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“…and Superman fights the impossible.” – Grant Morrison
Above is the companion to a quote Morrison gave at the end of an interview he did with Newsarama talking about the World’s Finest and who they battle. (He was also questioned about his last issue of Action Comics with number 18.)
If you haven’t read Morrison’s start of Action Comics in the New 52, I’m sorry that you missed out on one of the greatest Superman stories I have ever read. Do yourself a favor and go give it a shot, you will not regret it.
When number 18 of Action Comics came out last week, I told myself that I needed to go back and reread the entire run before I could treat myself to the end. Because if there is one thing I know about reading Grant Morrison, it’s that he doesn’t waste any panel space. Everything that happens in any of his books is as important as the beginning of his story or the end.
It was the best decision I made because right from the first panel of that first issue, I was already seeing characters being introduced and ideas being set up that would play out later on. It was wonderful to see Vyndktvx right on the first panel, already meddling in the life of our hero.
Mind you, since this was right at the start of the reboot, Clark had just started his “career” as Superman, taking on Glen Glenmorgan and his lackeys, trying to get him to fess up to the shady dealings happening in Metropolis. The scene in particular was very reminiscent of what took place in the original Action Comics. Morrison talked a lot about the “Sun God” (Superman) in his book, Supergods. And he focused a lot on how he foresaw the first appearance of Superman, taking on the gangsters of the early 1930’s, while doing a play by play of the issue, explaining what was going on. Comparing that to this first issue drew a lot of similarities and I noticed the influence that first issue had for him.
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Throughout his entire run, he gives us past, present, and future Superman; all wrapped into one, main story. We see in the beginning where Clark began, young, brash, and a little sarcastic. That devil-may-care attitude that propels his career forward, not only in the good but also the bad. In a world where no superheroes had appeared, here came Superman, an alien from another world. Morrison shows the fear the people of planet Earth had in the beginning, not really trusting Clark as far as they could throw him. But he did the best he could, working as Clark Kent, writing for the Daily Star (the paper before Kent joined the Daily Planet), and then moving on to Superman when the need arises. And then right in the middle of his first story arc with Brainiac, we see Morrison inject the Anti-Superman Gang into the mix, just giving us a taste as to where his story was going. Which led us to the present and the introduction of the 5th dimension in the New 52. Which is whacky, but after spending so much time reading Grant Morrison’s work, it honestly is a great fit.
The future element is played out when the Legion of Superheroes; Saturn Woman, Cosmic Man, and Lighting Man come from the 31st century to warn Superman of the coming battle with Vyndktvx and what will happen to him and the rest of the future if he is to lose. So it is more to help win the day and allow Superman to triumphant. With their help, not only do they travel to different points of Clark’s past to help prepare him for what is going to happen, but also help in the coming fight when it is needed. This just doesn’t happen at one point in the story or in one book, but the Legion is spotted at different points of Morrison’s run, to help that story keep progressing, towards that inevitable battle with the Impossible, or what seems to be.
On that first time through, I got so lost. So many little intricacies just hiding there in each panel and I would miss them after each issue when they would be brought up again. But forcing myself to reread it, allowed me not only another chance to pick up on ideas that I might of missed, but also watch the story flow in waves, like music. Vyndktvx recruiting in the dark and appearing in each issue of Action in some way. Just reminding us that while these events are happening to Clark and it seems to be random at the present time, a 5th-dimensional wizard is masterminding the demise of the Man of Steel.
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If I had to pick a favorite issue, I would have to say that it is issue number 13. A story about a boy and his dog. Morrison does a fantastic job of not only creating the relationship between Clark and Krypto, but also forging it for years to come. Krypto is Clark’s guard dog and sacrifices himself multiple times in defense of his master. The issue shows the love that Krypto has for his best friend, but also shows the reciprocated feeling that Clark has for Krypto. You think that Krypto is going to be lost in the Phantom Zone while giving Clark the chance to escape, but then just as Clark promised, he pulls Krypto from the Phantom Zone and brings him back to Earth. This story sticks out in my mind most of all, because it is simply about the love that two best friends share and how they would do anything for the other.
I know I am not doing the story justice because it has turned into a tangent. It is just beautiful from start to finish. There is something that can be said when two of your favorite Superman stories are created from the same mind. Whenever someone asks, “What is a good Superman story?” I always pass along the same story that was passed on to me, All-Star Superman. But now, Morrison has outdone himself because now I have two different stories that I could possibly recommend. The fact that 5th dimension plays a major role in this story, I would have a harder time recommending it to a new reader because of how lost they could get. But there are so many genuine moments with this Clark Kent that make it a worthwhile read as well.
Back on Superman fighting the impossible, this story arc does well to show just how crazy things can get for the Man of Steel. He meets and battles Brainiac for the first time, an evil 5th-Dimensional wizards plots the demise of our hero on a grand scale, and even the world community, fearful of what the cosmic arena may hold with the inception of this first Kryptonian on Earth. He combats all of this with no thought as to how it affects himself, thinking only of the goodwill he will bring to the others of Earth that he cares so deeply about.
That is Superman to me. No matter what happens, he will do anything and everything for someone else, to make sure they are safe. He will put himself in harm’s way before allowing another to be harmed. I could only hope to scratch the surface on the good that Superman does for others, but damn me if I don’t at least try.
Hopefully you guys don’t think that I am crazy. I am just really passionate about my superheroes and Superman is definitely at the top of my list. To put it frankly, dude’s the role model for me.
I also wanted to leave you with a little fun 5th Dimension game, write down your name and then write it/read it backwards.
I’ll talk to you guys later.
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