Action Comics #46 came out this week, another part in the endless 'The Truth' mega-arc, and labeled 'Corruption'. It is simply more deconstruction of the Superman legend, warping him into something about as far away from the idea of Superman as possible. Indeed, it is the corruption of Superman as we move farther away from the inspirational hero and closer to a monster.
It is a shame that this is the Action Comics I am reading. Because Greg Pak had been writing a wonderful book with Aaron Kuder in the past. Even the first few issues of Action under 'The Truth' had a depowered Superman acting as a populist, street-level hero. But we have moved light years away from that.
Because in this issue we have a blue-eyed, snarling, hissing, wrathful Superman. He actually hisses and growls. The whole Superman office seems to have lost their minds, lost their way.
Scott Kolins is on art this issue. His stuff has never really worked for me. Interestingly enough, in this issue, his work seems to be less detailed and smoother than usual. And for some reason, that works less. Because it looks less Kolins-like than what I am expecting.
You might recall that last issue Superman broke into Wrath's secret lair and discovered that she was experimenting on people with her shadow magic/tar. And Superman isn't going to take it. Infected by Wrath himself, Superman actually gives into this anger and uses its power to free everyone.
But listening to this Superman is insane. He remembers that Pa told him that wrath is a sin. But he rejects that now. Maybe he needs to use his wrath against those doing evil.
So this isn't Superman, acting as role model, defeating evil and soaring above it. This is Superman wading in, thinking that the ends justify the means.
Using his ire, Superman frees everybody and pummels the factory workers, leaving the police to mop things up.
Clark does notice that Lee Lambert and the other humans who have been experimented on don't feel the wrath he is feeling. He might have used the anger. But she is different. Maybe there is some way Lana and John Henry Irons can use that fact to cure people.
So Lee is able to suppress her anger. But Superman has accepted it and embraced it. Embraced wrath.
And there is also something a bit obvious about Superman calling the tarry wrath a black mass. It is a mass, like a substance. But there is also the connotation of a religious service, a sort of belief system of the power of anger.
It just saddens me that Superman has really sunk to this point. This is just another story where creators try to deconstruct Superman, making him more like us instead of showing us that we need to be more like him.
He wallows in his new shadow powers, hissing like a snake, and traveling in the shadows.
He doesn't feel he has lost his way.
He thinks he is finding himself.
Superman feels like this angry, addled, depowered punk is who he should be.
This is wrong.
Wrath knows he is coming though. She has retreated to what seems to be her true headquarters. She prepares her troops for Superman's arrival. And she heads to a sort of temple, the floor a roiling mass of inky anger.
See, it's like a black mass!
I don't know about you but I see a swastika in that symbol on the wall.
Superman arrives and is somehow able to tap into the shadowy substance to learn the plan.
Wrath is making Black Mass Bombs, ready to infect the world with her rage.
But this seems so pedestrian. Anger bombs? She seemed to be doing quite fine just letting her wrath spread like an infection. After all, it seemed like a lot of Metropolis had already succumbed.
Wrath bombs loaded on stealth fighters?
But then Wrath becomes a bit more philosophical. She has captured Lee. Wrath shows that the new Wrath 'formula' is purer. Some people will be corrupted and descend into demons. But others will be able to control it. Wrath wants to infect the world to destroy the evil people who will embrace the disease, burning out, and leaving only those who are bright enough to withstand it.
Wrath tries to convince Superman that he should be on board with this plan. After all, the world will be a better place. Thank goodness Superman doesn't join in. That would mean the death of billions of people.
But now the Wrath isn't a mystical force or an emotional weapon. It's a formula that can be placed in bombs. It sort of diminishes the whole threat.
And to prevent Superman from stopping her plan, Wrath releases her secret weapon, a Wrath infected Frankenstein's monster. There is a giant brawl with Superman using Frankenstein as a cannonball to destroy one of the planes.
But this is going to be an even fight given Superman's current power levels. Growling and gnashing his teeth, Superman jumps in.
Look at that last panel. That is the current Superman in the DCU.
Meanwhile, Wrath seems to try to seduce Lee into joining the faith. Wrath shows Lee that Superman isn't a great man. He isn't a symbol. He isn't a pure. Wrath has uncovered an anger that already existed.
This was interesting to me because I have sore of identified with Lee in this arc. She is the one who sees the good in Superman and has defended him. So to see her waver was a bit intriguing.
Because I thought that Wrath was embodying DC Comics, trying to convince me that this is who Superman should be. And I am Lee trying to deny it.
But the book ends on this splash page.
Superman has become a monster! It's a monster fight! This is a dark, drab, mutated Superman.
"Battle not monsters lest ye become a monster."
Anyways, I am completely bored with The Truth. I am bored with this depowered, angry, vengeful, uninspirational Superman. I don't know if I can say it any more bluntly.
Let's put it this way. In the 70s, Superman lost his powers for 3 issues. He built the Supermobile and fought crimes and villains, never losing his way. In 2015, Superman loses his powers and it has lasted too long. And Superman has lost his way.