Pick of the Week

April 2, 2008 – Action Comics #863

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Avg Rating: 4.6
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 2.9%
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Size: pages
Price: 2.99

This was a crazy week of comics. I mean, just crazy.

We had three #2s whose premiere issues were awarded Pick of the Week status in Logan, Kick-Ass, and Zorro. I don’t know if something like that has ever happened in the 8 year history of iFanboy.

The last few weeks of books have been, for me, kind of lackluster. It’s been a while since I’ve had one of those weeks where the majority of the books in my stack were good. Well, I finally had that week this week, and not only were the vast majority of my books good (out of 15 books there were only two I didn’t like), but there were a bunch of fantastic books. I hate weeks like this because I want to be able to honor them all.  I feel like choosing one over the others is unfair. Can’t they all be winners? Well, no they can’t. One has to rise above the rest.

Geoff Johns and James Robinson have said that their mission in 2008 is to rehabilitate Superman. It is a siren song that we Superman fans have heard time and again. I remember vividly the interview in Wizard many, many, many years ago when Joe Casey and Jeph Loeb proclaimed that they were going to make Superman cool again and that their goal was nothing less than having Superman’s books back in the top of the charts. It’s the same spiel we get every time a new, big time team takes over the Superman books and it never comes to fruition. Casey & Loeb wrote some good (not great) stories but the books did not become best sellers. And quite frankly, as good as the stories were, Superman wasn’t cool again.

I’m here to tell you folks, Superman is cool again.

Geoff Johns gets the DCUniverse. Yadda yadda yadda, you’ve heard it all before. The thing is, he does. He really does. He understands, and is the master of, the retro-modern sensibility that works so well  for so many of these characters. He’s teaching a team book writing clinic over in JSA and Superman writing class is now in session in Action Comics.

This is the final chapter of Johns’ first arc featuring Superman’s adventures in the 30th Century with the Legion of Super-Heroes. Historically, I haven’t been much of a Legion fan. Never read any of the books despite a rather persistent Legion fan friend who was always trying to push the books on me. I didn’t really mind the characters, per se, they were kind of cool when they’d show up as guest-stars in other books, but I never really liked them. Here, I liked them. I liked them a lot. I would definitely read a Geoff Johns written Legion of Super-Heroes book. (Can he be cloned? Have we looked into this?)

The story for this arc has centered around a future version of the Justice League, made up of failed Legionnaires, that has been spreading anti-alien propaganda in order to destroy the Legion, most of whom are not from Earth. The Justice League has even convinced the populace that Superman — he is a great inspiration in the 30th Century — was not from Krypton, but was from Earth and that he was strongly anti-alien. (They also said that J’onn J’onzz was our era’s greatest villain!  Bastards!) Devastated by anti-alien policies, and attacks by the Justice League, the Legion has brought in Superman to save the day and it’s been a rough go of it as the Justice League used Sun Boy to convert the Earth’s sun from yellow to red, thus negating Superman’s powers.

The easy joke about the Legion of Super-Heroes is that they have so many members they make the current Justice Society of America look like a small, manageable platoon. They have a lot of members, is what I’m saying. You know who handles that without a problem? Geoff Johns. Seriously, there is no one better at writing big team books right now. In this arc the Legion shares the spotlight just as much as Superman and things never get confusing or overwhelming. I always had a good sense of who each character was and their relationships to one another. They all had distinct personalities and I was able to get to know them over the course of the last six issues. That was fantastic.

One of the best things about this story arc was watching Superman interact with the Legion. He is comfortable with them in a way that he is not with anyone else in the contemporary DCU. There was a palpable sense that he is able to relax around them and totally be himself. A lot of the goofy farm boy comes out around the Legion. The reason for that is because he has been friends with most of the Legion since high school when they first appeared in Smallville and pulled him into the future to be Superb– to be a young Superman. He has known the Legion longer than he has known anyone else in the hero game and it really shows.

It’s too bad that the weight of the world is only lifted when he’s in the future. It’s too bad he can’t be that relaxed in his own time. That’s one of the best things about Superman, one of the things I like the most. The weight of the responsibility that he places on his own shoulders is almost too much to bear and coupled with his inherent sense of isolation makes for more tragic character than most people (even most writers) realize. There is a great moment in this issue when the leader of the Justice League — Earth Man — is raging at Superman for accomplishing all of the things that he had always wanted for himself, for being accepted as a Legionnaire and never having to live as an outsider. Superman puts him down with one punch and says “I’ve been an outsider everyday of my life.” That is Superman. Geoff Johns gets him.

