Sunday, February 15, 2009

Review: Action Comics #874

Action Comics #874 is the second of a three part story crossing over through the Action and Superman titles. This short arc really appears to be more of a prelude to the next year of stories in all the Super-titles.

We all know Mon-El and Guardian will star in Superman. We know Nightwing and Flamebird will be starring in Action. We know Superman will be on the World of New Krypton. We just have to get there.

This issue picks up right where the last issue of Superman left off. When Superman sees Zod sitting at the head of the Kryptonian military parade, he flies down to confront him. Zod's troops fly in to protect him.

One thing I thought was interesting was that despite Superman's clearly violent intentions, Zod's troops do not pummel him. Instead they merely restrain him.

Zod tries to tell Superman that much has changed since their prior encounters. There is no need for them to attack each other. The new reality is 'Zod on Krypton' not 'Zod on Earth'. Now that Zod is amongst his people, he doesn't care what happens on Superman's adopted planet.



Alura shows up and reminds Superman that history is written by the victors. If Zod had been successful in his attack on the Science Council on Krypton then space arks would have been built and countless Kryptonians would have been saved. Zod would have gone down in time as Krypton's savior rather than it's evil fascist.

Alura, as leader of New Krypton, tells Superman that she pardoned Zod and his men because they had spent at least 200 years in the Phantom Zone, a long enough sentence for justice to be served. And certainly more justice than normally seen on Earth where killers can walk free, for example Zor-El's killers.

We have seen enough of Alura now to know that she has turned the corner a bit. She is clearly in militaristic totalitarian mode. It is so easy for her to validate her reasons for allying herself with a sociopath like Zod.

One thing I really liked about this scene was Superman's asking how Kara is doing. It is one quick question but it shows how close they have become over the last year.

Do you think he would ever ask about Supergirl's welfare when she was in 'kill Kal-El' mode, when she was staying away from him ... in other words when Jeph Loeb or Joe Kelly were writing? Doubtful.

It just feels right for the super-cousins to be close, friendly, a team. I am glad the current super-teams agree with that sentiment.

Alura tells Kal that Kara us doing fine. And Zod tells him that 'Chris' Lor-Zod is of no concern for Kal-El.

Surprisingly, despite earlier proclamations that Superman should stay away from New Krypton, Alura now welcomes him back. She tells him that she hopes he will renounce Earth and rejoin the Kryptonian society. Zod states he also hopes Superman will 'come home'.

I doubt that Superman will renounce Earth but he probably feels responsible for the current Kryptonian society and where it is going. We know his answer is going to be to settle on New Krypton. But I doubt he will be welcomed with open arms.

But the Kryptonians have another mystery to ponder. Brainiac's ship has disappeared. And they have no idea who took it.

We know though. Somehow it is in area 7734 and in Luthor's hands; we saw Brainiac's ship there in Adventure Comics #0. In that issue we learn that Brainiac is more on-line than we have been shown. Most likely Brainiac took control remotely and brought it to Earth.

Given his nature I am surprised that General Lane is not asking Luthor more quetions about how Lex obtained it. Of course, Lane is probably more interested in weaponizing the tech than thinking about it's origins. If Brainiac's science 'made' New Krypton, certainly it has the potential to unmake it.


Earth isn't taking the nearby Kryptonian threat lightly either. The United Nations passed a resolution that bans all Kryptonians except Superman from Earth.

Kara is now no longer welcome on Earth. Hmmm ... maybe the Linda Lang identity is there to hide the fact Supergirl is on Earth. Maybe she will have to hide her existence again so the UN won't come after her.

Could we be looking at another era of 'Superman's Emergency Secret Weapon'? It would sort of jibe with the retro-fitting of Silver Age elements into today's comics. Could be interesting for a short term.

This UN proclamation also grabs to interest of Flamebird and Nightwing (now in Coast City). It looks like they are taking a tour of all the major cities in the DCU. What could they be hunting? Other renegade Kryptonians lingering on Earth?


Conflicted about what to do next, Superman takes Lois to the Fortress of Solitude to hash out his next step. Lois wonders aloud if Zod could have changed but Kal isn't buying it.

He has seen evil in Zod's eyes.

Before they can talk more, Mon-El begins screaming from the Phantom Zone. The Zone is being eaten away from the inside. A void is growing which has killed everyone in the zone except him. I wonder what has destroyed the Phantom Zone. At the very least, I guess that removes the Zone as an easy out for the creators ... a place to stuff the 100K Kryptonians.

Mon-El begs Superman to pull him from the Phantom Zone, preferring to die a man rather than a phantom. Superman acquiesces and pulls him from the portal only to have Mon-El collapse at his feet dying. Nice cliffhanger ...

There was also a 'Origins and Omens' feature about the Guardian which seems to hint the female clone he is raising as his daughter is not long for this world.

