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Mild Mannered Reviews - Action Comics

Action Comics #45 Action Comics #45

Action Comics #45

Scheduled to arrive in stores: October 7, 2015

Cover date: December 2015

"Blind Justice" - Part 1

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

Michael Bailey Reviewed by: Michael Bailey

Click to enlarge

Clark is at a diner where he hears a news report about Superman helping out with disaster relief from a hurricane. He secretly helps the waitress who is being harassed by the cook and then leaves before his anger causes him to blow his cover. Clark heads back to his Shack of Solitude where he goes over all of the threats conspiring against him and thinks about how they are all connected. Hiro arrives and Clark destroys his base Enemy of the State style on the off chance that the boy was followed. Clark tells Hiro to leave him alone because everyone that gets close to him is a target.

Clark heads to work under his new identity as truck driver Archie Clayton and drives to Lyfegene, Inc., a bio-tech firm, to deliver their order of linens. After the distractions he previously set up do their job Clark heads through a door that is not on the blueprints and finds the place lousy with Supremacists, a group he had faced before but now seem to be working with the Wrath. He rips off his shirt and attacks. After freeing some of the test-subjects one of the Supremacists tells him to calm himself but Clark is sure they have one more captive and it turns out to be Lee Lambert. The Wrath entity that infected her has taken over more of her body but before Superman can do anything about it the Wrath entity attacks him.

2Story - 2: So, the first leg of this whole depowered, exposed Superman thing is over and a new chapter has begun and it's not getting any better. The writing is adequate. Pak has talent. That's not in dispute. The problem is the more all of this goes on the more I realize that my biggest beef with this storyline is that the creators have not earned what they are doing.

There's this section of Superman fandom that defends what the current creators are doing by saying things like this have been done before. He left Earth and it wasn't permanent. He died and it wasn't permanent. Clark Kent "died" and it wasn't permanent. He went Electric Blue and it wasn't permanent. They're right but there is a piece of the puzzle that's missing. Good or ill the creators working on Superman when those stories went down did the ground work that legitimized whatever decisions they made. All of the characters beats, even the ones that were forced, had some groundwork behind them. When Superman left Earth it was in reaction to the execution of the Phantom Zone villains. Most of the story and character beats during the Death and Return Saga all came from what had been going on in the Superman books for the past five years. The writers and artists paved the way for the Death of Clark Kent months before the story played out. Even Electric Blue had a foundation to it.

With this whole TRUTH thing the creators are creating story beats that are artificial. Take Perry's cameo at the beginning of the issue. It's designed to say to the audience, "Hey, you know Perry White? Clark's boss? Been around since the Golden Age? Even he has a problem with what Clark did!". After a page showing that Clark is still helping and still trying to do the right thing you have Perry White on the television denouncing Clark and calling into question the danger he placed everyone in by pretending to be human. I am not suggesting it's not a realistic angle to take with the character but it feels so hollow. It is banking on the audience assuming that there was all this backstory between Clark and Perry and we haven't seen any of that because the previous creative teams did their level best to remove any consistency with Clark's supporting cast from the very start of the New 52. We didn't see several years or even months of Clark working at the Planet working with Perry and Lois and Jimmy.

It's like a background painting from older movies; that sure looks like a town from a distance but if you go too close you realize that those houses and street signs aren't real.

What frustrates me more than anything is that suddenly Clark Kent is supposed to important again. For the better part of ten years the people responsible for Superman's adventures have done their level best to keep Clark out of the books. There was a glimmer of hope there right at the beginning of the Post Infinite Crisis era but soon Clark was spending almost all of his time in costume and once the New Krypton storyline kicked off he was all but gone from the books. The secret identity element has been largely absent and now suddenly I am supposed to care about it because the current creative teams along with editorial can't figure out how to make this character sell Clark Kent is supposed to be important again because if he isn't the big reveal doesn't have any punch. The problem is that because Clark hasn't been around it still doesn't have any punch.

Clark Kent and his relationships are background paintings. They look like they're supposed to matter but when you look close you realize there is nothing behind them. The connections aren't real.

So Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder can come up with fantastic twists and turns. They can add elements like Superman losing his cool and secret hideouts and a cover identity and some action packed fight scenes but at the end of the day I just don't care because there is nothing real behind what is going on. They haven't earned this story. They want us to just sit back and not think about it and I just can't do that. I love this character too much to see them get by off of character beats that are non-existent because they either don't get what makes Superman work in the first place or don't care because they don't like all of that noise and think they know better. I realize the intent here is to move comics. DC Entertainment is in business to make money and develop properties to exploit elsewhere. I get that. I was just hoping that with all of this accumulated knowledge these people could figure out how to sell their stories without having to burn the house down in the process.

Get it together, DC. Superman deserves better than this.

4Art - 4: I've been a fan of Scott Kolins for years. He has this scratchy style that still has a lot of detail to it, which is hard to pull off. The art in this issue was better than the story deserved. Clark looked good. The action was tight. I loved the literal shirt rip and the creepy stuff at the end was...well...creepy. Outside of a few points where the character proportions, like Clark walking away from the diner with the angry read eyes of anger, I have no complaints about the art on this title.

4Cover Art - 4: All things considered this is a good cover. The gunshots make for a dynamic image and I like how large the S symbol is. The speed lines were a nice touch.

4Monster Variant Cover Art - 4: Technically there is nothing wrong with this cover. It's a fun riff on old B movie posters. The problem is that DC has done such a good job of making the population of its world afraid of Superman that this cover isn't amusing. It's pretty to look at, though.

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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