Writer Grant Morrison and artists Rags Morales and Brad Walker present the end of an era with “Action Comics” #18 by wrapping up everything that they’ve started with the expected amount of flourish and flair Morrison packs into his more substantial runs. In the process, they deliver some quaint Superman moments that ring true through the character’s history, regardless of where readers tether their original connection to the Man of Steel. Those moments might issue guffaws, sighs of relief or smiles of understanding as readers rediscover their own roots.
While I’m certain there will be revelations of subtext and artistic witchcraft in the days and years to come regarding Morrison’s run on “Action Comics,” this issue is exciting and full. With so much ground to cover, so many wild concepts and fully developed ideas sprung from the mind of Morrison, the book doesn’t ever slow or slip. Superman’s final (or not-so-final?) conflict with Vyndktvx occurs with the world hanging in the balance and evokes the strongest fight for all that is right and good from the Last Son of Krypton. This leads to a fun bit where Superman calls upon the people of Earth to help him, includes shoutouts to the creators of this “Action Comics” run.
Sometimes even Grant Morrison can reach into the corners of obscurity and retrieve a concept or character that is just so damn obscure, most readers have forgotten about it. On occasion, Morrison just flat out creates something to fit the obscurity mold. In this case, it is (interestingly enough, thankfully) the former as the writer makes one final, promising contribution to the DC Universe. This last arc has delivered a number of Morrison ideas to the sandbox, but in “Action Comics” #18, Morrison pulls some of the toys from the very bottom of the barrel and really dusts them off, giving them a chance to soak in the sun once more. On his way out, Morrison doesn’t answer very many questions as much as he wraps up the extravagant adventures that he has poured into this series.
Accompanied by the reliable team of artists in pencilers Rags Morales and Brad Walker with inkers Cam Smith and Andrew Hennessy, Morrison packs visual spectacle after visual spectacle into “Action Comics” #18, which weighs in at a hefty price with extra pages, boasting thirty pages in the lead story and another eight in the backup. Brad Anderson fills the psychedelic and heroic imagery of the lead tale with bold, strong colors. This Superman exists in a colorful world that is more colorful for his presence. The colorist’s work is aptly applied to the supremely detailed work of Walker and Morales, who complement each other nicely, blending together for an almost seamless collaboration.
The backup tale, drawn by Chris Sprouse, speaks to the heroism Kal-El inspires in everyone while also presenting a strong story with a decisive anti-bullying message. Sholly Fisch has done a great job with the backup stories, injecting them with energetic fun that suits Sprouse’s style to a tee. Jordie Bellaire follows Anderson’s lead on the coloring front and fills “Never-Ending Battle” with appropriately bold choices despite the lack of Superman truly appearing in the story beyond background imagery.
When all is said and done, Grant Morrison’s run on this comic is sure to be held up as one of the best. That’s not hard to do, considering the trials and tribulations Superman has endured since his death in 1992. This run, capped by “Action Comics” #18, celebrates the Man of Steel, his supporting cast, his heritage and his legacy all while serving as a love letter from Morrison to the concepts and characters that must have fueled his desire to create adventures for Superman.