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Mild Mannered Reviews - Action Comics

Action Comics #40 Action Comics #40

Action Comics #40

Scheduled to arrive in stores: March 11, 2015

Cover date: May 2015

"Mirror Cracked"

Writer: Greg Pak
Penciller: Aaron Kuder
Inker: Aaron Kuder

Michael Bailey Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge

Action Comics #40 Superman doesn't fall into a rift in space only to not find a square version of Earth. He doesn't find Lois who isn't a bizarre replica of the one he knows and she isn't scared of him at all. Bizarro very slowly arrives and the two don't begin fighting. The fight goes on for days and isn't interrupted by Bizarro Metallo, who loves Bizarroworld because the beings there are constantly trashing the place. Bizarro fails to take Bizarro Metallo down and the Bizarro Justice League doesn't arrive to join in on the fun.

Slowly Doomsday doesn't appear in the sky and he and Superman don't begin fighting their way to the moon, which doesn't get destroyed. Doomsday doesn't infect Bizarro turning him into Doomzarro, a creature that spews bunnies and puppy dogs and flowers all over Bizarroworld. Doomzarro doesn't overcome the influence of Doomsday and fails to return to his Lois, who is very unhappy to see him. This unhappy ending is capped off with Bizarro not telling Superman that he is Bizarro's worst friend and never understands him.

5Story - 5: Normally I don't talk about current events when writing these reviews but given the release of the cover images to the Post-Convergence Superman titles and the fact that Superman fandom once again had themselves a big old freak out party it's kind of hard not to have those feelings intrude on what I am reading. I didn't stay for the whole party and the hangover is still there but I did go for a bit and it was nice catching up with everyone. Anyway, with all of the previously mentioned freaking out it was great to have a book like this to read. ACTION COMICS has been a pretty serious place for the past year or so. Between DOOMED and HORRORVILLE things have been kind of bleak with momentary bits of hope thrown in. Superman has been going through a lot, which is why this littler diversion into Bizarroworld came at just the right time. It was fun. In fact this is the most laugh out loud fun I have had with a comic in some time.

Bizarro as a concept usually ends up being kind of a Rorschach Test (the actual test, not a test given by the character from WATCHMEN) of what the writer thinks an imperfect duplicate of Superman would be like. Is he a comedic figure or essentially an undead, zombie type Superman that's scary. Is he the fun version Jeph Loeb wrote, the "beats super villains to death" version that Geoff Johns wrote during INFINITE CRISIS or is he the sympathetic monster Geoff Johns wrote during FOREVER EVIL? It seems that Greg Pak has erred on the side of comedy and we are better for it as readers. The initial fight with Bizarro...the confrontation with the Bizarro Metallo...the self-effacing idea of Doomzarro...the bunnies and the puppies...all of it makes me feel that to Pak Bizarro is a fun character and should be played that way.

I was also impressed with Pak's ability to stick with the Bizarro speak. Some readers are more militant about it than I am but that doesn't change the fact that when it's done right and more importantly when it is consistent it can be half the fun of the story. It's always great to see Superman figure it out to and try to play along, which casts him in the role of straight man in an insane comedy. When you really think about it Bizarro World would be a terrifying place. Everything is opposite from what you know to be the norm. The fact that Superman tries to make sense of everything and then work within that system speaks to his humanity. To be fair he has a physical altercation with Bizarro but it isn't his first choice or it isn't his first choice in really good Bizarro stories.

This was a truly enjoyable issue and an amusing way to close out the New 52 era of this series of ACTION COMICS. Pak is ending this period on a high note and with a fair bit of self-satire as well. At the beginning of the issue Superman thinks about how he is spiraling miles beyond unpredictable and straight past continuity. The fact that Bizarro was infected by Doomsday and shot out the previously mentioned cuteness seems like a jab at the seriousness of the DOOMED storyline. Heck, the story ends asking why can't a Superman story have a happy ending which indicates that Pak knows that most of the New 52 Superman stories haven't had a whole lot of those. It's fun to see a writer poke fun at the work from time to time and it's all the better when you wrap it in something as good as this story. Having seen what is coming down the pike I must admit that I am a bit nervous. For the moment I have a huge smile on my face and I'll face the future when it gets here.

5Art - 5: Aaron Kuder was obviously having a ball drawing this issue. I could probably go page by page and tell you everything I liked about it. The opening page was really trippy. Bizarro Lois on page 3 looked wonderfully cartoony. The design of Bizarro World's Metallo is a great hodge podge of stuff you would find in a junk yard. Doomzarro was a great send up of the recent storyline and the fact that he shot out a ray that produced bunnies and puppy dogs and birds and all that had me laughing. Literally laughing out loud. During the story part of the review I mentioned how this story was a real treat after the general seriousness of the last year and I can honestly say that the art had as much to do with it as the writing did.

5Cover Art - 5: Like the rest of the issue this cover is a lot of fun. The fact that Bizarro is upside is great and makes for a dynamic image. Also like the rest of the issue Bizarro looks pretty sweet here. I have no complaints about this cover.

5Movie Poster Variant Cover Art - 5: I like BILL AND TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE. I like anything to do with the DEATH AND RETURN OF SUPERMAN. It stands to reason that if you combined the two you would get the proverbial two great tastes that taste great together. And you'd be right. I love this cover. A lot. It's a great mash up and a good example of how this whole Movie Poster Variant Month can go very, very right.

3Jae Lee Variant Cover Art - 3: I am not a fan of Jae Lee. I just can't get into his style. Some people like it and he has his fans and more power to them. The composition is fine but the way he draws both Superman and Bizarro does nothing 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 2015

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