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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Action Comics #828

Action Comics #828

Scheduled to arrive in stores: June 8, 2005

Cover date: August 2005

Writer: Gail Simone
Penciller: John Byrne
Inker: Nelson

"Strange Attractors" - Part Two: "Positive Reinforcement"

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Click to enlarge

Superman and Dr. Polaris continue to face off, with Polaris thinking he is another personality, a scantily clad woman named Repulse.

Jimmy takes a reporter named Schuman and tries to get to the scene.

Lois, meanwhile, exposes a congressman who embezzles funds from children.

Jimmy arrives and starts to climb the tower. Schuman berates him endlessly.

Polaris starts to snap the cables to the bridge, and fires them off at Superman (as Repulse). He (she) takes a car and slams it into Superman as the bridge begins to weaken.

The congressman threatens Lois with suit, but Lois laughs it off.

Jimmy hits the construct Repulse creates with a bat. Superman pushes the construct off the bridge and tells Jimmy to run.

Superman prompts Polaris to remember who Repulse is. Polaris remembers his little sister, who treated him like garbage.

Black Adam and Zoom arrive for Polaris. Superman is about to stop them when Black Adam points out that the bridge is about to collapse.

Superman stops the bridge from collapsing. Black Adam helps him save the people. Superman asks him why he's working with Polaris. Adam says he has his reasons, and leaves, after telling Superman that a confrontation is coming.

Jimmy realizes that he's forgotten to take any pictures. Schuman's car is demolished.

Lois peeks in on Superman's story on the tribe he visited from the last issue. He references Kobe Asuru.

Superman arrives at the Kent apartment and tells Lois he wants to take a walk with her.

They walk along the Great Wall of China, talking about the neverending battle. Lois asks him why he reasoned with Polaris instead of just stopping him, and Superman explains that it's because Polaris was sick. Lois asks if he'll ever be Batman. Superman says no.

2Story - 2: This was, at its core, just another villain comes to town story. Now, I will qualify that. It had things that we haven't seen in a long time that I've been desperate to see. Jimmy acting like Jimmy, Lois doing her reporter thing.

But seeing them in motion without any originality is NOT what I was looking for. I'm looking for Lois and Jimmy doing their thing in a new way. Is that possible? Am I being too picky or just seeking impossible perfection? I don't think so. Rucka has Jimmy doing his thing in a new way. He has Lois doing her thing in a new way. He needs more Perry sometimes, but my point is, there are ways to bring back those classic things that have been so absent from Superman without resorting to a cheesy, what seems to be aimed at children, style plot.

Polaris was a wash. There's no reason this had to take two issues, other than stretching out the big reveal of Repulse, and once we knew it was Polaris, why take an issue of throwing cars, tearing down bridges, and doing the things we've seen a hundred times just one more time? Where's the originality here?

There's also the fact that Repulse, as a character, as opposed to being villainous and threatening is just kind of childish and annoying, especially in her dialogue.

Black Adam's intrigue was well put, as were the scenes at the end with Lois and Clark. I respected and enjoyed those.

But Jimmy running around like a rank amateur with the gee golly, and the kooky old reporter with him (an annoying, whining, and belligerent character I didn't enjoy), both of those things really pulled me away.

And Lois taking down a congressman is nice, it shows plucky, normal Lois, but who the heck is this guy? Where did he come from? Insert stock character A into tab B? It's just a little too convenient. How about a subplot here instead of a stereotype? Maybe all the time spent with Jimmy doing something he's done before that's obviously stupid and dangerous could have gone into a "two weeks ago" style prologue of the congressman acting the fink and almost getting away with it?

I don't know.

I do know that this opening hasn't enthralled me, just like Villains United. Both are good ideas with stereotypical execution. I haven't read Birds of Prey myself (Gail's claim to fame), but these last few issues of what she's done that I've read have left me with the taste of average in my mouth. And in a world with a Rucka, a Loeb, and a Bendis, average just makes me want to be one of the fans that's looking to take this writer's job instead of enjoy her work. Brutal? Yeah. Honest? Doubly so.

Superman is an icon because of scenes like this. He's a fading icon to the comic book reader's eye because he keeps repeating scenes like this endlessly instead of exploring the literate aspect of his character.

Eddie's had a great run, but I think I can see, with the hit and miss that's been a staple of his tenure, why moves like this ultimately fail. He tries to shake it up a lot, but there's also a cohesive vision needed.

The official word is that the moves are because the editors want to move around. Okay. I'll take that. But let's hope that the new gentleman has a coherent direction for all four books. This solo stuff isn't cutting it very well half the time.

3Art - 3: This is rough, because I'm a big Byrne fan. It's rough because he's so good still in so many ways, but so obvious and stereotypical and stuck in the past in others.

Look at the last page splash. INCREDIBLE. Look at the opening teaser splash set across the bridge. AMAZING.

And then look at the archetypical visions of characters that have not moved beyond 1986. Then look at the lack of backgrounds, the sloppy lack of an attention to the background. Then look at the way most of the characters look the same in type and stature.

It is Byrne, which is its blessing and its problem. When this was new, when his vision had not been seen before, it was revolutionary. Now that it is a standard, it must evolve or be lost to iconic perspective.

3Cover Art - 3: A great pose. A bit hyper on selling the book with cleavage, but some really cool effects with the magnetic field and Superman's skull.

There's no background again. CURSES. Is this going to start being a regular thing again? It seems to be.

But all in all, the pose is cool, the effects are neat. It is so incredibly 80s that it smacks you right in the head with it, which is a minus, but I have to say, even in the 80s this would have been cool.

But that background, or the lack, rather, really pulls this cover down. Where are they, why are they? There's already enough red in the picture with the dress, so even the color choice doesn't accentuate the mains.

How hard would it have been to have the bridge in the background? Not too hard, I'd imagine, even if it was mostly obscured by the logo. The devil's in the detail, especially for Byrne, who's got such stature now I'll bet he doesn't have to put in that extra touch.

Unless he wants a 5 on covers for me, that is.

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