Last night, I settled down to read Action Comics #5 and the Little Man was a bit restless. “You reading, Daddy?” he said.
“Yeah, I’m reading about Superman,” I said.
“Oh, Superman. Okay. He flies.”
“Yes, he does. Do you want to read it with me?”
So we sat down to read Action Comics #5 together. The issue was split into two stories. The first story dealt with Kal-El’s departure from Krypton and his arrival on Earth. The second part dealt with Jonathan and Martha Kent’s life before Kal-El’s arrival. As we moved through the issue, I noticed something about it, but the Little Man caught on soon enough. We were about 2/3rds of the way through when he said, “Daddy?”
“What is it buddy?”
I smiled at him. “I was wondering that same thing myself. Looks like he took a vacation this issue.”
My son, the critic.
I thought that Action Comics #3 was terrific when I read it last month. So I was really looking forward to #4 which made its debut earlier this month. But I have to say that more than anything else, it confused me. Maybe it comes with the territory of being new to comics. The art work was for the most part good, although not as good as previous issues. In particular, there was a drawing on page 9 in which Superman looks to be lifting a tank on his shoulders, but the perspective is all off, and it looks as if the tank is floating in the air behind him. Then on p. 13, there is a frame in which Superman’s face looks very different from his faces in other frames. Maybe it’s just me.
What confused me most of all was the sudden splitting of story lines. Partway through the comic, the story suddenly ends with the words, “Continued in Action Comics #7. Next: Interlude: Rocket Song.” This is Action Comics #4–why would you suddenly jump to a different story line only to continue this story three issues down the line? Even more confusing was that the issue contained a second story line, “Hearts of Steel” which seemed to focus on the backstory of Steel and was far less interesting, than the Superman story line.
Maybe long-time comic book fans out there can tell me if this splitting of story lines and insertions of non-sequitoresque backstories is a common practice. It may be that I am confused simply because I am not used to the practice. But I have to say that it does make the story somewhat more difficult to follow. I’m just looking to have fun and be entertained when I read these. I don’t want to have to work this hard!
Last night, before continuing my reading of Jack McDevitt’s Firebird, I downloaded and read Action Comics #3: “World Against Superman.” Of the 5 issues I’ve read so far (3 Action Comics and 2 Superman) in the New 52, this was the best one yet. The story started out on Krypton and you could see where some of the mythology changed. It then turned back to Earth and helped tie things together that has happened thus far in the first three issues of the series. The characters–especially Clark–are beginning to come through. I am also getting the hang of reading a comic book.
Purists might hate me, but I like reading the comics on my iPad. I like that it takes me through panel by panel in the right order. I think I would be easily confused as to the proper order of reading if I didn’t have this help. I can’t quite go as far as saying I prefer reading comics on the iPad over actual paper comic book, but the only hesitation there is that I have never read a paper comic book so I don’t know if the experience would be better. Having never done it, I can’t imagine it would. But I can empathize with those who feel differently.
Action Comics #3 was the first one in which the story really grabbed my interest. Prior to this issue, whether it was Action Comics or Superman, the artwork is what kept me going. My oh my how the folks that draw these comics can draw! Even something as subtle at how different all of the faces are in the crowd of people on the cover of the issue. I love the artwork and I loved it just as much in #3, but the story really caught fire with me in this one.
And that leads me to my one frustration with the issue–and with comic books in general.
Recall a few weeks back when I was the randomly-selected winner of Strange Horizons’ donation drive? Well, yesterday, my prizes arrived, the two gorgeous, hardcover volumes of Paul Cornell’s Superman: The Black Ring.
And Mr. Cornell was kind enough to sign them, too:
Thanks again to Strange Horizons and Paul Cornell. This was a really nice surprise!
I picked up Action Comics #2 last night and read the issue while sitting in the Little Man’s doorway, waiting for him to fall asleep I had a lot of fun reading it. I still think the artwork outshines the writing, but I am beginning to get the notion of how these things work. And there were indeed some funny moments that I picked up on. I wasn’t overly impressed by the cliffhanger at the end, but that’s okay. The issue entertained me for half an hour and that is important.
What I really enjoyed in this issue was the 4 pages at the end called, “Inside the action” and was blurbed as “Get an exclusive peek behind the scenes of the creation of action comics #1-2 with Grant Morrison and Rags Morales.” Reading what those guys had to say about the decisions they made in relaunching Superman in Action Comics was fascinating, as was seeing some of the drawings and artwork in earlier stages. The issue was worth just those four pages.
I have several weeks to wait now before Superman #2 comes out, but that’s okay; I have plenty to read in the meantime.
And after some considered thought, I’ve decided to include these issues on my short fiction reading list, because they take about the same amount of time to read as a typical short story.
Somehow, I missed the release of DC Comics Superman #1 last week and didn’t discover that the issue was available until the weekend. But having discovered it, I acquired an electronic copy and on Saturday evening, I read it, my second comic ever.
