Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Superman Action Comics Vol. 3: At the End of Days (The New 52) Review


Superman Action Comics Vol. 3: At the End of Days (The New 52)
Man, what do we do with all these cut-up
Superman pictures... hey, I got an idea!

Writer: Grant Morrison

Artists: Rags Morales, Brad Walker, Travel Foreman, Chris Sprouse, Andre Hennesy, Mark Propst, Karl Story and Cam Smith

Collects: Superman Action Comics #13-18

Background information:

So far, Gran Morrison’s run on Action Comics has followed a younger Superman- one who is slowly finding out what he can do and learning how powerful he really is. This Superman currently has no idea that he can breathe in space or even fly. It’s one more akin to the first appearance of the character in Action Comics #1. Clark Kent rents an apartment from the earth-form of Mr Mxyzptlk’s wife, which becomes a major part of this book’s plot. In each major story arc, a small, demon-like man has appeared, making deals with each villain Clark has faced. It’s all been leading to this, and Morrison has spent two volumes leading up to a story that tears at the fabric of reality in a way only Morrison knows how.

Review:

The last two volumes of Action Comics were fun, but hardly what you would call real Morrison books. Morrison, to me, always means stories that jump back and forth in time, a Morrison story usually requires a second reading to fully appreciate, and has a real flair for Meta-storytelling.
PUPPY!!!

At the End of Days is, in every way, a real Morrison story.

After the last couple of volumes, Vyndktvx, the little imp man that we’ve seen so often is finally coming for Superman, attacking him at all stages of his life. That’s about as simple as I can go with the story without writing something akin to a novel. That said, this is a volume that brings together Morrison’s various story arcs together quite nicely. Almost every character from the last two volumes makes their appearance. Surprisingly, this happens without feeling forced- something that you think would happen in a book that has covered so much ground. And on top of that; Krypto!!!

Like I said, this is very much a Morrison book. It jumps around in time, deals with an extra-dimensional threat and resolves it with much meta-storytelling. I was worried that it would bother me (it did in Batman Inc. and Batman and Son), but found myself totally engrossed in it.

That said, a word of warning: this is the kind of book that requires a second reading to really “get” it. The whole story pays off, don’t get me wrong, but I wouldn’t call this a light read in the same way that, say, Nightwing is. There’s a good story here, but you need to be dedicated to really work it out.

My one gripe with this book story-wise, though, has to do with that dedication. I’ve read this volume about three times and I’m still trying to figure out what actually happened and what didn’t. See, like I said, this book jumps around in time. And that, supposedly, means that some things happen in the story, some didn’t. It’s hard to make a decision on that, and that does make my brain hurt a little.

I believe Superman is thinking: "Fancy that! This feels most
unpleasant"... probably not in those words, though.
Artwise- FINALLY, this book has gotten its house in order! There are still lots of artists on here, but there seems to be at least a little consistency that I must admit, was missing in previous volumes. The colours, though, are what really stand out to me. The pages look rich and vibrant and conveys action very well. I will admit, that sometimes the art style does change as the narration moves between dimensions, but that actually enhances the experience rather than diminishing it. After, all if you’re going to draw little imps- best they don’t look grim and gritty.

Overall, At the End of Days is a pretty satisfying conclusion to a Morrison one, if not a little confusing (naturally). It gets four out of five grim and gritty imps.

****

+ Art finally consistent.

+ KRYPTO!!!

+ Wraps up the Morrison’s run excellently.

+ Very much a Morrison book…

- … Which can get confusing.

Alternate Option: Superman Action Comics: Superman and the Men of Steel

Art issues aside, it’s still my favourite of the lot.