REVIEW: ACTION COMICS #863

WARNING: The reviews presented on this blog are usually written a week or so after the book has been released to allow for the reader to have a chance to read it. However, in case you haven’t read the book consider this a SPOILER WARNING and know that all aspects of the issue will be covered and should read this later in case you don’t want it ruined. Thank you for your time and attention.

And now, on with the review.

Action Comics #863

I really need to hold off on reading other people’s reviews before writing my own.

Two thoughts that kind of stood out from the pack as I was reading this final chapter of “Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes” were:

“Wow, this turned out to be a Superman story after all.”

And…

“You know, I get where Geoff Johns is coming from and I respect him as a writer and I have been digging his run on Action Comics but I just don’t like the idea of playing Superman as an outsider.”

And my buddy Neal Bailey pretty much makes both points  over in his review of Action Comics #863 at the Superman Homepage and does it quite well as he is a fantastic writer.

Sigh.

See, if I hadn’t read his review than I could have written about both points with a clear conscience and not given the matter a second thought and if someone would comment, “Hey, Neal Bailey wrote the same thing over at the Homepage!  What gives?”  I could have replied, “Really?  I had no idea.”  But I can’t do that now and have to somehow work it into the review without looking like I’m ripping off a fellow Superman reviewer.

And I hope you enjoyed it.

At any rate, this was a very satisfying end to a very enjoyable story.  Sure there were times when it felt like this was more of a Legion story than a Superman story, but I am enough of a Legion fan that it didn’t bother me too much.  I dug the plot and I liked the themes that Johns explored, especially the correlation between Earth Man & the Justice League of the 31st Century and the Legion of Substitute Heroes.  Geoff Johns did what he does best; take characters that haven’t had a chance to shine in quite some time and have a small yet loyal following and make them freaking awesome

I mean the man made Polar Boy a bad ass.  That takes talent.

Superman took back control of his original book in fine style in this final chapter.  The pacing of Superman getting his powers back was so spot on and it gave me a charge that I haven’t had in a Superman book in quite some time, especially when Superman hovering above the ground after realizing his powers had kicked back in and then “standing up” while still in the air.  The look of awe on the kid and alien’s face sold the moment, which made the next moment (where Superman frees the alien, saves her from an overzealous law enforcer and announcing, “I’m for everyone.”) that much more powerful.  The fight with Earth Man was also satisfying on a level that can only be reached by Superman not getting to do all that much for the majority of the arc.  I wanted this fight.  I needed to see this fight and the two page spread of Superman revealing that the Legion had his back gave me another fan surge.

And you can’t beat Superman the Legion standing in front of the Earth and telling the various aliens who have come to start a serious ruckus that there isn’t going to be a war today.

It is great to be this excited about Superman.

The reason I didn’t have too much of a problem with the “Superman as outsider” theme is that Johns made it work, especially in the last scene.  The joy and relief Clark felt after returning to his present came through in the writing and art and the little touch of him wearing the costume was neat as well.  Sure I don’t agree with the whole “Superman as an outsider” thing.  Sure I think that Superman works best when he is confident in his duel heritage and primarily think of himself as human.  Sure, I think that the stranger in a strange land bit is something that past Superman writers have beaten to death.  Despite all of that I was still touched at the fact that this new version of Clark had finally found some friends he could talk and relate to in a way that he never could with Lana and Pete.

(There is also the matter of the costume that the young Clark is obviously wearing.  I have this theory that the current regime at DC wants to bring back the concept that Superman was at one point Superboy.  I think they are chomping at the bit for it but the legal quagmire they’re locked into with the Siegels prevents them from doing so at the moment.  I am willing to put good money down on the fact that if DC is allowed to utter the word “Superboy” again and the previously mentioned current regime is still in power that you will see a Kal-El Superboy at the very least put back into the history and at most a new Superboy title.  But maybe that’s just me.)

Gary Frank’s art is still taking some getting used to.  It’s not bad.  The man has talent and he really nailed the splash pages and big moments as well as the smaller, more emotional scenes.  My only problem is that for the most park all of his character appear to have just gotten off either meth or heroin.  They share this tired, “Man, I’m glad I got off the horse,” look that is hard to get behind.  It’s not bad and I hope he stays on the book for awhile because he has a wonderful sense of page composition and his art is rather good, but still…his style creeps me out at times.

Overall a great ending to a great story.  Things are definitely looking up for the Superman books as a whole especially with the books starting to kind of link again sometime later this year.  Then again I still miss the whole Triangle Numbering system so I am very biased in that regard.  Johns has a solid take on the character and I look forward to what he has in store, especially the upcoming Toyman issue.

More to follow…

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2 Responses to REVIEW: ACTION COMICS #863

  1. Neal Bailey says:

    HAH! Nah, it just means you’re thinking the EXACT RIGHT THING! 😉

    If it were some stranger, I might say, “Yeah, stealing my idea!” But first off, I’d be flattered that my idea was cool enough to steal, and second off, I know you. You got idears of your own. 🙂

    Awesome review.

  2. Michael Bailey says:

    Thank you, sir. That means a lot.

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