Pick of the Week

Pick of the Week – 09.29.2010 – Action Comics #893

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661
Pulls
Avg Rating: 4.6
iFanboy Community Pick of the Week Percentage: 7.3%
 
Users who pulled this comic:
Written by PAUL CORNELL
Co-feature written by NICK SPENCER
Art by SEAN CHEN
Co-feature art by R.B. SILVA
Cover by DAVID FINCH & RICHARD FRIEND

Size: 40 pages
Price: 3.99

Since we've started doing the Best of the Week in Panels feature every week, I've got one more thing to look for when I read my books.  At first, I thought it was going to be a pain, but it turns out, it's been really fun.  Every once in a while, I'll read a book that has multiple possibilities for Best Panel honors. That alone doesn't guarantee an issue gets to be Pick of the Week, but at some point in this Luthor/Grodd tale, it became clear that Paul Cornell and company had produced a strong condender. So here we are.

Cornell's run on Action Comics was described, by him, as a "supervillain punchup," and never was it more true than issue #893.  The story just ran wild with supervillain pathos, both in Grodd and Luthor flavors, and it was glorious.  It turns out to my great shame, and the disapproval of Tom Katers, I have never actually read a story featuring Gorilla Grodd.  Tom is not wrong about his magnificence.  For one thing, he's a gorilla, and he's the most confident character ever, with the exception of Lex Luthor.  Of course they're going to go head to head.  What I wasn't prepared for was the way Cornell took ownership of that wackiness.  Grodd, for example, hungrily devours a brain to gain its owner's knowledge, but it was done in an almost deadpan way.  The same can be said of Grodd's "biggest combat spoon".  In this issue, it was almost as if Cornell was channeling the best of both Grant Morrison and Warren Ellis, and mixing it with his own special genius, and the results were a 5-star win.  Those crazy elements, recalling the best of silver age comics, mixed with today, were laid out with an actual story of Luthor's quest to regain the power of the power ring, and all the machinations he'll go through to do it.  The relationship with Lois-bot is still fascinating, and we were never sure if we were really looking at Lex Luthor, or just some replicant, which wasn't confusing as much as it was fun. 

Then there was the end, where a certain beloved character from Neil Gaiman's Sandman made her entrance into the DCU.  Where that leads, I have no idea, but the idea of Luthor trying to cheat his way out of death presents a wonderful stage for a writer like Cornell to start weaving his magic.

Sean Chen is an artist who has been around comics for quite a while. I first got to know him years ago on Iron Man, where I liked his work just fine, but never really seeked him out.  He really brought his A-game to Action Comics though, especially in an issue that required him to render a great number of comedy beats in the deadpan style I described.  Grodd is a character who must own any page he is on, and Chen understood that completely.  He's both incredibly powerful, and just a bit silly.  Flipping back through the pages, there are numerous panels that just pop off the page, and make me smile, like when he tries to eat Lois-bot's head.  Oh, did that make you want to read this issue?  It should have.  The style was very reminiscent of Gary Frank's recent work, and it was just pure, clean, comic book superherovillain work from cover to cover.  He was exactly the right artist for the story at hand.

Had Cornell's feature story been the only thing in the issue, I'd still have given this the Pick of the Week. But wait! There's more! This issue also features the work-for-hire debut of Nick Spencer, owner of a large number of Picks of the Week for a guy who's only ever done indie comics.  His Jimmy Olsen backup debuted digitally last week, and there were raves everywhere, and his slight re-framing of Superman's pal is very good start.  Spencer places Jimmy in a context other than Superman's side, and it's a very welcome scenario.  Jimmy's been getting a little caught up in his memories of the old days, and his girlfriend, Chloe (who is apparently from some sort of TV show that's been on since before I could drive) has had enough of his Kal El co-dependency.  His buddies take him out to cheer him up, and we're introduced to Jimmy's rival and a launching point for what looks like a fun story about an alien invasion.  All this was accomplished in relatively few pages, and if the public would actually buy a Jimmy Olsen series (they won't), this could easily be the start of one.

Each issue of Paul Cornell's Action Comics has been better than the last, and with this one, we're seeing him hit his stride.  I don't miss Superman in this title in the least, and he's really got me hooked into what is going to happen with Luthor.  WIth the way Cornell's imagination has been working, it could take us almost anywhere, and that's just what we should demand from Action Comics.

