Thursday, January 14, 2016

Review: Action Comics #48

Action Comics #48 came out last week, another chapter in The Truth, another issue closer to the end of this mega-arc, another chapter that I feel like I don't understand exactly what is going on, why it is going on, and why I am supposed to care.

Maybe I am just so fatigued about this arc that I am not invested.

And it is a shame, because like many of the Greg Pak/Aaron Kuder Action Comic issues, there are some things to like. In particular, it was great to see Kuder back on pencils for most of the issue. His stuff is really visually engaging, quirky and hypnotic.

But I can't get over the fact that I still don't understand the motivations of Vandal Savage, the 'big bad' of this mega-arc. What is he trying to accomplish? How does he think he is going to do it? Why was draining Superman so key? And why does he need his kids?

In the Superman Annual, Savage had taken over the Stormwatch satellite and has returned to Earth, crashing it into the JLA watchtower and suddenly in orbit.


We learned in the Annual that Savage is trying desperately trying to get back in contact with the Kryptonian Comet. He now has control of a massive mobile space fortress. Why come to Earth? Why fight the JLA? Why not just use this ship to find the comet and get the power?

Unless that isn't what he is trying to accomplish? But then what is he trying to accomplish? World domination? Then why bring up the comet at all? I'm confused.

One thing I do like is that Superman, still on the ground, is trying to save as many people from the destruction of this Savage attack as possible. That sounds like Superman.

We never learn just how Savage got control of the Stormwatch ship? Did he defeat them?

And somehow, almost off screen, Savage and his kids are able to defeat the entire JLA, hooking them up to energy draining devices. Savage, Frankenstein, Hordr, Wrath, and troops defeat Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, and the Flash.

Savage then says he wants to change the world for the better, something Superman should be doing if he was a hero.

But how is Savage going to save the world.

One of the ways seems to be firing Black Mass bombs into the atmosphere.

Meanwhile, Superman is on the ground stopping buses from falling off bridges and grabbing people in danger of dying. Luckily, another League is around to help out, the recently cancelled Justice League United.

I include this panel just to showcase how great Kuder draws a team shot. Great stuff.

The League, Superman, and Steel decide to hole up and think out a plan.

The transformation of Lana from action hero to angry ex to loving ex continues. When she sees Clark, she runs into his arms. She thoughts he had died.

I can remember gushing about how Lana was portrayed when Pak first reintroduced her waayyyy back in the Subterranea storyline. I had an idea of who she was as a character then. Now, she has been through a bit of a blender of emotions such that I don't know what to expect anymore.

While together, Steel reveals plans for a new super-armor, based on original Metallo armor and powered by Kryptonite. With no other choice, Superman decides to don it, though it may kill him, so he can help out more.

And then for the absolute oddest twist in the story for me. So I am hoping someone can explain it to me.

The Black Mass bombs are killing people, making them wrathful. Suddenly Wrath is upset at Savage's tactics with her black power. She didn't think it was a killing device. She suddenly has some ethics and her father wants nothing to do with that. He wants to kill off people so only the Savage bloodline will persist.

So first off, when did Wrath become good. Remember her first appearances, grinning seductively in the mayor office as she sends monsters to attack neighborhoods. She was all about wrath and anger and destruction. She was not into saving people or finding survivors. So this makes no sense to me ... none.

Second, didn't Savage suck all the shadow out of his daughter and everyone and tuck it back into the box just a couple of issues ago??

The JLU and Superman storm the Stormwatch ship and Superman is able to free Diana.

She notices that his armor is killing him.

Beautiful art here.

Hordr is somehow able to capture all of the JLU and hook them into energy draining machines. That also seems a bit fast, no? If these guys are that tough, that they can defeat two Justice Leagues so easily, how can I ever buy that Superman in armor that's killing him can win?

And, to further be confusing, Wrath turns on her father because he is evil.

This turn also seems odd given how evil Wrath has been this whole time. She hasn't been worried about people or trying to do good ever.

And so there are only two heroes left who can save the day, Superman and Wonder Woman.

But they seem defeated already while Savage prepares his final strike.

Can anyone tell me, succinctly, what Savage's plan is? Get to the comet? Use Black Mass to kill people? Why all the energy draining? Why the Nazi gunship in Batman/Superman? Why Uranium and portable suns when he clearly is powerful enough to capture and drain superpowered beings?

Is all of the Truth and all the arcs in the books supposed to all be tied into Savage? And how am I supposed to rectify all these plots into something cohesive?

Thank goodness Kuder was on art for the bulk of the book. The visuals are the only thing that propped this book up. Because it seems like things are happening fast and loose so this thing can come to an end.

Overall grade: C-

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