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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Action Comics #821

Action Comics #821

Scheduled to arrive in stores: November 10, 2004

Cover date: January 2005

Writer: Chuck Austen
Penciller: Luke Ross, Renato Guedes, Shane Davis, and Cliff Richards
Inker: Fabio Laguna, Renato Guedes, Lary Stucker, and Will Conrad

"Superman vs. Preus: Worship False Gods"

Reviewed by: Nick Newman

A television reporter tells that Doomsday is moving towards Metropolis. Already people have begun to abandon the city.

In God's Peake, a collection of settlers are eating dinner when suddenly Preus appears above them in the sky. Preus demands that, as inferior beings, the serve him. When a man raises a shotgun, Preus fries him.

Superman thinks about Lois being shot, and how he let the distractions in his life get in his way.

Preus addresses the assembled crowd, announcing that if they serve him well, they will live better than they ever have.

Inside of an office a skinny man, Jesse, tells his boss that he wants to be working as a repo-man. The boss says that he doesn't have the body to intimidate people, and the only reason that he wants the job is to make people suffer, and he doesn't want any of that. Outside Jesse watches two of the workers go off on a job when he hears a voice from behind him. Gog offers him a large glowing crystal, and tells Jesse to be careful what he wishes for.

Two men approach Preus' building, wondering if the women that went in with Preus are all right. Preus comes out and tells them that he always forgets how flimsy humans are. Preus tells them that he will need a replacement female for tonight. The men then begin telling Preus about races that they think are inferior, and how they want to wipe them out. Preus tells them that they will discuss it later.

In the Watchtower, Clark watches over Lois sleeping. Taking her home, he gently lays her down in bed and continues to watch her sleep.

People slowly come to God's Peake, drawn to Preus' power. Inside, Preus tells one of his followers that it is horrible living around them, smelling their filth with his super powers. To calm Preus down, they bring him another woman. Suddenly J'onn appears in the sky above them and demands that Preus come with him. Preus surges towards him but passes right through J'onn's immaterial form. Turning back, Preus blasts J'onn with his super vision, sending the surprised Martian spiraling down. He hits the ground with a huge explosion.

Back in Metropolis, Lois tells Clark that he doesn't need to stay and watch over him, but Clark says that he wants too. Whatever else happens in the world, the League can handle it. Especially Martian Manhunter. If anything could threaten J'onn, then they'd all be in trouble.

2Story - 2: Now when Preus was first created, I really liked the character. Superman doesn't really have any crazy villains, and crazy people make the best villains. The religious drive of Preus, his xenophobia, make him an interesting character. So what does Austen do with him? He has him settle with a bunch of white trash and make a little civilization. Why does Preus need slaves? He's as powerful as Superman, he shouldn't need people serving him. The whole idea of God's Peake is just stupid.

Another problem with this issue, the timeline. The Superman title has already jumped forward a year, and Adventures just jumped two months. Superman I accept because it was necessary for the story (the story itself wasn't necessary, but I digress), and I applauded the jump in Adventures for how well it advanced the story. However, we should not have three different books occurring at three different times. This is a continuity nightmare. Eddie should have ruled this one out from the start.

Then there's my moral qualm with this issue. That, of course, is Preus and his women. Now the very good Nightfall novel by Denny O'Neil had a similar theme with Bane. I accepted, and even liked that because it fit with Bane, and small children probably aren't reading a 400 page novel. However, to have a blood-covered Preus emerging from his room with a dead woman behind him is a little over the line in my opinion. This wasn't needed for the story, so why include it?

Then, on to one of the biggest problems with this issue, and I'm sure the part that made the most fans angry. First of all, how does Superman justify his 'hundred other heroes in the JLA' comment? Obviously this is meant to be talking about the reserves, but even if you go through everybody, you'd be hard pressed to hit 100. Just for fun, I listed every League member I could think of. I came up with around 40. I added on the JSA, Titans, and Outsiders just for good measure. I only hit 66. Now I know I'm missing plenty of characters, but to say that there are 100 Leaguers is stretching it. Then, there's the horrible "J'onn is the most powerful of us all" statement. This is complete crap. Please tell me how someone who can't take fire (and I'm ignoring Kelly's whole atrocious run on JLA with J'onn conquering his fear) is really that powerful. Sure, J'onn has an impressive array of powers, but he's hardly the most powerful Leaguer. If it's not Superman, then it goes to either Kyle (anyone else miss Kyle, I sure do) or Wally for their massively insane powers. However, J'onn is not the most powerful, and to say so just to make Preus seem powerful is stupid. Last I checked, Batman took out four Martians easily with just a can of lighter fluid and a matchbook.

Overall, this book just made Preus a disappointing villain. We've already seen a villain form a nation done better with Zod a few years ago. Austen continues to disappoint.

3Art - 3: Now, the art in this book was pretty solid through most of it. The beginning in particular was pretty good. However, any regular book that has FOUR PENCILLERS really can't be respected at all. I understand that regular artists need time to catch up. Illustrating takes time. I also understand that sometimes two people do one issue to make it easier. However, I do not understand four people on one book. And that's not even mentioning the four inkers. This is a flagship DC title, it shouldn't be stuck with four unknown artists.

3Cover Art - 3: Preus Returns... and evidently doesn't want to show up on the cover. A cover with Preus would have been much cooler, and as it was the coloring of this book seemed a little off. Maybe it was the sky behind Kal, but I don't like it. Just an average cover at best. Here's looking forward to Churchill's cool covers in the months to come.

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