Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics
Action Comics #776Scheduled to arrive in stores: February 28, 2001
Cover date: April 2001
2001 Shield No. 17
Writer: Joe Kelly
Inker: Marlo Alquiza
"Escape From Krypton"
Reviewed by: Neal Bailey (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Clark and Lois run like mad from the forces of Zod, who pursue them in their hovercraft across an arctic waste towards what looks like the old (pre-Crisis) Fortress of Solitude, complete with the gigantic key.
Inside, Jor-El and his entourage of rebels fight using defense systems to shove the Eradicator machines back from whence they came, spurting plasma and other nasty weapon-ly goodies.
Zod is berated by the council of Krypton for not keeping the matter of silencing Jor-El and his company quick and expeditious. He tells them to can it, Zod is in charge now, and as soon as he gets back from whomping Jor, he's going to disband the council. Krypton must be kept pure...
An armada of ships lead by a spider-like machine attacks the Fortress. Jor-El shows Clark the portal home, and intimates that the window of opportunity for exit is small and not stable. Clark still insists on helping Jor save Krypton from Zod.
Zod and his forces burst into the fortress.
"For Krypton!" Both Jor and Zod proclaim at the same time, attacking each other.
Zod gains the upper hand with Jor, but Clark leaps down, trying to insert a rod into the power pack for Zod's shielding and failing. Zod tosses him aside without his super-powers like a Clark flavored pain-cream-cone.
Zod launches into a "How do you like that, alien?" speech, and Clark goes off the deep end.
Bruised and battered, Clark launches an attack at Zod with heat vision. "I am Kal-El of the house of El!" He screams, "And I have come home!"
Jor-El looks on in surprise.
Lara is hit with a laser blast to the side. She's okay, however, as she is wearing armor.
Zod spouts about purity, Clark rails for diversity. Clark is nearly beaten to death at this point, with blood flowing freely. Jor-El steps in and breaks open a can on Zod, pummeling his shield generator with Clark's rod and destabilizing his system. Zod overloads and vaporizes, promising to return. Though how is beyond me. He's vaporized pretty good.
It turns out Lara and Jor knew about Clark and Lois all along, though Lara knew first. They send Clark and Lois through the portal, after a long goodbye, and Clark and Lois return home. Krypto jumps through after them.
Back on Krypton, Lara and Jor walk off into the... uh... dimension-set, changing mysteriously back into their old (John Byrne) form and then into a new form (a mixture of both the old Byrne-look and the new look). Story - 5: I have to say that I'm very impressed with this ending. The other three parts were nice, but not flat out cool, like this story. For once, this book beat the Loeb/McGuinness monopoly for best writer and artist. The blend of old Superman convention with a new take that will eventually (it better be) explained is almost forgivable despite the various flaws that are prominent. You don't notice them unless you're looking for them, which I, as a reviewer, do. For instance, Clark seems to have some powers, though he lost them earlier. Also, one thing I noticed that particularly bugged me that isn't quite related to the story directly (Tell me what you think in the Message Board, everyone) is that Lois and Clark go into the portal together as man and wife, but John Henry and Emil are there to see them off. John Henry knows that Superman is Clark Kent and thus married to Lois. No problem there. But Emil has no idea, unless I missed a one-shot somewhere. With his mind, wouldn't he sense something fishy about Superman taking Lois Lane into another dimension when she has no Superpowers and has shown time and time again for the last sixty years that she puts herself in danger at all times, almost without trying? Oh yeah. Clark wears glasses. How could Emil see through that. Never mind. Sorry I brought it up. And one more thing, before I return to my praise of this issue (and it really was a top-notch issue, though I sound like I'm complaining. This is just silly continuity stuff): Krypto is now on Earth. But what about Bibbo's Krypto? This had better be addressed, or I'm going to shave my head bald, accumulate wealth, a private army, and a superior intellect and go after the Super-writers. I found that when Bibbo saved Krypto it was one of the most touching moments that the supporting cast has ever seen. It pains me to not see that poor lug walking his dog every now and again. Or flying... and one more thing... where did Superman's wounds go when he went back through the portal? He had a huge bruise towards the end. Super-healing?
So back to praise. Very, very nice correlation between the art and the writing. Art in this issue makes the story, though the story is well written to begin with. It's nice to see Lois and Clark bantering like a husband and wife and not a working team of reporters. We've needed that for a while. And Zod is dead on. This seems like such an implausible, hard to buy story when you look at it from afar, but the execution through the dialogue and the choreography of the art department with the writers make this issue classic. This is the way we need to go. Accomplish something interesting and lasting in an issue, not a set up for the next big story line. Make each issue a story in itself, but not, "Oh look! A goon in a suit." And then Superman beats it up, hands it to the SCU and flies home to Lois whining about how he's Superman. Some character dynamic like there is in this story is needed, but not taken too seriously, as this issue provides. Oh God, I'm sounding like an English professor. Shoot me. But you get the idea, Chewie. Fly casual.
