I’m not really sure what this is supposed to be. I’ve heard some people say that Action Comics is an alternate-universe version of Superman, or the stories are told in Superman’s past, or it’s an alternate universe that takes place in the past. I don’t know yet. I’m sure it’ll become clearer eventually.
But what I do know is that this is about how Superman began. In fact, coincidentally, it starts at about the same point in Superman’s life where he was when Smallville ended. But it’s definitely not connected in any way. This book takes place about 5-10 years before Justice League #1 (which takes place 5 years before the rest of the New 52). So, pre-Y2K? Is it even in the same continuity? I’m not going to think too hard about it yet.
As you can see from the cover, Superman is not yet established as the hero of Metropolis. In fact, the police don’t even know who he is, or if he’s a good guy. His costume is just a t-shirt and jeans, work boots, and a short red cape. This is a powered-down version of Superman, because he can’t actually fly (yet). He’s still faster than a speeding bullet (or in this case, a bullet train), more powerful than a locomotive (again, bullet train), and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. And he has his X-Ray vision and is bulletproof. He didn’t use his heat vision, but for some reason his eyes were often glowing red, which made him look evil.
Other changes are weirder. Superman and Lois both seem to be in their early 20′s, as is Jimmy Olsen. And Clark Kent works at the Daily Star, while Lois and Jimmy (and presumably Perry White) work at the Daily Planet. Huh? If I remember correctly, the Golden Age (Earth 2) Superman worked at the Star, but so did Lois and Jimmy.
All bizarrities aside, it was a pretty interesting read. Seeing Superman as an unknown, imperfect, not-quite-indestructable hero-in-training is fun. But one thing did stick out as odd: Superman seems pretty cocky, and even threatens a criminal by dropping him from a building to get him to confess to a crime. That’s a Batman tactic, not a Superman tactic.