Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Action Comics #12

"Return of the Forgotten Superman"


Grant Morrison Writer
Rags Morales, Cafu, Brad Walker Pencillers
Rick Bryant, Bob McLeod, Cafu, Andrew Hennessy Inkers
Brad Anderson and Gabe Eltaeb Colorists
Steve Wands Letterer
Wil Moss Associate Editor
Matt Idelson Editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

Before I get reviewing, I have to apologize for missing this issue. It really happened soon after Action Comics #10, but the Flash's appearance in here was so quick and brief, that I completely forgot it happened. Also, it didn't help that I really hated this issue and didn't go back and re-read it like I normally do. But if this issue never turned me away from Action Comics, then I never would have picked up The Flash and begun my quest to review in order every Flash appearance, no matter how big or small it was. I'll include a timeline at the end to help put everything in order.

The cover is by Rags Morales and Brad Anderson. I like that it shows a scene that actually happened in the book, and overall, it's a pretty solid cover. I think I prefer the black-and-white version over the colored. It takes away the effects of the psychic powers and focuses on the action.

The variant cover is by Cliff Chiang, and I absolutely love it. It's simple, it's colorful, it's symbolic, and it's something new that we don't see every day. In my opinion, this is what variant covers should be: something different. Sometimes, when you experiment like this, you run the risk of losing fans (and I understand why a lot of people wouldn't like this), but sometimes, your risk pays off and you find some people who appreciate it. And I'm one of those people.

The story starts with a series of images of Clark Kent's life, but some things are different from what's already happened in the New 52 continuity. Clark leaves home when both his parents are still alive; his first job is at the Daily Planet instead of the Daily Star. He still becomes Superman and teams up with the Justice League to repel Darkseid ...

... but after the battle he establishes a new Camelot and ushers in a new golden age, where Kryptonian technology has been introduced to Earth and the skies are full of flying heroes. Superman even gets married to Lois Lane. But then he realizes that his dream come true truly is just a dream. In reality, Lois is dying after being hit by a fire truck, and Superman is battling Captain Comet, who has used his psychic powers to send an angry mob after the Man of Steel, so that he could take Lois' niece, Susie, away to his planet.

Like Comet, Susie has psychic powers, and he tells her she is unique and needs to be saved before the world is destroyed. To earn her trust, he shows her his life's story. He was born as Adam Blake in Kansas the same day Superman's rocket landed on Earth. He displayed psychic abilities at an early age and was often referred to as the Blake Farm Ghost, or was confused with Superman, hence the Forgotten Superman. He was outcast by his family, but discovered by aliens, who took him away. Now that he's back, he only wants to take little Susie with him, but he hasn't cared who he hurts or kills to accomplish his goal, which Superman has a problem with.

They fight for awhile, but Comet is only defeated once Susie steps in with her powers. Comet teleports to his spaceship and Superman rushes Lois to the hospital. Superman saves her life by reading all the books in the medical library in five minutes and performs the operation himself.

Later, Batman meets Superman and gives him a hard drive with every story written by Clark Kent. Batman tells him that Kent is a hero in his own right, and Superman needs to bring him back from the dead. Batman also placed a small tracker on Superman's cape, but he either didn't notice it, or didn't care.

Clark then goes to his landlady, Mrs. Nyxly, who tells him she's the only one who can bring Clark Kent back to life. She reveals that she is a fifth-dimmesional being with three wishes, and she uses one of them to make the world forget that Clark had ever died.

In the epilogue, Susie is visited by the strange little man who has been involved in every adventure in Action Comics. As Mrs. Nyxyly alluded to, this little man is really Lord Vyndktvx, who is attacking Superman's whole life at once and is disrupting the timeline as a result.

The Good:

Hmm ... if you're really into wild science fiction from Grant Morrison with aliens, alternate dimensions and time travel, then this storyline is for you. Personally, though, it's too much for me to handle.

The Bad:

Little to no Flash. For diehard Flash fans, I do not recommend picking up this issue. You only see two quick images of him, and those are in a dream sequence, which really doesn't count. It was kind of fun to see the Batmobile running over parademons, though.

Inconsistent art. Rags Morales is a very hit-or-miss artist. When he's on, he's one of the best in the business; but when he's off, some of his stuff is unbearable, and there was plenty of that going on here. He's also really bad at hitting deadlines, so with this larger-than-normal issue without a backup, Morales called upon two other pencillers to help him out. For me, that's too many cooks in the kitchen and created a rather unpleasant reading experience.

Big leap in Superman's abilities. My favorite thing about the early Action Comics issues was the depowered, still developing Superman. Lots of things still hurt him and it took a long time before he learned how to fly. But in this issue, Morrison threw all that out the window and gave Superman abilities I didn't want him to have just yet, especially the super-speed reading. Something like that should be reserved for the Flash, not a young Superman still learning to fly.

Deus ex machina finale. I was so excited to read this issue when it first came out, mainly because I wanted to see how Clark Kent would come back after faking his own death. Turns out, his landlady just had to use a magic wish. Now, I have nothing against his landlady being from the fifth dimension, but I don't want her to solve my hero's problems with a blink of an eye. When Superman got Batman involved, I was worried Batman would solve everything for him. But instead, Batman gave him a nice pep talk and encouraged Superman to fix it himself. But he didn't! Such a sad, disappointing end to a story that only got worse by alluding to more wild, difficult to follow story line in the future.

Final score: 1 out of 10

Next time: The Flash will make one more quick appearance in Action Comics — but this time it's not a dream!

Now here is my little Flash timeline. As far as I can tell, this is every appearance of Barry Allen in the New 52. If you notice any omissions, please let me know and I will review them.

The Flash #0 — Barry Allen becomes the Flash
Justice League #1–6 — Darkseid
Action Comics #10 — Early Justice League meeting
Action Comics #12 — Dream sequence
Captain Atom #3 — Libyan war
The Flash #1–#5 — Mob Rule
Justice League #7–#8 — Spore, Green Arrow
The Flash #6–#9 — Captain Cold, Turbine, Gorilla Grodd
Action Comics #14 — Superman finds Krypton
The Flash #10 — Weather Wizard
Justice League #9–#14 — David Graves, Cheetah
Green Lantern #14 — Simon Baz
The Flash #11–#12 — Heatwave, Glider
The Flash Annual #1 — The Rogues
The Flash #13–#17 — Gorilla Warfare
Justice League #15–#16 — Variant covers only
Superman #15 — Joins H'el on Earth storyline
Superboy #16 — Assault on the Fortress
Supergirl #16 — Supergirl
Superboy Annual #1 — Flashback
Superman #16 — Flashback
Superboy #17 — H'el on Earth*
Supergirl #17 — H'el on Earth*
Superman #17 — H'el on Earth Finale*
Vibe #1 — Flashback*
Justice League of America #1 — Posters and files
Animal Man #17 — Rotworld*

The ones I've marked with an * are issues I haven't read yet, but have seen the Flash in the previews. As I get reviewing these issues, I'll explain more why I've put them in this order. And once again, I'm bound to be missing something, so if you know of anything I've overlooked, please help me out.

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