Action Comics (Issue #900) (DC) | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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Action Comics (Issue #900)


Written by Paul Cornell, Richard Donner, David Goyer, Damon Lindelof and more; Art by Pete Woods, Jesus Merino and more; Cover by David Finch; 1:5 Variant cover A by Adam Hughes; 1:5 Variant cover B by Alex Ross

May 02, 2011 DC Comics Bookmark and Share

Superman is the first superhero to race across the 900th issue mark. Such a big milestone deserves the press buzz and love its getting from DC fans. As a fitful celebration and anniversary issue, Action Comics #900 only works in spurts. There is a ton of extra content contained in this issue’s “96-page spectacular” and that’s almost worthy of the steep $5.99 price tag. The main feature’s Black Ring finale simply under-performs and nothing quite lives up to that gloriously dark cover by David Finch (Cyberforce, New Avengers, Brightest Day).

If you haven’t been following Action Comics over the past year, here’s some of the quick and dirty info: Lex Luthor was the main antagonist (protagonist?) of the series over the last 12 months and he’s been desperately trying to seek out the Black Ring spheres. The fun of Paul Cornell’s (Doctor Who, Batman & Robin, Knight & Squire) writing of the iconic villain came when he tricked you into believing the megalomaniac’s selfish vision for the world. Brainiac, The Joker, and Vandal Savage were also working behind the plot’s shadows. Issue #900 places Superman back in the driver’s seat of DC’s flagship series after some mishandling at the hands of J. Michael Straczynski (Grounded). Clark Kent’s return is ungainly synced up with the tentpole series, Reign of Doomsday. Unfortunately, Cornell tries to cram way too many plot points into his 51-page through-line. The story flits between the ‘90s Superman supporting players slugging it out with Doomsday and Luthor mentally grappling with his doomed grasp at godhood. The issue’s central problem is exacerbated by the fact that each portion is headed by a very different artist. Pete Woods (Deadpool, Robin, Superman: World of New Krypton) returns to polish up his cerebral Lex run and Jesus Merino (Justice Society of America, Batman/Superman) takes on the action-packed Doomsday segments.

Woods pulls out an OK space battle/philosophical discussion between Supes and Lex, but it’s not exactly a riveting set of panels, either. Merino’s figure work is fairly plastic in parts, but he gets the job done, more or less. A various smattering of artists smooth over the issue’s rough artistic edges and Cornell squeezes some emotion out of his flashback climax where a few Superman eras are traumatically relived. Readers will see references to modern classics such as Dan Jurgens’ Death of Superman, Gary Frank’s Brainiac, and Adam Kubert’s Last Son. It’s a fitting narrative touch for an anniversary issue such as this one. Loose ends are tied up and when Luthor is given an outlet to be the hero he always wanted to be, he takes his typical coward’s route. As weird as it is to say it, I’ll miss Lex. His line about Superman being “the ultimate paternal safety net” was pure gold. I won’t miss this landmark issue’s random Phantom Zone baddie, though. The big Reign of Doomsday reveal at the end of the issue points towards the Actions Comics creators taking heed of their series’ punchy title. Bring on the mayhem!

Thankfully, DC injects a robust portion of bonus material to keep the #900 party from being a complete bust. The list of creator talent in this issue is pretty unbelievable. Damon Lindelof (Lost) and Ryan Sook (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Spectre) frame a touching story about the last days of Krypton and Superman: Secret Origin creators Geoff Johns (Brightest Day, The Flash, Green Lantern) and Gary Frank (Kin, Midnight Nation, Supreme Power) team back up for a painfully brief tale about Lois Lane and Clark Kent’s pizza party with The Legion of Super-Heroes. Batman Begins/The Dark Knight co-screenwriter David Goyer and artist Miguel Sepulveda (The Thanos Imperative) also turn in an astute social commentary on the civil unrest in Iran. It’s never as heavy-handed as most hero-meets-real-world-issues fiction and I welcome more of its kind at DC. The big goose egg in the bonus section comes at the end with Richard Donner (Superman: The Movie, Lethal Weapon, The Omen), producer Derek Hoffman, and artist Matt Camp’s screenplay/storyboard. It’s awkward to read and way too long for such a corny payoff. That being said, the characterizations are fairly strong in parts.

Superman is obviously still an iconic character and he still has stories to tell to new generations. As an extension of his legacy, Action Comics is right in bringing Superman back in a big way before the next film reboot from Warner Bros. “Truth, justice and the American way” seems to change with each new year, but The Man of Steel is a constant in our troubled world. Here’s to the next 900 issues!

Closting note: Check out this neat infographic Newsarama posted last year for Superman #700. (

Author rating: 6/10

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