Action Comics #839 (2006)

Action Comics #839 (July, 2006)
“Up, Up, and Away! Chapter Six: This Looks Like a Job…”
Writers – Geoff Johns & Kurt Busiek
Artist – Renato Guedes
Letterer – Rob Leigh
Associate Editor – Nachie Castro
Editor – Matt Idelson
Cover Price: $2.99

Well, there’s a cover that spoils the ending.  Let’s talk about it anyway…

We open on a flashback to the end of Infinite Crisis.  Superman and the Superman of Earth-2 have Superboy-Prime, and are bringing him to Eldirao, the Red Sun of Krypton.  In the ultimate suicide mission all three plunge into it… and are only saved by Mogo, the Planet Lantern.  Well, two of them are saved anyway.  Superboy-Prime was caught and imprisoned on Oa, Superman survived… but returned powerless.  Superman of Earth-2 wasn’t quite so lucky.

Back in the present, Superman is facing off with the remaining members of the Revenge B-Team.  He’s mobbed by Riot, and as he fights him/them off… he’s suddenly overcome with very specific memories of his youth.  Smells, tastes, sounds… it’s almost as though he’s developed a… super-brain.

After not much more effort, he’s able to take the baddies out.  We can see here that his super-hearing is not only back… but it’s keener than ever.  Rather than soak in the adulation of the crowd, he heads for the skies instead.  Back at the Daily Planet, Clark shares these revelations with Lois while Perry rallies the troops.

During the Chief’s impassioned rallying cry, Clark finds himself distracted by millions of disparate voices around the city.  He panics, and rushes out… excusing himself for feeling ill.  In reality, he’s just trying to escape the onslaught of voices.  He flies above Metropolis… and blanks everything and everyone out.  He then slowly lets the voices and sounds back in… in a way that he can control.  It isn’t long before he has brought the bombastic brouhaha down to a manageable hum.

He mentions that on his way out he scribbled something on Lois’ notepad.  Flipping back a few pages and, yeah… looks like he did!  The note informs her that something big is about to go down, and tells her to head outside.  No sooner do she and Jimmy hit the street than odd Kryptonian crystals begin erupting from the ground below.

Superman swoops in and saves some civilians while Jimmy snaps some photos.  Perry calls Lois to find out what’s up with Clark, and she has to make an excuse for his running off… blaming it on a bad burrito.  Perry appears to understand, but is disappointed that last year’s best reporter appears to have fallen back to his old vanishing antics.  In the skies, Superman thinks to himself that the Clark Kent disappearing act is just part of who he is… and he realizes if given the choice, he could never give up being Superman.

We shift over to Lex’s Lab, where the artifact has come through the floor.  In the middle of all the crystal, we can see a glowing core.  From it, comes some Kryptonese blibbah-blabbah… unfortunately without a translation.  Thanks guys!  I really wanted to read this next to my laptop.  “Awaiting Authorization Voiceprint.  Override Accepted.  Welcome Commander.” That was worth it…

Back on the street, Superman brings more civilians to safety… and realizes that everything that has gone down so far has been part of the same plan… concocted by the same man.  The issue ends with Superman facing off against… Lex Luthor and his (lame-looking) crystal craft.

Remember a few days ago where I said it feels like they’re stretching four issues worth of story into eight?  That’s all I could think of while reading this one.

It’s not that nothing happens here… it’s just what does happen could have been condensed into a solid ten pages.  Speaking completely out of my ass here, it almost feels like so many of these “Superman saves civilians” scenes were added after the fact simply to pad these issues out.

Let’s talk Clark’s note to Lois.  Seems kinda strange for him to put her right in the middle of a very dangerous situation, doesn’t it?  It’s like, if I knew a tornado was going to whip down a certain street, I sure wouldn’t tell my wife to head there right away… no matter how much she might want to see a tornado.  Jimmy?  Sure… Lois, not buyin’ it.

We get a lot of introspection here… perhaps too much, because it really says so little.  Upon taking up the tights again, Superman realizes he can never give them up.  That’s about all we need.  This “struggle” really should have come from Lois’ point of view… seems like her life is the most altered one here.  But, nahhh… she was just immediately cool with it.

The development of a “super brain” here… I’m not sure if this was supposed to illustrate Superman’s having to rebuild a tolerance to all the stimuli, or signal a return to a more Silver-Age/pre-Crisis level of super-intellect.  I suppose either way works… and I thought it was pretty neat.

The Kryptonese not having a translation was pretty annoying.  I mean, how hard would it be to include one?  I can’t speak for everyone, but I do a lot of my comic reading in bed… not the best place to have to try and translate gobbledygook.  Sure, I could use my phone… if I wanted to zoom in and squint.  But, then… I’d need a pad and pencil too… so nevermind.  This isn’t anything Earth-shattering… and there really isn’t any pay-off to translating it, so just include a footnote… please.

Lex Luthor’s crystal craft… looks really lame.  I mean, it could’ve looked like anything… and this is what they chose?  It could’ve been a giant crystal Kryptonian “S”… it could’ve resembled a Warsuit… anything!  Instead we get a pointy flower… or dried up starfish.

Despite that lame-o design, the art here is quite good.  Guedes is a great artist, and seems to be using some John Locke from LOST as photo-reference for Luthor.  My one complaint about his work here would be the opening flashback to Infinite Crisis.  The Supermen all look to be the same age.  Superman-2 doesn’t look older… Prime doesn’t look younger.  They all look to be around 30.  Minor quibble, but whattayagonnado?

This story is becoming harder and harder to recommend… though, that’s not entirely fair.  I think I’m probably experiencing this in the worst way possible… a single issue per day.  I feel like that could lead to burn out, whereas, if you were to read this in trade (or even biweekly as it was originally run) you’d be far more satisfied with what you’d get.

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