Updated on February 26, 2023
Action Comics #6
Written by: Grant Morrison (main story), Sholly Fisch (backup)
Art by: Andy Kubert (main story), Chriscross (backup)
This issue’s main story is, well, somewhat confusing. The “Anti-Superman Army” (Morrison’s update on the old Superman Revenge Squad/Anti-Superman Gang of Silver Age comics), with the help of some fellow evil genius, have somehow gotten into a microscopic-sized particle inside of Superman’s brain, where they plan to presumably bump off the Man of Steel once and for all. Fortunately, the Legion of Super-Heroes’ adult selves have come back in time to help Superman (thanks to Saturn Woman’s telepathy). Cue various flashbacks to Superman’s childhood, including his meeting “for the very first time” the Legionnaires.
The backup story is much more straightforward: Clark Kent’s last day in Smallville, after the deaths of his parents, as he wraps up things at the Kent home before heading to Metropolis.
I won’t even try to figure out anything more detailed than the above summary about Morrison’s story, so let’s delve into more about what the “new official canon” for Superman’s younger years involve:
- The recent retcons from a few years ago (before the DCNU reboot) stating that Superman was in his youth Superboy (in the Legion’s time-era), and served as part of the Legion of Super-Heroes (returning said team’s original status quo more or less, tossing aside various tortured retcons and reboots to make up for Byrne deleting Superboy from Superman’s past) still stands, fortunately. Since I like Kal-El-as-Superboy, I’ll accept this (if I can’t have a full-fledged Superboy-in-Smallville career back).
- Elements of Byrne’s version of Clark’s childhood still stand: no open Superboy career in Smallville; the Kents stayed farmers through his childhood; and Lana Lang, but not Pete Ross, knows about Clark’s powers.
- A few Silver Age elements have been brought back, in an updated form: Clark leaves the Kent household/farm to someone else to take care of after the deaths of Ma and Pa Kent (a newly created African-American character here; in the Silver Age, it was Smallville’s police chief Chief Parker that did such for Clark, after retiring from the force); the dialogue Pa Kent delivers to young Clark on his deathbed.
- Pete Ross mentions comics about superhuman powered people “defending the little guy.” I’ll assume we’ve reverted back to the pre-Crisis Earth-1 status quo for the in-universe version of DC Comics: that young Pete Ross and Clark Kent (like young Barry “The Flash” Allen) grew up reading about the Justice Society as fictional comic book characters. (Of course, the JSA turned out to be real after all, living on Earth-2; the DCNU also plans on revealing such for the JSA.) Oh, and the DCU version of DC Comics (pre- and post-Crisis) also publishes “true crime” stories about Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman’s adventures…
- Pete jokes about making a “giant ‘goodbye Clark’ cake to feed everyone in town.” A reference to the classic Silver Age story about Superboy’s last day in Smallville (as told in “Superman” (volume 1) #97 in 1955, and reprinted/retold various times since), where as a going-away gift to the townsfolk, Superboy baked a giant-sized cake, large enough for everyone to have a slice. (Said cake got preserved under glass by many of the townspeople as a souvenir…)
I also like that this version acknowledges that modern agriculture isn’t as idyllic as Byrne’s version made it out to be (when he made the Kents farmers again, instead of general store owners as in the Silver Age). Various mentions here and in the previous issue are made about how tough family farms have it nowadays (or “15 years ago,” when Clark’s teen years take place).