Josh Flanagan
Allow me to digest your knowledge
josh@ifanboy.com

Comments

  1. Wow very quick review. You sure you read your other books?

  2. KNEEL BEFORE GRODD!

  3. Already?

  4. There were other comics published this week, right?

  5. Yes, but then again it’s Paul Cornell, and he’s awesome!

  6. Having only 8 books certainly helped Josh, but I wonder if he read the entire gi joe cobra special, cover to cover

  7. IN GRODD WE TRUST!

  8. Oh this was so much fun. I caught myself up with this series today and this issue was just the capper of fantastic start for Action Comics. By the time Grodd took that brain and upended into his mouth I knew I was going to love this. The art by Chen was pretty good too, I wish he would replace Woods all together. (Then again Woods have improved lately since his dreadful run earlier)

    The back up was good, although it did get old to me once the foil came into play. If it was just Olsen sitting in his apartment talking about his life since Sups left on his spiritual journey, then it would’ve been better. That and Chole did nothing for me. 

  9. That was freakin’ quick! Guess I know what I’m reading first.

  10. Damn Josh. That’s the first time I’ve seen a POTW review go up before any user reviews were up.

  11. yea this run has been absolute looney toons. crazy shit in every issue. 

  12. Nice.  I’m still working through my stack (have stuff from last week), but I was very pleased with this.  I picked it up because of the Chloe appearance, but have to admit that Lex vs. Grodd made it worthwhile.  I like the idea of reading a Lex Luthor book every month, so I’ll definitely add this to my pull list.  Definitely going to be a panel of the week from here, right?  Grodd samples Lois.  Grodd’s spoon meets Lex’s neck.  I can’t decide.

  13. It’s the fifth week of the month.  I don’t know about everyone else, but I had a crazy small week.  It’s no surprise the review is up fast this week.  Also, I’ve been loving this run so far.  I can’t wait to read this one.

  14. This issue made me really, really hungry.

  15. I generally can’t stand Jimmy Olsen, but I actually enjoyed the back up.

  16. Why is everyone complaining the review went up early? I say good on Josh for kicking a deadline’s ass! He’s the anti-McNiven.

    Grodd is the greatest villain EVER. he was the lord and ruler of a paradise on earth and said "NOT ENOUGH!" Plus, he’s a super strong, telepathic talking gorilla. Comics get no better than that. 

  17. I loved the backup. Best part of the issue. Reminded me of All-Star Superman #4.

  18. Josh likes fun. I’ll be damned.

  19. @NawidA – Exactly.  The only Olsen I’ve ever found tolerable was the Olsen in AS-Superman.

  20. Great, great, great pick.  It deserved it for no other reason than it was fun.  It’s not a reboot, a first issue, a new status quo, it was just filled with originality and wit…and absolutely, incontrovertably a Paul Cornell book.  When Grodd wrapped his jaws around Lois-bot I knew I was never leaving this book as long as he writes it.  And was Chen just channelling Bachalo on the last page, or did the man himslef assist???

  21. This was great fun all around.  This type of book is one of the things that can only come out in the comic medium.  Serious about many things, but at the same time, very, very silly.  I got a feeling that at the end of the run we are going to be looking at a very accomplished story about Lex that other creators will borrow from for the next decade.  Or that just could be wishful thinking.  But I have no concerns that it will be a fun ride.

  22. Great review. I couldn’t agree more.

  23. I need a combat spork.

  24. @Crucio "Combat Spork" would be a good name for a band. 

  25. This was indeed glorious.  Cornell’s Action run is really something special.  An easy POW this week.

  26. I haven’t read Action Comics since 830, so I have no idea what’s going on with the Lois-bot and lack of Superman in his own book. I bought this issue specifically for the Jimmy Olsen backup story and the appearance of Death, and those were enough for me to really enjoy it.

  27. "In combat spork we trust" — that would be a good band name… but we digress. 

  28. I’ve never read a Gorilla Grod story either….totally fun! Cornell did a really great job of introducing this characters intricacies through dialogue and action I.e. the brains, and combat spoon instead of narration which i always appreciate.

    This new Lex run in Action has been really awesome….including this issue. At the end of the main story i felt that it read fast and i wanted more. I went back to realize that the main story was only 20 pages long which was is my only nitpick with this issue. For, me if you are going to advertise a 40 page comic the main story should be more than half the issue. 

  29. Hmmm, slightly metallic with a hint of Electr….

  30. Fun pick Josh!  Thanks.

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