Action Comics #806 (October, 2003)
“Hungry Ghost, Part One: Blood, Broads and Bushido”
Writer – Joe Kelly
Penciller – Pascual Ferry
Inker – Cam Smith
Guest Art – Karl Kerschl
Colorist – Guy Major
Letters – Comicraft
Associate Editor – Tom Palmer, Jr.
Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.25
You see that on the horizon?
That be the finish line for our #Action100 Endeavor, because, dear reader, we are in the “home stretch”. Heck, we’ve already lapped the “home stretch” as today we are about to begin the, a-hem, penultimate installment!
That’s right… this is our 99th discussion of Action Comics… and, perhaps most shockingly… we’re right on time!
Barring my being hit by a bus, our 100th discussion will be this Wednesday… April 18th, the 80th Anniversary of Superman and the release date of Action Comics #1000!
Now let’s learn some street magic, yo.
We open in the gentrified Suicide Slum. Remember this is “City of Tomorrow/Y2K”Metropolis… so even the worst parts of town have a neat hi-tech sheen to ’em. In one of the apartments is Traci 13… or Girl 13… or Girl¹³… who knows. Anyhoo, she’s chatting with, I wanna say her father, about what she’s been up to since arriving in Metropolis. She’s met Superboy… and, well, that’s about it. Worth mentioning she has a large iguana named Leroy… and very odd undergarments. She is advised to ixnay her agicmay… and maybe get a job.
We follow her around town as she goes about her morning (I think it’s morning) routine. While out she overhears a couple of passionate sports fans talking about their favorite team. This appears to annoy her greatly, so she wriggles her nose and forces them to kiss. That’s pretty mature.
Suddenly screams fill the air… Traci turns around to see what’s up and finds Superman splatted into the ground, with a spear run through his chest! She rushes over to check on him, and magicks up a green whirlwind to whisk them to the safety of the underground.
We shift scenes to Second-Lady Lana Lang… is that what we call the Vice-President’s Wife? Second-Lady? I suppose I could Google it, but I don’t want to find out that that’s not what we call them. Anyhoo, she’s hunting for an apartment in Metropolis… which she claims will be used for “retreats” for her “Foundation”. Lois-on-the-spot smelled news, and so, she’s there too. Worth noting, Lois looks like she miiiiight be 16 here.
Lois knows there must be more to this story than that, and decides to pry as best she can. Lana finally lets it slip that she and Pete are getting a divorce. She then requests that it be kept “off the record”.
We shift scenes again… this time to John Henry Irons’ Steelworks. This is post-“Our Worlds At War”, so the man himself is dead… for now. We join his niece Natasha, who is chizzatting with her rewizzired rizzobot Kelex. It’s pretty cringy stuff here… and since this was writting in the early 2000’s, I’m not sure much of it is meant to be ironic.
Kelex rizzeccomends that Natasha try to pick up her Uncle’s hammer… which she is surprised to learn she is able to do! The hammer than proceeds to speak… letting out a “Hammer Time”, which makes her cringe just as hard as I’ve been cringing these last two pages!’
We shift scenes over to The Daily Planet where Jubilee considers hitting “send” on the Lana Lang/Pete Ross article. Wait… that’s not Jubilee… that’s Lois! I’m tellin’ ya, this could be any high school intern! Anyhoo, she thinks back to a chat she had with Clark in bed… thankfully, she looks “of age” in the flashback… and decides that she’s going to publish.
And so, we check back in with Lana… whose beans have just been spilled. She is greatly displeased, and is trying to spin the story best she can.
Suddenly, Traci 13 and Superman appear at her (Lana’s) feet. Traci didn’t know where else to go… and since she saw Superman and Lana on the news, figured this might be her best bet. She also needs nutmeg… and since Lana is in full Bree Vandecamp mode here, Traci figures she just might have some.
Back to the Steelworks, and the Hammer is still reading John Henry’s recorded message to Natasha. He wants her to go to college, become a doctor or lawyer… anything but a superhero. He also knows her well enough that she’ll probably try her hand at heroing anyway. And so, he’s created something special for her.
Back at Lana’s, Traci 13 is trying to get into Superman’s head to see who or what put him in such a state. We hop into a flashback… Superman is taking care of a group of ninja-flavored nogoodniks. When the dust settles, he saves a woman who is about to be garroted… only for her to slump to the ground anyway. This distraction proves to be enough for Gaki, a “hungry ghost” to impale him with her staff.
We wrap up with Natasha Irons in her brand new Steel costume arriving… and insisting that Traci 13 back the eff off.
Well… this was, uh, weird… right?
I suppose we should just addrizzess the elephizzant in the rizzoom right off the bizzat. There was some scarily-cringy dialogue in here… and the thing of it is, I’m not sure if it’s meant to be! I mean, if this book were to come out today… then, yeah… this is definitely “for the laughs”. Back in 2003, though? I’m not so sure. I really wish I could remember how I “received” this issue back when it first released.
Another thing worth mentioning (again)… man, did Lois look young here. I swear I thought that was Jubilee in the Daily Planet scene… complete with bubble gum! That’s gotta be one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to shared-universe storytelling… lack of consistency in character appearance. Anything from hair length to body type… when the characters drastically change in appearance (and back again) from chapter-to-chapter, it just bugs the hell out of me. I know Lois didn’t look like a teenager in all of the books at this time. Then again, by the turn of the century, character bibles and “style sheets” were probably already considered a passe relic.
It seems like this is kind of a throwaway story… doesn’t quite feel like it belongs in Action Comics. Though, when I look at the last page of the book, there’s an advertisement for the launch of Superman/Batman… which is clearly where all of the “important” things are going to be happening for the next little while. I suppose that allowed the regular “Super Team” to flex their storytelling muscles a bit… and explore not-so Super-centric story threads. That’s fair enough, I suppose.
Overall… this is a weird one to recommend. Despite the characters not being completely “on model”, the art here is pretty great. If you’re in the mood for a Superman-flavored story that isn’t necessarily about Superman, this might just be worth a shot.
That’s it for today… but remember to check back Wednesday (4/18) when we finally cross the #Action100 finish line!