The Superheroics of Social Justice or “Action Comics #1: Awesome Then, Awesome Now.”

Action Comics #1 (June 1938), page 1: Superman...
Image via Wikipedia

You probably know about the DC Comics relaunch.  I picked up the new Action Comics #1 and really, really liked it.  Supes looks like Woody Guthrie.  He can’t fly (yet?) and is a wrecking ball for social justice.  He trifles with authorities and struggles to pay rent.  A hero for our times if there was one.

Commentators have been talking about this as a return to Superman’s activist origins.  Indeed, a read through the original Action Comics #1 from 1938 reveals a bold American character, an immigrant, “champion of the oppressed, the physical marvel who has sworn to devote his existence to helping those in need!”

I love this guy.  Read the original Action #1 here, and cheer with me as Supes dispatches the governor’s butler in a last-minute attempt to save an innocent woman from state execution.  Like I said, a hero for our time if there was one.

Superman Pictures from “Action Comics” and “Superman” DC Reboots. Also, SuperEmoBoy.

One of these pictures is awesome.  One of them, despite my George Perez fandom, isn’t.

Awesome.
Isn't.

It’s not Perez’s fault.  He’s dealing with a redesigned Superman costume that isn’t his, and the inker made the space above Supes’ boots look gray/silver.  Here’s the overarching technical problem with the new suite: maybe it will work okay when Jim Lee is drawing it on a stylized, younger-looking Man of Steel, but it just isn’t going to work across artistic styles.  George Perez is an iconic Superman artist, and look how hamstrung this costume makes him.  The classic costume works in any style because it’s simple and iconic.  The new look has panels and too many lines. The belt’s over-thought.  The collar’s too high.  No red undies. Wrong wrong wrong.  Superman doesn’t need bells and whistles.  That’s the point.  That’s his deal.

Argh.  This is 90s in a bad way.  I know, you thought that was impossible.  So did I.

Then there’s this:

Booo.