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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Action Comics #809

Action Comics #809

Scheduled to arrive in stores: November 5, 2003

Cover date: January 2004

Writer: Joe Kelly
Penciller: Pascual Ferry
Inker: Cam Smith and Andy Owens

"Creeping Death"

Reviewed by: Nick Newman

Clark stands, held by two men, in front of the ship captain. The Captain accuses Clark of murder and confines him to his quarters until they reach land and can turn him over to the authorities.

Earlier, the Kents embark on their cruise. They are enjoying their first day on the deck when their vacation suddenly takes a turn for the worse when they learn that Jack Ryder is also on their cruise. They endure his presence before he heads off with his girls in tow. As he leaves, Clark drops his glasses and gives Jack a quick blast of light heat vision, and smiles when he thinks about the sunburn Ryder will have.

That night everyone on the ship sits down for dinner. Clark lightly threatens Ryder that if he doesn't shut up, he's going to drown him in his glass. Right after that, Clark is drawn away by a hurricane and a number of trapped ships. Excusing himself he soars away.

Returning after ten minutes, Clark finds the ship in chaos. He finds his wife in a freezer, alongside Jack Ryder, frozen solid in a block of ice and very dead. Lois coldly tells him that he is in big trouble. He asks if anyone saw anything, but Lois tells him that everyone saw Clark threaten Ryder right before he left the room. X-raying the ice, Clark cannot detect any signs of trauma, but he does find Ryder's body covered with tattoos. The captain asks Clark where he was, and he fumbles a poor alibi. The captain dismisses him, but doesn't believe him for a second.

Later, Clark investigates Ryder's room. Inside he finds a tattoo needle, empty of ink, and a shotgun, load with elephant tranquilizers. Hearing a scream, Clark hurries outside and finds Ryder's girlfriend Zoe dead, her body covered with tattoos. Clark doesn't think to make himself scarce before the Captain arrives and confines Clark to his quarters.

With Clark imprisoned, Lois takes to investigating the other suspects on the ship. Clark eventually gets impatient and leaves the cabin. He meets with another of Jack's female friends, only to be interrupted by her friend Rita. Going outside with Rita, Clark learns that she is into witchcraft. She tells him that Jack had Zoe summon a demon. Suddenly Clark is surprised by the Captain and sent back to his cabin. As another body turns up, the Captain finds a list with the most recent victim's name on it, along with Clark's, Lois' and another of Jack's lady friends.

Later in his cabin Clark is suddenly surprised by Lois staggering into the room. She was like the other victims, without a mark on her body but gone somehow. Looking through the ship, Clark finds that Ryder's body is gone.

Tearing through the ship, Clark reaches the desk before a cackling laugh knocks him back. A giant Creeper perches atop the ship, holding Ryder's limp body. Kicking the beast in the head, Clark gets him to release Ryder, but is soon slapped back. Shrinking down the Creeper grabs Ryder again, but then Rita runs out with the gun. The Creeper tackles her but Clark grabs a tranquilizer and stabs the Creeper in the neck.

Clark realizes that Ryder is the Creeper and he must have cast a spell to try to remove the demon from him.

With the Creeper down, all of the victims suddenly wake up. As the ship arrives at port, Lois and Clark confront Ryder about his inner demons, but Jack denies everything. Lois consoles her husband though, they are on to Ryder, and now he has two people to try and hide his secret from.

1Story - 1: Ughh. I did not enjoy this story. I hated this story. I hated reviewing it. There wasn't anything redeeming about this story. Let's start with the obvious. First off, I don't know for sure, but I would think that Clark would know that Ryder is the Creeper. I'm pretty sure Batman knows, and I would think that Superman would have found out. Ignoring that, Lois was completely wrong in this issue. She treats Clark coldly when he is being accused of murder? It's real nice to see Lois being written as a completely unsupportive character during a time of crisis. I think Kelly is bent on destroying Lois as a character. Then there is Clark. He gives Ryder a sunburn with his heat vision? Because he is on vacation? That's a real responsible use of his powers for the most powerful man on the planet. Then he threatens to drown Ryder? I don't care if it was in jest, this is completely out of character for Clark. Clark is the most powerful and respected person on the planet, I don't think he fries people and threatens them just because he is on vacation. We also got another case of Kelly trying to make Clark and Lois hip. Kelly, first of all, Clark and Lois are not 22 year olds. They are in their thirties. They are mature. I'm not saying that they can't have fun, but you write them like they are teenagers. And secondly, you aren't cool Kelly, and that really shows in your failure to write Lois and Clark as such (and I'm not even going to mention your run on Superboy or *shudder* trash-talking Kelex). Add the fact that Kelly's Clark is an idiot who can't stand up for himself at all and it just makes it worse. And then, does it make sense to have a story featuring the Creeper? Creeper is figuring prominently in to the story over in Superman: Metropolis, and this story just interferes with all of that. Even ignoring the fact that every main character was written incorrectly and that the story just isn't necessary, it still sucks. We are introduced to four characters, three of which are indistinguishable females that we don't know or care about. Then we proceed to kill them. How am I supposed to keep up with the story when I have Zoe and Rita and whoever that other one was thrown at me in poorly designed scenes with barely a hint of introduction? Then there is Kelly's attempt at a detective-esque narrative. "The leads were as thin as the veal I turned down an hour before"? I've seen better lines in Max Payne, and if you haven't played it then believe me, that's saying something. Finally, at the end we see Lois and Clark ready to go and take down Ryder. I'm sure that's going to happen. Or maybe, instead, it will be forgotten and never touched upon again. Not that forgetting this story is a bad thing, but what's the point if it's never going to be resolved. Overall this is a pointless story with every character depicted incorrectly and an ending that will never be resolved. Kelly, I don't know if you're trying to sink the ship before you leave, but stop it. Four years ago (jeez, it's really been that long) your stories were good. They aren't anymore.

3Art - 3: What can I say after that? Same as always. When he first came on the books I liked Ferry's art a lot, but over time it has evolved into something... else. No one has any eyes, Lois looks completely wrong (which just adds to Kelly's horrible writing of her) and the overall style just isn't appealing, especially since I now associate every female he draws with that lovely (aka: horrible) storyline we just got done reading with the "Supergirls". I don't really have anything against Ferry, but his style just isn't for me and the association with Kelly is just dragging him down.

3Cover Art - 3: Why is Metropolis in the background? They aren't anywhere near the city. Why is Lois holding a skull? I suppose there is some symbolism there, but I don't think it goes with the story. The crap logo really annoys me on this one too; it just seems to stand out more. I do like Clark's head, and I especially like that he is looking out of the cover, but even that doesn't seem to go with the book. It's not a horrible cover, but it's definitely not great either, and it's definitely dragged down by the story.

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

January 2004

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