Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Action Comics #779

Action Comics #779

Scheduled to arrive in stores: May 30, 2001

Cover date: July 2001

2001 Shield No. 29

Writer: Joe Kelly
Penciller: Duncan Rouleau
Inker: Jaime Mendoza with Duncan Rouleau

"King Takes Pawn"

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey (

Lois assembles the combined might of Supergirl, Superboy and Steel in an attempt to save Superman from himself. Superman, fearing the might of a threat in the county of Pokolistan, has gone off on his own to save the world. Lois, with her common sense, realizes the danger present, and calls in the reinforcements.

Superman, defending Pokolistan, seeks to find the source of the destruction so obviously present. Ignition, a villain from the Emperor Joker universe, appears to command a large army. But Ignition doesn't exist, right? Kancer appears, at the behest of Ignition, after light banter between the Man of Steel and the Human Engine in Cargo Pants (Ignition), and attacks Superman. Superman is thrown about.

From above come Supergirl, Superboy, and Steel. The fight intensifies. Ignition sends a communique to his master. In a dark room, a female with a cybernetic implanted face answers, relaying that the "master" desires for his little snow bird to get her wings bloody (presumably the cybernetic woman). Superman berates the team for showing, but thanks them.

Luthor and Sam Lane regard a B13-created fighter shaped like a black bird with a red beak. Luthor notes the plane is there should the Pokolistan situation get beyond control.

The Super-team keeps fighting. Superman and Superboy take Ignition, and Supergirl and Steel take Kancer, because they should be immune to the necrotic touch Kancer has.

Faora, the cybernetic woman, arrives, and attacks, taking Steel down. It is revealed that Kelex has been inside the Steel costume (as John Henry Irons has been arrested [See Superman: The Man of Steel #114]), and starts talking Ebonics smack to Faora. Superboy defends him, and in the process is cut by Kancer, in the stomach.

Superman demands that they all leave, now. They protest, but Superman insists.

Too fast to contemplate, a red blur streaks through, slamming a fist into Superman's jaw... hard. It's the "master", a robot headed being, all in red, with tubes coming from his neck and a very nasty looking air.

Kelex scans, while Superboy notes that the blow has broken Superman's jaw. "Doomsday." Kelex notes, and then presses a button as the "master" swoops in for another blow. They are teleported out of the situation, to a medical area, where Kelex reveals that when he said, "Doomsday." He meant that it would be "like" Doomsday all over again.

President Luthor has officially shut Superman down from going back to Pokolistan because it may cause an international incident. Lois tries to reassure Superman, but it's no use. Superman is... afraid...

3Story - 3: I have to say, this plot was revealing, and let a lot of built up foreshadowing out. It was nice. It had lots of tied ends. But it had a lot of problems, as well.

We find out who's behind the attacks. Sort of. Big, red, powerful, and ugly. He's aligned with Faora, Ignition, and Kancer. Okay. Good. We've needed this for a while, and it's good that it's out and about now. This is the three. I also like seeing Superman's jaw broken. I wish I could've seen it set, and how they managed it, but it's nice to see that someone out there recognizes the fact that Superman can really get beaten up, and then, thanks to his body, can heal rather quickly. It's something that Wolverine has exploited well and Superman kind of hasn't. Let him bleed sometimes. He heals quick. I like that.

But from a character/plot consistency standpoint, most things were pretty horrible.

  1. Superman, seeing the gravity of the situation, would already have Supergirl, Superboy, Steel, the entire JLA and anything he could find at his disposal combating the threat. He's SUPERMAN. A battle seasoned veteran who knows when to back down, when to call in reinforcements, when to plow in with fists swinging, and when to take something alone. This was not that time. Batman, maybe. Batman might go in against impossible odds stupidly, thinking he can win. Not Superman. You might cite the Doomsday thing... but really... did Superman send them off, or were they swatted like flies? Name another counter-example.

  2. This is Team Superman. Why are they dressing in black like marauders, or Manchester Black?

  3. Why is Superboy not immune to the necrotic touch? Superboy's got a bit of invulnerability. It doesn't jive. [Editor: I think they were refering to the fact that Superboy isn't Kryptonian, therefore he would be immune to Kancer's Kryptonite poisoning.]

  4. KELEX, KELEX, KELEX. Sub-points:
    • KELEX is NEVER put in a battle position, for any reason. He's the Oracle of the Super-books. A helper from behind the scenes.

    • And smack talk to Faora. Whooooooweee. That sure injected some flair into the dialogue, but was rather annoying to anyone paying any attention to character. Faora smiles. Poof. No more smack talking Kelex. [Editor: Kelex's speech patterns have been changed ever since John Henry Iron's neice re-programmed him to do so.]

    • "Doomsday!" No. Not really. Robots don't speak in metaphor. And if this Red dingbat's got more power than Doomsday, I'll eat issue 780. Unless Big Red is infinitely adaptable and carrying Brainiac in his pate, then count me out on that one. [Editor: I again refer to Kelex's speech patterns mentioned in the previous point. As for "Big Red", without giving an spoilers away, I think you'll find that he is Kryptonian in origin... Hint: Notice the "Z" on his uniform.]

  5. Luthor "forbids" Superman from going back to Pokolistan, and Superman stays at home and mends. FA! FA, I SAY! You know what would really happen if Luthor "forbid" Superman anything? (Save, of course, in the alternate, Frank Miller "Dark Knight Returns" era). Superman would give the idealist's equivalent of the middle finger birdie, tell Luthor to spin his big bald head on it, and fly off to save the world, no matter who denounced him for it. HE'S SUPERMAN! He values life, limb, and even a country with a dumb name like Pokolistan enough to go die for it. He's Superman first, an American second, and though he supports America, and is an American citizen, his morals are greater than any decree by what he knows to be a corrupt ruler.

  6. Wouldn't Krypto have been a help here?

2Art - 2: Usually, this book is great with the art. And indeed, Kancer, Ignition, and even Big Red were drawn rather inspiring and page filling. But what about Superman, Superboy, and Supergirl? Their jaws are very awkward, and their bodies are lanky, not really defined. And at times, thanks to the black garb, they were indistinguishable from each other. Try the page after the Team arrives. If Superboy hadn't said, "Whoops!", how would we know the difference between Superboy and Supergirl in this panel? It's almost as if more attention is paid to the villains than the good guys. Great in Spawn. Great in other comics. Not Superman. I want the cape. I want the chin right. I want the muscles. I hate black leather on idealists.

Also, there are continuity problems. Ignition arrives with multitudes of goons in red garb. They disappear. When Big Red arrives, Ignition, Kancer, and Faora just stop being a threat? Are Superboy, Steel, and Supergirl teleported away as well? Presumably. But there's the problem. We must presume.

2Cover Art - 2: Not very representative of the issue. Sure. Supergirl and Superboy are in it. And at points, they do swoop hard down, bearing in on the villain, but they're not in their normal costumes, and the sky is dark with destruction, not shining bright and happy with the sun. It's a great aesthetic cover, and I apologize, Kano. You did a good job creating an inspiring scene here. But I really resent when there is little, or fragmented coordination with the story and the cover, which is a preview of what occurs within said story. For the record, I would be panicked if I were the bad guy to see the scene on this cover. But Superheroes in Black? Eh.

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Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic was on sale.

January 2001

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