Art - 4: I take away one point only for the bruise that disappeared. That's important. Superman should have come through that portal tuckered, bruised, damn near dead. He didn't. That upset me. But the splashes, lordy. I didn't even know that they were splashes, I was so caught up in the dynamic storytelling they presented. And this is me, Neal, the guy who gives issues big docks for unnecessary splashes all the time. Let me check... 4 splashes, about six half page to full page art pieces, and one weird pseudo-paneled full page at the end. I didn't see a one of them standing out as wasteful, and this is exactly what I need to see to make me happy.
Cover Art - 1: Again, these covers bug me. Bug me hardcore. I hear from the message boards that this gentleman deserves a second look for his other work, so I tell you as readers of this review to not count this guy out and examine him elsewhere, but dang, if these covers don't bite. They don't depict what happens in the issue save in the most vague sense, the characters are blocky, and not in a dynamic way like the older comics, but just plain blocky and chunky, and in the case of the two issues that I read, the covers offer cool-sounding tags that are never delivered. One said Jor-El vs. The Atomic City. Anyone remember Jor-El whaling on, nay, even visiting the Atomic City? Or the Atomic City at all, for that matter? Thought not. And this issue is no exception. DEATH OF THE ANTARCTIC CITY! It didn't die. One structure lost a wall and there was a fight in which one person was seen killed, and he wasn't even a resident of the Atomic City. It's just awkward syntax, misleading advertising, odd rhetoric, and most importantly, BAD FORM! Even if the cover is badly drawn, I can accept it usually if it has some honest depiction of the interior action. This doesn't. So it's a great cover... FOR ME TO POOP ON! (shameless plagiarism comedy.)
Other recent reviews:
-  Action Comics #775
-  Superman #167
-  Adventures of Superman #589
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #111
Mild Mannered Reviews
2001Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic was on sale.
-  Superman #164
-  Lex 2000
-  Adventures of Superman #586
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #108
-  Action Comics #773
- JLA #49
- JLA: A League of One
- JLA: Act of God #1
-  Superman #165
-  Adventures of Superman #587
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #109
-  Action Comics #774
- JLA #50
- JLA: Seven Caskets
- JLA versus Predator
- Justice Leagues: JL? #1
- JLA: Act of God #2
-  Superman #166
-  Adventures of Superman #588
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #110
-  Action Comics #775
- President Luthor: Secret Files and Origins #1
- JLA: Act of God #3
- Justice Leagues: Justice League of Aliens #1
- Justice Leagues: JLA #1
-  Superman #167
-  Adventures of Superman #589
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #111
-  Action Comics #776
- JLA #51
- Legends of the DC Universe #39
- Superboy's Legion #1
-  Superman #168
-  Adventures of Superman #590
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #112
-  Action Comics #777
- Superman Adventures #55
- JLA #52
- Superboy's Legion #2
- JLA: Black Baptism #1
- Batman: Gotham Adventures #36
-  Superman #169
-  Adventures of Superman #591
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #113
-  Action Comics #778
- Superman Adventures #56
- JLA #53
-  Superman #170
-  Adventures of Superman #592
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #114
-  Action Comics #779
- Superman Adventures #57
- JLA #54
- JLA: Incarnations #1
- Super Friends! Trade Paperback
- Superman: Where Is Thy Sting?
-  Superman #171
- Green Lantern: Our Worlds At War #1
-  Adventures of Superman #593
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #115
-  Action Comics #780
- Superman: Our Worlds At War: Secret Files and Origins #1
- Superman Adventures #58
- JLA #55
- JLA: Incarnations #2
-  Superman #172
-  Adventures of Superman #594
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #116
-  Action Comics #781
- JLA: Our Worlds At War #1
- JSA: Our Worlds At War #1
- Superman Adventures #59
- JLA #56
- JLA: Incarnations #3
-  Superman #173
-  Adventures of Superman #595
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #117
-  Action Comics #782
- World's Finest: Our Worlds At War #1
- Superman Adventures #60
- JLA #57
- Superman & Batman: Generations II #1
- JLA: Incarnations #4
-  Superman #174
-  Adventures of Superman #596
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #118
-  Action Comics #783
- Superman Adventures #61
- JLA #58
- Superman & Batman: Generations II #2
- JLA: Incarnations #5
- Joker: Last Laugh #1
- Joker: Last Laugh (Secret Files & Origins) #1
- Joker: Last Laugh #2
-  Superman #175
- Joker: Last Laugh #3
-  Adventures of Superman #597
- Joker: Last Laugh #4
-  Superman: The Man of Steel #119
- Joker: Last Laugh #5
-  Action Comics #784
- Superman Adventures #62
- JLA #59
- JLA: Gatekeeper #1
- Superman & Batman: Generations II #3
- JLA: Incarnations #6
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Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2001.