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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Action Comics #792

Action Comics #792

Scheduled to arrive in stores: June 26, 2002

Cover date: August 2002

Writer: Joe Kelly
Penciller: Pascual Ferry
Inker: Mark Morales

"Big City, Little Man"

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey (

On a cold winter day, Clark Kent gets a newspaper hot off a heater, to keep him warm, in exchange for some vittles for an elderly Costa Rican man running a newsstand in Metropolis named Valentin. He tells Clark about the amazing things Superman has been doing lately...

Flash forward to a number of other times, same scene, different day. The man tells Clark about the exploits of Superman, gleefully recounting the actions of his hero.

Later, he starts talking about not being around, despite his daughter nearly finishing Medical school. Then, soon after, he is gone.

Clark starts asking questions.

Later, on Kamehameha, he puts a cap on an erupting volcano. Wonder Woman asks him what's distracting him. Superman says nothing, citing that he's just saved two million Hawaiians.

Clark looks around the area for his friend. Lois consoles him, tells him that in big cities, sometimes people just leave. Clark doesn't believe it.

The two seek out what happened to Clark's friend. They use Lois' "charm" (AHEM cough cough cleavage cough cough) to get an address.

Inside, he uses his X-Ray vision to see Valentin's daughter, looking distraught. They find her, ask her to lunch, and ask about her father's disappearance. She says that he was just not there. He had no enemies, he had no plans to travel, he didn't vices of any sort.

They start looking, but Clark is called away by the JLA. Lois reassures him that she will keep looking.

At the JLA scene, Batman offers Superman two pieces of advice: check where the police didn't, and also, know that you just can't save everyone. Superman thanks him and takes off.

At the apartment, Superman pulls out a memory/diary book. "No vices." He says to himself.

At home, he tells Lois that Valentin made some bets to keep his daughter in high school. Lois has a line on where the bets were placed. They go to examine what happened.

The shady at the gang hang out tells Clark that Valentin "went home". He said that when he found out that his daughter was pregnant, Valentin told her to leave. Clark points out that he is lying, knowing by his heart beat. They draw their guns.

The scene goes dark, and Clark and Lois are soon outside, talking about how to find out what really happened.

Superman follows the leader of the gang until he confesses to killing the man, then dropping him in the bay, for winning a large bet.

At the pier, Superman retrieves Valentin's body, as his daughter looks on.

4Story - 4: Upon finishing this book, I am inclined to look closer and see the inconsistencies. Superman comics, of late, have taught me to seek such things.

For instance, could another character, a character we've met before, be the subject of this plot. Also, I see a scene where Clark uses his Superman powers on some thugs who he's identified himself to. And then, he just lets them go. All except the gang leader, anyway. They are guilty of assault. This is not Superman-y.

But then, upon finishing this book, I am inclined to look closer and see the consistency of this Superman comic, of late. It's taught me to seek such things.

For instance, last issue. We had a great story, and why? Because someone not god-like, someone not Superman, became the focus of attention, and we see what motivates Superman, and how he achieves what he achieves practically, and without his fist. A brainer. Something altogether too infrequent, of late. And this issue follows suit, showing the human, character side of Clark and Lois. Clark especially. I certainly think that there could have been a more tied in feel to this book, but I also feel that this kind of story needs to occur more in the Superman books, so I'll be less than harsh about it. So the villain wasn't Toyman. So the person killed wasn't Adam Grant. Fine. I'm willing to concede that, as long as the story remains compelling. I'm not going to say that I was riveted by this book, but I will say it was well written, well paced, and it showed true emotion, something seemingly lacking of late. I enjoyed this book, and I hope that with a little tweaking, other stories of its caliber will roll off the line.

4Art - 4: Nice stuff. A couple of really great moments, like Superman and Batman on top of the strange head, an actual JUSTIFIED splash page, filled with words and captivating. Advancing to the story. And the opening art, showing the passage of time and the way Metropolis morphs from day to day. Nice stuff. And the little homage at the end, to the Superman of the past, under the water, getting the body...I can't put my finger on it, but I've seen it before. It's the cartoon, correct? The OLD cartoon? Regardless, not AMAZING, but definitely above average.

[Editor: Actually I think its paying homage to a scene depicted in George F. Lowther's 1942 novel "The Adventures of Superman" which had a similar illustration by the one-and-only Joe Shuster.]


All that nonsense aside, the angle is odd, the pose is cliche and contrived, and a third of the cover is taken up with a non-descript adjective no one looking at the newsstand could come close to comprehending.

Add to that that the scene never happened, that Lois and Clark were never chased down the street, and you have a 2.

Superman on top of the building might have added some points, but his neck is seventy inches around. He looks like he has Earthquake's head.

The covers suck of late. Why? No backgrounds, odd logos, and an attempt to be art-y. STICK WITH WHAT WORKED! You can still be innovative with the old logos! Have a goon kicking them around! Who remembers the Bloodsport cover, where he knocks the logo off the page? ME! Who remembers what the Action Comics cover of two months ago looked like? I'm waiting...

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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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