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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Action Comics #789

Action Comics #789

Scheduled to arrive in stores: March 27, 2002

Cover date: May 2002

Writer: Joe Kelly
Penciller: Duncan Rouleau
Inker: Marlo Alquiza

"Man and Beast"

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey (

In a lava filled crater, a shadowy figure taunts Kancer about being ugly, about being forgotten by Superman. Meanwhile, Clark Kent plays catch with Krypto. Lois asks about how the dog had been trained, and Clark tells her he did it in the time most people would be sleeping, as he doesn't need any sleep. Krypto seems more in control of his doggy self. That is, until he runs off into the trees barking. Kancer regards Krypto with Kuriosity (Sorry. Couldn't help myself.)

In Pokolistan, Zod lectures his underlings when they report to him that they have engaged neighboring forces, causing the death of fifteen Pokolistan soldiers. The responsible party for the order is killed mercilessly by Zod.

Faora jabs at Zod verbally, but Zod is more concerned with a hole in the ground... the hole Kancer had just left from. The hole he had just sent Ignition to find. They regard a screen with Kryptonian writing, and receive a transmission from Ignition stating that Kancer is gone.

[Editor's Note: The Kryptonian writing reads "Kal-el's Rocket"]

Kancer, meanwhile, slaps Krypto around. Kancer wonders about Clark's second skin. Superman flies up and attacks Kancer, asking how he found him in his guise. Kancer tells him that they share a bond, calling him "father". He asks why Superman is attacking him.

Kancer wonders why he refused his bond. Superman says that his "kin" would never murder or maim or do any of the things that Kancer has done. Kancer tells him that he knows little about his own blood, launching a bus at Superman.

Kancer grabs Krypto while Superman stops the bus, and tells Superman to punish his dog - he came to speak with Superman, not fight. Superman asks why, and Kancer says that he doesn't know, after pausing.

Kancer tells him to choose Krypto or him to be bonded with, and he will tell him how he found out who Clark is, and why. Clark tells Krypto to speak, and Krypto barks loudly forcing Kancer back. Kancer is distraught that he means less to Superman than a dog, and leaves.

Ignition tells Zod that Kancer has betrayed him, and Zod leaves to check out the hole in the ground.

Superman pursues Kancer to the hole to stop him from telling Zod about Clark/Superman's secret. Clark wonders how far he will go to keep it.

He plunges into the pit, where the mysterious taunting force has been telling Kancer to tell Zod the Clark/Supes secret, without knowing what the secret is himself (the mysterious force only knows that the secret is important).

Superman comes in and bashes Kancer. The mysterious person tells him not to slap around Kancer in his pad, and to have a drink, because this is the welcome back party for Guy Gardner. Then Guy is shown, much larger than Superman and in molten form. He tells Superman that after tonight, his hole is all Superman's.

To Be Continued...

4Story - 4: Well, there were a lot of good things in this story, and a lot of bad. But either way, the long and the short of it is that bad things aside, this is still a decent story with characters that have a defined purpose and presence, whereas of late we have been treated to a cadre of villains with undefined power, motivation, and logic. Kancer's power is still a little undefined, but he definitely has enough motivation and logic to pull himself through it. Also, it's nice to see someone dealing with Krypto instead of sending him with Jimmy or putting the dog in the Fortress. It seemed that with Krypto they had something they wanted, but didn't know how to write in. Maybe now the writers will take care of that.

Little things, like has so often been the case of late, were ignored or missed in favor of keeping the action going. For instance, Clark changed costume in the middle of a crowded park with several people NOTICEABLY watching. Here's proof: Page 10, middle bottom panel. Mom/Dad and kid watching.

Also, Clark sleeps, at least I believe he sleeps. This may be incorrect. I'll have to put this in the "Ask Eddie" bag, but I've just pulled out my 1992 to 2002 Superman collection, and I'm reading them all in sequence, and I've seen Superman in bed with Lois (post-wedding) a number of times. So either he sits there and fakes it, and when Lois is gone, he just stays out, or something, but either way... does Superman need sleep? Apparently not. Then what is the problem with him and time? Couldn't he do most, if not all of the things that he wants to get done for the world (outside of fighting Super-goons) in the night while all sleep? Who knows. It's thrown out casually in this issue, however, and I think it needed more evaluation.

