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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Action Comics #813

Action Comics #813

Scheduled to arrive in stores: March 10, 2004

Cover date: May 2004

Writer: Joe Kelly and Michael Turner
Penciller: Talent Caldwell
Inker: Jason Gorder

"Godfall" - Part Four: "Heaven"

Reviewed by: Nick Newman

Kal lies on the ground, thoughts streaming through his head. He thinks he is the last son of Krypton and then he thinks the sun is hot, but he normally doesn't feel heat. He hurts too, and normally he never hurts. But everyone hurts. No, after his father built the terraforge Krypton was turned into a paradise. But Krypton is gone, and his father with it. As two of the criminals approach him, he thinks of Lois. Someone called him God, but Gods don't burn.

Hauling him into their motorcycle, the pair of criminals blast away from the burning wreckage. They tried to kill him this morning, and now they are saving Kal's life. Back at their meeting place, they confront their leader about Kal. They discover that it was never about liberation, going for Kal was simply a paid hit, and had nothing to do with Kandor. The short one asks Kal if it was his wife, and Kal tells him that the woman isn't his wife. Suddenly Sergeant Preus descends into the clearing and demands that they give him the killer, and he may just let the rest of them live.

Lyla hovers in the sky above Metropolis, thinking about heaven. She lands and comments that heaven doesn't smell very nice. A man approaches her, asks her how much, and then whispers some very crude ideas into her ear. She knocks the man through a window. Glancing around she sees all of the misery in Suicide Slum, and wonders why this isn't heaven.

In Kandor the gang flees on their motorcycles while the Sergeant pursues, blasting the pavement just behind them. His command tells him to pull off, but he isn't going to let the criminal get away. A blast strikes just in front of the bike and Jigsaw is sent flying off. At the last moment Kal grabs him, saving him from the pavement. Jigsaw lifts a gun and missile at Preus. The resulting smoke clouds his vision for a moment and when it clears the bikers are gone. Preus calls off the support units.

The band speeds away from the city. Kal thinks to himself that he knew this was Kandor the moment Lyla's spell was broken, but it is no Kandor he ever knew. Coming over a ridge, Kal is shocked to find a whole city of aliens spread out below him. They explain that this is where the Kryptonians send the aliens that speak out against the government. One of them says they should just tie up Kal and leave him for the authorities. He's the one who freeze-dried a kid. Kal tells him to shut his damn mouth. He will pay for his crime, but not until he finds Lyla and sets Kandor right. They ask who he thinks he is, and he responds that he is Kal-El, last son of Krypton. Superman. They're all incredulous, the Superman lives up in heaven and flies like a bird...and burns with a look and freezes time with a word. Closing his eyes for a moment, Kal tells them they need to see something.

In Metropolis, Lyla continues her attack, demanding to have her reward as the successor of Kal-El. Looking up she sees the Daily Planet in the distance and soars towards it.

Kal tells them about the history of Kandor that he knew, but a lot can change in 100 years. None of them knew about the bottle, or about the world outside, and the only way he will convince them is to show them. Kelex installed a conduit to vent pollution from the city, and Kal never dreamed he'd use it to escape. He tells them that he was fighting thousands of years in the future and when he was on his way back he was so weak that he could barely focus, and Lyla pulled him in. They tell Kal that they can help, but he refuses. They insist though. If there is a world where they aren't hunted, then it is their right. As a group, they head through the portal. Behind them, Sergeant Preus steps out and watches them go.

In the fortress Superman immediately tells Kelex to interface with Kandor and figure out what happened to the city. Then he needs to tell him why all of the refugees aren't two inches tall. After that they are taking down a goddess.

Inside the Daily Planet, Lyla confronts Lois. Lois demand to know where Superman is, but Lyla tells her that God is dead.

5Story - 5: Revelations continue as we see Kandor's dark side, and learn that somehow a hundred years have passed in the bottled city. We also see some reference to "The Superman" being a god to the Kandorians, which definitely explains Lyla's beliefs about Kal and Metropolis. Plus, Sergeant Preus is poised to become a new villain in Superman's world, and I couldn't be happier. Other than Luthor, Superman's world has been filled with super villains that have no motivation other than evil. With Preus we have someone that believes that he is right and will dedicate himself to bringing in a murderer. Add that together with Kryptonian powers, and we have a new Zod on our hands, and one that I'll like a lot better than a Russian with a thing against yellow sunlight. The only thing I'm questioning is how they are going to deal with the murders. The last time Superman killed three people he went crazy, became Gangbuster, and left Earth for a few months. Before this issue I was assuming it would just turn out to be an illusion, but now it appears that Clark actually killed them. We'll have to wait and see how they handle this one.

