Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Action Comics #787

Action Comics #787

Scheduled to arrive in stores: January 30, 2002

Cover date: March 2002

Writer: Joe Kelly
Penciller: Pascual Ferry
Inker: Walden Wong

"Mercy, Love, and Blood: Part One"

Reviewed by: Neal Bailey (

Lois and her mother sit together in an airport in Japan, about to depart for Vienna. They both talk about how wonderful the vacation has been, and how nice it is to catch up.

Meanwhile, Jimmy and Clark sit in the back of a vehicle in Japan, talking about Japanese food in reality as opposed to how it is portrayed in America. The drivers are taking them to see damage reeked by a metahuman "war god" on the populace. They arrive, astonished to see a building halved.

They examine the scene. Clark notes that the wreckage is still hot. The piece actually burns Clark. He passes it off as nothing, though.

Next scene, Superman flies over a monorail, looking for the source of the attack. He comes upon gunfire, and finds a room full of ninja-like men dying, in various shades of phasing from existence. They are all trying to kill a samurai looking lady all in white, who is annihilating them all. Bullets pass through her, and physical attacks fail.

Superman draws a line in the sand and tells her to stop. She flies away. He chases her. She tells him that she is fighting on the side of right, and that to interfere is wrong. He counters that fighting evil with evil is not only wrong, but impermissible.

The chase leads to a dojo, so it would seem, and inside, the name of the woman in white is revealed: Byakko. The revealer is her partner, a man named Gunshin, metallic in color and also wearing samurai weapons.

Superman bends Gunshin's sword. Gunshin says, "heavy", and Superman falls through the ground a number of floors. When he gets up, he suggests that he doesn't like Gunshin.

In Vienna, Lois and her mother remark about how wonderful Vienna is. Lois' mother wonders why Lois doesn't want to spend much time with her husband. Lois wonders herself, casting doubt about whether she wants to return.

Back in Japan, a man with a scarred half-face named Kojiro acts disappointed about Gunshin and Byakko stopping him from taking over Tokyo. He hands a canister to a familiar face from The Elite, who swears to make Tokyo Kojiro's.

Clark talks with a fellow reporter about the Japanese take on the situation. They want the war gods to clean up Tokyo.

Gunshin and Byakko practice in their dojo and debate Superman's presence.

Tokai, formerly of The Elite, torches a five square block area of Tokyo. Superman arrives to deal with him, bantering about the horrible things that he is doing. Tokai responds by torching a school bus.

Tokai slams Superman about, and says that his name is no longer Tokai. It is Sakki, the hate furnace. Brakko arrives on the scene. End Part One.

1Story - 1: Warning. This review may sound angry. If you don't like angry reviews, leave now.


Because I'm angry. I'm angry at this book. I'm angry at the creative teams. And I'm angry at Eddie [Berganza - Editor], because these past few issues, this one in particular, have not been living up to the Superman mythos, and the fans are being stomped on in favor of marketability and perhaps, artist favoritism.

You open this book, and you look at the art, and you think, wow. This story moves. It's interesting, visually. Compelling, even. But when you start reading, when you start getting into it, something's very wrong. "This is not Superman. This is something else." My friend told me, after reading the issue in question. And he's right. Oh, this is Superman, all right, but the Superman that we had purposefully rid ourselves of in the mid to late eighties: The campy Superman who reveled in one hit wonders, issues where one week the villain appears, the next he's gone. This issue, we have four villains, but no real development. Gunshin and Byakko. They kill. They are horrible, horrible people. I imagine, as the story is leading us in that direction, that Superman will end up teaming with these guys to beat Kojiro and Sakki. But what are any of these people's powers? I challenge anyone without prior knowledge of Sakki, Kojiro, Gunshin and Byakko to give me a single power that they have that is fully defined or even half explained. Sakki makes fire. To what extent? And if he's powerful enough to level five square blocks of Japan, then why is he still running around? And why is he not working for someone more powerful than Kojiro? Because of the weaponry? Heck! There are a million goons out there with the same kind of weaponry. Is it because this is Japan? Perhaps. But why? What's his motivation? We have no clue. Ditto with Kojiro. No clues at all. Granted, this is the first part of a three part series, but part one, in almost any series, is properly laying the groundwork. This is neglected here. Gunshin and Byakko? Gunshin can make people heavy. Byakko can phase. And they somehow managed to evade Superman by dropping him through a few floors? SUPERMAN HAS MOTION TRACKING VISION! He can go back to where they were, follow their contrail, and bam. Instant fisticuffs. Or at least productive dialogue.

