Buy Now!

Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Action Comics #811

Action Comics #811

Scheduled to arrive in stores: January 14, 2004

Cover date: March 2004

Writer: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning
Penciller: Karl Kerschl
Inker: Karl Kerschl

"Strange New Visitor" - Part One

Reviewed by: Nick Newman

A little girl desperately clings to the carpeting as her apartment building tips around her, spilling everything out into the Metropolis night, dozens of floors above street level. As she slides towards the opening, someone tells her not to worry, because he's got her. A man stretches down across the room and grabs the girl, pulling her to safety. Later, Lois interviews the man who risked his life to save the little girl. Mr. Amara isn't really sure why he did it. He just thought that if Superman had been here, then that is what he would have done. Lois tells him that she knows how he feels.

Outside of the Daily Planet the sky is darkened, swirling in what everyone is calling a time storm, though no one truly knows what it is. All anyone knows is that Superman vanished a week ago and the storm has raged above the city of Metropolis ever since.

Lois momentarily flashes back to her rescue aboard the space plane all those years ago. Since then, they have all become more accustomed to miracles. Returning to the present, Lois thanks Mr. Amara for coming in and then turns to Perry and Jimmy. Perry asks her if she has anything new, but Lois has to admit there isn't a story yet. Lois heads out into the city thinking that something is missing. When she looks up into the sky, the only thing she can see is the storm.

Lois heads across town to the one place where she might find out what is happening. S.T.A.R. Labs rushes about trying to discover what is occurring in the skies above them. Dr. Irons tells everyone to calm down. Their first priority is to gather some data on the storm. He radios Natasha and asks if she is in position. Outside, Nat flies up into the storm, carrying a sensor probe with her. Suddenly a bolt of lightning erupts from the clouds, striking Nat directly. John Henry calls out to her frantically, but a different voice responds over the mike. Superboy's got her and she's going to be okay. No one died this time, Lois thinks to herself, but for a moment she flashes back to Doomsday's attack on the city and the fall of their greatest hero.

In Suicide Slum, the storm caused power to go out for five blocks. With power cut off, the hard-light holograms forming most of the store windows simply wink out of existence. Looting follows, with the perpetrators fleeing the scene pursued by the police. A car crash ensues and one of the thieves is still able to get out of the car and run. Around the corner he runs into the Superman shield and one two-by-four later the thief is out of commission. Inside the Ace O' Clubs, Lois finishes interviewing Bibbo about his heroic actions. The bar owner just tells Lois that he is only filling in for Superman until he gets back, and Superman always comes back. For a moment, Lois remembers Clark's return amidst the destruction of Coast City. He even came back from the dead.

In an apartment across town, Lana argues with Pete about a meeting with his attorney. She tells him that she just has to mail the papers off, but Pete says they need to talk about custody. Hanging up, Lana turns to baby Clark. She tells the baby that she wishes she could rewind time and change things. She was in love with a man that was really going places, just about the most powerful man on earth. Lana remembers the night that Clark told her his secret, and took her flying around the world.

Inside the Fortress of Solitude Superboy, Steel, and Krypto stand before the Eradicator robot. Superboy tells the robot that they need his help in Metropolis. The storm may be related to the B13 tech, which he should be immune to. A humanoid form steps out of the giant robot. The Eradicator tells Superboy that he has lain dormant for too long. Grabbing the Phantom Zone projector, they head for Metropolis. If the B13 tech really is the key, then they will go back to the source of all of the trouble, January 1st of 2000, when Metropolis was turned into a wonderland of technology, and a ticking time bomb.

Lois talks to dozens of people across Metropolis, all getting their reaction to the storm and Superman's disappearance. No two people have the same opinion, but all agree that they want him back. Standing atop a building, Lois gazes out into the sky when suddenly a man screams and she looks over to see the platform that she stands on dissolving. She turns to run, but she stumbles and falls as the building vanishes beneath her. Clinging to a rapidly vanishing beam, Lois thinks to herself that this can't be happening. Suddenly a voice tells her not to worry because he has got her. Lois cannot believe her eyes as Mr. Majestic lifts her up and soars into the sky.

