Action Comics #844 (December, 2006)
“Last Son, Part One”
Writers – Geoff Johns & Richard Donner
Artist – Adam Kubert
Colorist – Dave Stewart
Letterer – Rob Leigh
Associate Editor – Nachie Castro
Editor – Matt Idelson
Cover Price: $2.99
Being as though I’m a bit Justice Leagued out… I figured that today would be the day that I’d finally get back to that “Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes” story from Action Comics. That second long-box full of Action finally surfaced at the new place, so I figured, what the heck?
Then, as I’m flipping through… I came across this issue. It’s been a long time since I read this… and I remember it kinda polarizing the audience, so let’s give it a revisit and see what all the hub-bub was about!
As for Justice League, the movie’s been out less than 24-hours… and already my social media feed is full of screenshots of its “Rotten Tomatoes” page. Can we just go back to talking comics? Please?
We open with Superman activating a crystally computer simulation at the Fortress of Solitude. It would appear that he’s here to chat up ol’ Mr. Oz. It’s been awhile… as following Infinite Crisis, he spent a year living like a regular ol’ Earthling. Jor-El cautions him that while he might look like a human… he ain’t one.
We shift over to The Daily Planet Building in Metropolis, where Perry White is reaming out poor Jimmy Olsen for his shoddy camerawork. In his latest attempt to capture some Super-snaps, all he caught was a red and blue blur. He’s also the cover-boy for rival Daily Star, who caught a crystal-clear picture of Superman saving a falling Jimmy Olsen… whoops. Perry orders him to fetch a cup of coffee, then turns his attention to Clark Kent.
Here’s where it gets weird. Perry starts lambasting Clark… for being, I dunno, a dork? This doesn’t quite read right… and I really don’t like it. He suggests Clark mentor Jimmy because “for some Godforsaken reason” Jimmy looks up to him. Really? Okay. Anyhoo, Clark is distracted by an incoming Korean steamed bun… and runs of to check it out.
Superman rushes onto the scene, and catches the crispy craft… and halts it before it can do too much damage.
Then he takes a good look at it and realizes there’s a… passenger on board?!
We shift ahead to the Department of Metahuman Affairs, where Superman is introduced to ol’ crumb-bum Sarge Steel. They’re going to run some tests on the lad and see if they can’t deduce his planet of origin. Their chat is interrupted by the boy… hoisting an entertainment center over his head, then speaking in… Kryptonese?!
Superman pulls the boy aside, and the two have a chat. Thankfully this time DC included subtitles for the Kryptonese. It’s sometimes fun when they don’t… but I really don’t wanna have to jump between the internet and a comic to get a complete conversation… which doesn’t really amount to much anyway. That night, the Docs get a swab from the boys cheek… and prepare to test its reaction to Kryptonite. Superman is a bit suspicious, but doesn’t really raise a fuss. He promises the boy that he’ll be back before he wakes up the next morning.
Superman picks up some Chinese take-out on his way home… and shares the news of his day with Lois. She’s already hard at work writing her article on the boy in the Korean steamed bun. Superman tips her off that he might be Kryptonian in origin… and so, she changes her headline.
The next morning, Superman heads off to visit the boy… only to find that the entire Department bugged out overnight! Turns out, Sarge Steel and the gang relocated to the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., and they’re attempting to wrap their heads around their strange new visitor. Based on the trajectory of the steamed bun, it should’ve smashed right through the Moon… soooo… how did it get to Earth? One researcher suggests Hyperspace… and we all breathe a sigh of relief he didn’t say Hypertime.
Suddenly… a visitor! An angry Superman bursts through the doors, and beelines toward Sarge. Steel reveals that the boy is indeed Kryptonian… and claims that he was told Superman was involved in the decision to relocate to D.C.
Meanwhile, Lex Luthor reads the newspaper.
We wrap up with the transport convoy relocating the Kryptonian boy being attacked… and the boy himself being abducted.
By… Superman?! But… why would he need charges?
Post-Infinite Crisis Superman is so weird. You (or at least, I) get the impression that there’s a whole lot of hesitation and reluctance to “commit to the bit”. Is this the post-Crisis guy? Is this Christopher Reeve? Who knows?
Let’s get my main (and only, really) complaint. Perry White is… a complete jerk. He seems completely detached from his staff… which, doesn’t really work for me. I’m used to Perry being Clark’s “Metropolis dad”… not this incredulous condescending blowhard. Questioning why Jimmy would look up to Clark? Questioning why Lois would marry him? What the hell am I reading?
Okay… with that out of the way, I really dug the rest!
The idea that “yet another Kryptonian” arrives on Earth… well, that’s nothing new. We’ve all joked before that it seems like at the end of the day Jor-El and Lara were the only casualties. Well… guess we can’t even make that joke anymore, can we?
The way this was done… while unspectacular, was decent enough to get us where we need to be. While Sarge Steel isn’t among my favorites (to be fair, my Sarge experience is rather limited)… it was still neat to see him included here. It’s always nice when D-Listers get a bit of a shine.
Not sure how I feel about Clark Kent-kidnapper. On one hand, I get it… and understand why he’s feel protective for the boy. On the other… this makes him a fugitive, and I don’t much dig that. Unless… of course, we’re being set up. I’ll admit it’s been… yeesh, a decade since I read this… and I don’t remember how the “mid-section” of this storyline plays out. To be completely honest, most of my memories of this story are centered around the 100 years it took to come out. There were some craaaaaaazy delays on this one… but, ten years later there’s a beautiful trade paperback to check out.
Speaking of beautiful… this book looked amazing! From character designs to panel layout, this was a treat to peruse. It’s crazy… even after all these years, it’s still pretty jarring to see Adam Kubert drawing DC characters. I just immediately associate him with the X-Men comics of my youth… seeing him here just feels wrong, but damned if it isn’t pretty! The Kuberts (sans Joe, duh), Mark Bagley, and John Romita Jr. are some of my Marvel comfort food… and it’s so weird seeing them ply their trade in the DCU.
Overall… despite some post-Infinite Crisis wishy-washiness, this was a great first chapter. As mentioned, this has been collected… hell, it was even released (for whatever reason) as a Free Comic Book Day book (several years and reboots later). Unsurprisingly, this is also available digitally. Well worth a look!
Willy Wonka “Bonus Book”!: