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Mild Mannered Reviews - Action Comics

Action Comics #25 Action Comics #25

Action Comics #25

Scheduled to arrive in stores: November 6, 2013

Cover date: January 2014

"Stormbreaker"/"Lunch Break"

Writer: Greg Pak
Penciller: Aaron Kuder
Inker: Scott McDaniel and Aaron Kuder

Michael Bailey Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge


Smallville. Back in the Day. Clark meets with Lana Lang at the bus stop outside of Smallville and they talk about her leaving. Clark is upset because he thought they would end up together but Lana points out that while she cares for him she has things to do in this world just like he does.

Metropolis. Four years later. Superman goes up against a group called the Supremacists. Despite knocking him back with a sonic cannon Superman manages to not only stop them but burn down their warehouse as well. He revels in his powers and actually laughs at one of the terrorists while the man cries. Later he feels ashamed and wonders if his powers make him is a bully. With his super hearing Clark listens as his neighbor switches from sports to the news and learns of a powerful storm bearing down on a Gotham City without power thanks to a madman named the Riddler. Superman decides that he is going to do something about that. He is going to stop the storm.

Two leagues off of Gotham the Coast Guard prepares to evacuate the crew of a boat caught in the storm. The electrical engineer, Lana Lang, refuses to leave with the crew and elects to stay with the captain against his orders. Meanwhile Superman tries to create a vortex of water to stop the hurricane but fails. He spots an oil tanker heading towards another the boat. On that boat the Captain spots the tanker as well and is told that it has been completely evacuated so they need to get the power back on. In the engine room Lana feels fear for the first time that day but rallies the remaining crew to get the boat moving. Outside Superman pushes against the tanker as Lana and crew fight to get their ship going when suddenly the tanker explodes blowing the Man of Steel back to shore. Lana's ship is back on course and the captain congratulates her on never giving up.

As Superman listens to the conversation a man calls to him from across the beach. The man and a group of people have found shelter and Superman thinks they are going to need more cover. He tries to move a nearby boat but with everything that just happened Clark is a bit wiped out. The man points out that Superman is pretty strong but Superman feels that he is not strong enough. With a smile the man starts to help Superman move the boat to give them cover.

4Story - 4: This issue had two strikes against it before I even cracked the cover. One it was set in the past and at this point I really want both ACTION and SUPERMAN to tell stories from the same time period instead of jumping around as ACTION has done since its inception. Two, and more importantly, it is tied to the Zero Year thing running over in BATMAN right now. To be fair there are three other non-Batman related titles tying into that storyline but it just felt unnecessary to tie any of the books into Zero Year. Thankfully the story was good enough to overcome these two prejudices. Greg Pak delivered a solid story that showed a pivotal moment in this Superman's life.

My only real quibbles with this issue came right at the beginning of the issue. While the scene with Clark saying good-bye to Lana had a lot of heart to it and served to set up the main theme of the issue (Clark and Lana coming to terms with what they are capable of and both of them never giving up despite a small bit of hubris) I didn't like the tone of the scene. The whole Clark's "I always thought we would end up together" attitude left me cold. While it is a very human moment for him it doesn't feel right. To be fair I never really cared for this sort of thing when the situation was reversed in the Post Crisis on Infinite Earths era. It would be preferable to have both characters realize that they are meant for other things. What aggravated the situation was Lana's attitude. Her saying that she'll always "heart" Clark felt very condescending. Here he is being honest with his feelings and it seemed like she was blowing him off. I could be misreading the intention but that's how I interpreted it. Again the sentiment that both characters are not meant to be together rings true. I just didn't care for the execution.

