I gushed about Action Comics #0's main story last week, thinking it a perfect sort of reflection on not only the origins of a young Superman but also the origin of the concept of Superman, someone here to help.
And I have applauded Sholly Fisch's back-up stories in Action Comics as well. If Morrison is laying the bricks of the foundation of this Superman, Fisch's stories are like the cement holding it together. They just add some of the finer details to key aspects to Superman's early years.
In Action Comics #0, Fisch and artist CAFU turn the concept of the 'zero issue' on its head. Instead of being an origin story for Superman, it is an origin of Eric Drekken, the evolution-powered supervillain in the little man's Anti-Superman Army. And even better, he tells it from a reverse point-of-view from Captain Comet's review from Action Comics #12. It is that sort of attention to details that makes this book so solid.
But I also worry. Way back in Action Comics #6 we saw the group shot of the Army of super-villains the gnome had gathered. Will we every learn about all of them? Sure we have touched upon Nimrod and met Suzie Hopkins. And we know a bit more about Drekken now. But the rest of them?
I have to stop worrying about what Morrison will do to end his run. Instead I need to roll with it.
The issue starts with a young Erik Drekken talking to his mentor Dr. Emery Zackro. Zackro had written a paper about evolution being spurred along by ambient radiation. In return for this paper, Zackro is ridiculed and ostracized from the scientific community.
But Drekken sees some potential in the study. He wants to talk to the subject of the paper - Adam Blake, Captain Comet.
There are a bunch of small things I liked here. First off, I did my best to try to anagram Dr. Emery Zackro into something with 'crazy' and failed. Second, it just hit me that the 'comet' that triggered Blake's transformation was probably Kal's rocket. But most of all, I liked the fact that Zackro seemed to pity Blake.
As I said, this story seems the reverse angle take on Comet's origin last issue. We saw Comet walking on this road in the rain then, but from the opposite way. I could post panels side-by side but trust me.
I also have learned not to believe in coincidences in comics. Isn't it a bit odd that Drekken happens to run into Comet just as the Oort-kind arrive?
And another thing I liked here was Drekken's personality here. He doesn't seem to be your typical bad guy. He seems more like a committed almost obsessed scientist, someone with a researcher's curiosity. Even here, he notes that the 'comet' went over thousands of people. Why is just Blake effected?
Of course, if it is Kal's rocket, it could be just Blake that was near the rocket as it crashed. (I assume his parents are too old and 'formed' for the radiation to effect them.)
And, like in last issue, we hear Blake talk about the upcoming threat to the planet. He might be isolated, alienated, studied like a science experiment here ... but it is his home. He will defend it.
Comet really is sort of Superman through a mirror darkly. This is what Superman would be if all this alienation overtones seen in the current DCnU wore him down.
And suddenly Drekken has more than just scientific curiosity to drive him. He now feels the need to help defend the world. You can imagine how someone as obsessive as Drekken seems about science suddenly has a cause. We know he is going to veer a bit to zealotry and fight Superman.
I have to say that I have enjoyed these back stories immensely. Looking back at Drekken's battle with Superman in Action Comics #6, he didn't seem like a mustache-twirling megalomaniac. Instead, he seemed pretty out of place. This origin story makes that scene more understandable.
As usual, CAFU supplies solid art here. This story is basically a conversation between 2 characters in the rain and yet I felt the art was dynamic enough to draw me into the story.
Overall grade: B+