Action Comics (vol.2) #38 (March, 2015)
“Home is Where the Hell Is”
Writer – Greg Pak
Artists – Aaron Kuder & Jae Lee
Partial Inks – June Chung
Colorist – Wil Quintana
Letterer – Dezi Sienty
Assistant Editor – Jeremy Bent
Group Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $3.99
S’funny, well… maybe not “ha-ha” funny (or even “interesting” funny), but before we discussed Action Comics (vol.2) #36 a couple weeks back, I had originally grabbed this one from the longbox. This is always the cover image I associate with this story arc… and I guess I imagined that it was what kicked it off! Even set up the very post you are reading now!
I mean, what a cover it is, right? A wonderfully striking image… even if I wasn’t reading Action Comics, this cover would entice me to give it a shot!
We open with a flashback of Lana Lang as a young girl facing off against a stringy-looking Lovecraftian horror bathed in flame. Worth mentioning that the flashbacks are being drawn by Jae Lee… who Pak had worked with on the first arc of Batman/Superman. It is vastly different from Kuder’s “present day” bits, but not as jarring a transition as you might think. Speaking of the present, our bearded Clark Kent wakes up to find his childhood home burning… with Lana inside it!
In a really well-done few pages, we see Clark attempt to save Lana… running down a hallway that continues to stretch… it’s like something from a dream, and again, really well-done! She is engulfed in the inferno before he can reach her… and he lets out an amazing bellow! Another great use of the comics “language” to express urgency!
Suddenly, the fire is out… and Clark is left standing alone at his folks’ house. He is summoned to the kitchen by a pair of familiar voices… why it’s Eben and Sar… er, Ma and Pa Kent! They’re back… in zombified form!
They have a pretty uncomfortable chat… as you might imagine. The folks say plenty of hurtful things about their son… including that they’d always feared him. Upon getting a closer look, it’s clear that the Horrors are behind this. Lana has been taken over by one… but is still “her” enough to apologize to Clark.
Clark responds by eye-beaming the baddie. This doesn’t appear to hurt the beast… but, amuses it in a way. It releases its hold over the Kent-elders, and Clark gets to watch them thud to the ground. He, Clark that is, lets out another shout before carrying the bodies of his adoptive-parents out of the now-really-burning house.
Outside, Steel and Amadeus… er, Hiro are doing some small-town crowd control… which is to say, they’re watching over some kids. They ask where Lana is… and after Superman fills them in, they get to planning. Unfortunately, this is cut short by the discovery of disgusting parasitic horrors attaching themselves to the upper-back of everybody remaining (this is a sentence I typed out like a dozen times, and still don’t like how it reads!). Steel yanks his off… and squishes it… which causes him great pain.
The townies approach and give Superman the quick and dirty on their newfound “abilities”. Ya see, during the “Doomed” storyline, Brainiac placed the entire town in a coma. When they “came to”, they had powers. They reveal that they’re not responsible for the horrors… instead, they were responsible for containing them! Further, they do cop to being responsible for the mist… because that will keep the horror quarantined to Smallville, at least for now.
One of the townies suggests Superman figure something out quick… because once the little attached critters bring their host-bodies into the “second stage” of their horror-morphosis, they start liking the feeling of fear. Wouldn’tcha know it, no sooner do we learn this, than folks start really diggin’ the feel of fear!
We close out… nearby, where Lana has almost been completely incorporated into a horror… to the point where it almost looks as though she’s the parasite of a much larger host body!
A(nother) surprisingly good issue of New-52! era Superman and that ain’t a compliment I go doling out all that often…
Horror elements-notwithstanding, this issue made me a bit squirmy. The idea of parasites is one that… I dunno, really skeeves me out. I doubt that’s a particularly unique viewpoint or anything… but… how do I put this?
You ever see a picture of something that particularly grossed you out or scared you? Perhaps it’s a giant hairy spider… or maybe a snake or something? Like you’re looking at it in a book… and it bugs you so much that you don’t even want to touch the picture of it? Like, you wanna ask someone else to turn the page for you because the thought of touching… just the picture of the thing… makes your skin crawl? That’s kinda how I felt here with the squishy-back-horrors. So gross.
I think that’s a pretty good sign that your horror story is effective. I actually didn’t want to go through this a second time to synopsize it because it skeeved me out so! That’s certainly a testament to Aaron Kuder’s art… where he can craft something that can skeeve me out, especially when that was (I believe) the intent!
The story… while good, relied on some pretty predictable pathos. I mean, it didn’t take a rocket-surgeon to figure out that we were eventually going to see the Kent corpses.
Where the story shined though, was in the twist. We were led to believe that the townies were responsible for the horrors… when in fact, they were the only things effectively holding them back! That was unexpected, and I thought it was really cool! Great use of past storylines too… which is something I’d all but given up hope on ever happening again post the September, 2011.
Overall… I’d say this arc is definitely worth checking out.