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Mild Mannered Reviews - Action Comics

Action Comics #20 Action Comics #20

Action Comics #20

Scheduled to arrive in stores: May 1, 2013

Cover date: July 2013

"Hybrid" - Part 2

Writer: Andy Diggle and Tony S. Daniel
Penciller: Tony S. Daniel
Inker: Tony S. Daniel and Batt

"The World of Krypton" - Part 1: "Discovery"

Writer: Scott Lobdell
Penciller: Frank Hannah
Inker: Phillip Tan

Michael Bailey Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge



"The Hybrid" - Part 2

After a training session Lex Luthor is informed that Superman is down. Luthor is disappointed by this because he wanted the alien to suffer first. He orders the body to be brought to him so he can show the people the truth about the space monster that has been hiding along them.

Meanwhile a very not dead Superman regains consciousness in The Block. Dr. Veritas informs him that his super immune system threw out the infection that was killing him. He will be weak but otherwise fine. When Superman comes into contact with the tissue that fell off his hand it comes alive and attacks him. The fight is brutal but Superman finally manages to defeat the virus come to life by trapping it and himself in a room filled with red sun energy. The victory proves short lived as the virus mutates and become harmful to the public. Despite being weakened by the infection and the battle he just waged Superman races into the fray and takes the virus on.

Meanwhile Lex Luthor dons a massive suit of armor and prepares to save Metropolis from the alien menace known as Superman.

4Story - 4: This chapter of Hybrid was a solid read from beginning to end. Like the last issue/chapter it had all of the elements I like to see in a Superman story in a sleek new package. I won't say that this is a nice breath of fresh air after the Morrison run because I've been following the character long enough to know that this is how it goes; long stretches where I like what's going on and then a rough patch and then a return to what I like to see in a Superman tale in the first place. It would be folly not to recognize that I am on a hamster wheel of sorts.

Don't get me wrong. Being on a hamster wheel is not a bad thing, at least to me. There are only so many Superman stories you can tell and to be honest when they do try to break out of the usual cycle we as fans complain and bristle against the change being thrust upon us. To me part of the great thing about Superman is that writers of the current generation who haven't worked on the Man of Steel have the opportunity to dust off old concepts and write new versions through a modern filter. At this point Superman is a legend as much as he is a fictional character. For older or more seasoned readers the recurring themes and plots are obvious. To the readers that have only been at it for a short period of time everything is fresh and new and for me or anybody to sit back and snipe and say, "Oh, this is the same old, same old," would ruin the fun for the newbies or the old guard that want this sort of story.

Frankly I don't want to be "that guy" because "that guy" sucks the fun out of the room for everyone else.

Anyhoo...

There was a lot of action this time out and since that is the title of the book it's probably something you want to see. I am enjoying Diggle and Daniel's no-nonesense approach to the Man of Steel. He's direct but also has a sense of humor, like telling Dr. Veritas that he is, "Just dandy" after a particularly brutal fight. Just when everything seems to have calmed down Metropolis is under attack and Superman is forced to go leap back into the battle even though he isn't at 100 percent. I liked that. A weakened Superman has more potential for drama and it shows just how heroic the character is because even though he knows he is at a disadvantage the people of Metropolis need him. Again, this is hardly new but I like seeing it just the same.

My only real problem with this chapter was Lex Luthor. As nice as it is to see Lex back as a major threat he is bordering on becoming the obnoxious smart guy. It reminds me of the version of Lex in Mark Millar's RED SON. He's so smart and so good at everything that I find myself more annoyed then entertained. Showing him training at the beginning of the issue made for a strong opening but adding the kick to the...nether regions he gave his trainer was a tad overboard. The problem with making him so smart and so awesome is that it turns him into a two dimensional character. His motivation is solid but I would like to see a little more depth. The whole, "Superman is an alien and that's bad and I am going to show the world what a menace he is," is a good foundation for a villain. Now I want to see a few more levels built on top of that.

Other than that I had a good time. The story is an old song but I like the cover that both Diggle and Daniel are giving us. As long as we get a little more meat on those bones this will end up being a very satisfying Superman story.

4Art - 4: Once again I loved the artwork. The opening page may have bugged me on a writing level but boy did it look dynamic. Dr. Vertias might be a little more...alluring then I have become used to but I can't deny that she did look good. The fight was amazing and Daniel certainly put Superman's abilities to good use. I also continue to really love the way he draws the New 52 costume. I wish Tony was sticking around longer because I honestly believe he could have become the definitive artist of this era. My only complaint is that I don't like Lex's armor. It was too...bulky. I like Lex's power armor to be sleek and stylish. Other than that I dug the art for this issue.

"The World of Krypton" - Part 1: "Discovery"

On the planet Krypton in the sea of Banzt Jor-el leads an expedition that discovers a form of life long since dead. Unfortunately this distracts him from a meeting of the Science Council, which causes much consternation on the part of his fellow council members and Lara Lor-Van, a cadet in the Kyrptonian military. She and an old war horse named Jax-Ur head into the meeting hall where Jax asks for her side arm. To the horror of everyone watching Jax-Ur kills a member of the Council while shouting, "For Krypton!"

3Story - 3: I'm torn on this one. On one hand I really like the idea of Lobdell exploring Krypton's past. I rather enjoyed the zero issue of SUPERMAN that he wrote. To be fair there were a lot of things to like about this story. Jor-El is coming across as a fully rounded and likable character, seeing Lara before they became involved is fun and I like the idea that Jax-Ur was a soldier instead of a scientist. There's intrigue as well, especially with that ending.

My problem is that the ending just freaking happened. There was zero build-up. I realize Lobdell was probably going for shock and awe but instead of feeling like the end of a chapter this feels like I should turn the page to continue the story. It doesn't feel organic and frankly colored my perception of the chapter as a whole.

I didn't hate it but I am hoping that we get a little more out of the next chapter.

4Art - 4: The art really sold the alien setting of this story. I really like what Hannah and Tan have done with the New 52 Kryptonian designs. They made this story feel like it was set on another world. My one real complaint came right there at the end. The floating heads of shock and horror looked very out of place against the image of Jax-Ur killing the Council member. Before that the storytelling was clear and focused. That last page felt muddled and out of place. I am not suggesting that the art in this story was terrible. I just think that the storytelling fell apart there at the end.

3Cover Art - 3: I really don't care for this cover. The Red Eyes of Anger bug me because they have become so clichd. Also Superman looks a little wonky figure wise. Mainly I think this cover is kind of ordinary and doesn't pop like I know Daniel's artwork can.

3Variant Cover Art - 3: Usually the black and white version of the cover showcases the art better than the color version does. This is one of those rare instances where it doesn't. The shading doesn't work and this version highlights the shortcomings of the cover as a whole.


Mild Mannered Reviews

2013

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

January 2013

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