Thursday Trending Topics: What Has Grant Morrison Done To Superman?

The subject of today’s most-read story is not the first place I’ve seen it asserted that the new Action Comics is a significant departure from the Superman we know. But let’s look at the history — and Superman history is something that we know that Grant Morrison has studied carefully. One thing Morrison and artist Rags Morales very pointedly seem to be doing is to reintroduce a number of the most classic early Superman images and themes created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

It’s important to get a bit of nerdiness out of the way here and point out that Superman did not become the regular cover feature of Action until Action Comics #19, and that there are actually only six Superman covers on Action Comics before then, and that the last of those (Action #17) is cover-dated Oct 1939 while Superman #1 is cover-dated Summer 1939.

The take-away here is that the first six Action Comics covers that feature Superman (#1, 7, 10, 13, 15, and 17) plus the Superman #1 cover form much of the foundation of the iconography of the character — and it would seem that Morrison has chosen to incorporate half of those iconic Action cover images into the first issue of the new Action Comics:

One of the key scenes from the new Action Comics #1 — almost dropping a man from a great height to compel a confession — echoes a very similar scene from the original Action Comics #1. A panel of that scene was then reworked to become the cover of Action Comics #7 (the second time Superman appeared on the cover of Action).

Superman trying to stop a train? That became an iconic image on the cover of Action Comics #13. (and we already knew this one was going to come up in the New 52 Action Comics because Jim Lee tipped his hand with a discarded cover layout several weeks ago)

The scene with Superman vs Tanks? That’s from the cover of another foundational Superman classic — Action Comics #17.

Obviously, there’s much more than this to what Morrison is constructing here, but it seems clear that one thing he’s doing is deliberately transferring the original Superman iconography to the New 52.

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