Pick of the Week

08.29.2007 – Action Comics #855

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Writers – Geoff Johns & Richard Donner
Artist – Eric Powell
Color Artist – Dave Stewart
Letterer – Rob Leigh

DC Comics – $2.99

I can honestly say that I never in a million years would have thought that I would ever pick a Superman book as the Pick of the Week. As always, the world here at iFanboy is prime for shocks and surprises, and the unthinkable has happened.

As a Marvel fan growing up, I only read DC books casually. Of course I knew the characters, I’d seen the movies and watched SuperFriends, but the entire line of comics never clicked for me the way Marvel books did. Obviously I wasn’t alone, as the same thing seems to have happened with at least half the comic reading public. As the years have gone on, I’ve tried to expand my horizons and have come to enjoy some DC books, such as The Flash, Green Lantern, JLA and most recently, Justice Society of America. But I never really held any interest for the big two. Now, in the past year I’ve come a little closer to liking Batman books, but only because of Paul Dini on Detective Comics. But never, never Superman. I think I bought one or two issues of Brian Azzarello & Jim Lee’s Superman run, but dropped it because it made no sense. I just have no vested interest in Superman whatsoever (except, seemingly, in movies).

On the other side of things, you may be shocked and surprised to hear that I don’t read The Goon. I know, I know, it’s great, but I just never got into it, partially due to my mental block on Dark Horse. But I’ve heard nothing but good things about Eric Powell and his art, and on a whim I picked up Satan’s Sodomy Baby and loved it.

So why does any of this matter? After reading Action Comics #855, I can tell you this: I still don’t really care about Superman, but I plan on going out and picking up as much of the The Goon as I possibly can.

Action Comics #855 marks the return of Geoff Johns and the legendary Richard Donner to writing Superman. I didn’t want to call attention to it after the debacle of their last story arc. But, after some very strong words of encouragement today in the comic book store, I thought, “What can I lose? I’ll give it a chance.”

This is the first issue of a new story arc that features Superman and Bizarro. There is no mention or reference to the last Johns/Donner story arc, or for that matter any story arc before it. All you need to know is who Superman is, who Ma and Pa Kent are, and that’s pretty much it. The story stands on its own legs, much in the way you’d think a classic Superman tale should. Bizarro has kidnapped Superman’s father, Pa Kent, and taken him to another planet, Bizarro World, and Superman has come chasing after him. That’s it. Simple and effective. There are vague references to previous clashes between the hero and the villain, but not knowing that doesn’t hurt the story at all, rather just provides further foundation for the point of the story.

Now I hold Geoff Johns in high regard as a writer. Extremely high regard. But for me, the real star of this book is Eric Powell. His art style is familiar from a comic book point of view, but unique enough to stand out on it’s own. His depiction of Superman on this book reminds me of the classic Max Fleischer Superman cartoons, strong, barrel chested, but not completely unattainable. His Bizarro is menacing and zombie-like, but not overly comedic as he’s been depicted in recent years. The manner in which he changes directions at various points in the story is amazing – between the scenes on Bizarro World to the flashback to a young Clark Kent with Pa Kent, provides a visual cue to the flashback vs. present moment, and the subtlety of the art helps to deliver the power of the story, enhancing it beyond words, as it should but is often not executed with the skill Powell shows in this issue.

I’m excited for this story arc and hope that it doesn’t run into the same problems the last story arc did in terms of lateness and delivery, etc. Because these issues together (or collected in the eventual trade paperback) are the type of story you can hand to someone who doesn’t read comics to show them just exactly the level of talent that exists in the industry today. While I would prefer, say, the X-Men to Superman, I can put that bias aside when the quality of work is this strong.

Ron Richards
This almost didn’t happen
ron@ifanboy.com

Did you read Action Comics #855?
Add a comment and tell everyone what you think about this week’s comics!

Sure, I’ve read Superman comics before, but I’ve never enjoyed a Superman comic as much as this .

Comments

  1. I can honestly say that I too was pleasently surprised by this book. Bizarro usually hurts my brain, but I enjoyed this way more than I thought I would. Eric Powell’s art fits this story very well. The first Superman book, besides All Star, that I’ve really enjoyed. I hope it can keep it up.

  2. Great choice Ron! I thought this book was great too. I also really liked Teen Titans #50, but that’s all I’ve read.

  3. Wow Ron, you’ve shocked me. It’s well deserved, it was a really fun Superman comic, and like you said, one I’d feel comfortable handing the trade of to someone asking for a cool Superman story.

  4. I know ifanboy reads Walking Dead in trades but this book was really good and is getting ready to drop some bombs in a few issues. Every time this book comes out I have a hard time waiting till I get home and often read at stop lights.

