It’s Superman and Krypto versus the Phantom King of Krypton in ACTION COMICS # 13
Action Comics #13
Long ago, an empty limbo called the Phantom Zone was used by Kryptonians to seal away their criminals. After the planet exploded, those men and women found themselves trapped for an eternity, with no possibility of parole. That is, until Xa-Du, the Zone’s first prisoner, created a suit made of will power to escape. Once he does, Xa-Du traps Superman in the Zone as retribution against his father, Jor-El. While in the Zone, Superman discovers the Phantom Stranger being held there, but protected from the other inmates by Krypto, Superman’s childhood dog, who sacrificed himself years ago to protect his human family. The Stranger tells Superman the secret of taking control of the will power suit and freeing himself. After Superman does so, he manages to use the left-over technology to also free Krypto from the Zone, and is reunited with his best friend.
Damn it! It’s issues like this one that make me sick that Grant Morrison is leaving the title in a few months. Pure sci-fi wonder land with tons of emotion, Krypton, and a juicy metaphor in the classic Morrison tradition about good ideas overcoming bad ones.
I was really looking forward to seeing the continuation of last issue’s story, with Mrs. Nyxly seemingly bringing Superman into the 5th Dimension. But instead we got yet another interlude issue. However, on the whole I’ve found myself enjoying the interlude issues more than the main plot a lot of the time. From the two part Rocket Song, to President Superman, and last month’s Zero Issue, these quick little one-and-done tales are exactly what I expected from Morrison on this book. I know the t-shirt and jeans, street-level Hercules thing has been popular with some, but this is my Superman.
The return of Krypto is a joyful one. It might be depending on the artist, but it seems Krypto’s look has settled from the initial “sabertooth tiger” look to a more calm white hound, which I think it more fitting for Superman’s companion. And as good as the main story was, you really should read the back-up by Sholly Fisch, and then go back to read the main story a second time. It makes it even better, and again makes me hope that Fisch will take over once Morrison departs.
Again, I find myself incapable of anything but love for Morrison’s stories that deal with the triumph of good ideas over bad. The pages where Superman takes control of Xa-Du’s suit, and the captions explaining that Xa-Du was suddenly overcome with the inescapable idea that good really is stronger than evil really made my day. It’s almost like we are all “ecto-suits” existing in the real world, with our own Xa-Du and Superman fighting for control and influence.
Travel Foreman’s art was suitably creepy and yet at the same time beautifully epic. His depiction of the new Fortress was breathtaking. And though his style is a little simpler than most in some places, it felt like a perfect match for this tale. I wouldn’t hate seeing him show up again in the rotation, along with CAFU and Brad Walker.
I’ve been reading a lot of other recent Superman stories lately, one’s where Superman is completely useless and ineffective, most likely in some misguided attempt to make him relatable. And say what you will about this Superman or Morrison’s run, this is man who doesn’t give up. Even finding himself in the Phantom Zone only elicits two responses from him. First, “Bad outcome…,” and second “If Xa-Du found a way out, then so can I.” Even after the Phantom Stranger tells him it would be impossible to save Krypto as well, Superman refuses to buy that, and manages to find a way to do the impossible yet again. Meanwhile, I just read LAST SON by Geoff Johns again, and when I got to the end, and saw Superman just leave Chris Kent in the Zone and ask Mon-El to find him instead, I figured out exactly what it was about Morrison’s Superman that will make me a fan of his forever.
Only a couple of months left. Better enjoy them while they lasst.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|A story not only filled with sci-fi fun, but with tons of emotion as well||Still wondering what happened at the end of last issue|