3Art - 3: And here comes the part where I get the emails. Why do I give a three to this beautiful art you ask? Two simple words spell it out for me: page five. For those that don't want to count, since this book has no page numbers for some odd reason, is the page when Lyla touches down in Metropolis. I understand that a lot of comics is based on, shall we say, enhanced women, but why in the world is Lyla wearing a thong? I know that the average age of readers is around 25, but that doesn't change the fact that there are children reading this book. Ten years ago I had to argue with my mother about why my comics weren't inappropriate, and I remember having to tell my best friend's mom that Fire was actually wearing clothes underneath her flames when he tried to hang a Justice League poster up in his room. Yes there is worse on television, but there is no reason for this. If it was essential to the story, or even if it added anything to the story I'd be all for it, but it doesn't. The story wouldn't be changed one bit if Lyla was wearing more clothes. As an adult I don't personally care, but I know there are kids out there who are reading this comic and loving it, and the last thing we need are to kill potential readers because their parents won't let them read this.

Apart from that objection, it is the same beautiful art that we've been enjoying for the past month. This is absolutely beautiful work, and it's only going to get better as we head into Turner's run on Superman/Batman and Lee's run on Superman. We still don't know how the stories will turn out, but you can be assured that the art is going to be stellar.


Writer: Chuck Austen
Penciller: Ivan Reis
Inker: Marc Campos

In the middle of the Topeka battleground, after his fight with Imperiex, Superman hands a small boy off to rescue workers. Superman told the boy that he was afraid too, but if they can both be brave then they'll find the kid's parents. The boy agrees to be brave. As a paramedic checks the boy over, he asks him where his parents are. The boy said they were having dinner, and points to a Big Belly Burger that is now completely in ruins. His dad had run outside to help people and his mother had shoved him into a bathroom. The wall fell in and that's when Superman saved him. But Superman went to find his parents. The medic takes the child over to a group of children to wait. The boy asks if it's just until Superman finds his parents, and the man agrees. The medic walks over to the man who took the child from Superman and asks him if he was told anything. Superman asked him for information, but never said anything about finding the boy's parents alive. He whispers that Superman would never promise anything like that. Everyone is dead, and a promise like that could scar a kid for life. The next morning the child wakes up crying for his parents. Wandering around the disaster zone he finds a worker who tells him that he hasn't seen Superman since yesterday. The boy wanders over to the ruined restaurant where he finds a hand sticking out of the wreckage. He rushes to it and begins to try to pull the corpse out of the ruins. The rescue workers quickly pull him away and give the wailing child a sedative. They think he won't remember a thing, kids are resilient that way. The child sleeps fitfully, muttering about Superman not keeping promises. At the foot of his bed, and shadowed figure tells the boy that Superman makes a lot of promises that he doesn't keep. Gog thinks Superman is a very bad man.

5Story - 5: I think this six page segment shows the horrors of the Worlds At War better than three months of comics did. This is Austen's second preview and he has now completely shown that he can handle the human aspect of writing. The dialog with Lana last issue and then this story leave me wanting much more of his work. Plus, Gog shows up. Whether you liked "The Kingdom" or not, you have to admit that Gog has a lot of potential as a Superman villain. Only a few more weeks and we'll have a full issue of Austen's, and only then will we see how a few things (mainly his hatred of Lois) affects his writing, but I'm definitely looking forward to it.

4Art - 4: Beautiful art. Reis captures facial expressions so terrifically and his style is so clean that I cannot help but love it. The child looked a little strange, but in the end I think that added to his innocence and made him stick out among all of the workers rushing around. Superman looked great too, for the brief period that we saw him. I'm not looking forward to him like I am to Turner and Lee, but think in the long run I will probably like Reis' art a lot more. It's wonderfully realistic in a book where we haven't seen that for years.

3Cover Art - 3: Turner was doing so well with these covers up till this point, so why did he have to go and ruin it? Sure Lyla looks great, and the use of Superman's cape was a nice touch, but where's the background? And to make it even worse, the monochromatic background is white. It is absolutely impossible to ever get a white-cover comic to look good. Instead it looks dingy because all the ink from the back cover of the comic on top of it rubbed off in shipping. Add that to the corny "Meet the girl who stole Superman" line on the cover and the fact that the abysmal cover logo looks so much worse without anything to distract from it. I still rate it as average for a few reasons. First off, the art is still great and Lyla is actually covered up. Given what it could have looked like (see page five), this is definitely good. Overall though, I'm just glad that it didn't end up looking like the previews showed it. In the previews Lyla was in front of a white circle on a black background. All that would have needed was the addition of a broom underneath Lyla and you'd have the cover for a Halloween special. We have to at least be thankful that that didn't happen, because that would have been really bad.

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