  5. I thought this was a great issue, too. One of the nice small touches was that while Ma Kent understandably calls Bizarro “it,” Superman consistently calls Bizarro “he.” A subtle reflection of Superman’s fundamental decency and optimism toward everyone, even the bad guys.

  6. I really liked The Last Fantastic Four Story. Is anyone awhere of the voice you “hear” in your head when you read comics? I think it has been said that some people hear the voice of Kevin Conroy, from the Animated Series, when they read Paul Dini’s Dectective. Well, when I was reading this Fantastic Four story I “heard” the voice of Stan Lee every time I read the narration. It was bizarre. “The Man” just chimed in. It was a mix of Stan’s style of story-telling and the way that JRJr’s art feels both modern and very Kirby-like that made this comic so enjoyable to me. Sue is written down on in some scenes. I thought that was distasteful, but also probably how Stan wrote her when he wrote the FF for 115 issues straight, at the beginning. I haven’t read a lot of comics from the 60’s. I have been meaning to pick up the first volume of Essential Avengers, but haven’t gotten around to it. This is how I imagine reading a comic felt like in the 60’s. Clever, light and fun. The world almost ended, but there was no company wide crossover that came with armaggedon. Actually, all of the A-list Marvel heroes make appearances, but only for a panel or two.

    —ENDING SPOILER—

    The team retires in the end and seemingly leaves earth to explore space. I love that idea. I have always thought of the FF as Adventurer/Explorers, but aside from a trip to the Negative Zone, Lateveria, or Atlantis, they usually spend their time cooped up in the Baxter Building. They should be like Indiana Jones traveling into far off worlds and ancient cities.

    Again, I really liked this comic.

  7. I have always thought of the FF as Adventurer/Explorers, but aside from a trip to the Negative Zone, Lateveria, or Atlantis, they usually spend their time cooped up in the Baxter Building.

    Yeah, nothing is more relaxing after a tough tour in the Negative Zone than letting loose with some fire balls and wise guy quips home in the ol’ Baxter Building.

  8. Just got done with my stack of books. Gotta love those crazy weeks at work, right?

    Action Comics was so kick ass this month, especially after the garbage run that Busiek had and the haphazard run of Johns and Donner’s first arc. Eric Powell is perfect for this storyline, as it really caters to his unique style. I just loved, loved, loved this book this week.

    Countdown was still pretty good, even though the Rogues weren’t in it (although, if next week’s cover means anything, it’s that they’ll be in it!). I’m still intrigued enough to keep reading, but I just wish the pace would pick up. I think we’re going to see it going in a few issues. Hopefully.

    I also picked up The Mice Templar, which was against my better judgement. While I liked the book well enough, Oeming’s style just does not fit this book. I had a hard ass time keeping track of these characters, and after seeing David Peterson’s Mouse Guard, I just don’t want this style of mouse. The story is pretty good, if not a little cliche for a fantasy story. The one thing I did like was that you got a lot of book for your buck. I wish more books were like this.

    Avengers: The Initiative was pretty good, and I’m glad to see that it’s finally going away from World War Hulk. While Slott did an admirable job tying it into the story, I just wasn’t interested enough. I like WWH, but I want my Avengers: Initiative back to where it was. Oh, and the cover reminded me how much I wish Jim Cheung drew every book out there. Or at least, Young Avengers. Sigh.

    Hellboy was good as well, but I really want all the issues to come out so I can read it all at once. I can’t keep track of all the different supernatural characters and such. It’s got to be all those weird ass names.

    And finally, out of curiousity more than anything, I picked up the Halo book, and I gotta say, it was a disappointment. I loved Maleev’s art, but he made some interesting choices with certain panels. I really didn’t like how some of them were drawn like you were playing the game. I believe the Doom movie did the same thing, and it was kinda dumb. Also, why do I want to read a book about two humans when I play the games to watch Master Chief beat ass? It’s pretty slim I’ll keep up with this one.

  9. Did you guys notice that on August each one of you picked a Geoff Jones Book?

  10. oh wow – look at that – nice catch Simon! Looks like August was Geoff Johns month at iFanboy

  11. As much as I enjoy your show I can’t believe that none of you have picked Silver Surfer: Requiem as a pick of the week. This is the most emotionally intense comic I’ve ever read. Escape from Bizzaro World was good…but it was just another Superman story. Silver Surfer: Requiem was a work of art.

  12. Do any of you guys use a particular software to organize your comic collection? If so, would you recommend that product?

  13. Here goes the nerdiness…

    Bizarro breaths fire because that’s the opposite of Superman’s ice breath. He’s done it in the movies so I’d expect even Ron to notice it.

