Review: Action Comics #14 by Grant Morrison & Rags Morales with Sholly Fisch & Chris Sprouse

Review:  Action Comics #14

Published by DC Comics

Written by Grant Morrison (and Sholly Fisch)

Art by Rags Morales (and Chris Sprouse)

The Plot

There is a group of people running away from an unknown attack while on a mission on Mars.  Two members disappear while seeing another individual whose appearance is obscured.  The people are understandably panicking and no one hears their call…except for Superman.  He quickly flies up to Mars and assesses the situation much to the relief of the people, which includes a child.  Their life support systems are all failing so Superman goes out to investigate what’s going on.  Superman then fights a familiar foe; however, he finds that their presence doesn’t indicate what he originally thought.  A new threat called the Multitude then surfaces, which requires more than brute strength.  Superman then reveals that his father once fought the Multitude and was the only person to ever successfully repel them.  After the battle, yet another villain, Vyndktvx, makes another appearance as he launches a brutal offensive upon the people Superman was trying to protect.

The back-up story deals with a group of astronomers looking into space.  The Justice League allows him to leave a battle in order to take advantage of a certain orbital period.  The circumstances of how Superman came to Earth is explained, which further explains some basic scientific principles related to his past.  Tonight is particularly special though as Superman is forced to mourn a tragedy all over again.

The Breakdown

This was an enjoyable issue overall.  I liked the swerves that were thrown as to who the major villain was.  The Multitude was visually effective as was their concept in general.  They looked both creepy and menacing while proving to be a match for Superman.  When I watch a space movie I always think of how I’m glad that I’m not out there.  When something goes wrong it always seems so hopeless.  Morrison does an effective job at establishing the danger they are in and fear that they are enduring.  I’m a sucker for that though when an impossible situation arises and then Superman arrives to save the day.  I liked how much at ease Superman was when he fought the first wave of villains.  He was confident, but not cocky in a dislikeable way.  I always enjoy it when Superman relies upon his brains rather than his brute strength.  I noticed at one point of the book how Superman has matured from the first issue as he displayed a lot of humility.  Rags Morales draws some great looking pages and his storytelling is solid as usual in this series.  Both Grant and Rags (as I often refer to them as when we’re texting) tell a lot of story in this comic.  I’m not sure what’s going to come as the creative change up is happening fairly soon.  I’ve been unwittingly enjoying this series overall.  It doesn’t always stick with me as much as some other titles do, but I realized that I have liked it consistently.  A buddy recently told me that it would be great if Mark Waid could be convinced to come back to DC and write this book.  I’m looking forward to reading all of the issues up to now and seeing how the overall story has been laid out.  This was another solid chapter in what is one of Grant Morrison’s final superhero stories for the time being.  The back-up story contained a duh moment for me.  I never really thought of the science behind his journey to Earth.  I enjoyed how the astronomer’s all worked together for Superman’s benefit.  I’ve been growing weary of the world’s general distrust for Superman and seeing how they were all so thankful for his presence was refreshing.  The end of the story was touching and I really felt bad for Superman.  At first I considered skipping it and reading it another time, but I’m glad that I didn’t.  I don’t mind paying 3.99 (minus 10% for being a file holder) for this comic because I get a lot of story for my buck.

BUT…

Some of Morales’ pages were very good while a few others were…serviceable.  One of the things that have always bothered me about his work is his profiles.  Sometimes I just don’t like them (not all of them).  I’ve never discussed this with anyone so I’m not sure if it’s just me or if other people don’t care for them either.  So when Superman is flying up to Mars…why would he come so close to hitting a wing from an airplane? I know he’s fast, but that just seems like an unnecessary risk.  There was a panel early on where I realized that I don’t like his costume.  I was iffy on it over a year ago, but for some reason I forgot about it.  One panel stuck out to me with all of the lines going everywhere on his costume and I wish there would be a new costume design soon.  There are some elements that I do like, but it’s the lines I don’t like.  I’m not an underwear on the outside kind of guy either.  Okay, so if I was going to do anything in space I wouldn’t bring my kid.  Its space and anything could go wrong.  I watched Total Recall (the original and not the piss stain that was the remake) and I know what happens when you’re on Mars’ surface without a mask on.  I wouldn’t take my kid to Mars, I’d leave him at home with a relative or someone.  It’s not a big deal, but I just immediately thought, “Who takes their kid to Mars?” Also, I don’t actually text Grant…I mean Mr. Morrison and Mr. Morales, but I’m sure that you figured that out already.

Buy It, Borrow It, Shelf Read It, or Ignore It?

Buy it.  This has been a fairly consistent book as I’ve really enjoyed the past few issues (especially issue 13).  There are good things and bad things about the 52, but I admit that I read a lot more Superman than I did before.  There are some books that I’m enjoying more, but this one has been steady.  When Morrison does leave I’m willing to stay on to see what Andy Diggle does with this book.   The standout part for me this issue was Superman using his intellect to solve a major crisis, I like it when writers utilize all of his abilities and attributes properly.

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