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Mild Mannered Reviews - Action Comics

Action Comics #44 Action Comics #44

Action Comics #44

Scheduled to arrive in stores: September 9, 2015

Cover date: November 2015

"Hard Truth" - Part 4

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

Michael Bailey Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge

As Superman's fight with Wrath spills out on to the streets of Metropolis Lee Lambert and Jimmy Olsen run from the shadow creatures that have swarmed their neighborhood. They are forced to fight back as is Superman who realizes that Wrath is feeding off his anger and resentment. Lee is taken over by a shadow creature but manages to somehow overcome the possession and retain her own personality. Wrath and her creatures retreat and for the moment the battle is over. After telling Jimmy that it doesn't matter that some of their neighbors don't want him there because they're taking care of each other Superman leaves to search for Wrath.

4Story - 4: Once again the writing on this book is strong. Once again I can't fault this story on a technical level. Once again I am left feeling conflicted about this title.

Actually that's not true. I'm not conflicted about this storyline. I'm apathetic. I really just don't care anymore or maybe it is more accurate to say that all of the fight I had in me has pretty much disappeared. DC is going to do what DC is going to do and there's not a thing I can do about that so why waste all that energy on hating something when it is apparent that raging against their decisions is a zero sum game.

This issue had a lot of do with that apathy. The two main takeaways I...well, took away from this issue are that Superman will give in to an enemy even though he knows better because it makes for a cool scene and that we really don't need Superman because we have each other and Clark is cool with that. Maybe my interpretation is flawed. I could be wrong but during the scene where Clark has his main confrontation with Wrath in this issue the thought boxes are full of internal dialogue about how he knows his anger is feeding the bad guy but because his anger is righteous it's okay. Not to sound too much like someone that is telling the neighbor kids to get off his lawn Superman is better than that. He would find a way around giving into what the enemy wants. Because he's Superman and finding the better way is what he does. But that's not the story the current creative teams want to tell so I have to play with the cards I've been dealt or fold even though it makes little to no sense to me.

I'm okay with Superman acting out of character for the sake of drama but once he figures out the game then he tackles the problem at hand by being better than his enemy.

The people not needing Superman thing is also troubling. Again, I see where Pak and Kuder are coming from here. People don't need Superman to solve all of their problems. That makes sense. Elliot S! Maggin wrote a classic story about that back in the seventies. This take on that idea feels tainted though because even though it came out that some of the anti-Superman thinking came from Wrath the whole "people are scared of him being around" trope that is at the heart of this particular storyline continues to feel so wrong. As I have written in the past I can see where people would be scared of Superman when he first appears. I don't like that idea but I can accept it for the sake of "realism". This alien with super powers shows up and nothing seems to hurt him. His battles cause collateral damage. The fear would be there but after five years and a track record of saving people that feeling of fear should be at the very least mitigated. So the ending scene where it comes out that some people still don't want him around feels wrong. To be fair Superman's reaction does feel right. He wouldn't care if people liked him or not. He's doing the right thing because it's the right thing to do. My problem is that I don't want to see the common man turning their back on him or fearing him because it makes me hate the common man in this universe.

The whole thing with Lee getting the shadow creature powers felt a bit forced. It wasn't bad but I rolled my eyes a bit when it happened. Of course this new character gets super powers and of course she can overcome the shadow's control. When she was a normal woman standing up for what she believed in Lee felt like a three dimensional character. Her having super powers detracts from that. At least to me.

So between Superman walking away with Green Day's "Boulevard of Broken Dreams" blaring in the background and the teaser at the end with Wrath I am left with a very meh feeling about this title. Without the anger I felt towards the concept I am left reading this title out of obligation to the character. I am somewhat curious about what's going to happen next but I am not jumping up and down for the next issue.

I want that feeling again.

I want this story to be over with.

4Art - 4: As usual the art is amazing. I still don't like the design for the new Superman but Kuder makes it work. The action was intense and Wrath and her shadow creatures looked suitably creepy. The final page before the epilogue looked great and I liked the perspective Kuder used. The Porter artwork was strong as well. The transition wasn't jarring thanks to the scene change and I liked both the backgrounds and the coloring.

I may not look the story but I like how it looks.

3Cover Art - 3: This cover is kind of boring. Superman looks fine but the shadow wave throws off the composition. It just didn't appeal to me.

4Green Lantern Variant Cover Art - 4: This is a really solid Green Lantern cover. Superman is only a minor part of it, which makes sense considering the point of these variants is to celebrate GL's 75th anniversary. I like these characters and it's nice to see them again.

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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