why it was nice to see that Sholly Fisch has been coloring in the backgrounds in the back-up stories. Here we finally get some answers in the main story of the book and that made me a happy reader.

One of the main reasons I liked this issue so much is that Morrison covers a lot of ground in a short amount of time without giving anything short shrift or making it feel like an information dump. The scene with Clark and Jimmy is a good example of this. During the conversation between the two characters we get Jimmy's new "origin" and it feels like a conversation between two friends rather than exposition. This is an interesting take on Jimmy and makes him different than any other version we have seen of the character. Beyond that this scene and others like it, such as Clark getting the job at the Daily Star, Perry White talking to Lois and Jimmy about the caped figure that has suddenly appeared in Metropolis, Clark meeting his land lady for the first time and even the previously seen bit with Clark ordering the shirts, add the detail and color to this new history of Superman that I have been craving as a reader.

I suppose that is the point of these zero issues.

The main plot of the boy finding Superman's cape was cute and added some drama to the piece but in the end I think it was mostly unnecessary. Well, maybe unnecessary was too harsh a term. It took me a while to realize that as much as I cared about what happened to this kid there really wasn't a whole lot of depth to him and his family as characters. The kid finds a cape. The kid and his brother and mother are being abused. The kid stands up to his abusive...father? Step-father? Mother's boyfriend? It is never revealed what that relationship is. The kid and his brother are chased. There's a thing with the train. Superman saves the kid's life. Lois names Superman.

I guess my problem with this part of the story is that it really isn't resolved. We never see what happens to the father/step-father/possible boyfriend to the mother. We never see what happens to the kid and his brother. Despite adding flourishes to them as characters the kid, his brother and the abusive guy are never developed and that bugged me because by leaving the characters as two dimensional plot points it takes away from the emotional impact of the issue. In the end I really don't feel anything for the kid or even Superman because it's all sizzle and no steak. You could argue that you don't need to fully develop these characters because they aren't supporting characters like Jimmy or Lois but Morrison has proven in the past that he can take what is ostensibly a throw away character and make you care about them, like the suicidal girl in ALL-STAR SUPERMAN.

Having said that I really loved how Morrison wrote Lois this time out. This is a Lois I want to read about.

In a strange way this issue is a perfect encapsulation of how I feel about Morrison's run on ACTION COMICS as a whole. There are parts I like, there are parts I love, there are parts that just don't appeal to me and there are parts that leave me wanting as a reader. As I have written time and again Morrison is a good writer but I just don't care for the way he writes. To be fair I consider this to be one of the better issues he has written but that has more to do with the fact that I have been craving more on the new backstory and we finally got it. So once again I am left with a weird feeling of confusion and uncertainty at the end of the issue.

4Art - 4: I loved the art in this story. Superman looked wonky in places but between the art and the coloring this issue had a very unique feel to it. There was a hazy quality to the work that made it feel like a flashback, which makes perfect sense given the subject matter.

"Origin of the Species"

Erik Drekken wants to continue the research Professor Emery Zackro was doing in the area of accelerated human evolution. He visits Zackro but the professor flatly refuses to help him or put him in touch with the subject Zackro was studying. Drekken tracks the subject to rural Kansas and is also rebuffed by the subject's father. Later Drekken encounters the subject, Adam Blake and asks to study him but Blake explains that he is leaving and, FYI, the Earth is doomed. Drekken becomes convinced that he has to find a way to recreate what happened to Blake in order to save the planet from destruction.

4Story - 4: You know, it is kind of funny. Usually Sholly Fisch uses the back-up story to fill in the blanks that the main story leaves in terms of characterization and background information on the main characters. Morrison did that with the main story so while Fisch does utilize the back-up to flesh out other characters, such as Erik Drekken, and to build them up so that when their part of the story pays off we have more of a connection to them as readers. On that level this story was successful and well done. My only real quibble is the fact that I ended up being disappointed in the way Morrison handled the new version of Adam Blake so I really didn't care to ever see him again. I realize that you had to have him in this story because it was the lynch pin of Drekken's motivation but I have to admit that there was a little eye rolling on my part when Adam showed up again. Still, I enjoyed this back up and wish that when Morrison steps down with issue sixteen that DC will "promote" Fisch to the main feature because he certainly deserves it.

4Art - 4: Cafu continues to impress me with his work on these back-ups. While there was some definite science fiction/super-hero imagery to be had Cafu also nailed the little things like the Professor Zackro's office or the Blake house hold. I love it when an artist can draw both the fantastic and the seemingly mundane with equal talent.

4Cover Art - 4: I have to hand it to DC; they really outdid themselves with the trade dress for these zero issue covers. They look neat when you put them all together. This one in particular is pretty spectacular and serves as a good poster worthy shot of the T-shirt costume Superman.

3Variant Cover Art - 3: I am not a fan of this cover. The artwork itself is fine but I am not a fan of the composition. I do like the idea of a kid beating up Superman for his cape but only because the idea is pretty ludicrous and made me laugh.

5Variant Cover Art - 5 (Black and White): The black and white version (with a little bit of red on the symbol) looks fantastic! Once again this kind of variant turns out to be my favorite of the covers and once again I do not own one because they are quite expensive.

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

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