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.
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.
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: