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Superman Action Comics Volume 3: At The End of Days HC (The New 52) Hardcover – 24 Dec 2013
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About the Author
Grant Morrison has been working with DC Comics for more than twenty years, beginning with his legendary runs on the revolutionary titles ANIMAL MAN and DOOM PATROL. Since then he has written numerous best-sellers including JLA, BATMAN and New X-Men as well as the critically acclaimed creator-owned series THE INVISIBLES, SEAGUY, THE FILTH, WE3 and JOE THE BARBARIAN. Morrison has also expanded the borders of the DC Universe in the award-winning pages of SEVEN SOLDIERS, ALL-STAR SUPERMAN, FINAL CRISIS and BATMAN, INC., and he is currently reinventing the Man of Steel in the all-new ACTION COMICS. In his secret identity, Morrison is a counterculture spokesperson, a musician, an award-winning playwright and a chaos magician. He is also the author of the New York Times best-seller Supergods, a groundbreaking psycho-historic mapping of the superhero as a cultural organism. He divides his time between his homes in Los Angeles and Scotland."
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Top customer reviews
If you know anything about Grant Morrison, you’ll know he has a bit of a reputation for mixing in avant-garde, experimental storytelling techniques into his comics that continually divides readers – some hate being confused at all when reading and some enjoy the twists and turns. Arguably the most suitable characters in the DCU for Morrison to write are the 5th Dimension Imps, like Mister Mxyztplk, which is why Action Comics Vol 3: At the End of Days is one of the best suited mainstream Morrison books ever because it’s all about those characters - but it’s also why the book disappoints.
Simply: I don’t care about Mister Mxyztplk. I get that he’s an interesting oddball of a character who’s not your usual Superman villain in that he’s not super-strong with a plot likely to end with a dull beat-em-up fight scene, and that’s fine; but to put him and another imp, Vyndktvx, as, not just the main villains of this book, but the main reason behind everything in Morrison’s Action Comics run… it doesn’t feel epic, it feels very small and underwhelming. Basically this whole series is about a feud between the two imps and Superman is their battleground.
The way the book is structured is really smart but super frustrating to read. The 5th Dimension Imps distort reality so time no longer becomes linear, events that happened become undone, dead characters momentarily come back to life, and characters from other dimensions show up in our dimension – it’s a very disorienting experience and Morrison reflects Superman’s feelings of confusion in the book’s structure with panels and events skewing every which way, so the reader feels disoriented as well.
It’s typical of Morrison’s brilliance that he would take this creative and enormously imaginative approach – but it’s hell to read! I had to keep going back and re-reading pages just to figure out how we made it to certain scenes, even going back to the previous two volumes to see how the series as a whole synced up. Look – I love the creativity here but (and I know how dim and unadventurous this makes me sound in the face of Morrison’s genius) when I pick up a comic, I prefer to read a comic, not a piece of performance art and/or abstract art project that is disguised as a comic but is really something else. I appreciate the effort but it made the book very easy to put down.
Which isn’t to say the book is a wash – there’s lots of great stuff outside of the arty framework. The opening story of Superman going into the Phantom Zone to get back Krypto, his dog, was my favourite part of the book. I think Krypto’s a great character and gives Superman this relatable quality to readers everywhere as a pet owner, but it’s also a great Superman Halloween story with ghosts!
Sholly Fisch and Chris Sprouse deserve a big mention for their contributions to this series. They did the backups to these issues and I found myself enjoying Fisch’s stories more than Morrison’s, in part. I mean, Neil Derasse Tyson meets Superman in this book!!! This wonderful story sees Superman on his annual NASA visit to watch a planet 27 light years away – Krypton – before it exploded. The distance to Earth means the images we get from our satellites show it still there prior to explosion.
And, in keeping with the time-travel weirdness in this book, present-Clark goes back in time to the past for a brief chat with Jonathan Kent in a very sweet story. I wish Sprouse had drawn the whole book as I’m not a big fan of Rags Morales’ work which is just ok in this book – fine for what it is, but nothing exceptional, though seeing Lion-Head Superman and Ant-Head Superman was a funny surprise! I do miss t-shirt and jeans Superman from the first volume whose look was one of the highlights of this series.
I can’t fault Morrison’s ambitious, complex storytelling – I wish more writers were like Morrison, but then his unique talent is what makes him so darn special, right? – but I have to be honest as well and, while I see what he’s doing (and I’m probably missing a whole lot more too), it was so disjointed and manic so often that I had no problem setting the book down and picking up something else. I got through this, and it’s got a great ending, but for long stretches of the book I found myself not caring what was happening. I wouldn’t say I was bored because, if nothing else, Morrison is never boring, but I wasn’t as engaged as I usually am with his work with this book – still, it was an interesting finale to an uneven but above-average Superman series. 3.5 stars.
At times the story can be hard to follow but if you read it more than once you really will see the beauty of it, with the love story of Mxyzptlk and Nyxlygsptlnz taking centre stage as we learn what Mxyzptlk's greatest trick is, which has something to do with his fondness for Superman. Because of the Imp's machinations, the future is at threat and the Legion of Super-Heroes travels to the past to help Superman before the worst happens.
As for the book. Well its a mess. Time shifting panels means in one panel he is in chains, in the next panel he is flying with his dog. And no explanation is given for how he got out the chains. It was confusing and a headache to read.
One of the reviews said it will take multiple reads to understand it all. Well that is never going to happen. I hated having to read it through the first time and I wont subject myself to that again, when there are so many other books I have to read.
Superman use to the best of the comics. But not a single story since this new incarnation has had a satisfactiory ending. Fights just end without a finish. The bad guy just runs away. There are no consequences for anybodies actions. Nodobdy ever dies. There is no emotional connection to any if the charcters and all the human side of Clark has been killed off (literally). He is so alien and unlikable now that going up against a fifth dimensional alien is just boring.
I miss the old Supes, but I was willing to give this new one a try. He failed miserably.