Thursday, February 5, 2015

Action Comics #39 Review

Written by: Greg Pak
Art by: Scott Kolins and Aaron Kuder
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: February 4, 2015

Welcome to My Nightmare

I don't usually think of Superman and horror as two great tastes that go great together.  However, after reading Greg Pak's Horrorville story, I may have to change my mind.  Coming straight out of the Doomed story, Horrorville has been a good change of pace for Superman fans and even though the story itself  has some questionable elements, I have enjoyed it as a whole.  Last issue ended with some Smallville residents getting personal with some facehuggers, others revealing their special powers and what they've been doing with them and most importantly, Lana Lang being turned into a crazy ass marionette by the Ultra-Humanite. To say I was looking forward to this finale is an understatement, but is it any good?  Let's find out kiddies.
The issue opens with the children of Smallville fully decked out in Alien Brain Suckers while Lana Lang calls out to Superman and Steel.  If you've been reading this arc, you know for sure that it isn't Lana, but that is more the reason they need to find her immediately.  We also get a little of Mr.Santiago and Mrs. Takahara, two of the Smallville residents who gained Brainiac powers during the Doomed story.  This last part is the thing I found most questionable in this whole arc.  It feels forced and their explanation of what they've done for Smallville really seems like a plot device to get everyone isolated for story sake.  Luckily, their powers are not a key element in this finale.

What is a key element is Lana Lang.  She is the most important person to Steel and Superman and they go off to save her which leads them into an unknown region of the Phantom Zone.  It really is a living Hell with hundreds of the Brain Suckers waiting and one big Ultra-Humanite.  Superman and Steel realize that the Aliens are feeding off their fear and terror and Steel resorts to his one and only go to move...he envelopes Superman in living steel.  It may be a little hokey, but it sure looked cool.  I now officially want a steel beard!  They travel deeper into the Zone and finally find Lana...and Ultra-Humanite.

I am not a fan of this Ultra-Humanite.  I'll take a giant headed ape any day, but this version sure is scary.  It's even scarier when it's dangling Lana and laying a mind F*** on Steel and Superman.  When Superman comes face to whatever the hell that is, the reader finds out that this isn't the first meeting between the two.  In fact, a confrontation with a young Clark Kent (who looks a lot like Tetsuo Shima)  set Ultra-Humanite on this path a long time ago and he lay waiting for the time to feed off of Superman once again.  Yes, all this is about Ultra-Humanite wanting to taste more of Superman's terror.

Superman then goes all "You want it, you've got it" on Ultra-Humanite by ripping off his living steel (I would have been a bit offended if I were Steel) and lets U-H and the reader see a whole bunch of his worst fears.  I really enjoy seeing the human side of Superman and we get a real good dose here.  There is nothing shocking, except maybe for Lex's actions and Lois'importance, but that doesn't make it any less powerful.  Superman can sure punch things hard, but we get to see that all that power comes at a huge psychological price.  That price then feeds U-H and the little aliens.

All this leads to Lana being let go of and after an agonizing feeding, they let Superman go as well. I enjoyed almost everything in this issue, but when Superman explains that the monsters are gone because they got "full", I groaned a bit to myself.  It really was a lackluster ending to a really good story.  However, I loved the last part with Lana and Superman working out their problems. Lana has been a bitch to Superman this whole story, but she finally comes clean and they both forgive each other.  Maybe next time it won't take a crazy terror feeding monster attack for Lana not to be a jerk.  As a whole, I did enjoy this story.  There hasn't been many Superman/Horror stories, but I hope this inspires more down the line. It's also great to see Superman struggle with his inner fears and this arc and issue had that in spades.

One thing I have loved throughout this whole arc is Aaron Kuder's art.  Everything looked great as usual and while I don't like the concept of Ultra-Humanite, Aaron Kuder makes it simply awesome.  Awesome in a mythical and scary as hell way.  While I thought Scott Kolins flashback scene was a little too jarring at first, I liked the look enough to put my multiple artist pet peeve aside and enjoy it for what it was...damn great art.

Bits and Pieces:

This issue was a pretty good ending to a pretty good story.  I now want more Horror themed Superman stories.  Greg Pak did a good job using this story to show what Superman has nightmares about and while there weren't any great revelations, I still enjoyed what we got.  Aaron Kuder and Scott Kolins make everything look great and if the ending was a bit more satisfying, I would have given it an even higher score.  As it was, Horrorville is a story arc I can easily recommend to any Superman fan out there.


1 comment:

  1. i'm not gonna lie...the moment the monster said he was the Ultra Humanite, I thought to myself"......DA FUQ?!"