Action Comics (vol.2) #2 (December, 2011)
Writer – Grant Morrison
Pencillers – Rags Morales & Brent Anderson
Inkers – Rick Bryant & Brent Anderson
Colorist – Brad Anderson
Letterer – Patrick Brosseau
Associate Editor – Wil Moss
Editor – Matt Idelson
Cover Price: $3.99
They say never to judge a book by its cover… but, have you ever… just by looking at a cover, been able to instantly tell which books you would soon be tripping over in the cheap-o bins?
No sooner did I see this cover… probably in a solicit, did I know that this book would be clogging quarter-bins all over the place. And wouldn’tcha know it, just a few months later that’s exactly where I began seeing them pop up!
Perhaps there is a measure of region specificity to it… and maybe I just unwittingly have my finger on the “pulse” of the Phoenix fandom… but, this is the one issue of Action Comics (volume 2) I see in nearly every single discount bin I flip through.
Has this happened to anybody else? Am I just losin’ it?
Oh well… let’s quit looking at the cover, and get to the chewy center.
We pick up a little bit after where we left off with Action Comics #1. Superman stopped that rogue train… but it caused him to be captured by Thunderbolt Ross… er, General Lane. He is strapped to an electric chair… and is being tested by Dr. Lex Luthor. Did he have a Doctorate in the pre-Flashpoint continuity? I don’t recall. The other science-types aren’t terribly comfortable with the idea of torture… even if they’re doing it to an alien. I guess that’s a good sign. A Doctor Irons (hmm) busts in and tries to put a stop to the proceedings. When Luthor refuses, he quits the project.
Elsewhere, General Lane is having Superman’s cape tested… by having it shot hundreds (thousands?) of times over. As the smoke clears, we see that the cape is unaffected. Hell, by the looks of it, it might even be tougher than the New-52! Superman himself!
Lois Lane shows up to the base to chat up her father. She is trying to track down this “Superman” for a story. The General almost coyly admits that he has Superman… and that he’s “safe”.
Back inside, the tests continue. Superman has woken up at this point… and is presented with… like a goat or something. He is asked if his “natural state” is something similar to that of the goat. Superman laughs… and laughs. Which angers Luthor… and causes me to shrug.
Back outside, General Lane takes all the information Lois had gathered thus far on Superman… and heads back inside. He has his flunky Glen Talbot… er, John Corben keep her occupied. Turns out he (John) has the hots for her… so, he’s pretty easily manipulated.
Back inside, Superman is losin’ it! He’s broken out of the electric chair and is wrecking the place. He busts through the thick door to the observation area and grabs Luthor, using him as a human shield of sorts. After whispering some sweet nothreats into his ear, he drops him to the ground and takes off.
Not before grabbing his indestructible cape, of course. I mean, wouldn’t you? From his bloody and beaten face, it’s clear that the thing is more resilient than he is! He rushes into the next room and finds… a rocket! Upon touching it, it changes into a crystalline form and begins “speaking” to him.
Superman tells the rocket that he will be back for it… before continuing to flee. Soldiers chase him up a flight of stairs and toward an elevator shaft. By now, Lois has made her way inside… and she’s pretty surprised to catch Superman in the act of his great escape.
We wrap up with a couple of pages of epilogue. First, John Corben volunteers to take part in the top-secret Steel Soldier project… that was once under the purview of Doctor Irons. Irons… Steel? Ohhhhhh. Welcome to the All-New, All-Different DC Universe, folks!
The second epilogue features Lex Luthor on the phone from with… an alien?
I feel like every time we discuss these early New-52! Superman books, I have the same reaction… this feels more like “Ultimate” Superman than anything that should’ve been pushed as the “real” Superman.
I mean, we’re two issues in… actually… we’re not even two issues in when we are introduced to “Doctor Irons”. That feels so much like an Ultimate move. This is part of the reason why the whole reboot bugged me so much. It’s like… “It’s all new… except for all of these names we’re going to drop to keep you on the line”. I mean, if we’re going “all-new“, why not just make some new characters? Just feels like a case of DC wanting to eat its cake, and have it too. For whatever reason that really got to me during the initial months of the New-52! initiative.
While we’re looking at characters… I know I joked about it above, but when did Sam Lane become Thunderbolt Ross? He comes complete with a Glen Talbot-like lackey in John Corben… I mean, dude’s even got the Glen Talbot mustache! That’s gotta be on purpose, right?
For the story… well, Superman can withstand torture. Is that worth your four dollars? I mean, you and I already knew he could withstand torture… so, we didn’t exactly learn anything here. All we get is… Lex Luthor is an a-hole, and the military is working on a Steel Soldier project.
I think it was with this issue that the “new normal” set in for me. There was no longer that weird anticipation/excitement around seeing what a brand-new #1 would bring… now, it was just “the next issue” of Action Comics. Without the excitement and uncertainty, I feel like it fell to this issue to really deliver something special… and it didn’t! Hell, they had to use a second penciller… which tells me how much of a priority this was for those involved. If they can’t stay motivated two months in… why in hell should I?
The “back-up” feature… remember, this was one of the few New-52! books that didn’t “draw the line at $2.99″… was a complete waste. Really, we get no more out of this than we would’ve in a CBR interview… it definitely didn’t warrant adding a dollar to the cover price. Should’ve dropped the “feature”, and the price for this issue. Luckily… if you are interested in checking this out, it isn’t likely you’ll have to shell out four-bucks for it… as mentioned during our preamble (at least in my neck of the woods), this bugger is in just about every buck-n-below bin I come across.
“Inside the Action” Featurette (aka. the reason why you expected this story to run a few more pages):