If you want to put a book into Japan, I think, there should be a reason, as well. Maybe it was an artistic request. If so, that's a pretty shallow reason.

That's another problem with this issue. Clark Kent works for the Daily Planet, not The New Yorker. As does his wife. Yet somehow they can both afford designer clothes on two reporter's salaries? And trips to Vienna, and all over the world, and Japan, and such? Give me a break. I'm a writer. Know what I make a year for writing?

Let me tally it up here... last I checked, I was out two hundred bucks. And I write three to four hours a day, practice like heck, and apply myself everywhere I can. Reviews, novels, poetry, short stories. And I send them out. There's no money in writing. Trust me. I don't buy it.

Clark would just fly over as Superman if he really wanted to check this syndicate out, and he certainly wouldn't have taken on Sakki on his own. First thing you do, if you're Superman, and you see five square blocks of Tokyo disappear?

"Calling JLA!"

He was a lone wolf with Doomsday, and it got him killed. He's already learned that lesson, as far as I knew.

Lois was a silly, unneeded distraction in this issue. For several reasons. Far be it for me to deny the need for her in the book. We've needed her more in the books for a few months now. But really, in this book, her presence just rubbed a sore even rawer for me. In my last review, of last week's issue, Man of Steel, I made a pointed comment with regards to the lack of continuity and how it is affecting Superman comics and their fans, hardcore and cursory, adversely. One shot issues and all of the changes that are occurring are well worth the time, as long as attention is paid to the ramifications of these actions. I like the new, strong, slightly bitter Superman who dares to cling to his ideals, but when Lex luthor can find out that Clark is Superman one week, and then the next week everything is fine, and when Lois' mother can find out that Lois is dating, perhaps having illicit affairs with the Man of Steel, and confront her about it, and then THE NEXT WEEK BE SIPPING TEA LIKE IT NEVER HAPPENED IN VIENNA, I GET A LITTLE ANGRY. I FEEL A LITTLE MISREPRESENTED IN MY CHOICE OF COMIC BOOK. I GET VERY DISENFRANCHISED WITH SUPERMAN IN GENERAL. This breaks my heart, because I put so much of my life, my dollars, and my idealism into the Man of Steel that I truly care about him, like a person. Like a father I never had. And when your father starts acting inconsistent, you question him, then you get angry with him... and then, the final step. You disassociate yourself from him.

I could never leave the Super-books. Not now. Not after so long, so far, and such a history.

But Jeph Loeb. Eddie Berganza. Joe Kelly. Super-people. HEAR ME! This kind of one shot, obscure, non-continuous stuff is going to lose you the love and faith of your readers. Remember "Our Worlds At War"? That was wonderful. That was the best Superman stuff I've ever seen, hands down. You had this new, vital approach to Superman, and you spread it over so far, so well, and in CONTINUOUS fashion, in a way that moved people, made them happy to root for idealism and truth again. And here I have to watch inconsistent plot, a choppy, angry, easily beaten and then easily beating Man of Steel plod through books until the next big DC event. That saddens me.

I am aware that you sometimes read this site.

I am more than willing to talk with you guys about what I and my friends think. I do talk to a lot of people and make sure that I'm not insane or the only one who thinks this way before I put stuff this heavy and this hard out. And I don't do it because I hate you guys or your teams. I love your work. More than any other teams we've ever had. That's why it hurts so much when things go downhill, and I want to tell you exactly what's wrong so it doesn't happen any more. Feel free to contact me at I also freely encourage readers of this site to send me their input, so that in the event of my being contacted I might fairly and holistically send out the thoughts of the readers.

4Art - 4: The art was very dark, and that knocks a point, and very influenced by the surroundings and area, but hey, that's cool sometimes. And like I pointed out in my plot review, the art is very marketable, very compelling, and makes you google when you open to it for the first time, second time, third time, etc. Sakki bashing his hammer hands down into the Man of Steel was amazing. Well done. I also like the visual of Tokyo with the flames. That was well done. I don't have many complaints here. Typical good work.

2Cover Art - 2: I understand the symbolism of a red son, and the Japanese flag with relation to the issue. It even provides an interesting dynamic, with Superman seemingly pondering his actions with Gunshin and Byakko in the background. But there's too much white on one side, and too much black on the other, if it makes sense. Too much dark and light segmented. It seemed to me very plain because of this, and I didn't like the way it looked. I am also retching, currently, onto the carpet at the horrific manipulation of the logo. This is worse than what they did to the Bat books. Wow! Isn't that modern, and stylish! And complete garbage. BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARF! Anybody got a towel? Half of the stinking logo isn't even on the page.

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

January 2002

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