Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Review: Action Comics #34

Action Comics #34 came out last week, the third part of Superman:Doomed on the shelves and the first part of this chapter titled Last Sun. I was a bit harsh about the up and down Annuals which proceeded this chapter, a case where I felt I didn't understand much of the conflicts in the story well enough to be invested. How bad is the Doomsday virus? Was it cured by supportive feelings and well wishes? Why does it wax and wane?

Add to that a myriad of side plots and characters that have been lingering a bit without getting much advancement. Dr. Xa-Du, Harrow, the Cyborg Superman, and others have all sort of drifted in and out of the story, at times seeming to be key figures, at other times simply gone.

And then the lingering Lois storyline with the Brainiac involvement is the last big piece to this puzzle. Again, this seems to be a convoluted plot by Brainiac to eliminate Superman and then capture Earth for some reason. But how does Lois survive when other Twenties didn't? Why Smallville and Metropolis to start his plot ... to needle Superman? And why be doing this at all? And didn't the Kandor people wake up months ago?

I know ... I should roll with this. But this arc has taken on a lumbering pace and has gone on for months. The more massive the story, the more massive my expectations.

As usual, there are some nice moments in this book. And the art, mostly done by Aaron Kuder, is wonderful. I really like Kuder's stuff.

In the first annual, the Cyborg Superman has sent 'coma pods' to Earth, hoping to set up a network to boost the sleeping sickness across the globe.

Here, the Brainiac ship teleports into the solar system. Look at the size of that thing! It dwarfs Earth! I am probably going to date myself and probably not make sense to most of you, but this thing looks like a mini-boss from the old video game Darius.

The presence of the ship is enough to blanket the world in the coma-wave as we see anyone on planet who is not telepathically/psionically shielded suddenly go limp, brain waves shooting up to the Brainiac ship.

First off, great art here. So cool to see Kuder play with some other characters in the DCU during this book.

But if your ship is that big, and Superman is off planet, and almost everyone is effected ... why send the coma-pods two books ago. Now that seems like a waste of time.

Despite being comatose/mesmerized, the people of Earth seem safe. Planes are not crashing. Cars are not careening. For some reason, Brainiac wants everyone alive.

Here we see a super-powered but not enslaved Lois helping the team.

I like the description of her as a fighter.

Lois and Superman head to the Watchtower satellite to team up with their allies.

Last issue Superman was cured of his Doomsday affliction (apparently) by hearing that his friends like Baka believe in him. So this whole issue, he is back to being himself. This seems like a bit of a deus ex machina.

I thought this was the most awkward-feeling scene I have read in a long time. I still think there is some pulse of romance between Superman and Lois. Here, after their nice little telepathic moment last issue, Lois stand by while Diana plants a wet one on Superman's lips. Lois isn't exactly smiling back there, is she.

And the hug from Diana?

I was cringing just reading it.

So why is Brainiac doing all this? Superman thinks he is trying to covert Earth's brain power into some kind of weapon.

I really am trying to understand all of this. If you have a ship bigger than a planet and the power to put an entire population to sleep, how much more power do you need? How much more power could the Earth give him? Are we that high-minded??

And the steps Brainiac needed to go through to have this happen are insane. Do you think there is another world more easy to take over who have thinkers?

It looks like all is lost so the heroes come up with an insane plan to try to save the world.

First they need to 'distract' Brainiac. So Harrow releases her ghost soldiers to attack the ship.

I love this splash page. I love seeing Kuder drawing all sorts of soldiers. It is beautiful.

But the ship is enormous! Is this like a gnat attacking us? They are quickly dispatched.

The plan is insane. Superman will head to the sun to power up and then use his heat vision to super-power the Phantom Zone projector. Then Shay Veritas will use the projector to shunt Earth and Brainiac's ship into the Zone. While there, in stasis, everyone will be safe and stable while the heroes figure things out.

Now this is a crazy plan. I guess desperate times call for desperate measures.

Of course Brainiac isn't going to just let that happen. He destroys the projector stopping the transition.

Somehow a side effect of this attack on the Fortress is that the mother ship starts to fall onto Earth. I don't know why this happens. I don't know how a ship that looks to be 5 times the size of Earth can fall onto it.

And I don't know how Superman and Martian Manhunter can somehow hold it up so it doesn't crash into Earth. Just how strong are they???

Again, much like the past issues, so much happens so fast that I really have to just roll with it. Earth comatose, ghost warriors, phantom zone gambit, falling ships ... that's a lot of stuff. It is the opposite of decompression. It is compressing too much into this.

And then, to make my head spin even more, Pak introduces 2 more elements into this story. With the Fortress crumbling, Non and Mongul escape the Phantom Zone.

Whew ...

I don't like issues where nothing happens. But this whole Doomed arc suddenly feels like there is just too much happening and I can't understand why things are happening. Or why characters are acting like they are. Or what is a real threat and what isn't.

And I think we have 4 more issues!

Love the art. Like Lois being herself (although hope she loses her powers). But other than that, I feel like too much is being thrown at me.

Overall grade: C


Thomas Hayes said...

You're not obliged to give the comic the benefit of the doubt - you paid four bucks for it, it shouldn't need excusing! I agree. Superman: Doomed is full to bursting with plot, and very little of it really fits together nicely so it's hard to keep track of what's going on. The mechanics of how Superman's infection work don't seem to be consistent at all, so I've stopped caring. I just hope Supergirl's chapter of this isn't awful.

Anonymous said...

On Superman and Martian Manhunter lifting that massive ship, Superman has already performed two planetary lifting feats in the New 52. It is kinda consistent with what he can do. Not so much with MMH though he is a powerhouse equal to Superman.

But you're right on the overloading plot and inconsistent details. Doomed has been a mess of a series as is the case with most company crossovers events. Writers get caught up in the big picture and miss the little details that make the story.

I hope Pak can get back to the quality he once wrote at but at least Johns is here to bring Superman back the way he should be. Nice review Anj.


mhr said...

Supergirl Movie adaptation made for Brazil:

mhr said...

Brokee Shields screen test for Supergirlmovie:

mhr said...

sorry.. the Broke Shields photo is apparently fake

Jay said...

I agree with a lot of the critique's except that Diana's hug was cringe-worthy. I thought it was really cool to see her acknowledge Lois's personal victory and her aiding in the larger fight like that, and be so glad that she was okay.

Again, don't care for a possible direction of Lois pining, but other than that no issues there.

All the criticisms about the plot though, I continue to agree.

Anonymous said...

I guess I should have been following Doomed after all. You mean he was cured by knowing people liked him? The Doomed virus was actually like a self-help seminar with a personal coach? That's... kinda anticlimatic to be kind.

Bartiemus said...

Only two more issues of Doomed everyone!

Supergirl #34

Superman Doomed #2

Yet another example of a cross over killing a family of books momentum.

I guess the reset switch was needed after Lobdell's disastrous Superman and Superboy run.

Really nervous about Kara's part in all this the Solicitation does not match where the current books are and she has been absent for much of the event thank god.

Ah well after Futures End month things look great lots of good stuff coming up.

Diabolu Frank said...

I like that swoll J'Onzz, but it seems like my boy is back to showing up in Superman events for a few ineffectual pages to prove how dire the circumstances are. Sigh.

Anj said...

Realized I didn't comment here. Thanks for the discussion here.

Boy this plot feels as bloated as J'onn's arms in this issue.

I think you would like J'onn in JLU Frank.