Action Comics (vol.2) #52 (July, 2016)
“The Final Days of Superman, Part 6: The Great Pretender”
Writer – Peter J. Tomasi
Pencillers – Dale Eaglesham & Scot Eaton
Inkers – Dale Eaglesham & Wayne Faucher
Colors – Tomeu Morey
Letterer – Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor – Andrew Merino
Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $3.99
Here’s a sorta-kinda important issue of Action Comics, from the tail end of its days as a “Volume 2”. Today we’re going to usher out the New-52! and revisit how they tied this one off.
Spoiler Alert: It ends on a… to be continued to an issue of Superman/Wonder Woman. Which… eh, I dunno… feels like a cheap way to go out.
Anyhoo… before I convince everyone to stop reading here, let’s get into it!
We open with Superman (52) in a pretty bad way. He and Wonder Woman join with Batman so that they might track down this weird “double”. Suddenly, his ability to fly sorta gives out… and he splats onto the window of the batwing. They load him inside, and continue their search.
Speaking of that weird double… we shift scenes to Metropolis, where it is chatting up Lois Lane (52). I think the last time we discussed “The Final Days of Superman” on the blog (all them years back) I assumed that this solar-powered double was going to tie in, in some way with Kenan Kong/New Super-Man. I guess that’s why I don’t make many predictions! Anyhoo, the dupe (Denny Swan) tells Lois that he has something secret he’d like to show her.
This takes us to Salinas, California… where Clark and Jonathan White are making some good ol’ Breakfast-for-Dinner. I used to love having that every now and again… until I’d go to lay down a few hours later and be hit with some of the worst heartburn ever. Anyhoo, before they/we know it, they have been joined by Lois and Denny.
There’s a pretty uncomfortable scene where Clark invites Denny to have some pancakes with them. They sit across the table from one another, while Denny prods at Clark about thinking he’s really Superman. Lois immediately runs to Jon to keep him safe.
Then, Denny loses his mind… and attacks! Well, Clark doesn’t take kindly to anyone coming into his home and putting the lives of the ones he loves at risk… so, it’s fight time!
Back in the batwing, Batman informs Superman and Wonder Woman that their next stop is Gotham City… so they might use some bat-tech to get a better bead on the phony Superman. Just then, there’s an energy signal on the batwing’s radar that syncs up to Superman’s new Solar Flare dealie… and it’s coming from Salinas, California. Batman agrees to land.
Back on the ground, Lois-52 rushes Jon away from the house and to safety. Clark and Denny continue their fight… just as the Trinity lands nearby. Then we have the long-awaited… and pretty underwhelming meeting of the New-52! Superman… and the real one.
Lois (the real one) returns home to find the place… well, destroyed. Clark then rushes over and pulls Lois, Jon and their pets far away from the battleground.
We wrap up with Denny trying to make nice with the Trinity… and even going so far as to suggest they team up to get rid of “that imposter”.
Not a bad issue… though a bit disappointing for the “big meeting” between Superman and… the uh, other Superman.
When I see this cover, I see so many possibilities… especially considering they were originally going to use it a few months earlier… very likely to tell a very different story. I kept remembering this as being the cover for Action Comics (vol.2) #50… which is incorrect. A check of a handy-dandy Previews catalog (pack-ratting *sometimes* has its perks) shows that this was actually supposed to be the cover to Superman (vol.3) #50. In a story by Gene Luen Yang and Howard Porter, the pre-Flashpoint and the New-52! Supermen were to meet.
Why this was scrapped? Well, probably Rebirth… even though DC will tell ya they had that “in the works” forever. Hell, they said the same thing in 2011 about The New-52!, when I think hindsight shows us they were fulluvit. This is just more evidence that the “current year” comics industry is a rudderless ship. They can stop on a dime and change direction at a moments notice. Which is why I think so many of us have a difficult time getting “comfortable” these days. Though, maybe I’m just projecting.
I know I have a problem getting comfortable… because I know we’re only one batch of solicits away from yet another reboot/relaunch/rewhatever. I mean, just look at Marvel! Their “cycle” is almost to the point of self-parody. Big new #1… then 2-3 months of stories… then, an announcement of next big “event”/relaunch… followed by 6 months of “lame duck” stories to get us there… then we start the cycle all over again, only with diminishing returns!
Anyhoo… back to this issue of Action Comics. First, it looks pretty great. In my grand DC reread over the past few years, Dale Eaglesham has worked his way toward the top on my list of “best artists”. Was happy to see his name in the credits.
The story? It’s a means to an end. Really not much more to say. They need the new Superman “out of the way” so they can replace him with the original. It’s an event that needs a story, rather than the other way around. Instead of this happening organically… it’s being rushed to get us to Rebirth. Now, I think Rebirth was a great idea… especially when compared to the cosmic toilet flush of 2011, but I still feel like it deserved to go out on less of a rushed “throwaway-ish” story.