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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Action Comics #871 Action Comics #871

Action Comics #871

Scheduled to arrive in stores: November 12, 2008

Cover date: January 2009

"New Krypton" - Part 2: "Beyond Doomsday"

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Pete Woods
Inker: Pete Woods

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Click to enlarge

Two of the "soldier" caste of New Krypton walk down the streets of Metropolis wondering why Superman hasn't converted Earth to Krypton. They see a car accident and ignore it, flying away in disgust.

Lex Luthor complains about having to work in chains. They observe the Kryptonians all over the world, and Sam Lane shows Brainiac to Luthor. Lex mentions Lois, and Sam shoots him in the shoulder, telling him not to mention his daughter.

Superman and Supergirl team up against Doomsday, as Thara moves to get the humans to safety. A punch from Doomsday blocked by Superman causes a massive damage wave.

Many Kryptonians descend on Doomsday and help Superman take the fight up into space, where they fight Doomsday on the moon. The Kryptonians surround Doomsday and beat him to death.

The two military guys enter the Fortress, thinking that with Zor-El about to lead Kandor, they'd better release Zod. They're stopped by Nightwing and Flamebird, two Kryptonians from Kandor in costume.

4Story - 4: The fight with Doomsday shows the philosophical level of releasing 100,000 Kryptonians into society, in that now any problem Superman has to face, he now has a ton of allies as strong as he is to help him. It diminishes Superman as a power, but it also makes him a great leader. I'm honestly not sure how to respond to it yet.

I got to thinking, and I realized that 100,000 Kryptonians is actually something a world could handle, even with powers, because if you think about it, societies are self-regulating. If one of us becomes a power-mad dictator, we stop that person. The only problem there is that if one of SUPERMAN becomes a power-mad dictator, before he can be stopped he might sneeze the Earth in two, so I still don't get why Superman seems to be very nonchalant about the threat... maybe it's just his faith in people, but then, he's seen where that leads before.

Doomsday and the Doomsday fight were incredible until the end. Especially the mention of Connor. Is it fanservice? I dunno. I haven't decided, but it moved me, so I don't care. The force wave from a punch worked well. The scene with Luthor really pleased me.

But hey, that's not what you're waiting for the commentary on, right? You probably want to know what I think about the fact that Superman and a bunch of his buddies ganged up on Doomsday and beat him to death.

A little backstory here. I got into some crap a few months back (probably a year now, time flies) because I read a scene where Subjekt-17, in a plotline I wasn't enjoying, pushed Superman and aggravated him to the point where Superman kicked the crap out of him until 17 yielded. 17 then disappeared. There was text that indicated that he was teleporting, as I recall, and it was one of his powers from a previous issue, but it was like knowing the details from an issue of Vampirella from the early nineties. I read those books because I was 13 and bored and liked hot chicks, and if you asked me to name a detail in any one of them, I couldn't.

Well, with the Busiek run, I read it because I had to review it, so I didn't remember the salient details of the strange characters I didn't enjoy, so I assumed, wrongly, that Superman had just beaten Subjekt-17 to death, and I railed against it. Why? Because Superman doesn't beat people to death. People said, "Well, what if he's confronted with a beast that can't be stopped UNLESS you beat it to death?" My response was: "Good writing doesn't put Supes in that situation." And I stand by that.

And anyway, though I took a bunch of flak for it, I still say it wasn't crazy to make that assumption I made about the scene.

As a reviewer, I stand by the fact that nine-tenths of reaction (what I'm chronicling here) is what the average reader would take from things with a little bit of information. My job is to share unknowns with folks who don't know it, and make assumptions about the direction things should have gone. It's why most critics are #icks. They get the impression that they're in charge when they're not.

That said, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that Superman shouldn't beat people to death, or be in a gaggle of people who are beating someone to death, and when it seems he's doing so, something is wrong.

"Then how do you stop Doomsday, smar@$$?"

Well, I dunno. But I'm not the writer here.

In other words, this is my long way of saying that I'm disturbed that Supes stood by while folks beat Doomie to death, even though Doomie doesn't die. It seemed way out of character. He just stands there over the body, and doesn't say, for instance, "Man, I wish it didn't have to come to that." It's a moment of seeming triumph.

But beyond that, top to bottom, this issue was gold for me. Unlike 17, this isn't a culmination in the midst of a bunch of stuff I don't enjoy, this is a major flaw in character in the middle of a bunch of really great scenes, so even though the beating to death is greater than the sum of its parts in broader implications, I'm gonna stick with my four.

5Art - 5: Pete Woods rocks the fight scene, gives folks a real character, and I'm enjoying the work. I think things could be a little less whitewashed, but even so, it's just a style, and as such, it works, and well. Really well.

5Cover Art - 5 (Newsstand): Very much liking this image now that I see it in context. On its own, it wasn't as fun for me, but here it works very well, particularly given the way it subtly reveals the Nightwing and Flamebird for the first time without you knowing it's them.

5Cover Art - 5 (Variant): A bit cartoonish, and not what happened in the issue, but it's so iconic that you just don't care. It's just this sarcastic, awesome vision of Superman being watched by the new Brainiac and Luthor. I dig it very much. This should have been the main cover, and variant covers still tick me off thereby. There should be a 50/50 or not at all. It's just speculator market crap, and encourages people to have two copies of every issue stuffed away in their basement where they'll focus on that and not the story at hand.

Mild Mannered Reviews


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

January 2009

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