The armored Superman of the present day teams up with the Legion of Superheroes to stop the Anti-Superman Army’s plan for revenge, which would also result in the destruction of planet Earth, in the sixth issue of Grant Morrison’s ACTION COMICS.
Action Comics #6
Picking up from last issue, this second half of the interlude begins with an assortment of Superman villains arguing about how to divide up the stolen Kryptonite Engine from Kal-El’s rocket. Meanwhile, present day Superman and the Legion have travelled back to the “5-years ago” world of the main storyline in order to discover the villain’s hiding spot and end up battling a foe that can evolve or devolve into any kind of being. While the Legion tries to save Superman, the Man of Steel himself figures out how to save both his rocket and as a result, the whole world.
Now, showing up to the party a little late, I’ve had about a week to read other peoples’ takes on this issue, and the resulting complaints. Most seem to revolve around accusations of being too confusing and not having enough plot properly explained.
I have to say, I’m not really sure where any of that is coming from. This was a pretty straight-forward story: Bad guys try to kill Supes, the Legion stops them, while Superman himself saves the world, everyone goes home happy.
The only things not explained were the identities of the main villains. But all you really need to know to enjoy this issue is that these are bad guys.
On that front, the small-man from Issue One reappears, sporting a very devilish demeanor and bargaining style. Dr. Hurt was originally pegged as the Devil in Morrison’s BATMAN run, but later turned out to be an immortal Wayne who’d been infected by Darkseid centuries ago. I wonder if THIS guy is the REAL Prince of Darkness.
When I first saw the line-up of villains, I immediately pegged the little girl with blank eyes as some OMEN-inspired take on Susie Tompkins, Lois Lane’s niece from the 1940’s who would bug Superman, Dennis the Menace-style every now and again. The Legion’s comments at the end all but confirmed this for me. I thought the “robot cowboy” was probably Terra-Man, but now I’m wondering if he’s this Nimrod the Hunter Saturn Girl mentioned. Apart from the tank, who I think is a left-over Terminaut, I’m open to suggestions on the other villains. But like Susie, I really hope they are characters from Superman’s history who Morrison has given a fresh transfusion of blood in order to beef up Superman’s Rogues Gallery.
I’m pretty surprised that Morrison seems to give away the ending to his main storyline, with Superman defeating the Collector by overriding it’s Artificial Intelligence with that from his rocket (combining Brainiac and the Collector) and annexing the tentacled ship as his first Fortress. The idea itself is inspired, as it instantly creates a Fortress with alien wildlife and possibly the city of Kandor. But I’m still amazed that Morrison has given the game away. I’m really hoping he’s got more up his sleeve on that front, or the ending of the main story could ring flat. I’m also interested where this story will be placed in the collection. Will it stay as an interlude, or will it go in the back of the book where it chronologically belongs?
This issue was filled with so many things I just never get tired of seeing in Superman story. The Legion, Clark on the farm, and Superman saving the world. For a long time now, I’ve noticed that a lot of writers think Superman actually saving the day is a tad cliché, and so either someone else does it for him or he lucks into it. I guess Superman just punching a problem away month after month is boring. But Morrison takes a page out of the Silver Age playbook and has Superman solve most of his problems by thinking of clever solutions, such as using his Kryptonite flooded body to power the rocket and save the Earth. Inspired.
And even though I’ve seen a hundred Clark and Pa scenes before, this issue resonated with some really great moments. I just loved kid-Clark with the cape tied around his neck. How many of us did that with a towel as a child? Rehashing Clark’s meeting with the Legion comes a little too soon after seeing Geoff Johns do it like seven times. But thankfully it’s not overdone.
The back-up story by Sholly Fisch was surprisingly moving. Being a SMALLVILLE fan, I loved that the Kent house was drawn to resemble the show, but I have expected this to be a pretty standard rehash of older moments. But actually, I really felt the emotion in this story, especially when Clark was staring at the family photos. And top marks for having Clark give the house to a family who needs it, instead of just boarding it up or selling it. I’m glad to know that both Pete and Lana exist in this continuity, and seemingly both know Clark’s secret. I’m sure some people might take issue with Pa Kent encouraging Clark to prank the bank like that, but I think he really sells it with his speech about bullies. You can really see where Clark’s thinking would be at in the first few issues, and I’m really glad these back-ups give us a chance to get to know Clark a little better.
Overall, just like last month, this was the kind of Superman issue I live for. Big concepts, crazy twists, a Superman who never gives up and always thinks of a way out of his problems, and just uses his muscles to enact his strategy. Top drawer!
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Great hints of things to come, and two fun, touching stories||Gives away the end of the Collector arc|
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