Review: Action Comics #41
One of the problems which many fans have with Superman is his approachability. While others heroes have a multitude of flaws which make them easier to relate to on a personal level, Superman’s only real flaw is his weakness to a fictitious mineral, and his only real threats are fellow planet busters like himself. It is surely this limitation which made the writers at DC want to try something different in Superman’s present stories. As was previously shown in other series, he can now perform a “solar flare” which releases a massive amount of energy, but it is at the expense of making him weaker physically. He is still strong, but flight is out, as are the super senses, and the result is that Superman looks and feels a lot more normal.
This is made apparent here as he walks out of the Alaskan wilderness and into a small town. Having been relatively depowered and locked out of the Fortress of Solitude, he was forced to walk back to civilization and once there he finds himself a worn out Superman t-shirt and a motorcycle to ride. After returning to Metropolis he discovers that he is a wanted man and that the city has turned around its opinion about him being there. He helps but he also hurts, and with a quarantine against alien pathogens and lawsuits to pay for damages, it is evident that he is not as welcome as he once was.
In trying to make Superman look more like a street level character, this issue both succeeds and fails. While it is true that his actions in the past might have left him with legal responsibilities to property owners, it is also a veneer of the superhero genre that we don’t really need removed. At the same time, the creative team is successful in showing Superman as a lot more fragile than he once was. It is interesting to consider if this is just the latest in what was called Batgirling a few months ago. After Batgirl took off in popularity there were numerous copycats, and this issue almost has the same feel, except in a Superman context. There is also lacking the feel of permanence here, as though at any moment Superman will figure out what is wrong with his powers and then go back to full strength, an invariable development that has happened every time that Superman has gotten depowered (especially as the development doesn’t seem to company wide). For the time being though the change works as Superman is not all about punches and flying, but rather is the street level hero that he never was. The question is for how long.
Story: Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder Art: Aaron Kuder
Story: 7.7 Art: 7.7 Overall: 7.7 Recommendation: Read