After that it was smooth sailing. Clark's arrogance and seeming lack of regard for the people around him during the opening scene with the Supremacists didn't work for me but halfway through the scene I decided to table my righteous indignation and see if Pak was going somewhere with this. It's very easy to read this scene and fall into the "Superman wouldn't do that" camp but given that this is a new (relatively speaking) version of the character that was still trying to figure things out I ultimately didn't have a problem with him reveling in the fact that the Supremacists were afraid of him or the fact that he chose to take out their headquarters instead of dealing with the crowd being afraid of him. I have long since given up the idea that Superman should be 100% good at being Superman on day one of him operating in public so this sort of thing doesn't get to me like it used to. The fact that Pak dealt with that in the very next scene made me glad I didn't freak the freak out over what happened. Clark felt ashamed of his actions and realized that he should probably go about his mission in a different way.

A completely different lesson is learned when Clark tries to take on Mother Nature. Again this is Clark being arrogant but this time for all the right reasons. He's not reveling in the power he has over most humans. He is simply trying to save lives and this time he gets a serious slap in the face for his efforts. Despite this he keeps fighting. At the same time Pak introduces Lana back into the story and we see her going through a similar situation. Both characters have to battle their way through a seemingly impossible situation and both characters are able to overcome the odds. I liked that duality and both Lana and Clark learned something from the experience. Well, maybe Clark a little more than Lana but lessons were learned. The bit where the man helps Clark move the boat because he was weakened by his activities emphasized this and it made for a satisfying end to the story.

While I still dislike the fact that this issue was dragged into Zero Year Greg Pak made the best of a potentially bad situation. If what we saw in this story is any indication of what we are going to see in Pak's run then I can honestly say I am looking forward to it. I was a big fan of Pak's run on the Hulk and thought he did a great job of infusing a fresh take on that character. I'm not suggesting that I want to see Superman get shot into space by Batman, Dr. Fate, Aquaman and the Elongated Man but if Pak is going to deliver solid, character driven stories month in and month out then maybe, just maybe this book will get back on track.

4Art - 4: Overall I liked the art in this story but there were one or two things that I didn't care for. The faces on most of the characters were off for me. It's not that they were bad. I just didn't care for the style. Also the S symbol on Superman's chest seemed weird as well. However the page layouts were amazing, the story telling was solid and Kuder knew when to go big and when to pull back. While I didn't like how the characters looked I can't argue that their expressions were distinctive and matched the mood of the scene.

"Lunch Break"

On his lunch break Clark muses on all of the crisises that are constantly breaking out around him. Suddenly he feels something weird coming from below the streets. Something far away and dangerous. Meanwhile in Venezuela Lana Lang and her crew unearth something large and dangerous. As Lana wonders what it is the creature lets out an unearthly scream.

4Story - 4: This was a pretty basic story that I assumed was designed to give us a feel for what Pak's run is going to be like. His take on Clark is interesting and I like the concern he shows for those around him and his responsibility towards them. Part of me was surprised to see Lana show up and then I was like, "Duh, that's why she was in the main story." Lana is an unknown property in the New 52 so it will be nice to see Pak flesh her out a little. She's certainly willful and not afraid to speak her mind, which is great as long as Pak doesn't overdo it. This story added to the good feeling I have about Greg Pak coming on to this title.

Hopefully he'll stick around a little longer than the last guy.

4Art - 4: McDaniel's art reminded me of a past Superman artist and then I realized that the artist I was thinking of was Scott McDaniel. He drew the character back around 2003 and to be honest I wasn't a fan. To me and my sensibilities his style didn't fit well with Superman. His art in this story didn't exactly change my mind but I liked it just the same. He juggled a lot of different action beats and made them clear and easy to follow. While it would have been nice to see how he is drawing Superman these days the art was solid and I liked it quite a bit.

4Cover Art - 4: This is a striking cover. The city is underwater and Superman looms overhead. It's not an instant classic but it served the story well.

2Cover Art (B&W Variant) - 2: This is one of those times where one piece of the art makes the whole cover fall apart. That S symbol looks terrible. There is a lot of detail in Superman's face, in the clouds behind him and in the city below him but the S is all I can look at. There is no detail or even a hint of the water behind it and that just ruins it for me.

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Except for digital first releases, the month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2014

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