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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Action Comics #801

Action Comics #801

Scheduled to arrive in stores: March 5, 2003

Cover date: May 2003

Writer: Joe Kelly
Penciller: Tom Raney
Inker: Walden Wong


Reviewed by: Nick Newman (

In Little Falls, Colorado a woman walks hey young son down the street to day care.As she bends down to kiss him goodbye, he tells her to look up in the sky.

A few minutes earlier, in Metropolis, Lois and Clark meet in a diner for breakfast and a quick chat before the two head out together.

In Washington DC, Traci Thirteen awakens from a dream about Superman to find an orderly making the bed.He tells her that her father is getting his last x-rays done and he may be able to go home today.Traci is happy, but she still can't shake the feeling that something is wrong.

Back in Little Falls, a father and daughter argue about their business and the annoying tourists when the two look up into the sky, wondering what it is they see.

Back in Metropolis, Lois and Clark walk down the street discussing Traci Thirteen when they suddenly come upon a man yelling about the end of the world.Clark tries to talk to the man, but Lois drags him away.Clark argues that they could at least have talked to him, but Lois just shakes her head and asks Clark how long he has lived in a city.

Halfway across the world, in Bialya, a shadowed man sits in a large chair and watches a wall of televisions, all tuned to American new stations.

Back in Little Falls, a boy sits sadly inside of the car as his parents argue about their divorce.He tells them to look up in the sky, but both parents just ignore him.A moment later, the child looks on in horror as something splatters his parents' blood on the car.

In Pokolistan, General Zod hovers motionless above his country.As the moment of action occurs, Zod closes his eyes and says, "For you, Father."

In the Kent apartment, Clark puts on some coffee as Lois lies down.A second later, Superman tears out of their apartment like a bullet, shattering the patio doors in a blur of red and blue.Two minutes later, Lois can only remark, "Dear God."

In Little Falls bodies lie strewn about, smoldering and broken.On man hovers above the pavement, curled up into a ball and shooting bolts of energy in all directions.He struggles to control his power as he feels another blast coming on, and this one directed towards a room full of children. Unable to control it, he erupts with energy.Seconds before it strikes the children Superman intercepts the beam and tells the man to stop it.

The children inside are quick to tell their teacher about Superman's arrival, but when they turn around they find their teacher mutated into an insectoid creature.She tries to tell the children to run, but her instincts quickly get the best of her and she grabs one of the children and hoists him high into the air.Superman arrives inside in a flash and quietly tells her to put him down.Instructing the children to perform a fire drill, Superman helps the teacher, when suddenly he sees another girl walking down the hall.Her head is partially ripped from her shoulders and she is venting some form of energy.She says that she has to sneeze.Superman rushes forward trying to prevent it, but the resulting release of energy tears through the school.

In Washington, Luthor meets with Agent Chase of the DEO (Department Of Extra-Normal Operations) and explains the situation to him.The chances of a metahuman trigger are one in six point seven million.However, that morning fifteen new metahumans triggered at exactly the same moment.Luthor asks if they are under attack, and Chase can only recommend moving Luthor to a more secure location.

Outside the school, Superman helps to organize the young children.Suddenly a paramedic tells him that there is a boy who needs to get to the hospital.Superman says that he can have him there and be back in a flash, but the man tells him that he can't shock the child, and the police chief is shouting that he needs Superman to stay there and help.A teenager steps out of the crowd and offers to help as he spreads his new wings out.The boy says that he isn't a monster.A moment later, the boy takes off with the sick child.

That night Superman gathers all of the new metahumans together and talks to them as DEO officials walk amongst them taking readings.He tells them that although he doesn't know what caused their mutations, he will find a cure for them.

Inside the President's safe house, Luthor, Chase, and Amanda Waller meet to discuss the day's events.Total, the town had 35 metahumans develop that morning, averaging out to one in every 1000 people.Little Falls has been contained, but its spreading.Chase pulls up a map of the United States covered with little red dots, each dot representing a new metahuman.A new meta is being triggered every five seconds.Chase tells the President to do the math.

5Story - 5: Wow.That's about all I can say right of the bat.After the past few months I'm not sure where this came from (although in all fairness 800 was a fantastic issue as well).As much as I love a continuous story from week to week, if this is the quality of story that we will be getting then I'm all for splitting up the books.This was just a great story.We finally see Zod do something.This storyline has been building for way too long and now it is finally starting.There were so many great things in this issue.We see Zod start his offensive after so long (and he's apparently doing it for his father, very mysterious).The different times and scenes has always been something Kelly does well and this issue was no exception.The short scene in Bialya was cool and I hope this means that Zod has ties with them (I've said this before, go read the Giffen-era Justice League, its absolutely fantastic stuff) because I always like to see Bialya used like it was fifteen years ago.The part with Clark tearing out of his apartment was fantastic.That simple page sold the entire book.Using Chase with Luthor worked extremely well and the severity of the metahuman triggers was really emphasized.And on the topic, someone finally decided to use the metahumans.They been around since 1991 (is that when Invasion was?) and yet other than Bloodlines they have almost never been used.Kelly does a great job in using something that already exists in the universe.Finally, it was great seeing Superman being a leader like he should be.There was a little bad too.The metas looked decidedly like Grant Morrison's new work on X-Men, and it is a little strange considering the looks of just about every other meta on the planet, but really this is just a personal choice.All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this issue and desperately hope that the rest of the storyline continues in this fashion.

5Art - 5: Great Krypton, the art's great too!If only Raney wasn't just a guest penciller then I would be a lot happier.Here we have clean defined art.Superman looks just fantastic.Throughout the whole issue everything is well defined and bold.From the first page, looking at the Mother's face, you can tell that this is quality art.The expressions are captured terrifically, like on the boy's face when he sees his parents killed.The half-splash with Superman intercepting the energy beam was likewise great.I am all for bringing Raney on the book full time, and I don't think there is any greater compliment that I can give.

1Cover Art - 1: So close to an all around great issue, and yet it falls short.Here we have one of the best stories so far this year (if not the best) and this is the cover we get.Does it remotely depict anything that Kelly even thought of including in this issue?Oh, nope, it's just a general picture of Superman using his heat vision.Why do I know that it's Superman?Well, I'm assuming it is because he's wearing the costume, but beyond that it's really anyone's guess.And then there is the lack of color.Sure, having just the beam be colored makes it stand out.Too bad the issue will blend in and disappear on the racks, but color definitely couldn't have been used on this one.It's covers like this that really make me angry.Here you have a great issue with awesome interior art, and they slap this cover on the front.Not only will it not sell issues, it might even work to prevent sales that otherwise would have occurred.This is not the way to get people to pick up the book.I started out by giving this cover a 2, I figured it was decent at least.But over the last paragraph I realized how horrible it is.I'm not attacking the artist, as he definitely has skill.I am attacking whoever's idea it was to put this on the front of this story.It was a poor choice, a very poor choice.

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January 2003

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