Before I get into the review of Action Comics #18 let me say that DC Comics would never let any other writer besides Grant Morrison do the things that he has done in a Superman book, let alone a New 52 book. Morrison’s Action Comics doesn’t really gel with the business model of The New 52, with its reliance on knowledge of many past continuity concepts such as The Legion of Superheroes, wacky frenemy Mr. Mxyzptlk and the silly aspects of Silver Age Superman comic books.
The oversized Action Comics #18 begins with a quick resolution of last month’s Lex Luthor deus ex machina before Morrison flings us headlong into his world of weird. 5th Dimension villain Vyndktvx uses his immense powers to transform the Man of Steel into a Lion Superman, Ant Superman and Baby Superman, Morrison’s nod to the odd adventures of Superman in the 50s and 60s. On top of this Superman must battle the Doomsday version of himself as well as the Anti-Superman Squad. Meanwhile Jimmy, Lois and the Legion of Superheroes wake up Mxyzptlk from his coma in attempt to help Superman shut down Vyndktvx. Captain Comet returns with some of his neo sapiens to join in the fight as well. The resolution has Superman do what he always does: overcome the odds and accomplish the impossible.
Grant Morrison is a man of vision and when he truly commits to a particular vision, amazingly beautiful comics are made. With Action Comics however, I don’t think Morrison was working at 100%. Like many of the issues preceding it, Action Comics #18 is rushed in places, and even with the extra pages it feels like we hit the ending far too soon. The issue reads better a second time around, but it doesn’t detract from a resolution that seems way too easy. A plus side of this Action Comics run has been seeing artists Rags Morales and Brad Walker collaborate. Initially their styles were drastically different; their final issue together is a great example of an artistic partnership. By the looks of it Morales handled most of the scenes with Superman himself while Walker picked up the ones with his supporting cast. Credit should also be given to Brad Anderson, whose consistent color work provides smooth transitions between Morales and Walker. The final page of the main story drawn by Morales is great and definitely frame-worthy. Grant Morrison set out to make a “psychedelic Superman” who conquers the impossible. With those parameters in mind I think that he succeeded, but you leave this Action Comics run wanting more: more explanation, more character development and more idea exploration. Morrison has peppered so many interesting concepts in his run but left little space to give them more depth. I would have preferred it if the backup story had been left out to give the main tale more elbow room but oh well. Sholly Fisch and Chris Sprouse do craft a nice quick story about Superman’s legacy however. There are great Grant Morrison tales and there are the more incomprehensible ones. Action Comics #18 lies somewhere in between those two. Plus it’s better than any other Superman book DC is putting out.
Final Grade: ★★★ 3/5 Stars