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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Action Comics #863 Action Comics #863

Action Comics #863

Scheduled to arrive in stores: April 2, 2008

Cover date: May 2008

"Sun Rise"

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Gary Frank
Inker: Jon Sibal

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Click to enlarge

Superman and Earth-Man fight their way down toward Earth, where Earth-Man threatens to smash Superman on the sidewalk, given his lack of powers with only the Legion ring to aid him.

Brainiac and company free the imprisoned Legion members, taking Sun Boy down in an attempt to restore Earth's yellow sun. Sun Boy remains unconscious, however, so Brainiac cons Chameleon Girl into changing into a hot girl to kiss Sun Boy and wake him up. It works, causing the sun to return to normal and bringing Superman back into the fight.

Superman and Earth-Man fight, with Earth-Man assuring Superman that he will fail, given that he has the combined powers of the Legion. Superman brings in the real Legion, as his counter.

Earth-Man tells Superman that he deserves his victory, that Superman doesn't understand because he was never an outsider. Superman knocks him out with a blow, explaining that he's been an outsider all of his life.

Superman and the Legion meet the army, causing the end of the war.

Superman heads home, but not before promising to aid in future endeavors.

We see Clark of the past meeting with the Legion, and as an adult, he stops to reminisce next to the meeting tree they'd use.

A two page spread previews the Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds.

5Story - 5: Though I had multiple issues with the preceding parts, it closed rather well, with strong writing, and many great moments. There are some issues. The book was a week late. This is Action Comics. It should never, for any reason, be late. Period. It's the most important comic book in the history of comic books. Enough with the lateness. Even a week. Yes, even a week. This is a historical book. Give it the respect it deserves by putting it out on time. No excuses. No, "Well, you want a good product? Wait!" No. Be professional enough not to release things until they're ready, or put them in alternative titles.

Beyond that, however, the story was superlative. This issue transcends the former issue of being the Legion, guest starring Superman, and gives us an inspirational Superman story. Superman prevails over Earth-Man with the aid of his friends, tapping his courage, his inspirational qualities, and with an awesome fight. There's not much about Superman here not to like, and it's a great issue.

There are minor quibbles. I still don't buy the red sun thing just being okay for Earth people. I also found the Chameleon Girl scene a bit exploitive, even if the funny made up for it.

There were EPIC moments. Superman stopping at street level, with the Superman shield panel... that's just brilliant. The quote from Earth-Man, "Legion!" with several layers of meaning. "I'm for everyone" is Superman to the core.

I'm not a big Legion fan yet, but I'm jazzed up for Legion of Three Worlds. Johns knows how to promote through story. He's done it in JSA, Green Lantern, Booster, and now here in Action. As a device, it was incredibly novel at first, and so long as the concepts are amazing, I wouldn't mind seeing something like that regularly in a bunch of books. It's spoilers without spoilers, and I love it.

There was one major quibble, and this'll get me flak, I know it, but... I don't think Superman's an outsider. I really don't. I think there's a part he has to play when he's Clark, a part that is a shmuck that sucks, where people treat him like crap, but whenever, and I mean WHENEVER he wants, he can become Superman, beloved of most everyone, and he can cease being Clark whenever he wants. Obviously, he finds some utility in being Clark, so I can't see or feel pity for his situation as an "Outsider" as Clark, which is part of the Byrne origin that remains with me. Clark is the person, Superman is who he acts as to express his powers, in my opinion, and even Clark is a world-renowned novelist married to the hottest journalist on Earth. I mean, seriously, I would kill for his non-Superman life.

In terms of Superman identifying with being "different," IE, him feeling moribund and strange for having super-powers, sure, maybe. But in that case, Earth-Man has a good point. He's ostracized, hated, and kicked from the Legion, as I understood it, and thereby goes and does his evil things, which are wrong, but beyond that, he understands being an outsider and does the wrong thing. I think Superman has always been an insider, beloved of family and friends alike as both Superman and Clark, with the lone exception being maybe Perry and the other folks at the Daily Planet who find him a bungler. But that's an act. And he knows that.

Overall, I think the story went a bit long, and was not as entertaining as it could have been given that it was bogged down with so many characters I was unfamiliar with despite reading many Legion stories over time. Still, it has Geoff's characteristic writing genius, and in whole might read better than the sum of its parts.

I am TRULY eager to see what happens when the titles reunite and become a biweekly. THEN a six issue arc won't take up half a year of stories, it'll take up three months, making it less indulgent, more a cool risk.

5Art - 5: Gary Frank is growing on me, particularly in his expressions. The Brainiac expression as he walks by Chameleon Girl, Superman landing, the Legion spread, the descent toward Earth, and even young Clark all pop. Great stuff.

3Cover Art - 3: Not very active, and even a little bland. The detail is rather nice, but given that I don't know half of these characters, and given that they're essentially posing, there's something missing from the scene for me as a grab. Still, it's not horrid, and the pictures are purty.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

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