Monday, 26 December 2011

Issue #13: Back to Action

A couple of months back I talked about why I dropped Action Comics and how it just didn’t seem to be very Superman to me.  I’ve since picked it back up for a couple of reasons, the first of which is a little embarrassing…
I was reading Superman #3, and there’s a reference to Action’s continuity (Action Comics is set something like eight years before Superman) in one of those old school editorial inserts they’ve been using in comics for-fucking-ever, that went like this: “—But nonetheless Metropolis now found itself home to a superpowered figure who had no problems taking the law into his own hands.  One who, it would soon be revealedto the public, was in fact an alien.  But this quickly became backpage news as the entire city of Metropolis was attacked by a far bigger threat.  Another alien life form called The Collector Of Worlds” which was followed by a big fat asterisk.  What could this asterisk mean?  I best scan downwards to find the explanation….. ah yes!  Here we are, it says, “*SEE ACTION COMICS #4”.
The oldest cheap method of attempting to hook readers into buying one more comic they don’t yet purchase, and I ate it up like free pizza.

Actually I’m not quite that easily swayed.  There’s another reason I returned to this title.  Readers would know I’m enjoying my Supes stuff right now.  Superman, Supergirl, Superboy, loving the lot.  I would probably buy a few issues of Krypto if they gave him his own book at the moment.  I bought the Superman blu ray box set too, and the extras are everything one could ask for.  One doco on the bonus disc details the history of the character from inception to (almost) today and all the formats the son of Krypton has graced, from early Action Comics, strips, film serials, TV and movies.  From this I learned something I’d never considered, that the incorruptible, all-round good guy, more human than human Superman that I’d revered and felt so important to the character that I could never accept something else…. that Superman was invented later.  It would seem that the Superman of current Action Comics fame is actually a pretty faithful recreation of how Superman started out, a hero for the depression era, who would happily dangle a rich fuck from a building.

With this new found understanding I phoned my local comic shop and told them I’d made a terrible mistake, and to put Action Comics back on my pull list immediately.  They laughed, probably expecting this very call before long. 
“Superman, Supergirl and Superboy please.”
“You’ll want Action Comics too, right”
“No, I think it’s shit.”
What a douche I’ve been.

Secret Avengers #18 & #19   Going through this blog today I was surprised to find I have not reviewed any issues of Secret Avengers.  A glaring omission from me, as it’s one of my most enjoyed comics of this year.  The Secret Avengers are a black ops unit of superheroes/badass operatives formed by Steve Rogers, and a ragtag bunch they are, almost reading like a list of who you would not put into a team together:  Beast, Moon Knight, Ant Man, Black Widow, Valkyrie, War Machine, Shang Chi….. but that’s what makes it interesting.  Admittedly, an issue featuring the whole lot of them side by side is rare and has not been done for a while.  Warren Ellis took over writing this book from issue #16 and instantly made the whole premise a lot cooler.  The Secret Avengers now seem to operate in three or four man squads specifically chosen for each mission which allows each issue to get the point across rather than getting bogged down in giving each character their two pages worth. 
Steve Rogers, Sharon Carter and Shang Chi are tasked with a mind-bending recovery mission in issue #18, which flashes back to the briefing for Beast to explain the trippy science behind what’s going on.  This is done exceptionally well and makes for one of the best issues in the series.  And if that’s not enough, it’s peppered with ultra violent kung-fu that hurts to look at (in a good way!).  Issue #19 sees Steve, Sharon, Black Widow and Moon Knight head to Marvel-universe-fictional-eastern-European-nation Symkaria to stop a transaction of a super powering drug to the Shadow Council, but find they didn’t quite have all the facts going in.  This one’s worth it alone for the double page where Steve Rogers hits a bouncer so hard he seems to almost destroy his face.

The beauty of this title is that at the moment each issue works as a stand alone story, and readers could pick up any of the Ellis-penned issues and get an idea of where the book is at.  Even better is the fact that the format still works for people like me who have collected the lot.  –Jem

Batman #3   After the threat from the near-mythical Court Of Owls on Bruce Wayne’s life, naturally Batman gets his detective on to try and discover just who these mysterious people are.  This issue starts with a gang fight, but doesn’t need to other than to perhaps have some kind of action scene to keep the kids happy in an issue that’s really about investigation.  And a nice little investigation it is, particularly when Grag Capullo shows us panel after same-but-different panel of multiple headquarters for the Owls, another great moment in this book.  Wake me up, man!  Capullo’s on Batman!  Let’s hope this team lasts a while, because it’s ticking the boxes very nicely at the moment.  –Jem

A side note: while on Facebook the other day I received this cute christmas card of sorts from Oz Comic-Con.  I was struck by just how fucking jolly Batman looks with his fake Santa beard.

I was first to comment, with "Batman's parents died."  This was promptly deleted.
I can only assume whoever's on social media promo for Oz Comic-Con either:
a) Thinks that we've all been "led along to believe" the dark, brooding Batman is the truest incarnation of the character and we should all "stop being led by Hollywood and that dick Chris Nolan" who has "never seen an episode of the 60's TV show in his life" (in which case the guy's a douchebag), or,
b) is an orphan (in which case I'm a douchebag).

Thanks kids.  And since you're here why not click that like button just to the right and send us a little internet love.  

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