Action Comics: Bulletproof Review By Deffinition
Action Comics Volume 1 was a complete disappointment in my opinion. Going in I expected a lavish LSD laden Superman storyline. Grant Morrison is more than capable of doing but instead, he chose to showcase something that was rather run of the mill.
It wasn’t bad…it just wasn’t anything spectacular and when the same author penned All Star Superman, you know he is capable of more.
However, I am willing to turn a blind eye to that book as I understand that it had to set up the now famous gritty New 52 aesthetic. With the shackles of the origin story now gone I am hoping that Morrison can really knock it out of the park and think outside the box to produce a work that really redeems the past poor performance. It will be interesting to see if he can do it.
Throughout this review I will be discussing Bulletproof in full detail so it may be worth skipping to the end of this review to see the score if you want to avoid spoilers.
With that out the way let’s dive into my review of Action Comics: Bulletproof!
The New Man Of Steel
We join Calvin Ellis, a Superman of an unnamed Earth that just happens to also be President Of The United States. After discovering versions of Lois Lane, Clark Kent and Jimmy Olsen from another dimension, he soon learns of a beast that is travelling the multiverse attempting to murder all versions of the Man Of Steel.
It’s a fascinating opener that operates beautifully as a prototype for Morrisson’s later work, Multiversity. I loved the idea that the altered Lane, Kent and Olsen come from a world where there was no Superman so they had to invent one. Signing away the rights of the character to an unnamed corporation for little to no money, it’s hard not to draw conclusions between the real-life creators of Superman, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
I absolutely loved this aesthetic and instantly this motif elevates the storyline above its predecessor. It’s fascinating to once again see an abstract Morrisson in operation and fans of the writer will fall head over heels with this introductory chapter.
Dealing Out Justice
Of course we can’t spend the entire Volume on a separate Earth and we are quickly transported back to Earth Prime to catch up on our Superman. Dealing with the newly formed Justice League, this issue offers up a lot of political discussion and satirically puts foreign policy under the microscope.
Some members agree that they should intervene in overseas wars whilst others are completely against it. It creates conflict and fractures within the team and is a joy to watch. Catapulting Superman forward as the necessary leader of the league, this aesthetic effortlessly shows how only The Man Of Steel is able to wrestle with all of the ideologies that the group possess and I was blown away but the subtext and subtly that Morrison uses to convey his points.
However, a graphic novel named ‘Action Comics’ can’t be all political subtext and our first villain of the piece comes in the form of Nimrod The Hunter. Tracing Superman’s roots to the Kent farm, he quickly discovers The Blue Boy Scout’s true identity and uses this to put our hero in the crosshairs.
Superman easily defeats him but the compromise on his identity has forced him to kill off his alter ego and it puts him in a complicated scenario that I think will leave readers gripped in order to discover the outcome of how he resurrects his disguise.
Captain Comet Cometh
Operating under the guise Johnny Clark, Superman goes about his day to day life working in the fire department, helping others in any way that he can. It’s a tranquil existence that becomes shattered when Captain Comet attacks Earth and attempts to save Lois Lane’s daughter before she is killed due to her abilities. Whilst it sounds convoluted in description, Morrisson manages to pull off the narrative in a cohesive manner that makes it a joy to read.
Captain Comet possesses a similar origin to Clark and it’s easy to draw conclusions between the two, making their battle perfectly paralleled in both looks and personas. I loved watching the stakes rise as Lois is hurt and Clark manages to resurrect her in outstanding fashion that showcases just how deep of an understanding Morrison has on the character.
It’s a brilliant Arc that definitely stands strong as a highlight in the work and those not on board with the character at this point will become fully engrossed in the book.
Before The New 52
Following this are a couple of one-shot stories that focus on aspects of The DCU before the New 52 began. Whilst some may view them as needless padding, they provide a wealth of character building and develop the stories that preceded them in several ways by adding backstories, set up, motives and more.
I loved their inclusion and as I was hooked on the book by this point I found them a joy to read that added an extra layer of texture to the stories I had just enjoyed, elevating the book in the process.
The final story acts more of an origin story for Steel than anything else and whilst it doesn’t necessarily tie into the overall work I still had some fun with it. Superman mainly plays second string to the newly introduced hero but it does more good than bad and whilst it may be considered filler it still managed to compliment the graphic novel.
Volume 2 isn’t perfect but Bulletproof manages to revitalise my interest in a Grant Morrison Superman. There are still some teething problems but overall I had a lot of fun with it and it managed to hold my interest throughout. If the series continues at this level then I can see it slowly cementing itself as one of my favourites.
That’s why it gets an…