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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Action Comics #808

Action Comics #808

Scheduled to arrive in stores: October 1, 2003

Cover date: December 2003

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

"Hungry Ghost - Part Two: Blood Demands..."

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey (

Natasha, Supergirl and Girl 13 argue over whether or not Superman will die. Natasha tells them that they need to take Superman to a "special place" via the Steelworks.

At the Fortress of Solitude, Lana thanks Traci for putting her in a sort of bacta tank for healing.

Natasha pulls out of her armor, which unzips down the center, and Girl 13 is surprised to see that she's black, because she sounded so white.

Natasha is not paying attention, because she is distracted by the sound of a sai whizzing through the air and into Girl 13's leg.

Kelex appears, trash talking the newly appeared Byakko with sai in hand. Natasha forgot to close the portal to the Fortress.

Supergirl flies towards Byakko, who tosses her aside.

Girl 13 says: "Son of a--! She +@%# stabbed me in the leg! OWW OWW OWW!"

Natasha says: "For pity's sake, I took one in the gut and I'm not freaking out--"

Girl 13 says: "You got that R & B blood and *@*#$! I'll never dance again!!!"

Kelex says: "No one lays that disrespect down in the House of El! You're goin' down with a grill full of ill!"

Then he is hit with a phased Byakko hand and exclaims:

"Oh, shizznit."

Reviewer's note: Dialogue is verbatim for a future reviewing purpose. My apologies.

The three girls, after attacking Byakko, try to convince her through words that she shouldn't kill Superman because he is a good man.

Byakko steps back, stops attacking, and ruminates. She recalls how even the mention of Gunshin and Byakko was enough to strike fear in people's hearts, and how it all ended when Superman convinced her to let Kojiro live despite his evil, which resulted in Gunshin's death (see last year's Gunshin and Byakko storyline).

Natasha, now back in her suit somehow, hits Byakko with a sonic weapon.

Supergirl attacks Byakko, who hits her with her pole. When Supergirl tells her to stay away from her father, Byakko tells her that at least she will have had a father.

Byakko is pregnant.

Natasha blows open a vat of goo which envelops Byakko.

Byakko tells Natasha that she now will lament not killing her as she laments not killing Kojiro, and Natasha realizes that Superman had no idea that Gunshin was killed by Kojiro, and thusly did not go after him.

An animal from Superman's zoo attacks Natasha, who is thrown to the floor near death.

Girl 13 quips: "For a sista, she's got no sense of timing."

She sends Leroy after Byakko.

Byakko puts her pole in Leroy and Leroy falls to the ground in a puddle of blood. He appears dead.

Byakko moves on to a room full of Superman mementos that Superman keeps in his Fortress. She sees letters of people who love him, and then people who hate him.

This prompts her to leave. She tells Lana that Superman has good children, then leaves.

Superman wakes up, and congratulates the girls. He then goes to talk with Lana while the girls all cozy up together in one big bed. Leroy sleeps next to them.

1Story - 1: Sigh.

All right. First we have the continuation of a storyline that should have lasted one issue, let alone three. That's strike fifteen.

We also have Byakko. I remember the first time I read about Byakko. And I remember writing a nice 1 of 5 review for the first time I read about them, and pleading, in open public, for Eddie Berganza to please stop such nonsense storytelling.

Nick Newman put it very well [in his review of "Action Comics #807"] with the whole business, so I quote him:

"...I don't care at all about Byakko, Gunshin, or Sakki. None of these characters matter to me, and I don't care what happens to them. When Gunshin dies at the end, I didn't care. All three of them could have died and I wouldn't have cared at all. I realize the desire to create some new Superman characters, but when there is such a plethora of great characters to draw from, why do we have to endure second-rate ones like these? None of them should have been used, period."

It's a great quote, and it sums up how I feel entirely. Except now, where the names are, you can throw in Girl 13 and Cir-El. And why? Because they're lousy, undefined characters that don't really have any earned place in the Superman mythos.

And besides, I would purport, Girl 13 is a nasty influence on readers and the Superman integrity alike.

My citation? Four of her lines of dialogue from this issue.

1) "Holy--you're black?...You really sound white though, hasn't anyone ever told you-?

2) You got that R & B blood and *@*#$! I'll never dance again!!!

3) For a sista, she's got no sense of timing.

4) Son of a--! She +@%# stabbed me in the leg! OWW OWW OWW!

Now before I comment, readers, listen to me, and listen good before you send flaming emails my way. I more than understand humor in context. I do. And to some strange extent, I even understand racial humor in context. Look at black guy/white guy movies. They're funny, oft times. Why? Because sometimes black culture and white culture GENERALLY differ (I'm carefully choosing my words here), and it can lead to mishaps which are hilarious. Linguistically, stylistically, even ways that problems are approached. These can all be sources of difference we can learn from, profit from, even, yes, laugh at.