5Story - 5: I really enjoyed this story. Really, really enjoyed it. Compared to what we have been reading of late, this was a complete breath of fresh air. One of Superman's strength's ten years ago was the supporting cast. Back in the Jurgens/Stern/Ordway/etc. era Superman had such a rich supporting cast. Not of superheroes, but just regular people in Metropolis. In this issue I felt some of that again. We see Lois, Jimmy, and Perry actually doing their jobs at work in the Daily Planet. It's so rare to even see Perry and Jimmy these days that this really stuck out to me. Even Bibbo made an appearance. Now all we need is Colin Thornton, Cat Grant, Ron Troupe, Alice (did she ever have a last name?) and a visit to Dooley's restaurant and things will really be back to normal. We have Lana too, and while I'd prefer she wasn't there (the Pete-Lana marriage always felt forced and their abrupt divorce even more so), I'm anxious to see what the new writers can do with her (as long as it doesn't turn into a big deal for Lois). Even S.T.A.R. Labs made an appearance, which is always nice when something science-related is going on.

It's also great to see Superboy appearing in the core titles. Clark and Conner (see Teen Titans. In fact, start reading Teen Titans, you will not be sorry) are practically like brothers now. Ma and Pa are raising him, and Superman stops by to visit him in Smallville (in Titans), so it is only logical that Superboy would fly to Metropolis every now and then. Besides, he can fly there in two minutes and he hates Smallville, so it only makes sense that he would hang out in the city. I'd rather not have the new Steel around personally, but as long as that size-changing suit was a one-time thing, I can live with it. We even got the Eradicator in non-gigantic form back too. Things are really starting to shape up for the Superman world.

Metropolis is changing back to its old self too. Don't get me wrong, the futuristic city was neat for awhile, but it was just too big of an idea for writer's to work with. You can either have a story about the city or about Superman, but both just didn't work and nine times out of ten the city just became a backdrop and all of this wonderful tech didn't even do anything. I will be thrilled to get the old brick Planet building back. With Lex, warning this may be a spoiler if I am correct, probably getting removed from office in the next issue of Superman/Batman everything is being reversed. Things are definitely looking up. Now back to this issue specifically. It's nice to see a little more of Metropolis as Lois runs around chasing the story. The flashback splash pages were very well done, just enough to serve as a reminder without detracting from the issue. It was also great to see the people of Metropolis liking Superman again. There have been far too many stories of late where people don't like him or don't approve of his methods. It is nice to see the citizens of Metropolis supporting him again.

There was only one thing that I didn't like about this issue, and that thing has nothing to do with the wonderful job the writers did on this issue, so the book isn't going to get docked any for this. I just know I'll get emails about this, but what in the world is going on with continuity? The problem we have in this issue is exactly why I have been resisting Birthright. Birthright is halfway through restructuring the Superman origin and this issue goes and supports everything from the old origin. We see Byrne's space plane incident (which, in my opinion, was a far better way for Clark and Lois to meet than in the Planet newsroom). It all comes down to that space plane. That's not even mentioning that the Eradicator is questionable too. This is why I have been complaining about Birthright. Not because of the change, but because of the lack of uniformity. When Crisis occurred, everything was wiped clean and started from scratch (at least for Superman). However now we are stuck with two possible storylines without a clue as to which one to believe.

At Wizard World in Chicago, when asked which was correct, Eddie asked if everyone liked Birthright, and when he received a positive reaction he told them that then Birthright is correct. However, Eddie, you are going to have to make a choice. That's your job. You have to choose one or the other, or things are just going to get worse and worse. Pick an origin and stick with it, because I would like some consistency. Aside from that rant, again, a fantastic issue that I thoroughly enjoyed.

[Editor's Note: I think you'll find that the stories may be leading to the fact that Superman is no longer in this John Byrne reality, that he was accidentally transported into the Birthright reality (which is why he's missing). Time will tell.]

4Art - 4: Everything was great except for one thing. The city looks great, as does everyone else. I particularly liked his Lana, and his Perry was pretty good too. The flashback scenes also looked great, with the exception of Doomsday, who just looked a little off. The only thing I really didn't like was Lois. The worst was the close up on the bottom of the third page. That was really the worst in the whole book, but I just didn't like it. Otherwise it was great art, and Mr. Majestic looked terrific too for the one page he appeared on.

5Cover Art - 5: This cover was just going to be a four, until I took a closer look at the buildings. Superman looks great and I really liked the idea of him fading out. This is the kind of symbolic representation we should have on the covers. The art was great and the city looks good too. Then when I pulled this issue out to review it I saw that the buildings are reverting back to their non-B13 forms. I really liked that touch a lot. The logo is still horrible, but I'm sick of rating great covers poorly just because some other guy designed a bad logo. Plus, I'm hoping (and assuming) that the logos will change when the new writers start, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed. A great cover though; one that fit the story well.

Other recent reviews:

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2004

February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004

Back to the Mild Mannered Reviews contents page.

Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2004.