Action comics #1 is as good an introduction to our new Superman as Detective Comics #1 is to our new Batman.
This first arc of the new Action Comics looks back several years beyond the story in the first issue of Justice League.
Superman appears noticeably younger, and does not yet have the blue armor we see him in when he meets Green Lantern and Batman for the first time years later.
In fact, the costume here seems to be little more than a pair of jeans and a t-shirt with the s-shield painted on.
His powers are all there, but he doesn’t quite have a full handle on all of them yet. Like Smallville’s Clark Kent, he doesn’t fly, but rather seems to jump with great skill and speed.
This story sees Superman taking down a white collar criminal in a city which, while not as dark and dirty as Detective Comics’ Gotham, seems to have become corrupt at the top.
Superman is punishing a fat cat for taking advantage of his position and for escaping crime with his resources.
Lex Luthor is introduced into the place he should occupy, a man who is as smart as Superman is strong, and who is, in this early story, on the side of the law, hired by the government as a special consultant in the attempt to take Superman down.
Lois Lane is presented as a star reporter for a newspaper which rivals the one Clark Kent works for. Jimmy is still her photographer, and superman is still her big story. She still places herself in danger to catch breaking news, but she is not friendly with Clark and Superman has given no hint that he’s attracted to her - an arc I think we’re more likely to see in the pages of Superman’s solo title.
This Superman truly is more brash and forceful that the superman of yesterday. When I first heard that these stories of Superman's past would be more vigilantism than standard heroism, and that he would be more anti-hero than Superman has ever been, I thought, Don't we already have a batman?, but this is no Batman. Batman’s inner turmoil comes through as near-emo rage, while this new superman is moodily confident.
His pain, and his turmoil is different, as it stems from a different place. Gone is the stoic protector of man, and welcomed in is a Superman who is not as Emo as Batman, and not as Arrogant as Green Lantern, but who projects a silent and cold confidence which makes him seem almost a monster to those around him, a Superman whom only the audience knows is doing good. He doesn’t even have his own version of Detective Gordon supporting him from the shadows.
No Superman fan should miss Action Comics #1. It doesn’t feel like it’s been broken by the relaunch as many feared. It feels like Superman is finally real within his own pages, at long last.
Action Comics #1 is on sale now at wherever you buy comics as well as the ComiXology store.