Overall this was an okay issue.

I know we need to position these characters so that this year's stories can unfold logically. The thing for me is that most of the storylines we see in this issue we already know the ending to. We know Mon-El lives. We know Superman goes to New Krypton. As a result, this felt like we were just killing time or taking baby steps in plot development.

It also didn't help that I found Pablo Raimondi's art somewhat murky and uneven here. Whoever the guest artists are, they will always be found lacking when compared to Gary Frank. But this was a pretty stark contrast, even to Pete Woods' detailed sharp work.

Still, the plot threads did move forward. And some plots will defiitely impact Supergirl.

Overall grade: B-

10 comments:

Heath Edwards said...

i actually quite like set-up issues. of course, this story is a few issues long, so it seems to be taking its time.
mmm, i, too, found raimondi's pencils a bit thick. particularly after a number of thin-pencil artists, these pencils really darkened everything. as you say, murky...

TalOs said...

With all due respect to Mr. Robinson unfortunately I didn't like this issue with the only exception being Mon-El. Robinson still hasn't explained as to how in Supergirl Alura (or "Allura" it seems DC can't even make up their minds as to how it should be spelt like now) was dead set against her nephew stepping foot on "New Krypton" yet apparently as of late has now been awaiting with open arms for his arrival all the same? WTH?? I think this change in Alura's attitude is in thanks to her whole exposure to that bolt of K radiation really starting to come to light now as being the only way I can explain this sudden change of heart on her behalf when it comes to him and being allowed on "New Krypton" really. :/

Oh and I'm actually the opposite to others here in that I loved the art yet couldn't stand the writing itself at the end of the day. I truly hope Robinson's handling on the main Superman title from here on out really finds it's footing.

Bit these are all just my own opinions though. :/

Anj said...
Earth isn't taking the nearby Kryptonian threat lightly either. The United Nations passed a resolution that bans all Kryptonians except Superman from Earth.

Kara is now no longer welcome on Earth.


Now THAT angers me beyond belief! Also what does this mean for Power Girl now too? After all, she too is a Kryptonian!

Hmmm ... maybe the Linda Lang identity is there to hide the fact Supergirl is on Earth. Maybe she will have to hide her existence again so the UN won't come after her.

Could we be looking at another era of 'Superman's Emergency Secret Weapon'? It would sort of jibe with the retro-fitting of Silver Age elements into today's comics. Could be interesting for a short term.


If PTB have Supergirl doing that I will be mega pissed to no end! I want SUPERGIRL in my comics damn it and not have to read about her being Linda Lang: fugitive instead!

Gene said...

I noticed Superwoman floating on the top of the panel showing Brainiac's ship. Perhaps she helped Lex recover it? I am now assuming this issue is taking place before Supergirl #37.

Anj said...

I noticed Superwoman floating on the top of the panel showing Brainiac's ship. Perhaps she helped Lex recover it? I am now assuming this issue is taking place before Supergirl #37.

Thanks for the post.

I didn't notice Superwoman up there before. Hmmm ... who the heck is she?

Anj said...

If PTB have Supergirl doing that I will be mega pissed to no end! I want SUPERGIRL in my comics damn it and not have to read about her being Linda Lang: fugitive instead!

I agree I wouldn't want that to be a long-term story line. But I would like to see how Gates/Igle would handle it for 6 issues or so.

Anj said...

mmm, i, too, found raimondi's pencils a bit thick. particularly after a number of thin-pencil artists, these pencils really darkened everything. as you say, murky...

I liked his art on the Madrox mini, a noir tale more suited to his skills.

I just think he is an odd choice for a Superman title.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who is appalled that the Phantom Zone may have been written out of the mythos...again?
Did Alura and Zod do something to collapse it?
Yuh think??

After all, what is Kara gonna do with Alura when her mother's evil plans go south? If she could stick her in the Zone they could at least visit thru the zone-viewer and do some mother-daughter bonding.
have to revise that plan...
:D
Oh one other thing, with Kara banned from Earth she enters the "Peter Parker zone", press and the gov't is out to get he...Lex and Lane seem to wanna experiment with her..."with great power..blah blah blah..."

"D

John Feer

Anj said...

Am I the only one who is appalled that the Phantom Zone may have been written out of the mythos...again?

Thanks for the post.

It is funny how much of old continuity is slowly coming back.

Kandor, Argo City, Pa dead, now no Phantom Zone.

TalOs said...

Let's not forget about the Survival Zone though. ;)

Heath Edwards said...

Anj: I liked his art on the Madrox mini, a noir tale more suited to his skills.
I just think he is an odd choice for a Superman title.


heh, i thought i recognized the name. yes, his 'madrox' tale was very well suited to the pencils...