Thursday, May 5, 2011

Review: Action Comics #900

Adam Hughes variant cover
Action Comics #900
By (take a deep breath) Paul Cornell, Pete Woods, Jesus Merino, Dan Jurgens, Norm Rapmund, Rags Morales, Ardian Syaf, Jamal Igle, Jon Sibal, Gary Frank, Damon Lindelof, Ryan Sook, Paul Dini, RB Silva, Rob Lean, Geoff Johns, David S. Goyer, Miguel Sepulveda, Richard Donner, Derek Hoffman, Matt Camp, Brian Steltfreeze; DC.


Everyone's talking about the back-up story by David S. Goyer and Miguel Sepulveda in which Superman says he's going to renounce his American citizenship. (I'm not even going to bother linking to any of the blog posts about it, because if you pay any attention to comics, you've definitely already seen them.) When I read the story, I thought two things: 1. DC planted this on purpose because they knew it would get them media attention, and 2. it's going to be retconned within a year. As it turns out, I seem to have been wrong about the first one, judging by how unprepared DC seemed to be when the media shitstorm hit them. As for the second, it remains to be seen, but I still think someone's going to find a way to make sure Superman remains a US citizen. Of course, we all know that IT DOESN'T MATTER and this was all blown way out of proportion.

So let's talk about the main story, which was, for me, the main attraction.

It's difficult to tell to what extent Paul Cornell is responsible for the "Reign of Doomsday(s)" nonsense. Is this a story that he pitched to his editors as a follow-up to "The Black Ring" and that then spiraled out of control into a crossover event? Or was the whole thing planned by editorial and Cornell just ended up having to squeeze it into his story? In any case, he does a better job of integrating it into his narrative than any of the other super-books that have been affected so far (at least from what I can tell, as I've only read two of them). But even though he comes up with a relatively plausible link between the two, it still feels in this issue like we're moving back and forth between two separate stories (which is emphasized by the different art team on each story), and I don't know about anybody else, but I just happen to only care about one of them.

The conclusion of Lex Luthor's story is suitably epic, and the return of Superman is satisfying and handled without fanfare. Pete Woods' art is clean and elegant, as it has been throughout the story line. I loved the way Cornell managed to reference all the issues that came before and give us a little extra payoff with those characters when Luthor's wave of pure bliss spread through the universe. And I'm extremely happy that Robot Lois Lane is not dead after all, though it sounds like she's going to be getting a new face and, if/when she returns, may no longer identify as Lois Lane. I hope Paul Cornell gets to write her again, no matter what form she takes, because her character remains the highlight of the story for me.

Meanwhile, the Doomsday shenanigans continue. The various characters wearing S shields are stuck with him in a spaceship that appears to contain a black hole. As they fight him individually, they notice that he appears to have different powers (mimicking their own) depending on who's fighting him. Finally, Superman makes his way there to save him, and they find out that they're not only dealing with Doomsday but with a bunch of his clones.

I don't know about you, but the only thing I find more boring than Doomsday in a Superman comic is four Doomsdays in a Superman comic. So much so, that I am seriously wondering whether I should bother to pick up the next issue, because I have zero interest in this story. On the other hand, I've enjoyed Paul Cornell's writing on the title since the beginning of his run, and the new artist coming in (Kenneth Rocafort) looks pretty good (judging by his covers anyway - I don't really know anything about him). So I guess I will give it a shot and hope that the story resolves quickly and we move on to something more interesting.

About some of the other back-up material:

"Life Support," by Damon Lindelof and Ryan Sook, is a story set in the last days of Krypton. It was very similar in tone to the story about Jor-El in this year's 80-Page Giant. The story's not bad, but it's Ryan Sook's art that really shines.

"Autobiography," by Paul Dini and RB Silva, is probably the weirdest story in the book. It's only three pages and involves a conversation between Superman and a weird purple hippo alien. Nice art.

"Friday Night in the 21st Century" is a four-page story by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank. Light-hearted and fun, with a guest appearance by the Legion.

I haven't read the last story yet. It's in a screenplay format, written by Richard Donner and Derek Hoffman, with storyboards by Matt Camp.



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