Action Comics #16 Review

Action Comics #16 Review

Can Superman survive a battle with Super-Doom, the Anti-Superman Army and the Little Man all at once?  Find out in Grant Morrison’s ACTION COMICS #16.

Action Comics #16

Superman is battling a foe that has the ability to warp reality, colliding days and years together in a plan to hit Superman with all the worse moments of his life at once in order to bring him down.  Vyndktvx has gathered together the Anti-Superman Army, pulled Super-Doom, an evil monster Superman from a parallel world, out of his prison between dimensions, gutted the Fortress of Solitude and turned the sun red.  But as Superman, bound in Kryptonite chains, lies dying underneath the statue that celebrated his first death and rebirth, the Legion of Superheroes arrives, while Lois and Jimmy have found the comatose Mr. Triple X, the physical body that contains the spirit of Vyndktvx’s rival and equal, Mr. Mxyzptlk…

On the surface, this is just a simple “fighting” issue, which is not Morrison’s strong suit.  Especially when you consider the fact that the bulk of the action took place last issue, with Superman running through the ruins of Metropolis fighting the Anti-Superman Army under a red sun.  At the time, the idea seemed to be that this was the “end of days” Metropolis of the future, some horrible apocalyptic wasteland.  But here we see that it’s actually the “form” Metropolis took when Superman died fighting Doomsday.

It’s an interesting notion, not just on a psychological level, but on a metaphysical one as well.  Vyn is hitting Superman with all his worst moments at once.  I thought it was weird that this issue picks up from number 14, where Superman is fighting the Little Man on Mars, with 15’s seemingly random moments sandwiched between the two.  Now I get it, those were more “bad days” Vyn was causing Superman to relive, including the death of his parents and of Mrs, Nyxly. 

I think the twist here, based on Superman comments at the end of the issue, is that Vyn hasn’t realized that on your worst days, you learn lessons that help make you stronger.  For example, Vyn can’t pass up the symbolism of Superman dying on the spot where he fell to Doomsday.  But don’t forget, as Lois points out as well, that Superman came back from that, and the statue that marked his death also became a symbol of rebirth after he returned.  Vyn may be striking at Superman with all the worse moments in his life, but Superman has already overcome every single one of those losses before, and can do so again. 

If you have to have two artists in one book, it’s smart to give them different “regions” of the book to work on.  Morales handles the 30th Century (complete with Morrison’s Nugothotropolis Megurb city from his BATMAN tales) and continues his end of days’ work from last issue.  Meanwhile Brad Walker handles the Lois and Jimmy stuff.  Both artists are good, but as time has gone by, I’ve found myself more and more drawn to Walker’s work.  His Superman has a Chris Reeve quality, but still manages to side-step whatever it was about Gary Frank’s work that creeped some people out. 

Super-Doom returns and now validates the existence of the President Superman of Earth-23 issue in this series, like I figured would happen.  However, the monster doesn’t do much beyond show up and threaten Supes.  And I have to wonder, given that the moment he arrived was titled “The Day before Yesterday,” is it Super-Doom that Superman died fighting in this timeline, instead of Doomsday?  Lois just mentions that day it happened was called Doomsday, not that the monster was.  I’m really curious how that all went down in this world, since virtually nothing from the original Death and Returns story would carry over.  But Doomsday is too well known a character to simply drop, right? 

Well, we’re almost at the finish line here.  Just one more issue to go.  Hopefully Morrison has come up with a really clever ending to his run, and next issue isn’t just another long fight scene with Superman coming out on top on the last page.  I hope he manages to surprise us, and tie everything from his run together into an awesome whole.

Until next time. 


Pros Cons
A great set up for what seems like Superman’s fall Superman’s Death is still as vague as it’s been since the New 52 started


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