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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Action Comics #819

Action Comics #819

Scheduled to arrive in stores: September 8, 2004

Cover date: November 2004

Writer: Chuck Austen
Penciller: Ivan Reis & Joe Prado
Inker: Marc Campos & Jon Sibal

"Sodom and Gomorrah"

Reviewed by: Nick Newman

Clark holds Lana's baby as she talks about him. As she leaves the room he trails off and terrified Lana runs back to his side, but Clark is just sleeping, tired from his wounds.

A blast hurls Superman across a river, slamming him into the ground. His attackers pursue, costumed spouses glowing with energy. Both of the villains are excited that they are going to do what no one ever has, kill Superman.

Clark wakes up startled. Lana gives him a new uniform and tells him that he was out for three whole days. She tells him that the doctor told Superboy that he would probably sleep a lot and suffer temporary loss of powers while he was healing. A little worried, Clark asks how he got undressed, but after avoiding the question for awhile, Lana tells him that his parents came up and helped out. Lana asks him if he actually thinks she could trust herself with him naked.

Superman grabs the pair and pulls them skyward, preventing them from touching each other. The two wonder why their powers aren't working on him, so they grasp hands and try again. The resulting blast makes Superman scream in pain.

Clark and Lana discuss the idea of him ever having a baby. Clark says that he and Lois have talked about it, but there are a lot of risks. When Lana makes a comment about Lois, Clark asks why she doesn't like her. Lana says that while Clark is always there for Lois, Lois isn't there for him.

Smoldering, Superman flies across the sky and hurls Sodom (the guy) down to the ground. Gomorrah screams and slashes across Superman's face.

Clark tells Lana that Lois is on assignment in Umec and it's not like she can drop everything to come home. Lana says that Lois never loved Clark, she just loved Superman, while Lana loves Clark for who he is. When Clark asks about her using the present tense 'love', Lana says that she said what she meant.

Kicking Superman, Gomorrah flies down to her husband and helps him up out of the wreckage. The two get up and prepare to attack the approaching Superman.

Clark says Lana can't be serious. Lana tells him that she was just settling for Pete, and she knows that Lois and Clark did the same thing too.

Superman bowls into the pair and slams them through a building. Gomorrah burns Kal's face again, sending the Man of Steel plummeting towards the ground.

Clark tells Lana that he loves Lois and he's never going to leave her. Lana says she knows that, but she doesn't understand it. Clark stands up and tells Lana that she should probably leave. Lana tells him that she wasn't there to break him and Lois up, she was just helping out someone she loves. She also answered some questions honestly, but apparently that's difficult for Clark.

Sodom and Gomorrah slam Kal down into the sewers and keep blasting him. Superman finally grabs and separates them. Gomorrah tries to stop the Man of Steel from hitting her husband, but when she realizes that they aren't going to win she takes to the skies and runs away, leaving him. Superman tells Sodom that she obviously needs someone stronger than him.

Lana tells Clark that Lois married the perfect man, and when he is hurting now, Lois isn't there. Unable to listen to any more, Clark leaves on patrol, where he finds Sodom and Gomorrah, ready to try to defeat Superman and swearing that they'll be together forever.

1Story - 1: This story is so horrible on so many levels I don't even know where to begin. I guess I'll start with the villains. I thought that this new set of writers was supposed to change things. Instead, we get another one-shot villain with pathetic powers and an even worse story. A married couple of super villains who want to kill Superman? Sorry Chuck, but when Rucka and Azzarello are writing epics that actually matter, you're really going to have to try a little harder. I'm sick of villains just showing up to further a plot, and this was the worst kind. When a writer goes for symbolism, I'd prefer if they weren't trying to cram it down my throat. Did we really need the splitting up of Sodom and Gomorrah to add interest to the conversation between Lana and Clark? I certainly don't think so. Crappy villains make for a crappy book.

Then there's the main focus of the book, which is Lana and Clark's discussion. Now I know for a fact that Austen hates Lois, but last time I checked Superman wasn't his character. Every writer is going to have his personal preferences influence his writing, but this is ridiculous. You may like Lana more Chuck, but you can't do anything about it. Clark loves Lois and Lois loves Clark and this stupid little love triangle you're trying to get started is a horrible idea. What kind of friend, and Lana is a lifelong friend, comes over and says those things to a married man? I can buy that Lana and Pete marrying was her settling. I may not like their divorce, but I can accept it. However, Lana deciding that she's going to go for Clark needs to stop now. And when exactly did Lana become a floozy. Even ignoring her physical appearance, lines like, "and besides - you honestly think I trust myself with you bare bones and vulnerable", are completely out of character for Lana. We've got eighteen years of established character with Lana, and Austen is trying to change all that in one issue just because he doesn't like it. Personally, I don't think Chuck Austen knows anything about the characters that he's writing. Between Superman wise-cracking, Lana acting like a tramp, and (over in JLA) the entire JLA being screwed up (J'onn acting completely inhuman is great (insert sarcasm here), considering we've got years of stories to tell us the exact opposite). Austen needs to realize that this isn't his character and he's (hopefully) going to be gone in a year, so he can't go changing everything on a whim. This issue was made even worse by the fact that I just read the newest Adventures issue, which was fantastic. Maybe Austen should sit down with Rucka and learn a few things on how to be a writer. You need to start controlling this guy Eddie, because this book is going down the tube.

4Art - 4: On the plus side, this issue had the same solid art that this title has had for the past few months. Superman looks good and the action scenes (which are definitely Reis' strong point) are great. Lana looks completely wrong (see a Jurgens or Byrne issue for what Lana is supposed to look like). She is supposed to look like the girl next door, not like... this. Apart from that though, I enjoyed it.

3Cover Art - 3: Average is probably the best way to describe this cover. I really feel that Lana and Clark should have been on the cover, but at least this happened in the issue. Sodom and Gomorrah look decent, but Superman just looks awkward. I still love that cover logo though. Why is it that the worst book gets the best logo? It just isn't fair.

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