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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Action Comics #804

Action Comics #804

Scheduled to arrive in stores: June 4, 2003

Cover date: August 2003

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

"The Harvest" (Part Four)

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey (

Zod stands in front of the White House triumphant. The last pockets of resistance in the world are acceding to his demands. Ignition asks him how he feels. Zod doesn't say fulfilled, but he does say it feels good.

In the White House, Lois Lane stands to be a witness to the execution of Luthor, and then Pete Ross. Zod gives her a moment to take Luthor's last words.

She tells Luthor that she doesn't wish him death, even though he knows Clark's secret (or she thinks he does). She tells him to talk, and tries to touch his head, but her hand goes through. Lex is a hologram.

In space, heading for the sun, Lex wishes he could see Lois's face. He wanted to tell her he...he trails off. He is wearing a green and purple battle suit.

Lex approaches Superman in the Zod armor, which is now melting.

Luthor takes Superman into his ship, and mocks Zod for leaving him in the armor, letting him live. He puts his hand to Superman's throat and squeezes, while he is weak. Just a little. "Someday." He says.

Blackhawk jets arrive, and attack the ship. Superman wakes, and Luthor starts to fill him in. They streak back towards Earth.

Zod rewards his Blackhawk search teams for their strong attempts, though they failed, by allowing them to end their own lives.

Luthor re-awakens Clark at their crash site, on the orbiting Stryker's island facility. They are surrounded by some of Superman's worst enemies, Mongul, Banshee, Metallo, a whole crew.

Zod surveys the UN troops in Pokolistan that he is demolishing. Faora consoles him, for he is upset that he did not kill Superman. Faora asks him why he's kept Superman's face, and he cannot reply.

Superman laments that Zod has already won by putting on his suit and killing. Metallo wonders why he should take off Superman's Zod armor, but he does anyway, realizing the threat that they face.

As Superman recovers, Lex taunts him. "Who would win in a fight right now, do you think? Superman, or Mickey Mouse. I bet fifty billion dollars and Idaho on the rat."

Superman tries to thank Lex, but Lex refuses, berating Superman for somehow getting into and tampering with his mind, his one precious, inviolate asset. He promises revenge.

Superman wonders if they can work together. Lex says they have to, and they assemble an army from the inmates. Luthor offers pardons, but they don't put much stock into them. Superman offers them survival, and this they understand.

Superman, weakened, pleads with them to stop Zod from doing things even they cannot imagine.

Zod starts to send Blackhawks to the sun to stop Superman from energizing, and he starts to order the execution of all of the other metas when Superman and Stryker's Island come crashing to Earth.

Zod realizes that this is his final underestimation.

5Story - 5: This five of five comes with a disclaimer.

This story, this issue, was spectacular.

We have one of the better Luthor/Superman moments ever, with Lex and his hand on Superman's throat, with a renewed reason for Lex to hate Superman, with a reluctant team up between good and evil, and frankly, in this issue, Zod is chilling.

The story is well paced and tense, the character is slightly too focused on people questioning why they do what they do, but still well written from both a dialogue and a storyline perspective.

I loved this issue, and I love the final image.

What colors me in the reading is the disillusionment with the rest of the reading thusfar. Zod is a human? WHAT? Zod was invaded by the spirit of the old Zod because Superman murdered him? WHAT? Superman was dumb enough to trust Zod to turn the sun red? WHAT? The red sun does to Zod what the yellow sun does to Clark, but still, somehow, Zod made a suit that lets him be powerful enough to break Superman's jaw?

All of these things, while not in this issue, color this one. I am furious that both this and the Luthor Knows storyline, which built for literally years, ended on such an implausible and foolish note.

This issue was wham, bam, and it ruled. It knocked me out. But the entire storyline, thusfar, has been disappointing for those very reasons. That's the disclaimer.

5Art - 5: I abhor full-page shots, traditionally, and this one had many, but the gravity of the story and the action it portrayed certainly made it warranted, and there was another moment I will never forget from Superman comics in this issue.

The slow, choking hand of Luthor, then the silhouette of his face next to Supermans, saying "Someday." Chills. Literally, chills.

As is typical, I am impressed with Ferry's work.

1Cover Art - 1: Okay, now, I've been kind to these covers of late because they harken back to the old Superman, who I really love, but this one is just bad for several reasons. It has nothing at all to do with the story, save that Superman and Luthor, indeed, show up in a jail far dissimilar to this one at some point.

BREAK OUT! (cheese)

Horrible logo, not even on the page.

Superman's in the wrong costume.

But most importantly, the thing that made my fiance laugh, and one of the better criticisms I've had for a cover in a long while...

This issue promised me something on the cover that didn't really occur. Superman and Mr. Magoo teaming up to break out of prison!

Look at Luthor and you'll understand.

"Where are my glasses? It's okay, I have GUNS! McBarker, get that Zod! Just tell me which way to point!"

Hope that made you laugh. It did me.

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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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