Monday, December 7, 2015

Review: Action Comics #47

Last month in Action Comics #46, writer Greg Pak has Superman absorb so much of Wrath's inky anger that he had been reduced to a snarling beast, a monster in the form of Superman. This seems to be the underlying theme of 'The Truth', the mega-arc in which Superman has lost his powers and apparently his senses. Now, in Action Comics #47, subtitled 'The Wrath', Pak pushes the envelope even further albeit while ending the issue on something of an up-note.

This still isn't my Superman. Not by a long shot. This is a Superman who seems to be craving power. A Superman willing to make a deal with the devil to get it too. It seems all wrong. Gone is the inspirational figure, leading by example. Instead, we have solely a man of action, apt for the title.

Maybe I am being too harsh here. There is progress here, finally. Too much of The Truth has been treading water. I'm just looking for this whole thing to come to an end. At least here we get a conclusion of a subplot, even if the ending was a bit too easy.

The art in the issue is by Georges Jeanty. I have enjoyed his work on other books and this isn't any different. He has to run the gamut from giant action sequences to human moments and does so nicely. There is a sort of Cully Hamner feel to things here, always a good thing.

The book starts where last issue ended, two monsters pounding each other. The wrath-powered Superman is standing toe to toe with Frankenstein's Monster on the battlefield.

Wrath's plan seems magnanimous. She'll infect the world with Wrath, let those prone to the base emotion burn themselves out, leaving the pure to rebuild the world. And to prove that her wrath is powerful, she is going to debase Superman. In this way, Wrath hopes to prove to Lee Lambert that this planned cull is the only solution. Those who can be effected, even Superman need to be removed.

We see it played out in this splash page, Wrath saying there is no difference between Superman and Frankenstein, both monsters.

I, of course, dislike a monster Superman. And that is all that DC has given us for some time.

After seeing Superman rip through Shadow Demons in Batman/Superman I was glad to get this little bit of exposition.

These things are not alive after all. The Wrath substance has burned out the human hosts, leaving them dead flesh and rage. So at least I have that going for me.

We then get a bit of sympathetic back story, perhaps explaining why Wrath is who she is. It's a little heavy on the exposition, veering towards monologuing. But I suppose if Wrath is trying to tell Lee why she is doing what she is doing, she has to tell it.

Growing up with her single mother, Wrath was fearful of the world, always afraid of dying. But her mother was a voice of strength, someone who protected the family, and helped Wrath accomplish a lot in life. It is clear that this mother was Wrath's hero.

But then disasters happened. Brainiac stole Metropolis. Wrath's mother died in that catastrophe. Superman couldn't save her. And then he became Doomsday and even more people died. It was more than Wrath could bear.

It doesn't help that other Kryptonians appeared on Earth and, at least by Wrath's perceptions, were monsters. Even more danger. And then Vandal Savage approached her with the gift of the Wrath Shadow.

I have to say I am thrilled to see Supergirl and Superboy in a DC comic, even if it is a warped flashback. How could I not include these panels?? These characters exist but have simply been forgotten. Where are they? Why hasn't Superman even thought about his family?

Jeanty draws a very young appearing Supergirl. Interesting.

The bulk of the issue is Superman and Wrath fighting in and out of the shadow realm. Clark can utilize his shadowy infection to blip in and out of that dimension, stopping one of the Black Mass bombers.

But Wrath is better versed at utilizing the shadow dimension. She ejects Superman out of her realm specifically in front of people who still have faith in their hero. So he is dumped in front of the children he saved last issue and even Jimmy Olsen. And, of course, since he is using the shadow-power, he is sporting the roiling, growling  horrific form.

The art works very well here. Superman is far from iconic here. There is no hands on hip, looking off the horizon here. He is spat out onto his knees awkwardly. It says to me 'look how the mighty have fallen'. Wonderful in conveying the message.

It is clear that Superman can't outright win this fight. He needs an edge. And he has a something of a revelation. He'll absorb all the wrath into himself. And he succeeds.

I don't quite know if I buy this. There isn't enough of an explanation behind how this is possible. Does this mean Superman is a good receptacle for total wrath? Should he really have more control over it than Wrath herself? Why does this even work?

Maybe I am asking too much? I suppose we have seen Superman slowly imbibing more and more of this stuff. I guess we have been leading up to this month!

However he does it, Superman is thrilled by it. He is suddenly swimming in dark power. Using it, he stops the last bomber. He really is elated by his inky strength, smiling widely and accepting this new reality.

Vandal Savage won't have any part of it. He won't let his 'gift' of wrath be utilized for good. He shows up, calling Wrath by a human name ... Jennifer ... and takes back his shadow gift. It recedes back into the box it came from, stripping everyone of The Wrath,

More interesting is Savage calling Jennifer his daughter. We knew from solicits that Superman would be fighting Savage's children. I just didn't expect her to be one. Does this mean Angle Man is also now retconned to a Savage son?

This was a quick ending to the Wrath threat that has been going on here for several months. Just like that it's over. I should be glad to see it end.

The book ends with a sort of odd moment. I like that Lee is around, cured of her power, and talking about Superman is still her hero. She believes he could handle all that rage and fear but glad he didn't have to. That's nice. I like Lee and glad she didn't lose faith.

But hearing Superman lament not having the power, even when it was based on anger, seems a little off.

One more issue in this depowered run is in the books. We have a Superman embrace anger and try to use evil for good. In some ways it is similar to Wrath's idea, trying to have the ends justify the means. It doesn't work for me.

Still, we have put Wrath behind us. And for that I am glad. Plus, Jeanty brings a nice style to the issue.

Overall grade: C+


Godzylla said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Godzylla said...

I really didn't get that sequence of showing Superman to the kids and Jimmy. He didn't seem horrific to me, just weakened and hurting, so I don't get the kids' fear of him. Jimmy just seemed concerned. But at least this is almost over? I dunno. Somehow I doubt it…

Martin Gray said...

What Godzylla said, this bunch of stories looks set to go on and on...

There were a couple of references to Vandal being Bend's father I'm S/WW #23 but I can see why you'd blank it from your mind.

Jay said...

It'll be over by #50. Aaron Kuder's confirmed its going to be an extra sized issue, and that he'll be back full time for that one (and #48 before that). What with that and being a landmark issue, seems entirely likely to me that this is where he gets his powers and costume back. Maybe even the secret gets put back in the bottle (though that's of less consequence to me, I don't mind if that one sticks around a while longer).