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Mild Mannered Reviews - Regular Superman Comics

Action Comics #873

Action Comics #873

Scheduled to arrive in stores: January 14, 2009

Cover date: March 2009

"New Krypton" - Part 10: "Birth of a Nation"

Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller: Pete Woods and Renato Guedes
Inker: Wilson Magalhaes

Neal Bailey Reviewed by: Neal Bailey

Click to enlarge

Lex Luthor and Sam Lane debate the merits of unleashing Luthor to stop the Kryptonians, resulting in a physical confrontation over Doomsday.

On New Krypton, the "blonde" Kryptonian on Alura's squad that rounded up threats to Kryptonians comes to confront Superman. Superman slams him down through buildings, and renders him unconscious.

The heroes draw Superman away, trying to convince him to evacuate with Power Girl and Supergirl before they magically stop the aggressive Kryptonians.

Green Lantern (JSA) puts a shield over Kara and Kal-El, then Zatanna says "Shazam" backwards with Freddie's aid, and it temporarily removes the powers of ten thousand of the Kryptonians.

The Kryptonians, in response, fly en masse, burrow the land around New Krypton, and lift it into space, where they place it in Earth's orbit, but on the other side of the sun, using the crystals to grow a New Krypton.

Supergirl, respecting the wishes of her father to look out for her mother, flies into the city before a red dome seals it shut. Alura tells Superman he's not welcome on New Krypton.

The world reacts. Where before they were hopeful to have ten thousand new people like Superman, now they're advising preparation for war, given that New Krypton harbors known terrorists.

On Bizarro World, the citizens wonder where Bizarro is. In the Phantom Zone, he mills with Mon-El, Prankster, Toyman, and Parasite.

Brainiac awakens, and hands reach for Doomsday.

Lois and Lana talk with Ma about what Clark thinks he can do in the situation, worried that he's not a god, just a man, and can't solve this problem alone. Clark, meanwhile, stands over his father's grave and promises he won't give up before tearing off into the sky.


Agent Liberty infiltrates where Luthor is working on Doomsday. As he enters the room, Luthor tells an unseen person to kill Liberty. Superwoman appears, and lobotomizes Liberty with heat vision.


Kara and her mother have a terse conversation on New Krypton. Alura departs, entering a room to hear a voice speaking of how Kara can't be trusted. It's Zod. Next to him are Ursa and Non, released from the Phantom Zone.

5Story - 5: Fanboy reaction to this story: THAT WAS AWESOME.

Astute critic's analytical response to this story, bearing in mind post-modern philosophy and the hierarchal patriarchy so prominent in modern literature, compared and contrasted to the average American's reaction to a twenty-two page proverbial "funnybook": THAT WAS AWESOME.

Here's the simplistic level: Superman, Supergirl, most of the JLA, Lex Luthor, Sam Lane, the entire Metropolis bullpen, Ma, Pa, Lana, Doomsday, Brainiac, Alura, Bizarro, Zod. ALL in this book. NONE out of a context or just randomly appearing, all impacting the story in some story way.

Remember my big criticisms about five years ago? (Heck, two years ago with Busiek and his "pet characters?") The ones everyone maligned me for, because they were misinterpreted? I said things akin to, "Speaking as a writer, it's really simple to see what Superman fans like and want. If I were writing Superman, I would not do "SUBJEKT-17!" which is ME trying to put MY imprint on Superman. I would tell a damned good story involving the Superman cast, and MAYBE throw in a few intriguing new characters (like this new, better Superwoman) if there was room and it benefitted the story as opposed to the career of the writer in question.

This is selfless writing, and that's why it's excelling. Johns is subsuming his ego into Superman, and it's rocking.

Yes, you can argue that he's bringing back Silver Age stuff. And Johns is. And it's contretemps to my usual belief that Barry died for a reason, that the Silver Age Superman schlock disappeared. But I've also always carried a line that if a story is told in a great way, it won't matter if it's schlocky. He made Koko work. Think of that.

Agent Liberty bites it, which, if you read him a while back, kind of hurts, like the Newsboy, but it's giving this thing a level of threat without killing characters than anyone is actively using. Doomsday, Brainiac, and Luthor are in one room. A planet full of Kryptonians are conspiring. Superman is despised (and logically, as opposed to that faux way Verheiden did a few years back) on his home planet. Zod is loose. These are BIG ideas, and I know Johns will culminate them, because he doesn't drive by. Look at Green Lantern. Look at JSA. The man is revitalizing Supes, and now that Greg's coming, and now that they're interacting between each other in the titles, this is the beginning of something great, as well as the culmination of it.

I'm giddy to be a Supes fan, for once. Now just expand this faith and effort into the events (Final Crisis and Trinity, which are bombingly awful), and we're talking a cohesive universe for Superman.

This is what happens when writers and editors get on the same page and do something awesome.

5Art - 5: Great splashes, awesome work all around. Every character and scenario was distinctive and great. I saw a bit of Karl Kerschl in there, it felt like, and that gave me the feel of the books a few years ago, when I was truly loving them.


5Cover Art - 5: I was going to knock this a point, because it's just cashing in on the FACES OF EVIL crap, and this book is not about that at all (nor should it be), but it's an awesome image of Luthor, so I can't fault it. He's a bit Silver Age, but it's what's going on in this story, and it's a scary image to contemplate Superman facing.

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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