Gardner. Okay. Help me here. This is probably something that will be more than resolved in the next issue (OH, GOD, CAN WE ONLY HOPE.), but look. Guy Gardner ate a spike right through the chest in the middle of "Our Worlds At War". He's dead. Dead dead dead. As dead as comics characters ever get, anyway. (And don't plead Bucky. I just saw him in Ultimates. And don't plead Uncle Ben. I just saw him in Spidey a little while back. And don't plead Supergirl 1. They'll find some way to bring her back!) Anyway. My point here is that he went from Warrior to big @#%$ demon, and I'm willing to suspend belief, but I'm concerned the explanation will be the same one given for Bizarro, Ignition, Faora, Zod, and other folks just "showing up" with changed/better powers. It just happened!

But that wasn't this issue. This issue was a set up for a finish, and as such, I'll rate it on its merits.

The writing was great. The dialogue was snappy, made sense, and was in character save in one place. The characters did the things that they would have done in the given situation, and little pieces of the plot were given away that we've been waiting for for a long time: 1) What happened to Guy Gardner after his one-panel death. 2) What happened to Krypto. 3) Whether or not Zod is really Kryptonian and not just faking (maybe a Daxomite or whatever, you know?) by virtue of the Kryptonian writing on his obviously Kryptonian computer. It also opened up new ideas. For instance, the subtle hint that there is someone of murderous blood in Superman's family. Perhaps... shudder... Zod? Is Zod somehow related to Supes? I can just see it: I AM YOUR FATHER. No. That would be too, too far. But it still has some great potential.

Also, the issue had Lois and Clark acting like Lois and Clark. NOT ONCE DID THEY MENTION THEIR PETTY, STUPID, FOOLISH FAKED MARRIAGE TROUBLE BASED IN SAM'S DEATH! Seriously. I never bought that to begin with. Sure, Lois would be upset to see her father not saved by Supes. But if she even irrationally blamed it on Supes, she would tell him. They're close, for crying out loud. People who are close to one another DO that kind of thing. Most of the time.

Also, Lois has dealt with her problems by leaving on a plane, then returning and magically knowing everything is all right no less that five times in the last ten years. Good to see an issue moving away from that.

My one beef is that instead of trying to patiently subdue Kancer, as Superman would have done in character, he tells Krypto to attack, and then just can't catch up with Kancer as he runs away? He's Superman! There's no chance a huge beast like Kancer could beat him in any kind of race. Kancer wouldn't have got to the Atlantic, much less wherever the heck Pokolistan is.

[Editor's Note: I think the point was the Kancer had this magical teleporter sphere in his possession which enabled him to instantly transport to and from the pit]

Other than that, great. Less continuity based than I'd have liked, but still great.

Check the letter column and their excuse for killing the continuity. There isn't even a Baldy any more, as near as I can tell. What happened to the numbers? What happened to the continuing story? What happened to the Baldy? What happened to villains with defined powers? Well, at least this issue was well done.

5Art - 5: While I'm not fond of certain aspects of this penciller's style, for instance larger heads and hands and other irritating things, I have to say that the paneling, and the pacing, and almost everything else in the story is very dynamic and well done. Especially the paneling. I love it when it doesn't feel like box after box after box due to subtle drawing away for the eye and cues that take your attention away from the fact you're reading on a page. He takes you in. I like this artist. This issue was extremely well done.

3Cover Art - 3: An average cover. Depicts something that never happened in the issue, it's designed to draw the reader in, and the pose is dynamic and interesting. This is a 5 of 5 for most, but I judge covers on my taste. And I firmly believe a cover should depict a scene from the book, and not only be catchy, but relevant. Also, there is no background here. The color scheme matches because of this, sure. But the empty space only serves to emphasize the HORRIBLE, LOUSY, WORTHLESS changed logo. Hey Ed? Yeah, Joe? What say we take the Superman part of the title and just, oh, say, shove it off the top of the page. Gee, I dunno, Joe. That might turn people off. But Ed! It'd be so DYNAMIC! Oh, all right then. We could even put the S before the Superman! That way we'd be one up on one of the other books! Great work, Joe! Thanks, Chief! Don't call me chief! Okay, this has gone far enough. No disrespect meant, Ed or Joe. Just a joke. I'm sure a lot of people like the new logos. I just don't. The comic was still great, and that's what counts.

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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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