Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Action Comics #901 review

There was outrage in sections of the US media recently as a story in Action Comics #900 saw Superman renounce US citizenship. Comic readers knew that as a standalone short in an anniversary issue, David Goyer's tale would likely never be followed up on. And here we are just a month later, with President Obama making a personal appeal to Superman to stop a massive missile from bringing planetary extinction.

Not that Superman hears the plea, as he's in outer space, already knee-deep in the situation, trying to avert the catastrophe from the inside. It'd be a little easier without a bunch of customised Doomsday clones pursuing him through an immense, labyrinthe craft. He has help, mind - Steel, Supergirl, Superboy and the Eradicator were all on the ship before him, kidnapped by Doomsday Prime at the behest of the departed Lex Luthor. Together, they make quite the team, but will they be enough?

Well, we've a few more issues in which to find out. As Superman says here. '... winning this is going to take a long time'. Doesn't sound like good news for those of us who find Doomsday a crashing bore, but the storyline has a secret weapon - writer Paul Cornell. Having done a fine job of handling Luthor's run in this title, he's been retained for Superman's return. And it's a good decision - Cornell gets straight to the heart of his heroism. Leadership, strategic nous, a preparedness to sacrifice folllowed by the determination to fight on, warmth ... this is the Man of Steel at his best. And there's a heartening surprise at the beginning of the book, as Superman takes a no-nonsense approach to one particular annoyance.

With the spotlight on Superman, there's less space for Supergirl, Boy and co to strut their stuff, but everyone gets a moment or two. I especially like the affection between Kara and Clark, something we need to see more of. The action scenes are big and thumpy, as you'd expect in a Doomsday story, but I'm betting on Cornell to get more creative as the arc continues.

The physical stuff does allow joining artist Kenneth Rocafort to show what he can do, and the fights fair rock the page. His Superman reminds me of Jim Lee's in its power, but minus the noodling we have a happier result. His layouts give the story room to breathe, something also achieved by Jesus Merino, who handles almost half the issue. Merino makes a sizeable splash, lterally, with a cracking full-page of our heroes upended by the Dolly Mixture Doomsdays. And colourist Brad Anderson's subtle shades bring the illustrations to greater life. There's good work, too, from letterer Rob Leigh, who looks to be having fun with the speech patterns of new character the Doomslayer, who looks an awful like the silhouetted baddie who's sending the ship into Earth's orbit. Don't trust him, chaps!

Rocafort's cover is eye-catching, just about surviving the ugly banner ad for the Green Lantern film which DC has slapped on all its books this week (because, you know, comic fans have no idea it's coming out). 

I'll be glad when  Reign of the Doomsdays is over - this is part 7, for crying out loud - but I'm more confident than previously that I'll be well-entertained along the way.

6 comments:

  1. How many panels does Power Girl get? You know... Power Girl? Another Earth-dwelling Kryptonian?

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  2. Is the President actually shown to be Obama? I thought the DCU had a different president than we do. (The VP is a woman, I recall; she was kidnapped in Freedom Fighters.)

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  3. Carol, you can excuse the lack of Peege on the grounds that this story is riffing on the Reign of the Superman, hence Steel, Cyborg Superman, Eradicator and Superboy. I suppose Supergirl is around because Matrix isn't, anymore.

    Rob, I nearly mentioned that this is the first time Obama had been seen as DC America president, but I'd likely turn out to be wrong. I very nearly brought Freedom Fighters in, due to the conflicting president you mention (if memory serves, the lady is the Veep, with the President an unnamed chap, as seen in the final issues).

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  4. I went to the comic shop, and Wow, yeah, Obama! There must have been a special election in the DCU. At least they didn't cobble together a miniseries about it.

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  5. After DC Decisions, I thought the president was meant to be... Suarez? Not sure anymore.

    And you know the only reason we're even thinking about this is because Doomsday = Who cares.

    I also have faith in Paul, but he's been saddled with a difficult sell.

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  6. DCU Decisions, a book so awful I can't even bear to link to my review of it. Speak not of it, dear friend.

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