Friday, November 20, 2015

Review: Action Comics #46

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.

Get it!

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.

That's wrong.

Overall grade: C-


Tejna said...

C- is way too generous. I'd give this a big fat F Excellent review.

Anonymous said...

I laughed when I saw Frankenstein ('s monster). This is impossible to take seriously.

I commented on Martin's review that there was a thought box where the thought was it all was making sense. To whom? And perhaps they might want to share the drugs? I kid.

I don't know how many watched MST3K (Mystery Science Theater 3000) back in the day but it was my husband's and my favorite show. The powers that be behind the show are running a kickstarter to produce new episodes.

The premise is a guy is sent to space and trapped there watching bad movies, he build robot friends to keep him company.

They riff on bad movies (We force..uh I mean shared some of these with Godzylla).

I think we should have a podcast every week and do the same with the Superman titles. Riffing on the ridiculous.

Who is in??

Godzylla said...

Ditto, Tejna. Hhhsssss!
Where's Leifeld on art? That's the only thing this crap is missing. Ggrrr.
If DC's goal was to make me hate them, they failed. I've become apathetic.

Silver Age Boy said...

Well look at it this way, we'll have Superman:Lois and Clark,Superman:American Alien(The first issue was really good), and Neal Adams Superman project to tide Superfans over in the coming months.

Uncle Screensaver said...

"Here, dear, you can have this towel and pretend you're Superman." "Superman doesn't have a cape! He doesn't even fly! Rarrgh! Hsss" "Are you playing the Hulk? A snake?" "Eff you, mom! I'm Superman!" *Child proceeds to destroy the living room* "What are you doing! STOP that!" "****, you're like Lois Lane!" *Kid strikes his mom* In Suddenly in their offices, the peeps of DC find themselves smiling.

Uncle Screensaver said...

I so think that should be done!

Uncle Screensaver said...

"Take THAT and THIS, Shuster and Siegel families! Where are your beloved patriarchs now!," DC PTB growl maliciously, drunk with power. "If our sales plummet, we're taking you with us!" *The New New NEW New NEW DC! There's no stopping us now!*

Uncle Screensaver said...

Delete the *In*.

Martin Gray said...

How odd, my comment of about nine hours ago hasn't shown up. And it was BRILLIANT.

Oh well, great review, extremely fair as ever. This series really does seem to be treading water, as the other books had to when Grant Morrison was writing Action Comics.

I thought Lee was done for this issue... now I think they're just putting it off. I hope she survives, but my instincts say no.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments.
This whole arc is just getting tiresome.
And Mart, I hope Lee doesn't die!

Unknown said...

Ironic, in the past if superman was depowered he used his mind to see if he could still be useful to fighting crime otherwise he happily too a break and focused on being Clark but then this dude bros problem is his an unlikable savage whose go to move is punch everything that pusses me off and never ask for help from all my other super powered friends

Anonymous said...

Honestly I think the guy who retweeted your blog post tweet summed up this arc best: "Superman, For the Love of God, please, just make it stop." That's what Truth/Justice/Savage Dawn and whatever else is associated with now, it's tiring to see Superman like this and it's maddening that a character is so far off the mark but given DC's approach for the last few years, this is hardly surprising. I love how Superman was like "Nah I'm in control I'm gonna use my shadow powers to find the bad guy" but then he totally loses control and starts losing himself in anger and aggression. Cause that's what we want to see Superman do in a comic book, snarl and growl.

Nice review as always, glad no matter how many times DC misrepresents Superman, there's always those of us to call it out.


Jay said...

I'm rather spent myself. And in the beginning I was a big fan of the story. Its just the same old thing: it went on too long. They never seem to learn with their events. It always overstays its welcome and by the end its dragging its feet and you get issues like these which are mediocre to poor even though the creative team is awesome.