Action Comics (vol.2) #36 (January, 2015)
Writer – Greg Pak
Artist – Aaron Kuder
Colorist – Wil Quintana
Letterer – Carlos M. Mangual
Assistant Editor – Jeremy Bent
Group Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $3.99
Well, the Bloggiversary is over… and what a day it was. I was overwhelmed by the kind words from my friends and our little community. I can’t even begin to thank you all for making me feel like this silly little blog, in some small way, matters.
That was yesterday, and as they say… no rest for the ridiculous. I can’t promise we’ll have a three years of daily posts celebration next year (I’d say it’s unlikely… but I’ve been saying that all along), so well just do the best we can. Today begins:
And, how are we gonna start it? Well, it’s business as usual! We’re diving right back into our #Action100 Project… and we’re going to discuss a book from pretty late in The New-52! run. It’s actually the last story arc under that branding!
This was one of the first storylines I was “back” for… this was during the time where Futures End was a “thing”, and I was pretty psyched by the possibilities… and rumors that everything was about to go back to how I remembered (and wanted). Also remember, the Doomed storyline that just wrapped up showed us some verrrrrry familiar things.
Let’s see how it reads with all we know now. This issue, by the way, would have been Action Comics #940 had they kept the original numbering.
We open in the wake of Superman: Doomed (well, two months hence)… where Brainiac did some stuff. A bearded Clark Kent looks on while Metropolis rebuilds. We suddenly shift scenes to Smallville, where Lana Lang is awoken from a nightmare in which her (recently departed) parents ask her “Whyyyyy?”
She springs awake, which also wakes her boyfriend… John Henry Irons. I never glommed onto Steel being a younger guy. I always appreciated that he was an older, more established dude. Just makes more sense to me that way. Anyhoo, we learn that these nightmares have been haunting her for a month now, and John gets up to fix her breakfast.
We jump ahead a bit… to Lana and John arriving in town to test the townsfolk for residual Brainiac-related maladies. Here we meet a trio of older fellas… who bring with them some down home sass.
Lana notices that a fog has rolled over the town, and is surprised at the sight of a hearse riding down the street. I guess having just lost her parents, things like that sorta stand out to her. For some reason, she insists that she and John follow it… and it leads them to the graveyard, where we see that the Langs are no longer in the ground.
We check back in with Superman, who has also noticed the odd fog surrounding his hometown, and decides to call in his friend Amadeus Cho… er, waitasec… ahem, I mean Hiro, the Toymaster. This dude is… annoying. Anyhoo, he taps into his satellites (did you know he has satellites?) to peek in on Smallville… and finds that there’s nothing there!
Speaking of “there”, back in Smallville Lana’s zombified parents approach!
Also, a local Sheriff… who looks to have been taken over by some sort of Lovecraftian horror!
Back to Superman… he makes his approach toward Smallville. Let’s look at this “logically”. Superman can travel around the world in the blink of an eye… but still called freaking
Amadeus Hiro to use his satellites instead? Seems our writer really wants to include this kid. Anyhoo, Superman is making his approach, while Hiro “beat-boxes”. I’ve mentioned that he’s annoying, right?
Superman arrives in Smallville, just in time to beat the glorp out of the horror. The beastie bugs out at the last second, leaving the now-dead Sheriff in its wake. Superman checks in on Lana… who really ain’t in the mood for a chat.
In a neat bit, Superman attempts to get a hold of the Justice League… only to learn that there’s no escape from Smallville! Also worth noting, phones no longer work.
We wrap up back in front of the Barber Shop where our three sassy elders are loitering… they wonder aloud how Superman’s going to react when he learns just what’s going on. The camera pans back to reveal the townsfolk… well, they be weird.
All in all, a pretty great issue here!
This definitely takes Superman out of his element… I’m not used to seeing him take on actual “horror”. I mean, we’ve seen him face vampires… and magically-powered baddies, but this feels like new territory for the Man of Steel.
This is a very atmospheric tale… Smallville, even on it’s best day… feels a little, I dunno, too idyllic? Ya know, the kinda “perfect” where you can sense a sort of evil lurking just under the surface. Feeling as though there’s something sinister behind every smile and neighborly wave.
Here… things are a bit more obvious… and ominous. Was never really keen on zombies, always felt like they were one of the lazier “scares”, but under the circumstances… this was handled quite well. Also, the idea that nobody can escape Smallville lends a claustrophobic element to an already tense situation. This was really quite well done.
And then there’s Aaron Kuder. Holy cow, this dude is great! From the Lovecraftian horror… to the dead-eyed Smallvillians… to a bearded Superman, everything looks phenomenal! Truly a gorgeous book to behold. Such a great creative team here.
My only complaint… and it should be obvious if you read the synopsis… but, what’s up with Hiro? This kid… this kid is so annoying, and his inclusion feels so forced. I was only half-joking when I referred to him as Amadeus Cho, because I felt very much the same way when that character was crammed into Hulk and Herc stories a decade ago at Marvel. I wouldn’t mind as much if we weren’t going to such lengths to illustrate how “quirky” he is. He’s just… annoying. Not a character I care to follow.
Overall though… it’s a relatively rare thing where I read a book from The New-52! and wholeheartedly recommend it! It’s decompressed as Hell, but that’s just the day we’re living in… that said, it’s still a rather satisfying read. We wrap up with a strange and unsettling cliffhanger, which only makes me want more.