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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Action Comics #826

Action Comics #826

Scheduled to arrive in stores: April 6, 2005

Cover date: June 2005

Writer: Judd Winnick
Penciller: Ian Churchill
Inker: Norm Rapmund

"Lightning Strikes Twice"

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Click to enlarge

Over a Captain Marvel and Shazam opening monologue telling what is happening, we see Bruce Gordon on a quest to find "it".

Shazam remains mute, but Captain Marvel asks him for more information.

In the meanwhile, across Metropolis, people grow unspeakably angry and kill themselves. A singer, a concert-goer, and a working stiff.

The working stiff hurls himself in front of an oncoming train and the train derails.

Superman appears, catches the train, and tries to figure out what's going on. It's dark outside, and a woman tries to talk to Superman about it, only to end up unable to. Superman takes off to find out what is going on, and an over-monologue speaks to the darkness over the light.

Lois storms through the Daily Planet frustrated with a story, surprised to find Clark sitting at a desk. She asks him why he's there, and he indicates that he needed to use the computers. He's researching what happened. Clark says he has a bad feeling.

He and Lois go outside. It is getting dark again. Meanwhile, the woman from earlier goes to STAR Labs and finds the Kryptonian battlesuit, recovered from space. Like the others, she feels extreme anger, and enters.

Clark and Lois are talking when Superman suddenly rockets up, seeing the battlesuit streaking through a building.

He attacks, but the suit is a formidable opponent. They clash, and the suit weakens slightly. The suit opens, and the villain reveals his intent to take over Superman.

It is Eclipso.

5Story - 5: With a caveat.

This is a good start for Winick. I am fond of his work on Batman, very fond. The man took a concept that I would have wanted to do, one of my BIG IDEAS that we writers sometimes get, and he used it. Far from being angry, I applaud it. If someone had said to me, "What do you want to write on Superman or Batman?" and then also ask a follow-up, "What do you want to see happen on Superman or Batman?" the answers are the same. So if my story disappears, but I get the story I wanted... GOOD. That means the writer has subconsciously tapped the cool factor.

So first, Winick does the Red Hood, and he does it well (though the end of the last Batman issue has some people ticked), and now he takes on the battlesuit, another lost concept I missed and wanted to see again.

And he does it with character, integrity, and a readable story. I like it. It's a really good start. The Lois leaning over Clark moment, Clark bursting out of his clothes to do battle with the suit, a cool new villain I didn't know much about, and heck, battle suit action. The man has a good pace. I'm liking it. Lois' little comment about how when Superman gets worried people need shelter and bottled water is gold. GOLD.

I had my caveat I mentioned, and that caveat is that unless you know who Eclipso is, the story is not going to rock as much, and if you know who Eclipso is along with the background, it's not as mysterious. He tried to straddle the line between a mysterious story and a neat story, because he likely knew that most people don't know who Eclipso is (myself included), and the result muddled things a bit, but not enough to even begin to take from the essential fun of the story, because as I said, if you know him, it's cool because we haven't seen Eclipso in a while, and if you don't, it's cool, because you wonder who the heck it is.

I broke my own rules for once and actually went and researched who Eclipso was. The reason being, the story was so compelling I felt I wanted to, and if I felt that way, chances are a lot of you do, too. Turns out he's a villain that feeds on darkness and creates evil incarnate, and his only weakness is (and here's the cheese) light. Also, Bruce Gordon really hates him and wants him dead.

If Winick can make that uncheesed, he has my full attention, and so far, so good.

There's also the lurking Captain Marvel... not sure what part he plays in the story, and he sure said "Sir" a lot, but it's still the beginning of the story, his character is on, so all in all, a great issue.

Wonderful to see Clark back in form at the office and bantering with Lois. I've been missing that for YEARS. Maybe we'll actually see Perry some time here. And there's also the fact that this book ties into (in subtle ways) Identity Crisis.

All in all, an amazing read. I'm impressed. But then, first issues usually always are great... can he keep this up? Knowing his other work, my guess is he can.

I recommend this title.

5Art - 5: Ian remains incredible. Keep him here for as long as he'll take biscuits and sit at a desk. Clark exploding out of his clothes is one of the best transformations I've ever seen, the battlesuit fight is awesome, and whoever does the colors on this issue deserves some love too, because there's some great color wheel play of the primaries of Superman vs. the mixes of the Lex suit.

Very cool work. I haven't had much problem with anything Churchill has done of yet at all. Great artist.

4Cover Art - 4: This is one of those cases where yeah, the cover doesn't depict what's going on, and yeah, it's kind of cheesy, and yeah, there's a noticeable filch on the background, but the traditional criteria doesn't really apply. It's just a really great image with a really cool pull to it. The one point missing is for indicating something that didn't happen in the issue. I'm big on that. There would be just as cool a cover to a dedicated artist in Superman holding up a battlesuit with Shazam somewhere in the foreground, I would say.

And is that a red sun up above there? That's a question that lingers...

But all in all, a great picture.

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