Action Comics #643 (July, 1989)
“Superman on Earth”
Story & Breakdown – George Perez
Finished Art – Brett Breeding
Letterer – Bill Oakley
Colorist – Glenn Whitmore
Assistant Editor – Jonathan Peterson
Editor – Mike Carlin
Cover Price: $0.75
Wow, has it really been 100 days since our six-hundred sixty-sixth post?! Where does the time go?
Anyhoo, welcome to the 766th post… where, as part of #Action100, we’ll be discussing a very special issue of Action Comics. It’s one I’ve blown passed in the long box many times over… each time pausing to admire the cover homage (before such a thing was played out)… but, for the life of me… I couldn’t tell ya a whole heckuva lot about what goes on inside. Pardon my projecting, but I have a sneaking suspicion I’m not alone in that.
The short of it is… this issue marks the return of Superman to both Action Comics… and Earth!
The long of it is… to follow!
We open with Superman returning to Earth from his time In Exile. Upon arrival in Metropolis, we get the whole “it’s a bird, it’s a plane…” before he safely and triumphantly lands atop the Daily Planet Building.
He admires his Earthly surroundings, pollution and all before the Daily Planet staff arrive to welcome him “home”. Superman notices that Lois and Clark aren’t around and asks Jimmy about their whereabouts. Lois is at Hamilton’s… Clark is, well… out. Remember, while Superman was In Exile, Matrix took over for him as Clark Kent to keep up the ruse.
Superman takes off to catch up on what he might’ve missed during his months “away”. Just then, Clark Kent and Cat Grant arrive… with the former a little surprised to hear that (s)he just missed Superman. We follow Superman, who flies passed LexCorp Tower. Inside, Lex smugly smirks.
Back to Superman, he arrives at his apartment. His first order of business is to place the Kryptonian Artifact, the Eradicator on his mantle for safe-keeping.
Back at the Planet, “Clark” is acting a bit wonky… and so, Perry White sends him home for a few days rest. Jimmy walks him out… but overhears Cat Grant in the middle of a very urgent call. Turns out Lois and Gangbuster are trapped under the pier… which was destroyed by an Intergang Robot!
Jimmy uses his signal watch to call Superman… interrupting his shower-time. At the pier, Lois attempts to tend to the fallen Delgado.
Nearby, the Intergang robot is causing more and more havoc. We can see that it’s being controlled… or at least monitored by Morgan Edge… who appears to have made a deal… with Darkseid?!
Just then, Superman appears… and smashes into the bot with a left!
And the crowd goes wild!
The robot returns fire, literally… in the form of a pair of missiles. Superman shields the crowd with his massive chest, saving the day yet again!
As he pulls himself up, he gives the ‘bot the ol’ x-ray look-see… and deduces that it’s in no part human… which makes his job from here a whole heckuva lot easier. Superman proceeds to beat the devil out of the robot, before encasing it in his cape.
With the threat neutralized, Superman sets his sights on saving Lois and Jose. Lois informs him that Morgan Edge was behind the robot attack… and so, Superman’s next stop is Mr. Edge’s office. Upon confrontation, poor ol’ Morgan suffers a heart attack!
When the dust settles, we meet up with Desaad, who is watching the events unfold. He is summoned by Darkseid… and fears he might know about a “ruse” he attempted with a certain “Terran fool”.
We close out with Superman returning back to his apartment… just in time to see it blown to bits! Inside, he finds… Clark Kent, with a handful of Eradicator!
Well, I think I can safely say the story didn’t quite live up to the cover… least not to me. This wasn’t the first time I read this… but the story is forgettable enough where it felt like it was.
It’s Superman’s return… which is cool. It’s good seeing him back as the starring feature of Action Comics after the nearly year-long Action Comics Weekly experiment. Speaking of which, man… I’ve tried synopsizing some Weeklies… that’s a heckuva endeavor right there! Also, this marks his return to Earth. Another cool thing… but at the end of the day, we get a bunch of pages of Superman fighting a robot.
I’ve said it before (and I’ll likely say it again), the thing that kept me wary of DC Comics when I was a kid was… some lame-o threats/villains. I just can’t get excited about Superman fighting a robot. Seems like such a non-threat. It ought to go like… Superman scans the thing, realizes there are no human “parts” (and no bystanders in the “line of fire”… then flies right through it. End of story. I’m oversimplifying, I guess… but really… I just feel like most robots are kinda boring.
I suppose the real threats here are Morgan Edge and Darkseid, which works. I guess with this “big return” issue I kinda expected more… which isn’t really the fault of the book.
The art here… ehh… I’d never want to besmirch George Perez, but some of the characters here looked a bit “off”. I’m talkin’ Jimmy and Lois, mainly… but even Superman’s face looked “off model” (if that’s even a thing) a few times here. Everything else looked great… but I’ll admit that I lingered on a few of the wonkier panels longer than I should’ve.
Overall… I mean, the cover alone makes the issue worth a pull. The action-centric parts of the story is kinda boilerplate, and the few “soapier” elements we get really do the heavy-lifting.