Thursday, February 28, 2013

Review: Action Comics #17 Back-Up Story

As much as I have enjoyed Grant Morrison's wild ride on Action Comics, I have equally loved the Sholly Fisch back-up stories. They really have been wonderful stories which have bolstered the main plotline by Morrison.

In Action Comics #17, the Fisch story continues that trend. One of the key moments in Vyndktvx multi-time attack is that Smallville Senior Prom night, the evening the Kents are killed in a car crash. We haven't seen much of the Kents in the main book but Fisch has done a great job filling in the back story of Jonathan and Martha. This story takes place on that fateful Prom night and includes a healthy dollop of Pa Kent wisdom. I will again say that one of the things ... maybe the main thing ... that separates Clark from Super-Doomsday is the loving upbringing of the Kents and their outlook on humanity.

Chris Sprouse does the art here and his style suits the content beautifully.

Since this is a 'multi-time' storyline, the first several pages show a left hand column of that fateful Smallville night and a right hand column showing events from the future. And Fisch does a good job linking the Smallville words with the 'current' action.

So here the 'pretty exciting' outside of Smallville is contrasted to the Super-Doomsday assault.

I like that despite his powers, Clark is still somewhat afraid of what life will be like away from the farm. And good old steady Pa is there to talk about the uncertainty of the future and how you need to be strong.

And that is so wonderfully juxtaposed with the bedside death scene, something which we know is just hours away.

The wonky timelines have somehow aligned such that suddenly the present Superman is there that night and granted one last moment with his father.

Okay, it is a bit of a stretch. But given that Pa's death is part of Vyndktvyx' isomorphic magic plot, I suppose this is some anchor of the 'attack on multiple timelines'. And if I am able to swallow a Kryptonian attacked by a 5th dimensional sorceror then I guess I can swallow that this moment can happen.

Fisch does such a great job here and Sprouse's art works so wonderfully. Look at how happy Clark is for having this new chance to talk to his dad.

But the Pa is all about business. He only wants to know two things. Is Clark happy and is he helping people. It is so perfect, such a fantastic essence of Clark's upbringing. And Clark is able to say yes to both questions.  Can he say that in the Lobdell book? I don't think so!

But those questions are quintessential Kent!

And Pa is even able to glean from Clark's reaction that he isn't alive in Clark's presence. Clark has to realize that he is hours away from death.

As I said, this is a brief story with just a big scoopful of Pa wisdom. So we get a tagline of sorts - 'because Kents aren't quitters.' Clark talks about how that has helped him throughout the years. Heck, that determination is probably helping Clark in that fight with Super-Doomsday.

Maybe this concentrated small town horse sense is too thick for some. It does have a sweetness like molasses. But I love these sorts of stories. It is the man that makes him super. And that comes from the Kents and their love.

And the timelines re-align, the brief reunion is forgotten when things right themselves, and we get that bittersweet moment with Ma talking about remembering this night.

Clark will remember this, but not from the joyous Prom memories. We know that the car crash will happen shortly.

I wonder if this story resonated with me because it reminded me of Action Comics #507, 'The Miraculous Version of Jonathan Kent', a 2 issue story from my youth where Pa (through a wish) comes back to life for a brief period of time. He is able to see the hero Clark has become and enjoy a reunion. But when the time of the wish expires, the clock resets and no one remembers the event (other than Pa in paradise).

So another wonderful Sholly Fisch story building up that foundation of Clark's past and helping readers understand why Superman is the fighter he is today. I will miss these back-up features when the new team takes over.

I wonder just how these stories will be collected in trade. Their own trade? Tacked on at the end of the trade?

Overall grade: A


valerie21601 said...

HUGE Boo. Boo on your part Anj, you typed this:

As I said, this is a brief story with just a big scoopful of Pa wisdom. So we get a tagline of sorts - 'because Kents are quitters.'

Quitters? hhhhhhhhmmmmm! I will let the....error speak for itself.


LJ-90 said...

I was going to comment on the same thing! Hahahaha. I guess the back-ups will be collected like in the first trade, at the end of the book. Great review Anj!

Anj said...


Mistake corrected.

Thanks for letting me know!!!

Martin Gray said...

Just a wonderful piece. I hope next issue's Fisch/Sprouse collaboration isn't their last.

The Action Comics two-parter, and the Superboy lead-in, still gets me all teared up.