But there are some inherent assumptions in such humor which cross lines. For instance, equating being a black woman with being able to have a sense of timing with no response or punch line. Or accusing her of having R and B blood because she's black. Or accusing her of sounding white for no real reason at all, whatever that means in its ill-defined shallow attacking way. These types of comments DO NOT belong in a book that is idolized by little children, and they certainly don't belong in a book that is literature regarded by adults. And Superman, friends, scoff as you will, is both.

Add into this line four...we have much more swearing in Superman comics now, and Girl 13 is a focus of that. Really great.

I am a sick, twisted, vulgar petty little writing man. I am. If you visit my website you will see that I curse up a storm, I have no real respect for anything, and I go to all extremes. I believe in the freedom of speech, almost to the point of yelling fire in a theater. I do. BUT I have problems when an icon, any icon, is perverted for the perpetual gain of an artist rather than the purpose for which it was originally created. I'm not talking the new He-Man. I'm not talking a black Captain America. These are fine re-examinations, because they have their proper context. Superman proper, the comic book, as I've said, is SUPPOSED to be safe for kids and fun for adults.

This comic is neither. It is the antithesis of this concept.

Actually. Strike that. INTRIGUING adult dialogue can come of this issue, but not as it was intended to be put out.

We can ask ourselves, what is R and B blood?

What does black sound like?

And supposing white sounds like Natasha Irons, then tell me, friends, how in the )(*&#*&)(#*$ was she able to program Kelex to talk "black"?


And don't forget, at least for the first time in my knowledge, this is the first time the word shit appears in a Superman issue. Forgive my language folks, but you know, and I know, and especially children know that shiznit means shit. And Kelex says it. Words cannot express how that makes me feel. I curse. I do. I admit it. But it's a Superman comic book folks, you know, the kind that's for kids, and there's no FOR MATURE READERS on the cover. This is entirely unacceptable.

Then there's the typical bad editing mistakes that could have been easily caught by the lowliest of fans, being me.

The opening splash is entirely unexciting and non-perilous. Oh yeah. Superman's gonna die. Sure. Yawn.

The portal to the Fortress doesn't close on its own? Strange. No safeguards in a facility of the highest order of scientific magnitude. Amazing.

Natasha is out of costume, then in costume, then bleeding to death, then sleeping contentedly without any medical treatment, as are her cohorts.

Then there's my favorite part of the whole issue. The one that makes me, ME, want to give up Superman.

Byakko is pregnant, and that means, barring good luck and new writers that resume carrying the Superman torch, we'll see her again to resolve this loose end, because you know that the writer's loose ends come before the millions of others that remain undone in the ongoing storyline.

Get this folks. Not only did we have to sit through the absolutely horrid Gunshin and Byakko story a while back, now we have to relive it as a flashback that justifies a story that never should have occurred in the first place. Why? You see, Byakko comes to kill Superman, and she knows why. Why, of course, is the flashback. So when she recounts the flashback she, what, suddenly then doesn't want to kill him? Of course not. Why? Because it's a lame justification, and a lame reason for a comic. So let's throw in a realization of Superman's humility through his letters. Why? Because she didn't see enough of his humility in that he was willing to kill himself to prove a point, which, as Nick, who I quoted at the beginning of this section, has said to be pointless.

As do I.

And next time I read a book with Superman on the cover,


3Art - 3: Ferry's art is fine, but it suffers from the story. I don't know how else to put that. The art is not GREAT, great, but it's distinctive. Superman at least looks like Superman. But hey, Superman's not really in the book. It's a big parade of Byakko.

Still, the art stands out. I enjoy Ferry's work.

Still, it suffers from the story. Nowhere to really branch out and show us some stuff.

1Cover Art - 1: And I thought it couldn't get any worse than "Abrakadizzle, that's street magic, yo." Well, I love to laugh and to hit bad people...yeah. I love that even more than laughing. Good one. Excuse me while I choke to death laughing...

ON MY CHILDHOOD! I did. I thought it couldn't get any worse.

It can.

Now, in French, for the Parisian Eddie Berganza impaired:

Ne backgroundez pas.

Les events? Avec le issue, NON!

Le words dans le cover.

Le Superman half off the cover, avec Supergirl dans le cover despitez-vous le Superman half off the cover.

Style distinctivelez adroit.

Ou est la Mia? Supergirl? Confusez-moi. Ne carez pas.

Le seagulls? LE SEAGULLS?

Parce-qui est-il?

City de Steel? Metropolis? LE NON!

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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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