Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Action Comics #10

From what I can tell, this story not only takes place before the events in The Flash #1, but I think it even happened relatively soon after Justice League #6. Of  course, the Flash doesn't do a whole lot in this issue, but it is an appearance nonetheless, and I think it is kind of interesting to see the Justice League start to function after they defeated Darkseid and Starro.

"Superman: Bulletproof"


Grant Morrison Writer
Rags Morales Penciller
Rick Bryant Inker
Brad Anderson Colorist
Patrick Brosseau Letterer
Wil Moss Associate Editor
Matt Idelson Editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

The cover is by Rags Morales and Brad Anderson, and it's not too bad. For those who had been following Action Comics (like I did before it got too weird), Nimrod the Hunter was introduced in Issue #8, so it was kind of an exciting thing to see Clark caught in Nimrod's crosshairs before he could change into Superman. However, this is only a metaphorical cover, as this scene does not literally take place in the book, but Nimrod does discover Superman's secret identity, and this is kind of a symbolic way to show that.

I like this black-and-white cover because, unlike in Justice League, they put the inks on the drawing so we can actually tell what's what here and appreciate the details that might have gotten washed out in the red of the regular cover.

The variant cover is by Bryan Hitch and Paul Mounts. It is an iconic image that is well done, but I'm not a fan of the coloring here. Or rather, the source of light they chose. It just seems odd to have the sun right behind Superman's back, and it is blindingly bright. I think this could have been one of my more favorite covers if they would've toned down the sun a little bit.

So the story starts with Nimrod the Hunter being recruited to hunt a bulletproof man. His previous prey was a Tyrannosaurus rex:

But before he fights the man of steel, Superman apprehends a man who killed a little girl. He takes the guy to jail, but the murderer had two pet hamsters that Superman is now stuck with. So he turns to the Justice League for help.

They meet in the abandoned printing press we first saw in Justice League #2, and Green Lantern says they need a better base, like something in a volcano or a satellite. Superman, meanwhile, is disappointed that none of them want the hamsters or to start tackling poverty in Somalia. He says they should be helping the world more since they're the king of an undersea empire, an Amazon princess and a billionaire playboy. Batman gets pretty mad for being called a playboy, and says, "Oh, I forgot. Your'e a journalist. A snoop." Superman is surprised to here Batman knows his secret identity and Wonder Woman calms everybody down.

Getting back on topic, the Flash reminds everyone that the whole "Justice League" thing was partly created so they could talk business. He was hoping they wouldn't have to fight every time they met.

So Batman gets right down to business and explains that he doesn't want to be a part of a living weapon that marches into countries uninvited to "fix" problems they barely understand. But Superman says there is so much widespread suffering and starvation in the world, and he looks to the Flash to back him up. But Flash says he also has a life and a family and he knows his responsibilities and limitations. He maintains that it's important for the League to stay within the law while they figure out their new status as superheroes. Flash reminds everybody that they're not gods and they need to tread very carefully. Superman says, "I understand. Next time a space monster shows up, you know where to find me." And he leaves with the hamsters. After he's gone, Batman says, "One of these days, we'll all have to go after him."

Later, Clark gives the hamsters to Lois Lane's niece, and he fights and easily defeats Nimrod, but he's worried about how easily Batman and Nimrod discovered his secret identity through nothing more than old fashioned detective and hunting skills, so Clark fakes his death at the end of the issue. There is a backup story where Jimmy Olsen and Lois and others gather in a tavern to celebrate the life of Clark Kent.

The Good:

Justice League conversation. Yes, none of them actually fought anything, but as the Flash said, it was kind of nice to see them all together without having to fight something. Instead, they're still a relatively new group trying to figure out their place in the world. I found their debate to be really interesting. I can sympathize with Superman's desire to do more good in the world than just beating up aliens, but I can also understand Batman and Flash's concerns about exercising too much power over the world. I also like how the Flash took charge in this conversation. He has a very strong moral compass and can explain things in a softer, nicer way than Batman can. Coming right out the Darkseid fight, it makes perfect sense for the Flash to say what he says and for Superman to listen to and respect him, although he may not entirely agree.

If you've read the first six issues of Justice League and you're looking for a rare, usually unseen "in-between" moment for the League, then I recommend this issue. For once, you get to see what these heroes are like when they're not punching bad guys and you get to learn a bit about their personalities and philosophies. And in all the other pages of this book, you're treated to a pretty fun story with Superman and Kraven, I mean, Nimrod the Hunter.

Final score: 6

Next time: I finally catch up to the "now," which becomes increasingly difficult to put stories in order. One of the things I love about The Flash, is that from Issue #1 through Issue #14 and beyond is basically one continuous narrative. But there are a few moments of rest I can find, where I'll send Flash off to have a couple of quick adventures with the Justice League and others. But before I can jump into the Flash's main title, I have to make a quick stop in Captain Atom #3, where the Flash makes a very quick, yet significant appearance.

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