Couple this great story with the fantastic art from one of my favorite guys Gary Frank and this has been of the best DCU Superman arcs since… well, I can’t actually remember a better one. I am super psyched now about what 2008 has in store for Superman. Between Geoff Johns, the promise of James Robinson, and what Grant Morrison is doing over in the non-continuity All-Star Superman, it’s a great time for Superman.

And if that wasn’t enough, the last two pages of this issue feature a teaser for Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds which is a Final Crisis-tie mini series featuring Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes up against Superman Prime and the Legion of Super-Villains, written by Geoff Johns and drawn by George Perez!!!

Oh, man, good times.

Conor Kilpatrick
Let’s get on this Geoff Johns cloning project, people.

Did you read Action Comics #863? Add a comment and tell everyone what you thought!


  1. This arc was incredible! I’ve never been so into Superman or the Legion for that matter. I can’t wait to see what Johns has lined up for the next year. Awesome review, Conor!

  2. my pick was, of course, secret invasion #1.

  3. Nice Pick Conor.  This arc has been fantastic and I’m looking forward to the things Johns and Frank do in the future.

  4. DC gets pick of the week 2 weeks in a row!  Nice! 😀

  5. holy crap the pick went up early! my POW is secret invasion…. wait… i’ve ONLY read SI… things are still up in the air i guess

  6. saying that you can’t remember a better superman arc? not hyperbole – this was THE BEST superman arc i think i’ve ever read in almost 20 years on his books.

  7. I literally clicked onto the page and gasped when I saw the POW. I lost my breath for a second. It’s been awhile since Action Comics was picked (even when it was picked then it was a shocker) but to see a book like this in a week of Kick-Ass, Logan, Secret Invasion, and Zorro was unbelievable. Not exactly what I would have picked (I stopped reading anything Superman awhile back) but hey, that’s why I don’t run the site. Still looking forward to hearing about everything else in the podcast.

  8. Kudos on getting the picks out so early lately!  I’m on the west coast I haven’t even left work to go pick up books yet!

  9. Color me surprised. Great pick i loved this storyline from start to finish. After this i can’t wait for his LEGION OF 3 WORLDS book in the summer. However my POW was Kick Ass #2 .

  10. I was actually surprised to see that Secret Invasion was not the pick of the week, but in a good way.  This issue was awesome the two page spread of Superman with the Legion was badass.  In the review Conor mentioned the line, "I’ve been an outsider everyday of my life" line and fell to the floor praising the gods that someone finally got it.  This issue was outstanding and this whole series has been really, really good.  I’m definitely picking this up in trade as well.  Just outstanding.

    By the way, in talking about Secret Invasion.  Um…holy shit!

  11. I liked this issue, and liked this arc in general.  I really look forward to what Geoff Johns does with Superman over the next year.  I really liked Supes in this issue.  As for the Legion?  Still don’t care about them.  But I like what Johns did with Supes in this arc, and this issue. 

    This wouldn’t have been my pick, though– that probably would have been Secret Invasion.  Kick-Ass was strong again, and I actually enjoyed Zorro #2 much more than #1.

  12. This was my pick as well.

  13. I’m sorry to say that my eyes glazed over trying to figure out what the Final Crisis teaser mentioned in the review is about…

  14. I could tell just from the pick it was Conor’s week. If it’s X-Men? Ron. If it’s something 12 people read? Josh. (Pause used here so Josh can whine/explain himself) Yes, we know. It’s all going to be okay. By the way Conor, I picked up a Jonah Hex trade, and it was (as kids from the 80’s used to say) dope.

  15. Action Comics was my pick of the week too! This was all so incredible that I am going right down to the shop tomorrow and ordering that hardcover for this arc. This deserves to be up on my bookshelf beside Red Son and For All Seasons. This is gold!

  16. I’m glad to see Gary Frank finally get his due. He’s been great for years, but I feel like he’s flown under alot of people’s radar. THIS is one of THE very best Superman stories in years.

     Also THRILLED beyond belief about Legion of Three Worlds and whatever follows. Geoff Johns should change his name to The Fixer.

    My POW would’ve probably been Walking Dead. My testicles still hurt. Fanboys…stay away from The Walking Dead post if you don’t want to get spoiled (though I continue to contest that anyone who isn’t reading this book in singles is nutty. Make the leap you made with Invincible).

  17. I haven’t read all of my comics just yet, but this one was definietly tops. I enjoyed Secret Invasion a lot, but the ending to this series couldn’t of been any better.

