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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Action Comics #817

Action Comics #817

Scheduled to arrive in stores: July 14, 2004

Cover date: September 2004

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

"Weapons of Revelation"

Reviewed by: Nick Newman

Amid the destruction from the battle with Gog, Martha Kent calls Lana. She can't locate Lois and she is really worried about Clark. On television Jack Ryder reports that Superman has been taken to S.T.A.R. Labs, but no one knows whether he is alive or dead.

In S.T.A.R., medics use the defibrillators on Superman, desperately trying to restart his heart. Finally, Superman sits up and tells them he is better. Superboy tells the recovering Superman that Gog just disappeared after the fight. Diana asks if he is going to be all right, and a doctor assures her that he's fine. They got all of the Kryptonite out of his system. Or at least most of it. In reality Doctor Mohlman really doesn't know much of anything. Superman asks Mohlman what the liquid K has done to him, but beyond allowing them to x-ray Superman he doesn't have much information for Kal-el. Mohlman tells him that just in case, he may want to say goodbye to his loved ones. Superman tells them that he doesn't do dead.

Superman asks how things are going, and Diana tells him that with reports circulating of his injury, dozens of super villains have gathered outside of S.T.A.R., trying to battle their way in. Superboy and Black Lightning are desperately defending the building. In the middle of the battlefield, Jack Ryder tries to get the story when a stray blast suddenly catches his camera man in the chest, killing him.

The battle suddenly spreads into S.T.A.R. Labs as Weapons Master is thrown through the front of the building. Still weak, Superman flies into the lobby to defend the employees. Weapons Master blasts at Superman with weapon after weapon with Superman shrugging them off. Aiming a conventional rifle at the Man of Steel, he pulls the trigger. Superman looks down in shock at the bullet hole in his chest.

3Story - 3: On the bright side, there were no appearances of Peter Parker wearing Superman's costume this issue. However, there were plenty of negatives too. I thought Ryder got Clarks job, so why is he working for Channel 6 news? Secondly, who is this Mohlman character? I don't remember ever seeing him before (if he has appeared before, someone email me). He was just an annoying character that, I'm assuming, was intended to add some comedy to the issue. Why we need him when we have the well-established character of Kitty Faulkner around is beyond me. Black Lightning's appearance also doesn't jive with what's currently going on the DCU. He has hung up his costume and given up crime fighting, and only recently took it up again to go after his daughter in Outsiders. So why is he outside of S.T.A.R. Labs fighting various bad guys?

Beyond these nit-picks, this was a decent issue. I think that it was way too short, with too much unnecessary and annoying dialog and not enough of the action that only occupied two pages, but as a whole the Gog story is pretty good. I don't really understand the point of having Diana there though, especially if she's going to let a weakened Clark charge into battle when she could easily take Weapons Master herself.

I can't say I'm disappointed with this issue, but I'm not thrilled with it either. Austen has disappointed me in the past with his other projects, and he's yet to convince me that he's the right person for the job. I figure I'll give it till the end of the Gog storyline to really judge him, but overall it seems like he's writing his own character in a Superman suit, instead of writing Superman.

4Art - 4: It's always hard to come up with something to say about the art, simply because I reviewed Reis' work two months ago with issue 815, and I'll do it again in September with issue 819, so unless something really sticks out its really just more of the same. I really like his art. It's nice and clean, and he's got a great talent for laying out the panels well, cinematography of the comic's page if you will. My only gripe with his work is the lack of detail in the faces. Maybe it's just the lighting inking that's causing it, but most of the faces look much too simplistic, lacking detail and depth. Some of his pages remind me of Immonen's work, who suffered from a similar blurriness to his art. His was made worse by excessive inking (normally of Jose Marzan Jr if memory serves), while Reis and Campos have the exact opposite problem, but regardless, something needs to be done because too many of his panels look washed out. Despite the gripe though, as I said above, I do really like his work. I think they need another few issues to tweak their style, but we've got two great artists here.

3Cover Art - 3: I've got two problems with this cover. First, it's the second issue in three months with a between the legs shot of a wounded Superman. I commented on the first one with regards to this one, and I'll comment again. It's a neat concept, but it shouldn't be overused. Secondly, there seems like so much lost potential with this cover. We have a huge battle with Superboy, Diana, and Superman against dozens of villains, but the cover only shows Diana's legs, a crouched Superman, and some nondescript robotic guy in the background. There was so much more potential. That aside, Adams continues to deliver with great art for these covers. Plus, that new cover logo still gets me. It's just so great having it back.

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

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