  14. But if Bizarro’s powers were opposite from Superman’s he’d be weak and frail and couldn’t fly.

  15. As much as I enjoy your show I can’t believe that none of you have picked Silver Surfer: Requiem as a pick of the week. This is the most emotionally intense comic I’ve ever read. Escape from Bizzaro World was good…but it was just another Superman story. Silver Surfer: Requiem was a work of art.

    I’m just as puzzled as you Stephen. Talk about Silver Surfer: Requiem on the weekly thread has been minimal at best. My brother and I got chills from reading this whole series, and the ending was beautiful. I don’t understand how it works in with continuity though and all the stuff that happened in Annihilation. Being that JMS was writing a Silver Surfer book you would thing that he’d have gotten the memo that Silver Surfer was once again a herald of Galactus. Regardless this was a great mini-series.

  16. I don’t understand how it works in with continuity though and all the stuff that happened in Annihilation. Being that JMS was writing a Silver Surfer book you would thing that he’d have gotten the memo that Silver Surfer was once again a herald of Galactus.

    Silver Surfer: Requiem is from the Marvel Knights line, and therefore it’s not necessarily in regular Marvel Universe continuity.

  17. I have been really, really interested in Silver Surfer: Requiem, but I think it came out during a month or two when I had too many books already. I’m definitely going to pick this up when it comes out in trade or hardcover because I have heard nothing but amazing things about it. I heard the art is just spectacular.

  18. Ah, it took me longer to read the podcast notes than it did to listen to the comments on my question.
    Comics are good for the memory I’m sure of it! Maybe I will write a paper. I definately think comics train people to be more observant and pick things out – and that translates into others mediums – TV shows, films etc.
    Ah, maybe I’m just describing my geeky attributes….

  19. Since Ron was saying he couldn’t access Superman due to his Marvel background, I thought I should offer some good ones:

    Whatever Happened to The Man of Tomorrow?
    Alan Moore and definitive Superman artist Curt Swan close the door on the Silver Age with this tale. More Superman villains than you can shake a stick at. It’s quite possibly the best Superman story ever.

    SUPERMAN: Man of Steel Vol. 1-5
    Volumes 2-5 are relatively recent, but this basically collects the Superman run immediately following Crisis on Infinite Earths beginning with John Byrnes soft “reboot” Man of Steel mini-series. Addition volumes include stories by Byrne but also great work from Marv Wolfman & Jerry Ordway that ran in Action Comics, Adventures of Superman, and Superman.

    I hope they continue to collect these (at least some of them). There was some chaff, but there were also some great runs in the 90s and 00s you can probably pick up for cheap by people you probably like like Roger Stern, George Perez, Bob McLeod, Butch Guice, Stuart Immonen (writing AND drawing), Dan Jurgens, Karl Kesel, Joe Casey, Ed McGuinness, Greg Rucka, and, especially a lengthy run on Action Comics by Joe Kelly.

    ——–

    On the same DC front, if you like JSA, check out the original Infinity Inc. run from the 80s. It’s, to some extent, Geoff John’s template for the modern day JSA (and has some KILLER Jerry Ordway and early Todd MacFarlane art).

    Jesus, go find and immediately read all The Goon you can (don’t start with “Rough Stuff”, start w/ the Dark Horse volume). It will drive you insane what you’ve been missing out on here.

    I can’t believe ya’ll are waiting for trades for Walking Dead. It’s such a great serial and it’s been coming out every other week lately seems like. Great letter column written by Kirkman if you need an additional reason.

    Thank god Amazons Attack is over. Bring on Gail Simone.

  20. So wait… Marvel Knights comics aren’t necessarily in continuity? I had no idea that was the case. Interesting.

    On Young Justice— There are not a lot of DC comics or characters that I feel attached to in any way. I have read some good stories from that uinverse, but nothing that resonated with me, personally. Until I read Young Justice. I think it is better than Invincible in doing young superhero drama. When YJ switched over to Teen Titans, I gave it a couple of issues, but I didn’t feel the same spark. I think I am going to check out that last week’s issue and maybe give Teen Titans another shot.

  21. Basically, not a big sexy week for new stuff, it seems. I am happy chugging away through USM (I am now approaching issue 60 or thereabouts).

    And Wow, you had a question from a Wally…but not this Wally. Probably a nice Wally (unless he’s a Skrull Wally), but now I’m “Wally in Tokyo” Wally… Wait a minute, didn’t the New Avengers find that Skrull Elektra in Japan — I’m confused now, maybe I’m the Skrull Wally… I’ll have to put on my tinfoil hat, contact the mother ship, and get back to you on that…

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