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Mild Mannered Reviews - Action Comics

Action Comics #12 Action Comics #12

Action Comics #12

Scheduled to arrive in stores: August 1, 2012

Cover date: October 2012

"Return of the Forgotten Superman"

Writer: Grant Morrison
Penciller: Rags Morales, Cafu and Brad Walker
Inker: Rick Byrant, Bob McLeod, Cafu and Andrew Kennessy

Michael Bailey Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge

Action Comics #12 Action Comics #12 Superman breaks free of the hallucinations Adam Blake was causing and races to save Lois, who is doing a great job of trying to die after being hit by a truck. Lois' niece has the same idea but Blake is quite insistent that she has to come with him. Blake tosses a bunch of cars at Superman to keep him busy and tries to reason with the girl. He reveals that he was born to two God fearing farmers in Kansas and possessed great mental powers even as an infant. Superman recognizes the story and asks what happened to him. In short order it is revealed he was "recruited" by a race of aliens known as the Oortkind, who were on a mission to find neo-sapiens. Now they want to recruit Susie just as they did Adam.

This causes another round of fighting and eventually Superman empties his mind and defeats Blake. Adam is sent back to his ship freeing Superman to take Lois to the hospital. The prognosis is not good but after a quick speed read of the medical library Superman is able to assist the doctor's in saving Lois' life. Later Batman gives Superman a flash drive full of stories that prove how valuable Clark is. He encourages Superman to figure out a way to bring Kent back. Still later at his apartment Clark's landlord reveals that she is from the fifth dimension, uses one of her three wishes to make everyone forget that Clark died and warns Clark of a coming threat.

Meanwhile the creepy little man that has been popping up over the past twelve issues pays Susie a visit in her room.

3Story - 3: If I have a common complaint about Grant Morrison it is that if I start out liking a story he is writing there is going to be something at the end that disappoints me. Sometimes it takes him an entire run to do it, like when he wrote JLA and sometimes it is at the end of a three part storyline if this is indeed the last part of what is ostensibly a retread of every Death of Clark Kent storyline that has ever been published. It's really disappointing too because I was digging on what Morrison was laying down but once again he trips into the areas that I don't want Superman to go and, worst of all, takes all of the emotional punch of out the entire storyline with a pretty ham fisted deus ex machina.

See, I was into the whole Captain Comet as the proto-Superman thing. I really was. I liked it a lot and to be fair I liked the origin for Adam Blake that we were given in this issue. It was a real "there but for the grace of Rao go Kal-El" type of story complete with a religious zealot father and a dead mother. Sure there were some of the typical Morrisonisms, like Adam talking to his mother about her consciousness not being able to be separated from her body like his can but it had some emotional heft to it even with the bible waving right there at the end.

I was also into the Superman taking on another identity and realizing that killing of Clark Kent might not have been the wisest action to take. The scene with Batman towards the end was amazing because instead of the Dark Knight solving the problem he shows Superman why Clark is so important. That meant a lot to me as a reader because I have to admit that I was afraid that Batman was going to swoop down and put everything back to normal. Thankfully that didn't happen and made for a good emotional beat right there at the end of the issue.

So you would think that between that, the proto Superman stuff and a fairly satisfying fight that I would be all hearts and smiles and I would have been if it wasn't for two huge problems that I had with the issue.

The first was Superman performing surgery on Lois. I think I've mentioned in the past that I am not a big fan of a Superman story where he can do anything with relative ease because I think it takes all of the drama out of the story. To be fair I was pretty sure that Lois wasn't going to die because come on, she's Lois Lane. This would have been a pretty weak death for such a pivotal character. Despite that knowledge I wanted to buy into the fact that she could have died and from now on if I read a Morrison written Superman story where a character is on the verge of death I'll just assume that Superman will do a little speed reading and save their lives because he's Superman and he can do that and if he doesn't save them then why the heck not because he sure as heck did it here. I don't like an omnipotent Superman. Sure it's neat to think that Superman can sit in his apartment and count the grains of sand on Mars because he has telescopic vision and some free time but to me that would be boring to actually see. I want to see what Superman can't do because that is more dramatic and interesting.

Then came the ending to the issue where it is revealed that Clark Kent's landlord is actually a denizen of the fifth dimension, is romantically tied to Mxyzptlk, warns Clark of the Envious One and, just for kicks, magically makes everyone forget that Clark Kent ever died.

Let's take these in order. Clark Kent's landlord is actually a fifth dimensional being. Oddly enough I am fine with that. It's weird but this is a Morrison book so it is to be expected. She's in love with Mxyzptlk. Again, weird but expected. There is a coming threat called the Envious One. There is always some great threat on the horizon in a Morrison story. It's one of his things. It's like a character having some crippling emotional problem that gets turned into a burning motivation to do something either evil or heroic in a Geoff Johns story. Some things you just learn to live with. What bugged me and ultimately ruined the issue for me is that his landlord took care of the Clark Kent is dead problem by, of all things, wishing it away.

That's pretty weak.

I may not Morrison's biggest fan but I admit that he is a competent writer and this sort of thing is something you would expect from a lesser writer that didn't have the imagination to get out of the problem they created for their character. I was working under the assumption that the major theme of this story was that Superman needs Clark and the scene with Batman fooled me into thinking that we were going to get to see Superman come up with a cool way to get out of his problem. Instead the magic landlord waves her hands and the problem is solved.

So yeah...feeling a little let down here. Like I wasted my time liking the first two parts to this story because the ending was that bad. I can't even console myself with an awesome back-up story because there isn't one this month.

What a lousy way to close out the first year of the new ACTION COMICS.

4Art - 4: The art was decent, especially the action scenes. It is a bit disappointing that we can't get an entire arc out of Rags Morales but that is how comics are done these days so I guess I really can't complain. I mean we knew this going in. Superman looked a little wonky through most of the issue but I will admit that could be me not knowing when one artist came in and the other left. I am terrible with that sort of stuff which is why I am never comfortable writing the artwork portions of these reviews.

I did like the weird effect with Clark's landlord at the end of the issue. That was pretty cool.

4Cover Art - 4: I like this cover quite a bit. The perspective is neat and the glowing eyes the people in the crowd have was creepy. Blake looks pretty dang cool as well.

2Variant Cover Art - 2: I don't like this cover at all but to be fair it's the art style that I have the biggest problem with, not the piece itself. I just didn't care for the way Cliff Chiang drew Superman.

4Variant Cover Art - 4 (Black and White): Once again I like the black and white cover better than the official one. Sure you don't get as much out of the glowing eyes but Superman looks so good here.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2012

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