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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Action Comics Annual #13

Action Comics Annual #13

Scheduled to arrive in stores: December 1, 2010

Cover date: February 2011

"Young Lex Luthor in Father Box"

Writer: Paul Cornell
Penciller: Marco Rudy
Inker: Marco Rudy

"Young Lex Luthor in a Father's Box"

Writer: Paul Cornell
Penciller: Ed Benes
Inker: Ed Benes

Cover: Ethan Van Sciver & Hi-Fi

Reviewed by: Adam Dechanel

Click to enlarge

"Young Lex Luthor in Father Box"

We join Lex almost immediately after Superman: Secret Origin #2 as he arrives in Metropolis.

A cocky young runt, he immediately tries to make his presence felt and a young Perry White notices him making an ass of himself in a club. When Lex admits he's also sussed out that Perry is an undercover reporter he barges into Perry's investigation and his mouthy attitude gets the two into Bruno Mannheim's nightclub.

Perry persuades Bruno to let Lex into their sting to discover the weirdness affecting the club. Bruno gives Lex a chance as an assistant manager and for six weeks Lex begins to get some money together.

One night Lex notices a glowing door that seems invisible to everyone else and being curious steps through it, right to Apokolips and its ruler Darkseid.

Lex is unfazed by the Apokoliptians or Darkseid's proclamation that he's a god and is instead full of questions. Darkseid gives the boy a tour of Apokolips and reveals Intergang's involvement with the villain before inducting Lex into servitude. A further six weeks later Lex attempts to assassinate Darkseid and take his place as a god on Apokolips. Needless to say its fails but Lex manages to escape narrowly with the technology of a Father Box and some Apokoliptian drugs.

Upon his return Lex uses his ill gotten gains to become very rich very quickly much to Perry's sadness. He'd seen 'good' potential in Lex and it's now lost.

But Darkseid it seems hadn't thought it a loss, in fact he'd orchestrated the corruption of Lex and prophetically predicts that when Lex tastes godhood he will succumb to it.

When Lex threatens Perry and the Daily Planet, he burns the final bridge to the road to good and begins his journey to being the Lex we know and love to hate.

"Young Lex Luthor in a Father's Box"

Now we join Lex years later, learning from Ra's Al Ghul. Lex was Ra's apprentice for six months, learning about a myriad of things from corporate management to fighting skills.

Ra's owned a mysterious box and despite Lex's loyalty, the secrets of the box had never been revealed to him. The mystery ate at Lex and using tech he'd stolen on Apokolips he betrays Ra's trust and opens the box.

Before he can fathom the contents Ra's arrives and kills his young apprentice.

Lex would have ended that day, lost a father who taught him everything and trusted him. However Ra's gives the ginger boy a second chance and dunks him in the Lazarus Pit.

When the boy awakens he discovers he has been disowned and left to his fate.

1Story - 1: I'm reviewing the two stories as a whole as the two do tenuously link together.

Lex is smart, aloof, charming and always portrayed as a self made man that owed nothing to anyone. He became the most powerful man in Metropolis (before Clark) and the third richest man in the world by his own hand. This Annual points to Lex being manipulated into being, tempted by curiosity and greed and acting utterly out of character. I can't fathom why - when Lex isn't broken - you'd want to mess with him and make his motivations and skills derive from Perry, Darkseid and Ra's Al Ghul... especially in such a way that makes both stories feel so lacking in content.

Two stories that attempt to link Secret Origin's massive leap in time from issue 2 to issue 3 and of course to justify The Black Ring storyline by Cornell. The idea is admirable, but the execution is diabolical. Is an ego massage really the reason to rewrite and re-orchestrate Superman's nemesis just so he fits into a current story? I'm sure some people will love this and the plethora of cameos but for me not one iota of the Annual works, or makes practical sense.

2Art - 2: So utterly confusing it detracts so much from the story.

The layouts seem to try to over compensate for the lack of writing and I think accompanying a better story, the graphics and stylistic artwork would work far better but here it fails and Marco Rudy deserves better than a half-hearted attempt at redefining Lex.

As for the second story, Ed Benes delivers what seems like art that is very sleepy. Again it's a fault of a non-narrative to accompany it and with nothing to work with I cant blame Ed or Marco for turning in what they have. Ed's line work is competent and to the point but where Marco threw in too much, Ed seems to not be deliver enough.

4Cover Art - 4: It's always nice to have a bit of Darkseid action in Superman's books, he looks as menacing as ever. It's always nice when Ethan Van Sciver pops into Metropolis and delivers some stunning work.

Hands down this is the absolute best part of the entire Annual. I wish Marco and Ed well and hope they get a better gig next time.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2011

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