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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Action Comics #788

Action Comics #788

Scheduled to arrive in stores: February 27, 2002

Cover date: April 2002

Writer: Joe Kelly
Penciller: Pascual Ferry
Inker: Scott Hanna, Mark Morales, Keith Champagne

"Mercy, Love, and Blood: Part Two"

Reviewed by: Nick Newman (

Long ago, in Japan, a young Clark rushes up a hill. Reaching the top, he is shocked to find Tokai sitting cross-legged at the peak, surrounded by dead bodies. Horrified, Clark asks Tokai what he has done. Without turning, he responds that he has shown them the true face of the world.

In current times, Superman awakes from his daze to find Gunshin and Byakko attacking Sakki. Gunshin closes in to attack Sakki, but Byakko phases through her husband and attacks Sakki without anger, pushing him back. However, Gunshin doesn't heed his wife's warning and proceeds again to attack Sakki in anger. As his staff strikes Sakki, Superman is hurled backwards by an explosion from his chest. The Black Tide has him in its clutches. Byakko again stops her husband and tells him that if they don't help Superman, he will die. Gunshin resists, insisting that they cannot let Sakki escape, but a glare from his wife silences his protests.

In Vienna, Lois sits and thinks to herself about Clark. She wonders why she keeps trying to be on the opposite side of the world as him, and the only idea she can come up with is that she hates him. Her thoughts are interrupted by her mother entering the room. Lois begins to ask what they are going to do that day, but her mother stops her and insists that Lois tell her what is wrong.

Clark wakes up to find hundreds of needles embedded in his skin. Sitting above him, Byakko explains that the Black Tide disrupts the flow of energy through the body, and the only hope of stopping it is acupuncture. Luckily, she was able to 'ghost' the needles into Superman's skin and heal him before the Black Tide claimed him as its victim. Quickly dressing, Superman tells Byakko that this doesn't change anything, and he still needs to bring Byakko and her husband to justice before they kill again. Byakko argues that sometimes killing is the only alternative. Before he can say another word, she phases down through the floor, warning Superman to stay far away from her husband.

Lois' mother proceeds to tell Lois about all of the horrible things that her father did. Lois questions why they stayed married, and her mother replies simply that there wasn't any problem that the two of them couldn't solve. Marriages are formed in fire. Lois needs to ask herself whether she can solve this problem with her mother, or if she needs her husband instead.

In Japan, Gunshin walks through a crowd of gangsters, deflecting bullets and tossing bodies left and right. One of the fleeing clan members frantically calls for Sakki to come and help defend them. Outside, Sakki replies that he will let Superman take care of Gunshin, and then take care of Superman himself. As Gunshin prepares to kill the clan leader, Superman suddenly crashes through the wall.

No longer the focus of Gunshin's attention, he gives a command and dozens of ninjas jump out at Superman and Gunshin. The two fight off their assailants and then Superman turns and attacks Gunshin. Gunshin responds in kind. Outside, Sakki stands and feeds off of their anger. Suddenly Superman cries out in pain as his foot is pulled into the ground by Byakko, bonding his flesh to the stone. She leaps out of the ground and urges her husband to stop. Superman stops, and tells her that if his belief in the sanctity of life is so horrible, then Gunshin should just kill him. Falling to his knees, Superman prepares himself for the killing blow. Gunshin raises his sword and brings it sailing down through the Man of Steel's neck. Right through, as Byakko grabs the blade at the last moment and ghosts it, allowing it to pass harmlessly though Superman's body.

Infuriated, Gunshin storms away as Superman gets to his feet. Byakko asks if Superman really thought that it would have killed him, and Superman replies that if not for her intervention; there is no doubt in his mind that he would have died. Byakko then promises to change the system, and prevent her husband from killing again.

Back in Metropolis, Clarks walk in to his apartment to find Lois home. She stops him from speaking, and then tells him that she didn't want to come home because she holds him responsible for the death of her father. Shocked, Clark asks if she is leaving him as a tear rolls down his cheek. Lois turns to him, and tells him that they need each other, and the first thing she needs to hear is that he doesn't hate her. As Clark thanks her, the two embrace, and Lois promises to never leave again.

In Japan, Gunshin is meditating when Sakki suddenly bursts into the room. Overwhelming the hero, Sakki thanks Gunshin for hating him so much, and kills him. Returning home, Byakko finds her husband lying on the floor, broken and bleeding, and cries that it shouldn't have ended like that.

1Story - 1: I didn't enjoy the first part of this story, and I really didn't enjoy the second. First, I don't care at all about Byakko, Gunshin, or Sakki. None of these characters matter to me, and I don't care what happens to them. When Gunshin dies at the end, I didn't care. All three of them could have died and I wouldn't have cared at all. I realize the desire to create some new Superman characters, but when there is such a plethora of great characters to draw from, why do we have to endure second-rate ones like these? None of them should have been used, period.

Second, this whole Lois and Clark fight has been really poorly handled. One issue she is just traveling with her mother and overjoyed to see Clark, and the next she hates him? If they want to introduce some tension into their lives, this is not the way to do it.

Third, and my biggest problem with the issue, is the fact that this is yet another issue where Clark is ready to give his life for no reason. Superman would not sacrifice his life without gaining anything. He is smart enough to realize that if he dies, many more would die in his absence. He would not have been willing to die just to prove whatever point he was going for. I did not like this issue, and I am really hoping that Kelly can start writing the stories he once wrote.

4Art - 4: I like the art. It's very dynamic. My only complaint about it is Lois' mom. She looked horrible. But other than that it was good art, and that's really all I have to say about it.

2Cover Art - 2: And then the issue takes a downturn again. One, the art is bad. Superman doesn't look good at all. I'm not sure what his expression is supposed to be, but it didn't come out well at all. Plus, the general lack of detail just detracts from the image as a whole. It isn't eye-catching at all, and that is the first sign of a bad cover.

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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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