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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Action Comics #802

Action Comics #802

Scheduled to arrive in stores: April 2, 2003

Cover date: June 2003

Writer: Joe Kelly
Penciller: Tom Derenick
Inker: Bob Petrecca and Norm Rapmund

"The Harvest" (Part One)

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey (

On the ground, a copy of the Daily Planet informs the reader that Bialya Knew! with regards to the meta-infestation spreading across the globe.

Everywhere, anarchy inspired by ordinary people being given extraordinary power reigns.

Superman tries to deal with the problem by meeting with President Luthor. His cabinet have determined that a Bialyan terrorist has created a meta-infectuous mosquito that has infected the United States. The infection has made the random, one in five million people meta-gene turn to a dangerous one in one thousand people.

Superman agrees to investigate.

In Bialya, terrorists decry the United States. Water drips at their feet, and a submarine lands on the podium, killing all involved. Heat vision kills the rest of the army, and Superman arrives, too late, at the hour of destruction.

At the White House, Luthor meets with Zod, who informs him that the situation is resolved. He offers further to sterilize the problem by killing the rest of the metas infected in the United States.

Superman arrives, steaming mad. He tells Luthor that this is madness. Zod walks off to talk international politics with Luthor.

Later, in the Fortress of Solitude, John Henry, Superman, and Red Tornado figure something important about the whole situation out...

Later still, Superman informs the public that the infection is Kryptonian in nature, meaning that the cause is the sun itself, rather than a pathogen, as the hosts have been infected on a genetic level.

At STAR Labs, Luthor shows the JLA and the JSA, among others, his plan. He has nodes that would not stop the heat of the sun, but still turn it into a red sun, blocking the powers of those infected until an Anti-gene can be found.

The older Green Lantern informs the president that he is displeased about his concealing the knowledge from the JLA.

Zod enters, informing them that the trick is getting the nodes in place, which involve someone flying into the sun. He suggests Kal and himself. Superman tells the President that Kancer was created from similar experimentation with metas like the kind that created the current problem, and suggests that Zod is only helping with the sun to weaken Superman so he can attack.

Zod takes Superman off to the desert to speak with him.

They are ready to battle, but Zod takes off his mask.

It is Superman's face that Superman sees. Zod looks exactly like Superman.

Zod tells Superman that he would have as much to lose with the red sun as Superman himself.

Superman starts to ask how, and Zod tells him he will inform him, if he survives the crisis.

Back home, Clark talks with Lois. He speculates that Zod is Superman from the Phantom Zone, or a clone, or Superman? Clark laughs it off.

Lois reminds him that he is not Zod.

Later, Zod and a fleet of Luthor's planes fly towards the sun. In the middle of space, many metas attach them, trying to stop them. They work together to stop them, then fly into the sun.

A lone figure flies from the sun, flaming.

3Story - 3: Want to know how much of a geek this reviewer is? I looked at the last issue in study for this review and I noticed that the metas that emerge in the last issue in the presidential rabbit-hole are in a different place than they are in this issue. Not a big deal, but I noticed it, anyway.

Geek citation, evidence 2:

Do the math with me. One in five million people have their meta-gene spring to life each year. There are, roughly, what, five to seven billion people in the world (I forget, but for the sake of argument, let's go small and say four). That means that we have 200 metas for every billion people each YEAR. That means we have 800 people who become meta-enhanced every year. That means, if the DC Universe has been in play for five years, we have 4000 metas. That seems a bit high to me. I think, at most, there would be probably 200 people in the world with gifts such as Superman's, Aquaman's, etc, without the world becoming overwhelmingly congested. Count the villains. Give the heroes ten for a proper rogue's gallery for every one hero. That still makes the list about 2,000 large. But then, I was just musing about these things.

The ending was very confusing. Where did all of the metas go, all of a sudden? How the heck did they get into space. I think it might have been a case of too much story, too few pages left. I have that problem when I'm writing my comics, so I understand, but this is the big leagues. Action Comics. We shouldn't see this kind of stuff. Zod and Superman go into the sphere, a ball comes out, and a flaming man, but which one? Not really a very appealing or coherent conclusion.

Further, I don't care HOW cool the jets are, they would not be able to get anywhere NEAR as close to the sun they are. Really, really bad physics. I mean, it's a comic, yeah, but seriously. The sun? I mean, it's THE SUN, people! We're talking a gigantic mass of incandescent gas, remember the song? The gigantic NUCLEAR furnace? You get near it, poof! You're gone. Even SUPERMAN, when he goes in, has very little (at least until the writers forgot and started sending him into it every week) chance of surviving.'s an important characterization question. Just an itty bitty one, but an important one, nonetheless. Superman sees Zod slaughter, what, A THOUSAND PEOPLE!? And that's aside from what he's done before, up to and including assault and battery on the Man of Steel (A broken jaw he recovered miraculously from in a week). There's no reason to trust him. He's, quote, in the vernacular, a BAD GUY. So after committing an act of war on another country, what does Superman do when confronted with a job he can essentially, and has essentially, done alone in the past? Invite him along, old chum, because he looks like him. That's, oh, I don't know, A LITTLE OUT OF CHARACTER? But see, it's cool to see Superman and Zod together, it's a great writing trick, just like seeing Doomsday and Superman work together, so we're supposed to just ignore it, because it's just good comics. Bull. I' m getting sick of stuff thrown together just because it will please readers. There is such potential being wasted here.

