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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Action Comics #837

Action Comics #837

Scheduled to arrive in stores: March 29, 2006

Cover date: May 2006

Writer: Geoff Johns and Kurt Busiek
Penciller: Pete Woods
Inker: Pete Woods

"Mild-Mannered Reporter"

Reviewed by: Nick Newman

Click to enlarge

Luthor moves around one of his hidden laboratories, listening to a news report about his current problems when Superman suddenly bursts through the wall. Lex just tells him that he'll have to learn to start using the door. The chest of the metal Superman opens and out hops Toyman, telling Luthor that he got the plans for the Superman robot from a kid in Japan. Luthor shows Toyman the Sunstone, the Kryptonian crystal that he recovered from Superboy's fight against Superboy-Prime. He then sends Toyman out to find the Prankster.

At his house, Superman tends to the wounds he received when Luthor jumped him in the alley. Lois asks why he didn't fight back since he's in much better shape than Luthor, but Clark tells her that he'll beat Luthor with the article he just ran and take him down for good. He tells her how frustrating it is, trying to keep tabs on Luthor without his power. He truly thought his powers would be back by now, but nothing has worked. However, it's given him a real sense of being human.

After hearing reports of some heavy technology being moved in subway tunnels, Clark heads down to investigate. He eventually finds a bunker with the door blown open. Inside, a group of men are donning suits of Lexcorp armor. They mention Intergang, but before Clark can sneak away his phone alerts them to his presence.

Running away, Clark starts to go for the signal watch, but instead talks into the phone. A moment later Green Lantern and Hawkgirl fly to his rescue. As they fight, a train heads their way. Clark stops one of the crooks from destroying the train, and Green Lantern saves him from being blasted for his efforts. The fight finished, Hawkgirl grabs Clark while Green Lantern rounds up the criminals and they fly away.

In the park, Luthor stands alone, looking at a pair of statues, one for Superman and the other for Superboy. Suddenly a shadowed figure walks up from behind him. They talk about Conner, and about Luthor's new goals in Metropolis. Then Metallo opens up his chest and shows Luthor his Kryptonite heart. He's been completely rebuilt into his human form again. When Metallo asks him what he wants, Luthor tells him that he wants it all.

As they drop Clark off at his apartment, Clark tells Green Lantern that he should start the league up again. Hal tells him that it's not time for that yet, but he also says that Clark could do much more if he had the tools. Holding his hand out, Hal offers Clark a Green Lantern ring.

5Story - 5: One Year Later is, hands down, the best thing to happen to Superman in a least eight years. We've now had two issues that felt more like Superman than most of what I've been reading for the past five years, and Clark doesn't even have his powers. People can argue the merits of change in a book, but there's something very satisfying about returning to the classic version of a character.

And that's really what this is. It's not post-Infinite Crisis Superman, it's classic Superman. He's a reporter, and a good one at that. He knows what's right and he'll fight for it.

So many parts of this issue were fantastic. First, the return of Toyman (with a new look) is always welcomed. The character has potential (see the animated series) but hasn't been used well in the comics for ages. I did like the nod to the new Toyman that showed up in the pages of Superman/Batman though. I'm hoping that the Prankster will receive as good a retooling when we see him as well. Anything's got to be better than that arc from Adventures a number of years ago.

I read a lot of people upset at how easily Luthor beat up Clark, who is clearly bigger and a more experienced fighter, last issue, so it was great to see Johns and Busiek explain that Clark chose to fight Luthor where it really hurt, by exposing the truth. This was a nice touch that accomplished a number of things. First, it showed that Clark isn't going to always rely on punching his way out of problems. It also shows how important his job is to his life. There is a lot of potential with using the reporter profession to drive a Superman story. Rucka did a decent job at it, and the only good issue that Joe Casey ever wrote used the reporter angle, so it's nice to see them playing up that aspect of Clark's life.

Continuing the string of returns, a reference to Intergang. I'm hoping this continues into the books. I always felt that Intergang could be really great (again, see the Animated Series for proof of this), and all they need to do is toss them some high tech toys and we've got instant recurring villain around Metropolis.

The best one of the issue though, was Metallo. I never liked the jumbo metal body, and the last time Metallo really looked right (aside from his brief appearance early in Superman/Batman, was back in the Brainiac Trilogy in, what, 1989? He's always worked better, in my opinion, as the machine disguised as a man.

The Conner statue was a nice touch, even if I completely disagree with the decision to kill him (more on that in my forthcoming review of Infinite Crisis #6), but at least it's honored in Metropolis.

Another great part was not only the appearance of Green Lantern and Hawkgirl, but the fact that they chose to pair these two characters together. I wish I watched the Justice League cartoon more, its really excellent, but for those that do watch it consistently its nice of Johns and Busiek to through that in there. It was also a nice touch that the heroes haven't cut ties with Clark simply because he lost his powers. He's still one of the most experienced heroes in the DCU, and it only makes sense that they would keep in contact with him.

Finally, the cliffhanger. Frankly, it's been done before. Many times. JLA, Armageddon 2001, DC One Million, Last Son of Earth (I think). However, there is still something extremely cool in seeing Hal hand Clark a Green Lantern ring with the 'S' on it. Will Clark use it? I don't know. After the awesome use of Batman with a ring in Green Lantern last month, I'm curious what Johns would have Clark do with a ring. We all know it won't be permanent, but I hope that Clark at least gives it a whirl for a few pages, just to make us fanboys happy.

In the end, this is simply the best Superman that I have read in a long time. OYL seems like a cheap gimmick by DC, but I really have to give them credit where credit's due. Nearly every one of their books has improved with the jump forward, and Superman is right up at the forefront. Action and Superman were arguably the best books that DC put out this month. Absolutely fantastic stuff that has me looking forward to next issue before I even finish the current one.

5Art - 5: Pete Woods is an interesting artist to me. There are some panels where his art looks rough, and yet then there are gorgeous panels where everything just looks perfect. Luckily, the gorgeous ones vastly outnumber the rough ones, and even when they pop up, they're still fantastic.

I was particularly impressed with his Green Lantern. Hal looked fantastic flying into the subway. I also really like the redesigns he's done for Toyman and Metallo.

Aside from the pencils are inks though, I thought the coloring was fantastic. Check out the final page, and the way that the glow from the ring affects everything around it. Brad Anderson did a fantastic job coloring this book.

The only thing I really didn't like about Wood's art was his depiction of Lois. Maybe it's just the short hair, but she really wasn't doing it for me. That being said though, the panel of Lois and Clark watching the sunset was beautiful, and was another example not only of Wood's talent, but Anderson's as well.

4Cover Art - 4: I really didn't know what to give this cover. It's definitely the weakest part of the issue. There isn't much on it, and definitely not much to catch the eye. However, and this is a big however, the shadow of Clark is such an iconic image that it gets a lot of credit from me. I can't really give it a five, because I think it could be better, but to give it anything less than a four would really be robbing it of the credit it deserves.

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

January 2006

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