Action Comics #21 review

Superman fights the Hybrid creature created by a Lex Luthor virus, bidding to dismantle it into its constituent parts - ordinary citizens of Metropolis - and he's doing well until the bigger threat of Doomsday comes along.
Oh, hang on, that's not Doomsday, it's Lex Luthor in a hulking great power-suit. It certainly had me fooled, as drawn by writer/artist Tony S Daniel in the wrap-up to the story begun by writer Andy Diggle two months ago. Diggle is still credited, as co-plotter, but heaven knows if this is the story as intended. It's certainly an efficient, entertaining piece, perfectly serviceable and good-looking - but unremarkable. After the opening issue, which I loved, it's sad to see the promise unfulfilled, but well done to Daniel - artist on Diggle's issue - for staying the course and doing what he could.
Lex with a Doomsday sound effect
He certainly gets points for making Lois and Jimmy a constant presence in the issue, and there's a very clever bit of business involving Lois's boyfriend, Jonathan Carroll, and a restaurant sign. And Daniel's dialogue gets stronger with every outing, even when it's simple beatdown corn ('You are a scourge on this planet. Your kind is not welcome here. I will show you the way off.').

I like Daniel's art a lot - keeping the story to a minimum (I suspect that not knowing Diggle's full plans, he didn't want to second-guess and get things wrong - 'do no harm', and all that) allows room for the big, splashy moments at which he excels. A two page-spread heralding the arrival of Not Doomsday is like a gut punch with eye candy, but my favourite moment sees Superman swoop down and thoroughly biff Luthor. It's very nice work from Daniel, with inkers Batt and Norm Rapmund.

The only thing I don't like about the story is the appearance of Dr Veritas who, with her teleporting holographic red sun devices or whatever, may as well be called Dr Deus Ex Machina. Oh, for a simple Professor Potter, or bungling Emil Hamilton.

This issue's back-up continues the story begun last time, as cadet Lara Lor-Van battles a planetary coup by her military bosses. Seeing Superman's future mother - entrenched in my mind as a weepy young mum - beating up General Zod takes some getting used to. Maybe Superman is actually hard-wired to like the Amazon type ...

Jor-El, meanwhile, is still exploring underwater in this good-looking tale by writer Frank Hannah and artists Philip Tan and Jonathan Glapion, with no idea that the military want to kill him and ...

... oh, that's it. Six pages, not the expected ten. There's a two-page Superman family house ad filler, then the useless Channel 52 ad spread and the dull All Access page and that's it - 26pp of story and art instead of the promised 30pp. I hope this is an aberration, rather than the implementation of a new policy - I'm already buying DC's $3.99 books on a begrudging basis, not really caring for the back-ups, so really don't want to be short-changed to boot.


  1. I bought this thinking Lobdell was taking over. Realized I was too early a few pages in when I realized there was no insane fun and never finished the book...

    1. Aw, that's a shame, Steve, but fear not, next month will be bonkers.

  2. You hit the nail on the head with every point. We're missing the promise of the first issue, probably due to Diggle leaving the book. Daniel's art has grown by leaps and bounds since he made a mess of Morrison's Batman, but as a writer, he's never much better than ordinary. And ugh, Dr. Veritas is the worst, most pointless, and underjustified character in the entire New52 (which may be saying something). Can't she just stay in Lobdell books where I can best avoid her?

    1. Indeed! I want Lobdell to give us her back story, and then send her home. I still think she's from Tamaran.


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