  18. I have never been interested in the legion ever but this story arc was amazing and has peaked my interest. I will definitly be giving thise george perez geoff johns mini a shot.

  19. I just got done reading this and I have to say when I heard Geoff Johns was writing I said I’d give it a shot.  I generally not a huge fan of Superman, but I am of the Legion.  This book made me a fan of Superman and renewed my love of the Legion.  Too bad it doesn’t make me want to buy their book, but instead buy all of the archives.

  20. This was a great ending. I want to reread this arc because my memory isn’t as good as it used to be. I remember it starting out with a bang and kind of drifting in the middle (I think it was mainly, because I kept reading the character names as they came up). You definitely had a sense that these were good friends to Clark and did make me want to read old Legion Stories.

  21. I have to go with Secret Invasion #1 – There were things I didn’t like – the whole setup with stealing the jet and racing to the Savage Land was downright STUPID – but then, holy crap, boom-boom-boom the shit hit the fan right quick, and I was in all the way.  Kick-ass is still good but more of a "middle issue."  I liked Young X-men more than I thought I would for the pure thought of a New Mutants reunion (last page). 

  22. YES!  I’m so glad this is the Pick because this book needs to be talked about.  Johns mentioned early on that this arc wasn’t really about the Legion per se, but about Kal-El and his relationship with them.  As a huge Legion fan, seeing all my old favorites was great, but the story itself and the insight into the relationships was the best part.

  23. I’ll give the next arc a chance since this is the final chapter.

  24. If I was to pick up the back issues for this arc, where would I start?

  25. @Rofo – This arc starts with ACTION COMICS #858.

  26. i’m getting this in hardcover when it comes. seems like a great superman team. and the legion is one of my all time fave team books. the giffen/levitz era was the hey day for me. i found all the other incarnations a bit meh. the waid/kitson book was good, but the levitz’ legion had such heart. geoff johns seems to agree, and i’m really looking forward to reading this and the legion miniseries with perez!

  27. I’ve always been into superman, he’s what I grew up on. But is writing what I say is the definitive modern superman. I always wondered why people didn’t get how tragic and lonely superman is as a character, but Johns does. Busiek did as well though, hopefully Robinson does some great stuff because not for nothing when Busiek was good he was really good on that book. I also have always had a affinity for the Legion of Super Heroes…mostly because of their ties to superman. I mean I might just be the only 25 year old that loves legion. All my friends have no idea what I’m talking about when I’m raving about legion, and Supergirl and The Legion of Super-heroes was good stuff I was sad to see her leave. The Super folks seem to be much more comfortable in the future, not Superboy so much but he’s was always kinda the black sheep..man I miss him. JOHNS BRING HIM BACK!! Put him in the future I don’t care. Anybody know if they have a trade of Kon el with the legion? I know it was short.

  28. @CharlesDaCriticCzar – They won’t be publishing (or republishing) any Superboy material until they legal stuff is cleared up one way or another.

  29. The Legion makes my head hurt. Just too many people to keep track of. I’m a huge DC nerd, but I draw the line at the Legion just because… well… a lack of bandwidth really. So the fact that I really got into the arc and was so utterly satisfied by it and the resolution of it speaks volumes for Johns. Those last panels when Clark is looking at the "L" in the tree… so powerful. The only other Legion story I’ve ever "participated" in was the Lightening Saga from the JLA/JSA crossover last year. And speaking of that… who the f*ck was in the lightening rod anyway? Did that ever get revealed?

  30. @jonnjonz – The lightning saga was to bring back Wally West.  That’s it, 8 issues for something that could have been done in one.

    BTW Conor remember Young Superman is considered to be by definition Superboy.  I’m sure someone will be looking for their money for your review soon.  Wait, I used both the term and Superboy in my post.  CRAP.

    I also have to agree with areml I can’t wait to have a hardcover of this arc.

  31. Just read it before. Awesome finish to an awesome arc. I have no complaints.

    Like alot of guys have said, I’ve never had any interest in the Legoin, so I was surprised that this arc was so good. But, with Geoff Johns writing, why should I be surprised?

    The mini preview for Final Crisis: Legion Of Three Worlds was cool too. It looks pretty sweet.


  32. @jstump – But the last panel was in the 31st century and the legion had a lightening rod with someone inside. I’m cutting and pasting from Wikipedia here: In the 31st Century, Brainiac 5 dismisses Wally’s return as a side effect, stating that they got who they wanted. A close-up of the lightning rod Karate Kid was using shows it to have someone trapped inside.

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