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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Action Comics #844 Action Comics #844

Action Comics #844

Scheduled to arrive in stores: October 25, 2006

Cover date: December 2006

Writer: Geoff Johns and Richard Donner
Penciller: Adam Kubert
Inker: Adam Kubert

"Last Son: Part One"

Reviewed by: Nick Newman

Click to enlarge

In his arctic fortress, Superman activates a crystal and is greeted by the face of his father. Jor-El tells his son that he carries the culture of Krypton with him, and the only hope for Krypton's future is for him to share it with the people of Earth.

At the Daily Planet, Perry yells at Jimmy for handing in a poor photo. Clark tries to defend his friend, but in the distance he notices an object crashing to Earth. As he rushes out of the building, Perry marvels that Lois married him.

As the object crashes through buildings, Superman intercepts its trajectory and brings it to a halt, but not before it tears a trench down the street. Holding the object in his arms, Superman is shocked as it opens to reveal a small boy inside.

Superman takes the boy and his craft to the local Department of Metahuman Affairs, where he meets with Sarge Steel. Suddenly, they turn around to find the boy lifting a large cabinet over his head and speaking Kryptonese. Superman sits with the boy, but the child doesn't know who he is or where he is from. That night the boy goes to sleep and Superman promises to be there when he wakes up in the morning.

Superman stops by the Daily Planet where Lois is working on her story to bring her dinner and fill her in on what he's learned. He tells her that they'll know for sure tomorrow, but he can feel that the boy is from Krypton.

Flying across town the next morning, Superman looks in to find an empty room. Enraged, he crashes into the lab, but the child is gone.

In Washington, Sarge Steel is meeting with the Secretary of Defense when Superman knocks the door off its hinges, disarms two guards, and slams him against the wall. Superman demands to know where he is, and Steel says he thought they told him. The tests proved the boy is Kryptonian and they're moving him to a safer location.

In his lab, Lex Luthor reads Lois' article on the Kryptonian boy, and says that opportunity strikes.

Somewhere else, a heavily guarded convoy is brought to a halt by a tree across the road. As they stop, a masked man subdues the guards with gas pellets and blows open the truck to reveal the Kryptonian boy.

Jonathan and Martha Kent are cleaning up from breakfast when they hear a knock at the door. They open it to find Clark holding a small boy. He says that they took in a boy who fell from the sky and raised him as their own, and now he needs to know how they did it.

4Story - 4: Upon first read this story didn't do a whole lot for me but it's grown on me since then, and I'm glad. Johns is certainly a good writer, and while it's been debated how much actual writing Donner is doing, he can certainly bring some good ideas to the table. So I do really want to enjoy their run.

As for the issue at hand, it's a fairly standard setup issue. The fortress scene at the beginning was excessive, as if we need to be reminded that Donner did the Superman movie, but it does work as a decent introduction to Kal not being the last son. Similar things can be said about the scene with Perry in the Planet. It reads like a first issue, where they are trying to get everyone in. But it was enjoyable, and I do like it when they can work in the difficulties Clark has in balancing his double life.

The use of the Avenue of Tomorrow (a genius idea by whomever thought it up), and specifically the Department of Metahuman Affairs was a nice touch. It's good to see Superman operate not only within the context of the DCU, but also within the confines of the government which surely would take an interest in many of his activities.

Part of me doesn't like how quickly Kal takes to the child, but I suppose it's in his nature to be trusting.

The appearance by Lois feels just like the Perry scene. They threw her in because they felt they had to. On one hand, it's nice to have an effort to include the supporting cast, and on the other it doesn't work if it feels forced. I can't fault them too much, this being an introductory issue after all, but I hope it doesn't continue into the future. Kind of shoddy journalism on Lois' part to call the boy Kryptonian with no proof to back it up though.

I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who didn't like Superman's assault on Sarge Steel, but I have no problem with it. Superman's an idealist, and in his mind the child must be pure and good. What the government is doing is undoubtedly the safer and more cautious route, but you can't blame Superman for charging in there to save one of his own.

The Luthor appearance, contrary to what I said about Lois and Perry, was great. I like the lab, and I like the fact that he's showing up for a purpose. Johns (and obviously Busiek as well) wrote some of the best Luthor I've seen in a long time a few months ago, and I'm looking forward to seeing more.

The breakout was a fantastic touch. Superman wants to save this child, but obviously he can't be seen attacking a military convoy (regardless of what he may just have done in Washington). Of course, it won't take a genius to put it together that the boy was taken right after Superman learned where he was, so I do hope we see some fallout from that in the near future.

And I really liked the bit at the end too. Clark turning to his parents for help comes and goes over the years (Loeb was the last one to use it prominently that I can think of) and I always feel that it's a nice touch.

So overall, a really solid issue. We got to see all the major players (even if some appearances were a little forced), and the story has real promise. This issue isn't going to win any award for the best ever, but I honestly feel like the arc has a solid chance at being really great.

3Art - 3: I've never cared for Kubert's work. Or more specifically, I like Andy's stuff, but Adam never did it for me. So when I heard that he was coming to Superman, I was a little disappointed. And while things didn't turn out as badly as I might have feared, it still isn't quite as great as it could be.

I wish I had a word for Kubert's art, but the best I can come up with is crude. Which unfortunately sounds like and insult and it's not meant to be, but the art does look unpolished to me in a number of locations.

The worst offender, by far, is the spread inside Perry's office. All three of them look very unfinished. I'm not sure if it's a result of the inks being too heavy, or what, but it's still not great.

Elsewhere though, I really like the art. The page of the craft crashing through Metropolis is great, and I also really like the panels of Superman sitting with the child.

The high point was definitely Superman's 'attack' on the Pentagon. While I wish some of it were cleaned up a bit, Kubert's Superman has a fantastic sense of mass to him. He just feels big and strong. When he punches in that door, you can tell that it's a four foot thick door of steel. When he throws Sarge Steel up against the wall, you can tell that it is effortless for him. I don't know how Kubert is doing it, but his Superman just looks super.

But please Adam, Lois needs her long hair back. She looks horrible.

Overall, it's not as bad as I was expecting (how's that for a compliment). Some of the work does remind me why I've never been a fan of Adam Kubert's. But some of the other stuff, mainly his action sequences, is really great. His work is different, but I think it'll grow on me. If he cleans up his faces a little, and keeps everything else, it'll be great. And regardless of how you feel about his style, having a big name artist like him on Superman cannot be bad for the book.

5Cover Art - 5: There were of course two covers for this book, because DC is intent on bleeding me dry. The standard cover is quite nice indeed. Different, but still a great image. It really feels like a great way to kickoff Kubert's run on the book, with a nice portrait that is unquestionably his work. Definitely one of my favorite covers of the year.

As for the special, 1 in 10 so it'll cost you way too much, cover, I don't actually have it in my hands yet. But from what I've seen online, it's a nice dynamic cover (which is, of course, why I'll be handing over way too much money for it as soon as my store gets a copy in stock). It's nothing special like the regular version, but still a great image. Well done on both Mr. Kubert.

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January 2006

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