Grant Morrison is finally back on track with Action Comics #11. This is the issue fans have been waiting for – it’s linear, it makes sense, it isn’t choppy, and the story adds a lot to the Clark Kent/Superman character. In other words, it makes up for Morrison’s less-than-stellar performance on past issues of Action Comics. Besides the obvious improvements with his writing, there are two big ways Morrison really shines in Action Comics #11.
First, Superman’s new secret identity actually works well for the character. Instead of keeping his normal Clark Kent identity, Superman has used Kent’s ”death” (see issue #10) to give him the freedom to be Superman full-time. By joining the fire department as “Johnny Clark”, Superman can still save lives dressed in a firefighter’s outfit. Pretty cool idea, actually. In past issues – at least, where one could figure it out – we got the idea that Superman was really struggling with how to be Superman and help others as much as he could while also being Clark Kent and working for the Daily Star. So Superman finding work as a firefighter seems to relieve the Man of Steel and give him the opportunity to save lives 24/7.
Second, Superman’s meeting with Batman – which only lasts for two pages – adds so much depth not only to Superman, but also to the relationship between these two iconic heroes. If you’ve followed any of DC’s comics and graphic novels in the past – and even in the present (see last month’s Justice League #10) – then you know that Bats and Supes have much respect and trust for each other, to the point that they could even be called friends. In Action Comics #11, Morrison puts that dynamic under the microscope to give us a glimpse of why these two giants of superhero-dom have such a rich history together. Superman comes to Batman for advice about the unique situation he’s found himself in. “I’m just not sure, for the first time in my life,” Supes admits, “if what I’m doing is right.” Batman is almost the ultimate counselor for Superman – he’s quiet, and ridiculously intelligent, no doubt taking in and analyzing what Supes is saying. And considering he’s the consummate detective, Batman knows the right questions to ask. Before their conversation can go any further, however, Batman is summoned to help a Gotham citizen in trouble. “Five minutes, what’d I tell you?” Batman says sarcastically, and then, Superman by his side, the world’s two greatest heroes jump into action.
Action Comics #11 delivers the goods, in terms of story and characterization. There are still little points that don’t really make sense – for instance, we still have no idea why Superman at one minute flies around in his Superman t-shirt, cape, and jeans, and the next minute decides to wear his Superman armor – but overall, this issue made up for a lot of the problems from the previous issues. And the strange spaceman introduced last issue is finally revealed in this issue, but as to what his purpose is and whether or not he’s a villain is yet to be determined. But it seems like answers are coming. Let’s hope Morrison stays on track with the next issues.