I liked it. Once again, I thought the art was considerably better than the writing, but the story line was interesting and certainly more understandable than the story line for Action Comics #1. I didn’t feel like I was missing anything here; I got what was going on; it all made sense. I particularly liked the little hint of recursion inserted into the story: the Daily Planet is being relaunched as part of a larger news network. That relaunch certainly echoes the relaunch of DC Comics.
Another thing I liked was that the comic was a self-contained story, in a larger story arc. Superman had to face and defeat some strange fire being. He met the challenge and eventually defeated the creature. There wasn’t a cliff-hanger ending and I don’t think there always needs to be one. It is satisfying to get a complete story in a single issue.
One thing I don’t get–and perhaps long-time comic gurus can help me out: how does the Superman comic related to the Action Comics comic, or the Justice League? Are these alternate universes with alternate Supermans? Are they supposed to take place in different times in Superman’s life? Do things that happen in one comic carry through to the other? How, exactly, are these comics related?
I’m already looking forward to Action Comics #2 and Superman #2.
Today, I downloaded my first real comic book.
(I imagine long-time comic book enthusiasts are cringing at the thought of my using the words “download” and “real” together with respect to comic books.)
I was never a comic book fan, not as a kid, not as a teenager, not at any point in my life. I’ve always been a fan of Superman, however, and when I heard that DC Comics was coming out with their “New 52” I was pretty excited. By rebooting re-launching some of those story lines, and bringing them up-to-date, DC Comics provided an opportunity for folks like me to start from the beginning. It couldn’t have come at a better time. After 10 seasons, Smallville concluded (rather brilliantly, in my opinion) and I was left with nothing to fill my Superman cravings.
But today, DC Comics released Action Comics #1 which starts the Superman story in a new light. I’ve been deep into writing these last few days and I completely forgot that the issue was coming out today. If it wasn’t for my friend Michael A. Burstein running out to his local comic book store to buy a print copy of Action Comics and then telling everyone about it, I would have completely forgotten. I saw Michael’s post early in the afternoon. DC Comics didn’t release the digital version of Action Comics #1 until 2pm Eastern time. But you can be sure that at 2:01, my issue was downloading:
In a rough order of time-to-event:
- The new DC Comics: Action Comics #1 and Superman #1 which are scheduled to be available tomorrow, if I am not mistaken. I’ve never been a comic book reader, but I’ve always been a fan of superman and this looks like a good time for me to get started with the comics. Oh, and I can read them on my iPad
- Gollancz’s Science Fiction Gateway, coming this fall (press release here). Not only will the newest version of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction be available for free online, but they will ultimately have thousands of backlist titles for big name SF authors available for purchase in e-book format. This wil be so cool.
- The release of Firebird by Jack McDevitt, the latest Alex Benedict novel. Scheduled for release on November 1 and I’ve already pre-ordered the Kindle version.
- The release of 11/22/63 by Stephen King. Scheduled for release on November 8 and I’ve also pre-ordered the Kindle version.
So what are you looking forward to?
For a long time, I’ve been a fan of Superman. I’ve talked about how I introduced the Little Man to Superman. But until Friday night, I’d never read a Superman comic. And doing so gave me a nifty little idea.
When I heard about the DC Comics “new 52”–their renumbering of 52 of their most popular comics–I was pretty excited. I’ve never read comic books, but I like Superman and this would give me a chance to start fresh with Superman. I suppose I am the ideal audience for DC Comics and this is exactly what they were hoping for by doing this renumbering: bringing new readers onboard. Of course, they have upset some longtime fans, but you can’t please everyone.
I couldn’t sleep Friday night and tossed and turned, until finally I grabbed for my iPad and launched the DC Comics app, for which I have zero content. It was just after midnight. When I went to browse some content, I discovered to my surprise that DC Comics was holding a 48-hour special they called Superman 101, in which they were offering full comics from the various Superman threads for $0.99 each in digital format. Among the free comics they were offering was the Action Comics #1, containing the very first Superman comic.
Well, I couldn’t resist that. I ended up buying 9 comics:
- Action Comics #1, #6, and #23
- The Man of Steel #1-6
I’ve never read comic books.
Well, maybe once or twice when I was a kid and someone gave one to me, I might have skimmed it, but I never really got into them, certainly never voluntarily bought any, and never collected comics. This is nothing again comic books. I was just too busy with other things: science fiction, Little League, and the usual trouble that a 10-year old will find himself in. By the time I became a serious fan of science fiction (that is–by the time I recognized there was a fandom and I was part of it) my preferences had been molded. Given the choice between a new science fiction novel or a new comic book, I’d always choose the former over the latter.
On the other hand, I’ve always been a fan of Superman. When I was a kid, I’d watch reruns of The Adventures of Superman. I’d run around the house with a towel hanging from my shirt like a cape, pretending to fly. I watched reruns of Superman: The Movie and Superman II on HBO endlessly. I was delighted by the Lois & Clark series, watched every episode of Smallville breathlessly. I even enjoyed the Superman Returns reboot of a few years ago. To this day, however, I’ve never read a Superman comic.