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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Action Comics #825

Action Comics #825

Scheduled to arrive in stores: February 9, 2005

Cover date: April 2005

Writer: JD Finn
Penciller: Ivan Reis and Joe Prado
Inker: Marc Campos, Joe Prado, and Ocaire Albert

"The Four Horsemen"

Reviewed by: Nick Newman

Click to enlarge

Gog tells Superman how he was inspired when he saved him from the destruction of Topeka. He spent his life studying time. He tried to go back to save his parents, but failed. For over two centuries he tried this, and finally he turned to revenge. He gave his younger self the power to kill Superman. Time and again he failed. Then he realized, he needed an army, so he would create an army of himself.

Dozens of Gogs, plucked from different points in time, attack the Man of Steel. Superman tries to fight them off, but the combined might of all of them forces him to the ground. When Gog is about to deliver his killing blow, Doomsday suddenly arrives and begins to toss Gogs around with little effort. No one is going to kill Superman but him.

Up on the bridge, J'onn, Batman, and Superboy watch the fight. J'onn and Superboy want to enter the fight, but Batman tells them that their Doomsday Protocol exists for a reason. If Superman falls they beam the whole mess into the Phantom Zone.

In Smallville, Lois, Lana, and the Kents watch on the news when suddenly the front door explodes inwards and Gog walks in.

Waking up, Preus looks at the fight and realizes he is not need here. Kandor needs to be freed. Superman asks Doomsday why he's helping fight Gog. Doomsday explains that he wants to explore his emotions, and there's only one Superman to kill. Gog tells him that he's with his parents right now. Superman tells him that he'll never leave innocents to die just to save others. With a mighty punch, Superman shakes the whole city. When the dust clears Superman is down and Gog stands triumphant.

Superman's death inspired a whole new wave of heroes, and that lead into the battle that waged for a hundred years. The League of Supermen led by a reformed Doomsday against an army of Gogs. But Gog was weary. He had achieved his goal. However, the world didn't know that Superman was still alive. Trapped for two centuries, tortured by Gog, the Man of Steel lived. Constantly Gog asked him why he didn't try to save his family, and every time Superman tells him that he couldn't trade other lives for theirs. As time went on, Gog began to offer Superman a trip to the past to save his family if he left Metropolis to him, and still Superman refused. Gog offered him the chance to go back and kill him as a child. Superman refused. He offered him the chance to save Krypton if he would only sacrifice one life. Superman turns the offer down. Finally Gog cannot take anymore. He grabs the Man of Steel, demanding to know why he won't give in. Superman tells him that sacrificing one for another renders it worthless. He asks Gog if his parents were murderers, and with that Gog suddenly realizes the error of his ways. Suddenly Doomsday bursts in and picks up the Man of Steel, and Gog feels shame at what he has become. Doomsday prepares to kill Gog, but he tells Doomsday that he can correct all of this. Doomsday drops him, and asks if he will have to be a monster again.

Back in Metropolis, the army of Gogs suddenly disappears, leaving only one. Superman, healed in time accelerated by Gog, easily dispatches this one with a solid punch to the face. Superman stands triumphant. Leaving Metropolis, he soars to Smallville where he finds another Gog, dead, outside of the Kent farm house. Superman sees Gog and Doomsday (from the future). Gog tells him that the future is now unwritten, but a great crisis looms, and he hopes that he can survive it. With that, the two reformed villains disappear.

Back in Metropolis, Gog digs through the rubble. He finds something, and smiles. All he needs is a little time.

2Story - 2: I suppose I should begin with the whole JD Finn thing. I don't know who he (or she) is, but I do know one thing. I don't like whoever it is. I know a lot of people loved last month's issue. I didn't. And regardless of how you felt about last issue, I don't see how this issue can be considered good by any stretch of the word. Before I go after the concept of this story as a whole, there are a few issues I really need to address.

First off, the Doomsday Protocol. Now I absolutely applaud the idea to actually have the JLA appear intelligent by forming plans in advance. It's a great idea, and the fact that the first Doomsday battle was met with such confusion shows exactly why they would need contingency plans. However, and this is a big however, who designed this plan, Ambush Bug? Let me get this straight. If an unstoppable force arrives...we let Superman fight it all alone while the rest of the insanely powerful League sits back and maintains a perimeter? And then, despite the fact that they have the ability to end the entire fight right away by teleporting Doomsday into the Phantom Zone (with the new Phantom Zone canon no less), they decide that that should wait until Superman falls. Wait till the big guy dies, again, and then get rid of Doomsday. This has more holes in it than 'For Tomorrow'. The DCU is populated with a good twenty five people that could fight Doomsday, easy, and yet they're supposed to play crowd control? I'm pretty sure Green Lantern (heck, all seven of them) could probably handle Doomsday. In a period when DC is FINALLY pulling its universe together into one cohesive world, the lack of DC involvement in this story is even worse. This plan makes no sense, at all, and it takes away from the story.

Brief interlude, Lois wants a baby, so she won't stop holding little Clark. I like the idea, in Adventures, but his just seemed really forced.

