KindleDownload iBookBuy Now

Mild Mannered Reviews - Action Comics

Action Comics #43 Action Comics #43

Action Comics #43

Scheduled to arrive in stores: August 12, 2015

Cover date: October 2015

"Hard Truth" - Part 3

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

Michael Bailey Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge

Superman knocks the seven bells out of Binghamton but it turns out that he's one of the shadow aliens that the former Man of Steel has been fighting. Binghamton's former colleagues turn on him but the alien manages to escape. After things calm down a bit the Mayor gets on the phone with Superman and tells him to leave town. Superman doesn't want to do that but after seeing that the apartment he shares with Jimmy has been vandalized he rethinks that position. He gathers the people from his neighborhood and inspires them to help each other by telling them that they are all supermen now. Later at City Hall the Mayor calls Officer Petruzzelli into her office. Turns out the mayor is one of the shadow aliens as well and wants to initiate the officer into their ranks. Petruzzelli runs out of the room and is very nearly killed if it wasn't for the timely arrival of Superman with a group of cops serving as his back up. Superman tells Petruzzelli not to worry because they are all in this together.

3Story - 3: I realized after reading this issue a second time that I am carrying a considerable amount of baggage with me about Superman every time I read this title. Part of me wonders if that's fair to Pak and Kuder. Aren't they just two creators trying to tell compelling stories in a competitive marketplace with a character that has some image issues? Are they making the best of a bad story idea? Those thoughts and more circled around in my brain until I came to a few conclusions.

Conclusion #1: Pak and Kuder are talented creators.

Conclusion #2: They are trying their best in a competitive marketplace with a character that has suffered some popularity issues.

Conclusion #3: It is because of Superman's perceived image outside of his fanbase that this story is a terrible idea.

During my first read through of this issue I was really annoyed that there were characters in the story talking about how dangerous Superman is and/or how weird he is and generally why the Man of Steel isn't good to have around. To be fair the characters saying these things were either aliens or a cop that believed the anti-Superman hype but it still bugged me. It took me a while but I realized that the main problem I have is that this story is aimed not at regular readers but at the new readers the new status quo is hopefully bringing in and at the risk of committing a sin I am going generalize that audience.

Most of them probably didn't like Superman before reading the various TRUTH related Superman titles.

I have read enough reviews to feel comfortable in writing that. This whole initiative is designed to bring in people that were not, up until this point, buying Superman books. So the creative staff strips away everything classic about the character in an effort to tell some rough and edgy Superman stories. I believe that the end game is to deconstruct the character so they can rebuild him and show these new readers what makes Superman so special. It's a 'have their cake and eat it too' situation. Part of this plan is to have characters tell us that Superman is a danger to those around him. He's also weird for pretending to be human. The audience is supposed to understand that the two main characters saying these things are either bad guys with their own agendas or the unenlightened that need to see the light and through that realization they start liking Superman.

It's a solid plan but it's a pretty big gamble. What if the audience doesn't see the subtext? What if they just want to see Superman depowered and being all rough and tumble? What happens if the change raises sales and then when things go back to normal the people that liked this take on the character move on? Where does DC go with Superman then?

Some of you might be thinking that this is just another storyline and it too will pass. I wish I could feel that way. I wish I could just sit back and wait out the storm. I can't. Superman has been marginalized for well over a decade now. His origin has been revamped on several occasions. He's had to put up with writers, whether they intended to or not, having his fellow heroes and supporting characters second guess his actions and, much as I like Batman and Green Lantern, he's had to deal with the fact that those two heroes have eclipsed him in popularity. It hasn't been a good time and DC's reaction to all of this is to just keep involving the characters in stories that supposedly get to the heart of Superman but end up becoming huge messes.

This issue was just another example of this. Again, the writing was strong but the whole idea is just faulty.

Having a scene where Superman tells everyone that they can be like him is all well and good but when you wrap it in this overall story it feels like Pak and Kuder are making him less special and unique.

I keep waiting for Pak and Kuder to prove me wrong. It hasn't happened yet.

5Art - 5: The art continues to be strong. The shadow creatures were a bit off but overall I can't complain about Kuder's style. I may have had issues with the scene where Superman inspires the troops on a story level but artistically it was great. The final page was fantastic as well. It's strange to dislike one aspect of a comic and like the other so much but that's where I am at this point.

3Cover Art - 3: I'm not a fan of this cover. I can't put my finger as to why but it just doesn't appeal to me. I realize the art is good on a technical level but I just don't care for it.

4DC Bomshells Variant Cover Art - 4: While I don't think this Bombshell cover is as good as the last one it's still fun. I think Superman with that sort of facial hair is funny. This cover made me smile.

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

February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015

Back to the Mild Mannered Reviews contents page.

Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2015.