And look at this.we read, in Adventures #614, that Luthor is sending a retaliatory strike about the whole Bialyan mess because they know who did it. In Action 802, they find out who did it. So that means Action occurs before 614, right? But then, Superman recounts his visit to Heroville, which occurs in #614, with Luthor. So that means #614 happened BEFORE #802, right? So either, A: Heroville happened before Superman and Luthor confronted and found out about Bialya, or B: Bialya happened before Superman found out about Heroville, and somehow he miraculously he had his visit in between going to see Luthor and going to stop the terrorists in Bialya. Maybe that's why he arrived too late.

OR MAYBE IT'S JUST THAT CONTINUITY FRICKING SUCKS IN THE SUPER BOOKS RIGHT NOW! Not that it makes me, a long time, long invested fan angry or anything. Not that I put a good hundred fifty bucks into old Supes every year for good, coherent storytelling or anything like that. Not that this paragraph isn't just dripping of sarcasm.

I will note that I am glad Heroville was acknowledged. I thought it was a stand alone, and as it is not, I revise what I said about it in my review last month. My rating for #614 remains, but I have to acknowledge that it was not stand-alone.

It was neat to see what I think (if I remember my Fleischer correctly) to be an homage to the old, Superman-fights-the-nazis-by-dropping-a-tank-on-them deal. I remember a cartoon that featured that vividly (so it probably never happened, knowing my luck), but it made an impression on me. The comic may have infuriated me, but the image was nice.

Zod is Superman. Superman is Zod.

Well, yes. It's been obvious for the whole time that Zod is Kryptonian, or at least a Daxamite. And related to Superman, somehow. So what have we gained? Well, confirmation, but nothing that really moves the story too far along. Bait and wait, bait and wait, this is the business of comics, true. I just like a little more revealed over such a long period of time. Is it cool? Well, yes, if it is explored, but it hasn't really been since therapy. We'll see where they go.

If they can block the yellow sun and make it a red sun, why can't Superman block the red sun and make it yellow, since the science is so figured out? Sigh.

I like the idea of bringing Zod back. I do. I like President Luthor, a terrorist attack, and the ramifications of dealing with it. This was a fun issue in a lot of ways. But where inconsistencies make every reading a chore, I start losing the fun and focusing on how dumb certain things are. So I give this an average. This is an average comic book. I concede. But it is not, I capitalize, folks, this is NOT the caliber, par, or standard I have for a SUPERMAN book.

And I've read a buttload of them. Approximately 1,000, not counting movies, tv shows, and serials. I've even reviewed 153 of them. I've seen good, I've seen bad, and I have my standard. The continuity needs revision. I am objectively saying this as an honest fan. It is terrible and unkempt. It is spoiling the general story. Sincerely. I am not just being a cranky reviewer here, though I am a cranky reviewer. My friends, who are not reviewers, tell me that this is why they never buy Superman. Too much continuity, or too little. Meaning, they create a universe, then either get stuck in it, or forget it. Loeb's Superman is not Kelly's, nor is Casey's DeMatteiss'. This needs fixing, like pronto, or the comic will tank.

5Art - 5: The art is spellbinding. I love the way that Superman is portrayed here, not dark, not violent. Maybe out of control, but that's not his fault. The heat vision is a little weird, but Zod is malevolent, Luthor is cruel and calculating, and everyone is just about the way I imagine them, typically, only dynamic. This is good work. I respect it.

The only way I would improve it is to perhaps figure out what was going on in the last few pages by elaborating where the writer didn't, but then, that 's not the artist's job, and it's not a part of the artist's imperative, generally, so I can't knock them for it.

2Cover Art - 2: Aesthetically, this is an okay cover. Not great, but okay. It's nice to evoke the feeling of the old, forties Superman. But it's not the forties anymore, and this is not our Superman. Sorry. Maybe if we made a book with the Superman of the forties in it, this would be apt (and I would buy it, for one, DC), but now, it's out of place.

Add into it the typical cover foibles that make me not like a cover, the odd, missing background, the action that didn't occur in the issue, the characters that didn't occur in the issue (anyone see those silhouettes? Me neither.). The Z is symbolic and interesting, but not really enough of a background. And hey, folks, who likes words on the cover? Not me, typically. ATTACK OF THE SUPERMEN!

Yes, this happened in the issue. Sure it did.

And it pokes fun as Star Wars. FEH!


Sorry. I get email all the time about whining about the logos. And I deserve it. But seriously, they're horrible.

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