Then Preus suddenly has an epiphany and leaves the fight. Well that sure was convenient.

Now enter the biggest problem of the issue. Superman absolutely refuses to go save his family. He can't leave Metropolis to Gog (don't forget J'onn and Superboy are still battle-ready) to go save his wife and parents. Now I realize that writers like to make Superman the perfect person. Never sacrifice a life for another and all that stuff. However, for one thing, he's human. Maybe not biologically, but he is. I don't care how 'good' you are, if you're family is in danger you go to save them. Maybe I could allow this, if there weren't Leaguers standing RIGHT THERE. The telepathic link is still active, I'm assuming, so one of two things could happen. "J'onn, Lois is in trouble, how about you handle Gog for five minutes while I fly to Kansas and back." Or, and this is probably more likely, "J'onn Lois is in trouble, how about you and Conner fly to Kansas and save her." It's as simple as that, and suddenly Lois doesn't need to die. This kind of makes the rest of the issue pointless, doesn't it?

And now, for the sensationalist ending to a long story arc, of course Superman has to die. And his death inspires...Doomsday to become a hero and lead a League of Supermen against Gog's army. Now the idea of Doomsday being inspired by Superman and becoming a hero is stupid enough, but to see how dumb this idea really is, consider this. Batman doesn't trust Hal Jordan to come back. Bruce hasn't given Hal any credit at all since Zero Hour. Personally, I think Bats is probably justified in his suspicions (recent revelations about Parallax aside), but I digress. However, if Batman won't trust a proven hero, is he really going to let Doomsday run around LEADING A TEAM OF SUPERHEROES? I'm going to have to go out on a limb here and say no. Also, what happened to this great Doomsday plan? Superman fell didn't he? So why wasn't the whole mess transported into the Phantom Zone, eliminating the need for a hundred year war? Yeah, I don't have the answer to that one either.

Now we fall back into more proof that Superman is really great. He won't sacrifice one life to save a planet, etc, etc. I have a lot of problems personally with that. I know if our planet was going to die, and one person sacrificed would save all six billion others, it really wouldn't be a hard choice. Still, if that's how they want to write Superman, that's fine, since he never should have been in this situation in the first place.

Finally, we have a nice conclusion to this. Superman mentions Gog's parents, and he realizes the error of his ways. What? This guy does this for five hundred years, and yet one sentence completely reverses everything? That's a little too storybook for me. Oh, and another appearance by SuperDoomsday, in case the first wasn't enough.

And then, the newly reformed Gog makes everything better. He makes all the other Gog's disappear (except for the one in Kansas, who he has to brutally murder, why, I don't know, but he needed to) and Superman stops the last one with a jaw-destroying right hook. Now, I suppose the liquid Kryptonite was weakening him, but if all it took to stop Gog was a punch to the face, did this whole story really need to happen. Then he leaves Gog there, perfectly free, to save his family. Then we get one more appearance of the reformed villains, before they vanish away.

Me, I'm hoping SuperDoomsday gets his own books. I miss him already. I probably shouldn't say that though. Someone at DC might read this and actually think it's a good idea.

I'm really confused why these stories that age Superman keep happening. What, Kal is now two hundred years older? And he hasn't aged a day? I know he's supposed to be essentially immortal, but you would think that two centuries would change the guy a little bit.

To me, this whole story feels exactly like Superman #200. A long story fizzles out in the end, so we pack more information into one issue than the past four had, and attempt to end the whole thing in some massive time traveling epic. And it just feels forced. Why does Superman need to refuse Gog for two hundred years? I know Superman is good. So do all of his readers. You don't need to jam it down our throats with a stick.

I'm really glad we're getting another fresh bunch of authors on the books. I agree with what Neal said over in the Superman #214 review. They don't know where they are going, and that's their biggest problem right now, but I really think the new teams have got to be better. Then again, I said that a year ago, and we traded Seagle for Azzarello. Yeah, that worked out great. At least the rest of the DCU is doing well. Maybe someday Superman will be too.

4Art - 4: After that rant I really don't have much energy left to talk about the art. Especially since I've said the same thing for the past however many months. I like Reis' work a lot. He's not my favorite, and I have issues with his work, but overall it's great. I'm sorry to see him go, although he'll still be popping around the DCU, and he is getting replaced by Ed Benes. For those of you that didn't read the final Supergirl arc (and shame on you for not, if you had maybe they wouldn't have cancelled the title) Benes' work is fantastic, and I'm definitely looking forward to having him on the book. Thanks for some great work Reis. I look forward to seeing your stuff again.

3Cover Art - 3: Doomsday just looks wrong here. I think it's the overly pointy face, but he just doesn't look like he is supposed to. And Superman is in a very awkward looking pose. I suppose it could be because Gog is holding him, but do his legs really need to be spread like that? Other than that I like this cover. Gog looks good, the glowing spear is a nice touch, and although the background isn't actually an image, at least it's clouds and not just monochromatic. Oh, and I just noticed that Superman's leg is really really skinny. This whole cover just isn't working. The art is fine, and it's a decent pose, but its average at best. Gog's expression is great though. He really captured that one.

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

January 2005

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