Action Comics #817 (2004)

Action Comics #817 (September, 2004)
“Weapons of Revelation”
Writer – Chuck Austen
Penciller – Ivan Reis
Inker – Marc Campos
Colors – Guy Major
Letters – Comicraft
Associate Editor – Tom Palmer, Jr.
Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.50

Gonna keep our Road to #Action100 within the Austen City Limits today… I mean, we kinda didn’t have a choice, right?  Superman… died last issue!  We gotta be there for the funeral…

Apropos of, not a whole lot… as of today, we are one month (just learned that March has 31 days, I could never decode that “Thirty days has…” song) away from our 800th Daily Discussion.  So barring my being struck by lightning or a bus… I gotta try and find a book worthy of chatting up pretty quick!

On the off-chance that I do get blown off the planet by a bolt of lightning… I guess you’ll see me on some paranormal YouTuber’s list of “weird internet things”… because, it’s like I knew it all along.

Er… speaking of YouTube, the Cosmic Treadmill now has one.  So, uh… yeah… give it a look if you like to listen to podcasts while working in another tab.

Anyhoo… let’s get on with it!

We open with Lana Lang on the phone with Ma Kent as reports of Superman’s demise… or, at least his defeat… play on the television.  Jerk-ass Jack Ryder seems especially pleased… because this gives him a really big story to report on.  He says once he gets the skinny, he’ll wave a certain colored flag in order to alert the masses.  Inside S.T.A.R. Labs, the med-techs and med-types are hard at work trying to resuscitate the Man of Steel.  Time after time… the shock paddles spring to life… unfortunately, Superman does not.  Oh, and as promised by the cover… Wonder Woman is there.

Finally, Superman comes around… and claims that the shock paddles really hurt him.  I’ve never been, but I could imagine.  He asks Superboy about the fallout from the Gog attack… and is informed that the fella just skipped out.

Then we meet… this guy.  The appropriately-named, Dr. Mohlman… this guy is the best at being the worst.  He informs the gang that Superman will be just fine… well, maybe… possibly… eh, he might just make it after all.  Really loving this guy!  He tells Superman that he was in fact injected with a liquid form of Kryptonite… but not to worry, they were able to draw every last drop from his wound… well, most of… er, a lot of… uh, quite a bit of it.  This dude is fantastic!

As Superman struggles to his feet, Mohlman continues… he says that the base nucleotides of the liquid-K allowed them the ability to get a good look inside Superman… and for the first time, get a peek at his innards, and perform some bloodwork.  Mohlman was disappointed at just how un-alien he was from the inside… though, Superman’s appendix does appear to be a fully-formed organ… so there’s that!  Feel like we just added something to the Superman mythos.

Anyhoo… Mohlman can’t give a straight answer as to Superman’s mortality going forward.  Which… I mean, we really can’t blame him.  He only has the newly-procured information about his vitals… and doesn’t have a baseline to compare ’em against.  He advises Superman to maybe take it easy… and spend the next few days with those he holds most dear… or, ya know… his online pals.

Outside… news of Superman’s demise has spread, leading to quite the assortment of nogoodniks assembling to raise a bit of hell.  We’ve got some deeeeep cuts here, I mean the Masters of Disaster and the Demolition Team?!

Jerk-ass Jack Ryder peers into the S.T.A.R. Labs window and notices that Superman is heavily-bandaged around his midsection… and so, he reports that Superman is injured… and goes off to seek out his green flag.  Drawing attention to this potentially vulnerable Superman really helps to foment the present riot.

Superman goes to leave, but Wonder Woman stops him… as he’s in no condition to fight.  Unfortunately that doesn’t much matter at this point, because the baddies have decided to take the fight to him!

Wonder Woman stops the roof from caving in… giving Mohlman a good look at her “gluteal development”.  Outside, Ryder and his cameraman Guzman attempt to get the best footage of the riot as possible.  Guzman tries to keep a safe distance, preferring to use his camera’s zoom function rather than… ya know, dying.  Ryder insists he come closer to the action for some better shots… annnd… well, poor dude doesn’t get the shot… he just gets shot.

We join Superman as he’s in battle with the Weapons Master.  They fight through to the outside of S.T.A.R. Labs, at which time the baddie takes a shot at Superman’s chest… at point blank range (if I’m using the term right… maybe not).  Superman’s just as shocked as we are that the bullet… penetrates his skin!  The next issue blurb promises that Superman… is gonna die… again… again.

I thought the prevailing opinion was that the Chuck Austen run became progressively worse as it went on?  We’re only about halfway through at this point, but I’m feeling the exact opposite way.  I know I mentioned that I “left” Superman around this time… but, in reading these past few issues… I don’t think it was because I was “mad at” the story quality.  I mean, there’s a bit of cringe in here… but nothing worth abandoning the book/line over.

Speaking of “prevailing opinion”… I kinda hate that it’s a “thing”.  I mean, I’m trying to objectively look at these books… but feel like they almost need to be graded on a different “curve” because… Chuck Austen.  I feel like if any other writer would have written this same story, nobody would have batted an eye.  Because… it’s not a bad story!  I dunno, maybe I’m just thinking too hard… wouldn’t be the first time.

My earlier complaints about Superman’s “voice” being off… are still there, but less so.  That could just be because he said far less… or, maybe I’m just coming around to it.  Superman “sounded” far more heroic… and far less snarky this time around, and the overall issue was better off for it.

Wonder Woman’s guest-appearance… was what it was.  She didn’t seem to do all that much besides stop the ceiling from caving in on top of Doctor Mohlman.  Maybe she’ll play a bigger role in the coming issues.

Now… speaking of Doctor Mohlman… where has this dude been all my life?  This dude was pretty great.  Like I said above… the best, at being the worst.  I feel like this fella gave Austen a means to funnel all the snark that might’ve otherwise been coming out of Superman’s mouth.  I really enjoyed him… wouldn’t have minded him becoming a regular side-character (in short doses).

Jack Ryder continues to up the jerk-factor… and his pursuit of a scoop wound up costing the life of his cameraman.  Hopefully this will either trigger him to being less of an ass… or, into more of a creep(er).

Overall… not a bad issue at all.  Lots of neat cameos, the art is still wonderful… and Superman sounded less like a teenage boy here.  Also, it’s got one heckuva cover.

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