Saturday, September 4, 2010

Review: Action Comics #892

Is it ever too late to review a comic?

Between the Baltimore Comic-Con and a couple of missed days blogging because of travel, I am woefully behind in my reviews. I still have Action Comics and The Outsiders from 2 Wednesdays ago as well as The Last Family of New Krypton and R.E.B.E.L.S. from this week. All this as well as more goodies from the Baltimore Con as well as a back issue I want to review. I promise to you I am going to eventually catch up.

Unfortunately, it means that the next week's reviews might read like old news.

As for Action Comics, I remain somewhat blase about the Paul Cornell storyline here and Action Comics #892 didn't really change things. It isn't that the story has completely failed. There are a lot of elements here that have a lot of potential. It is more that it hasn't grabbed me and made me say 'wow'. I wouldn't normally collect a Luthor book so it better be something spectacular. And maybe it will get there.

Of course, I will again say that it isn't like this storyline is starting at a perfect time. I was one of many who just wanted Superman back in his books after New Krypton.

Luthor is tracking Black Lantern energy signatures around the globe and the first one brings him to Antarctica. Given the attack by Mr. Mind last issue, Luthor decides to bring along some muscle. So Deathstroke the Terminator is one of the crew.

The group discovers the energy, a black energy globe half buried in the snow. Luthor advises Deathstroke to check out the energy up close while he stays behind. Lex then divulges to the Lois-bot joining him that it took some strength to send the Terminator first ... that his need to possess the power made him want to go first, to rush in.

This is one of those pieces of the puzzle that interests me. Is whatever is behind these energy globes manipulating Lex? That's my guess. It is unlike Lex to throw caution to the wind. Something must be pulling his strings ... or trying to. I like that Luthor is able to shake off those compulsions. We see this throughout the issue and really is the best part of the story so far.

The energy globes have several different properties. The first is that they are some sort of alternate spacetime pocket. Moreover, the energy seems to have been in the snow billions of years. The energy of the Black Lantern's destruction spewed these effects throughout time and space.

It is a lot of techno-babble. I don't know if I understand exactly what it means other than there are probably lots of these things around for Lex to study.

But Blackest Night was built around the emotional spectrum. These globes are emitting eaves of emotions, affecting those who come close to it and/or feel strong emotions.

Unfortunately for Lex, the one closest to the globe, indeed physically touching the energy, is Deathstroke who goes mad and attacks the group. Luckily, in his insane state, the Terminator isn't on top of his game. Luthor, in a classic Lex-suit, is able to hold him off.

But as I said above, Lex' need to understand and possess this energy is his primary interest, even above his own well being. While he is fighting Slade, Lex commands his Lois-bot (who we know packs big guns) to protect the lead analyst, allowing the scientist Spaulding to study the black energy.

Lex has to be being played. The usual Luthor would want his own life preserved, especially given the recent revelation that these globes exist throughout timespace. We are talking about the Terminator here; the guy recently almost took out the JLA on his own.

The battle sucks Lex in and for a moment it looks like he will be taken over by the energy.

But showing off his personal mental strength, Luthor actually fends off the possession vowing he won't lose his intelligence. Every so often I am reminded why Luthor is such an effective villain. It is moments like this where you see just how powerful a mind he is. He defies and defeats some universal power. Pretty cool.

The whole episode ends as quickly as it started. When the Spaulding finishes his analysis, the energy globe dissipates. Suddenly it isn't a new spacetime nor is it influencing people's emotions. This energy is evolving?

I don't know. This issue wasn't bad. But I am waiting for the 'oh my god' moment or some tremendous hook.  And the fact that I don't really understand this new energy kind of frustrates me too. That could have been the big hook ... and it came close. The issue ends with the promise of a Grodd/Luthor punch-up next issue. I hope with each issue we see the bigger story move forward so that I feel like I am traveling somewhere.

Pete Woods' art continues to sparkle. 

The back-up Superboy feature was a prologue to his solo book and was done by his creative team of Jeff Lemire and Pier Gallo.

Now this does what a preview should do, grab the reader and end with a nice hook.

Smallville is under attack from giant sized mud monsters. Superboy and the Teen Titans are trying to stop them with varied success. So that's a nice opening, thrown into a big action scene.

One thing that stood out was the inclusion of local Smallville genius (and future Luthor-analogue) Simon joining in the battle. I like how he is using remote control tropical frogs to fight huge swamp things. I wondered if their coloring, so close to the Parasite's, hinted that they had some draining powers.

When Smallville and loved ones become threatened, Superboy singlehandedly eliminates the threat, smashing the mud beings to bits.

Now here is the one thing that really stuck out in this story ... and made me pause.

Part of the battle unroofed the underground tunnel Clark used to go back and forth from the Kent's secretly.

But why the heck would Superboy spell it out like that in front of Simon? Does that mean Simon now knows that Clark Kent is Superman? That shouldn't happen. It struck me as wrong. I don't even know if all these Titans knew that information.

The tunnel is filled with horror ... pig men, a captured Lori Luthor (Lena's daughter), nuclear waste. What the heck is going on there?

And before Superboy can jump to the rescue, the Phantom Stranger shows up and says Superboy cannot enter or Smallville will die. Now that is a cliffhanger! This would have been a great story if not for the Kent tunnel miscue.

Pier Gallo's work is a lot smoother and less sketchy than I remember from the great Car-Vex storyline from Adventure. This cleaner style probably works in the brighter world of Superboy. I will be getting this title and most likely reviewing it here.

Overall grade (issue): B


TalOs said...

Action Comics - I have this really STRONG feeling that we'll discover that it's none other then Nekron himself (the main big bad behind so called "Blackest Night" event and maker of the "Black Corp" death inducing power rings) is the one in particular who's been using Luthor as a means to bring about his own return to main DCU Earth again.

Superboy #0 (backup) - The prelude to Superboy's forthcoming monthly was going really cool until the bit about the "secret tunnels being used by Clark Kent upon his time acting as original Superboy" was thoughtlessly blurted out while Simon was still in earshot of the Titans and has as such just opened up a HUGE problem where Simon now possibly in having heard this priceless knowledge can not only expose Superman's true identity (as well as Kon's) but can even use this to actually go back in time and KILL Superman in his youth as to insure that his eventual nemesis Superboy/Kon will never exist even.

Saranga said...

LoisBot! Ha!

i'm looking forward to the superboy ongoing. thanks for the back up review!

Saranga said...

btw, when is the Superboy ongoing being released? I coudln't see it on DC's website..

valerie21601 said...

This would have been better off as it's own maxi-series. Not many people want to read a series centering around a villain, even if he is a super-villain and Lex Luthor.

Your really right about how so many people just want Superman back in his own series, do some major butt kicking as Superman and simply be Superman in his full glory and personal best.

TalOs said...

Er...isn't the cover to next issue showing Luthor being chased by an apparent "hungry hungry gorilla" Grod with a giant spoon?? o_O *blinks*

drawmein said...

There's just not enough Superman right now... doing Superman stuff! This better be an "absense makes the heart fonder, yadda yadda" kinda thing. Especially building to the anniversary issue in Action.

Now the Superboy thing? I really don't dig him hanging out in Smallville. Yeah, Ma Kent, Krypto.. that's all good. But ever since he started wearing blue jeans and a t-shirt for a costume, I really miss his old Young Justice and Hawaii days.

Anj said...

Thanks for all the posts.

I wonder if this is ever going to grab me.

I think Superboy is a November release.

I didn't mind some of the Hawaii stories. I thought the Knockout story where she tempts him to the dark side was pretty good.