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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Action Comics #803

Action Comics #803

Scheduled to arrive in stores: May 7, 2003

Cover date: July 2003

Writer: Joe Kelly
Penciller: Pascual Ferry
Inker: Cam Smith

"The Harvest" (Part Two)

Reviewed by: Nick Newman (

Superboy slumps on the ground, bruised and bloody. His attackers tell him that the Futuresmiths told them to attack the Boy of Steel, and provided them with the weaponry to do so. As they raise an axe to cleave his head off, bolts of energy suddenly knock them all to the ground. Traci Thirteen walks in and asks Superboy what happened to the powers. He just tells her that he was fine until the sun changed.

Inside a secret bunker, Chase tells Superman that the plan worked. As doctors work to heal the Man of Steel, she tells him that every one of the new metahumans has been depowered. However, the trigger that activated all of the latent genes also affected the active genes. When the sun turned red every superhuman in America lost their powers. Superman asks just one question, where is Zod? He remembers Zod hitting him, and that he somehow kept his powers, but that is all. Luthor walks in just then. He tells him that Zod is floating around the sun. His armor may be keeping him alive, but they aren't sure. Suddenly a doctor injects something into Superman's arm. His eyes begin to cloud over, and he can just mumble in affirmation as Luthor begins to give him commands.

Across the world, the forces of Zod invade Prague. Ignition and Faora lead the charge when suddenly Superman arrives on the scene. Clad in the American flag, Superman stops Ignition and tells Faora that Zod will pay for all he has done before slamming her into the pavement. Turning to the soldiers, he freezes them with a blast of breath. Ignition returns to the fight and tell Superman that he has unleashed hell, as missiles launch into the sky.

The next day Superman addresses the world. He was lucky that he was able to stop the warheads in time, but Pokolistan remains a threat. He requests permission for the United States to launch an uninhibited military action against the country, lead by Superman himself.

Later, Luthor introduces Superman to the rabbit hole. The ultra-secret base can command all of the US' might, and only six people know it exists. Superman tells Luthor that if he is going to help him, then he needs complete control, Luthor cannot play any games. Luthor tells them that they have come to a new stage, and they are beyond that point. Lex does whisper to him that he knows that his knowledge of Superman's identity was wiped, and he admires Superman for making such a move.

Suddenly Superman soars around the base, incapacitating everyone inside. He then sits atop the command console and tells Faora and Ignition to download the worm. Luthor just yells as General Zod gains complete command over the United States Military. Zod just ignores Luthor's protests, and tells Faora to awaken the sleepers.

All over the world, Pokolistan forces prepare to move against the world. Without the US to defend the planet, Zod will assume all control. He has been planning for years. Since before the Imperiex War when he has Faora genetically alter him so he would look like Superman. Even Luthor's presidency was a part of it, and now Zod's plans will reach fruition.

Zod flashes back to the sun. How he punched Superman and left him drifting in the light of a red sun. Before he leaves, he tells Superman of his origin. Decades ago, there was a Soviet orbital platform and aboard it a pair of cosmonauts with an unborn child. Then one day a meteor shower impacts the station. The radioactive rocks infect everyone on the station. A few manage to crash land on Earth. As the mother dies, the baby is born into the world. Taken from his father, the child is drafted into the K.G.B Special Interests program.

The study those who survived, attributing it to the radiation. But the boy is weak, and he grows even weaker when subjected to sunlight. The scientists search for a light that will maintain his health, and they stumble on red sunlight. The energy makes him strong. With his newfound might he trains hard and becomes a good soldier. He believes that he will be the Champion of the USSR. Then, unexpectedly, America bears its own champion, Superman. The Russian knows immediately that he must kill Superman, but he does not know why. His supervisors do not agree, but he makes them see his point of view, with force. Finally he realizes the truth. They are opposites in every way. One found salvation while the other found only hate and despair. Imprisoned for the death of his superiors, he can only wait, and nurture his hate for Superman. He begins to have visions of a blackness. The blackness tells him of Superman, and its own hatred for the Kryptonian. The blackness is called Zod, and the Russian takes the name as well.

The years and years of planning have all been for this one moment. The conversion of the sun has finally occurred. Now Zod can roam free and Superman will be without power. Removing his armor, Zod reveals himself to be wearing Superman's suit as the armor imprisons Kal-el.

On Earth, Zod stands in the Oval Office, with Luthor grovelling at his feet. Ninety-three million miles away, Superman floats helpless under the light of a red sun.

3Story - 3: I liked a lot about this story, but a lot bothered me as well. I like that Kelly has been laying things into place for the past years. It's nice to see that the Zod storyline has a clear climax, as these long running plotlines in comics frequently don't. I really liked Zod's betrayal. It was so great to see Lex think that he has won it all only to be taken down and utterly defeated. I also, for some odd reason, really liked the mention of the KGBeast. It made the whole Russian flashback more believable by placing it fully in the DCU (as a side note, if you haven't read the Batman story 'Ten Nights of the Beast' then you really should, it's excellent).

I did have issues with some little points though. Traci Thirteen's appearance was pointless, and makes one wonder why she wasn't affected by the sun (but I suppose you could say her powers are magic). It also was a little farfetched that Zod was able to depower every metahuman on Earth. That also brings up the fact that there is no reason that the non-metas (which includes dozens and dozens of heroes) would lose their abilities. Considering the entire core JLA (except maybe Flash) would still be functioning, I really don't see why the country would be in such a state of danger. I was also confused as to why Zod needed healing after flying home under the light of the red sun, and why the yellow sun baths they were giving him didn't kill him. I also wondered why Lex's mind control didn't work on Zod. Finally, I'm not sure if I'm crazy about Zod's new origin. First off, the radioactive meteors seemed way too Smallville for me. Plus, Zod is a communist with powers under a red sun, inspired by a disembodied spirit talking to him? I'm not sure I like this. I appreciate the value of a character foil, and of making him an anti-Superman, but I had much higher hopes for Zod. Still, I'll wait till the end of 'Harvest' to judge that.

4Art - 4: This was pretty standard Ferry. I liked it, but nothing really stands out as great. The art was nice and bold, but I still can't get over his style with all of the lines on everyone's faces. Still, I liked it, just not as much as I liked Derenick last month.

2Cover Art - 2: And then we get another one of these covers. There is no background, and the art just isn't what I'm looking for in a Superman cover. This style would be great for plenty of other areas, but I just don't think it fits with Superman. I don't think these covers are doing this storyline justice.

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Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2003

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