Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Review: Action Comics #5 Kents Back Up

Action Comics #5 included a back-up feature written by Sholly Fisch with art by ChrisCross. Fisch is the official back-up writer and seems charged with the task of filling in the back story of some of the characters being re-introduced in the Superman mythos. Last month's character was Steel. This month we get a look at the Kents.

Fisch does a good job of showing us just how much Martha and Jonathan love each other and want children. Much like the main issue including helicopters investigating the Kal-El crash site immediately, Fisch modernizes the Kent's plight while reinforcing why they would be the perfect couple to raise Superman.

We last saw ChrisCross on the Kelly Sue DeConnick Supergirl issues. The art in those issues was occasionally extreme with the characters wearing wild expressions. Cross scales things back here, telling a very human story with slight touches that adds to the story.

This isn't a snapshot in time but rather an overview of years in Jon and Martha's married life.

It starts off with their wedding where the young couple, clearly smitten with each other, immediately talk about filling their house with children. There is some not so subtle irony in the 'babies falling from the sky' comment, but it works in this innocent early time.

I don't know if the Kent's wedding has ever been covered anywhere before.

But that early optimism is eroded by each failed pregnancy test. I like Jonathan's quiet strength as he reassures Martha that she will be a wonderful mother and that they will continue to try.

Unfortunately, medicine can't fix every problem. He has low motility. She has endometriosis. Hormone injections and in vitro methods can only go so far. This method, despite its costly nature, is unsuccessful.

This is perhaps my favorite scene of the short story.

Despondent after science has failed them, the Kents turn to their minister for some solace. And he is able to provide them some peace by saying there is a plan. They are good people and they need to have faith that something wonderful will happen.

This last panel showing a happy and suddenly reinvigorated Jon and Martha was wonderful. And I can't remember the last time someone of the cloth was shown in such a positive manner. It really worked for me.

With that, the Kents turn to their next option, adoption.

But that isn't much easier than hormone shots. It is a process, sometimes arduous and also costly. There is a sort of 'here we go again' look on the Kents' faces as they realize their dream is about to put on hold again.

But nothing will stop Jonathan. He'll mortgage the farm to get the fund money for the adoption process.

I love how he says he'll open a general store if he has to, an obvious reference to that part of the Kent's Silver Age history. But it is a wonderful scene showing just how much these two love each other, support each other, and are willing to risk it all for each other. Lovely.

Now, we know that Morrison is going for a Golden Age feel here. So will Martha bring Kal to the local orphanage as a 'found' baby only to adopt later (as in the earliest Action Comics origins?) or will she spirit him away to the Kent farm and come up with another explanation for him? I don't know if the former will hold up to the light of current times. But we'll see.

Still, much like the Steel story, Fisch does a great job letting us learn a lot about these characters in a short page count. And Cross' art amplifies the words.

Overall grade: A


valerie21601 said...

If I recall it right in the Superman Earth-One graphic novel. The Kents used the cover of baby Kal being the child of Martha's "worthless sister" who left for the big city and no one in Smallville wanted to look for her.

Or the Kents could say they had used the private adoption route to find a baby.

Unknown said...

I loved this story, too. I could have read an entire issue (and perhaps an entire graphic novel) dedicated to this story.