Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Action Comics #51 Review

Can You Hear Me Now

Written by: Peter J. Tomasi
Art by: Paul Pelletier, Sandra Hope Archer, Tomeu Morey and Rob Leigh
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: April 20, 2016

Peter Tomasi is back and  proves he's the hardest worker in all of comics with part three of Super League in three weeks.  Okay, maybe DC gave him plenty of time to write this crossover, but I can't escape the image of him chained to his desk, pounding away on his Lettera 10 typewriter while Jim Lee and Dan Didio keep rhythm on dual Akan drums.  That's how things are done in the comic business, right?  Well, however it's all going down, it's working.  Two issues in and I'm close to proclaiming it the best Superman Story since the New 52 started.  I'd go back further, but that would take research and as most of you know, I'm deathly allergic to that sort of thing.  I have a doctor's note.  What has made this story so good, you ask?  Well, Tomasi decided to do something so crazy, so odd, that I'm surprised they haven't locked him up (besides to his desk, of course)...he is giving us Superman.  Wild, huh?  All joking aside, Superman fans have had events thrown at them that have taken away his identity and powers, have turned him into his biggest villain and have taken us all to H'el and back again, but for the most part, we haven't gotten Superman.  Let me rephrase myself, Tomasi is giving us Superman back.  The whole package...the hero who wants to save everyone, the best friend to so many people, the alien who cares more for his adopted planet than anything in the's already all here and so much more.  If you ask me, Rebirth has already started and I've loved every minute of it.  I'm sorry for sounding like such a fanboy, but this story already deserves the praise and after reading and reviewing over a hundred Superman books during the New 52, I think I deserve to be happy and show it.  So there!  Okay, I'm stepping down from my soapbox now and finally getting to the matter at hand...Action Comics #51.  Does it continue making me smile or am I going to have to edit everything that I wrote above?  I am allergic to that as well, but let's find out...

The issue opens with Superman busting into the Department of Extra-Normal Operations and saving Supergirl.  You know, because she needed saving after seeing her in all sorts of trouble at the end of last week's cliffhanger, right?  That would be incorrect and thus, I was right on target when I said she didn't need saving.  I know, I know...we all saw it coming.  Superman didn't, so I am smarter than Superman.  Yea me!

Going back a little bit, I'm sure that some people will call out Tomasi for making Superman a bit of a jerk when he first shows up at the D.E.O.  He did tell a scientist to shut up and he did jump to conclusions, but the man is dying and time is a ticking.  You know what he didn't do?  Throw that guy into the sun, that's what.  I'll say we all got out of there a-ok.

If you want to know who I'm upset with, it's Supergirl.  Not just because she acts like a little brat, but because of the way that Tomasi is forced to tie her into the Truth story.  Without going into too much detail, everything feels off.  The timing, the explanation of how her powers were being drained and what lead to where we are now just doesn't jive.  This is coming from a guy who really can't understand why Supergirl didn't show up in the crossover, so take it with a grain of salt if you must, but all this feels like shoving a square peg in a round hole.  You can do it with a sledgehammer, but things are gonna get messy.  

Okay, I got that off my chest so I can tell you how pumped I am to see Supergirl in a book after way too long!  If it takes a sledgehammer, so be it!  While I wish that Superman pressed her a little more about why she never got a hold of him during one of his darkest hours, that all is put on hold when Superman tells her the real truth...he is dying.

We then fly off to China where the surviving Chinese Dragon returns to Dr. Omen and makes me right again.  I'm sure there is some rule about gloating in a review, but I don't care.  The Dragon has returned with Superman's blood and while Dr. Omen seems pleased, Tomasi is not ready to give us anymore details just yet.  I may be in the minority here, but this part has really intrigued me and I want to know more about it and it's (possible) connections to Kenan Kong in Rebirth.

Speaking of other Supermen, we head to Metropolis and see that all is not well with the super parole. His super affliction is now more of an All of Me situation and believe me, that is not a good time for anyone!  While he fights with himself, he goes from greeting everyone as Clark and then attacking and throwing Lilly Tomlin.  Well, more like the piece of shit he is, but now a super powered piece of shit.  The issue ends with Lois showing that she eats pieces of shit for breakfast...and can use a taser!

The issue ends with two big moments.  First off, Superman and Supergirl go to the Fortress of Solitude and while I like what (and how) Superman asks of his cousin, I was a little upset with how Supergirl reacted to first.  I guess I was just in the mode of her being Supergirl and everything should be fine, but Tomasi does a great job reminding the reader that this is just a girl...a girl who is being asked to do more than any girl her age has ever been asked.  The second moment was the cliffhanger and all I can say is "Oh Snap!"...just like Biz.

Even though a lot of things bothered me about this issue, I still enjoyed it enough.  It is the weakest of the Super League issues so far and while it gets Supergirl back into the DCU, it was mostly setup.  I realize that all of these first month issues are going to be setup, but it was more evident here and things from Kara to the cliffhanger felt forced just to keep it all going forward.  Still, I am looking forward to Superman/Wonder Woman to get the next pieces of the puzzle.

Having Tomasi write the whole story has already paid dividends, so I wish they could have done the same with the art.  I like Paul Pelletier's art in this issue, but each issue takes me a bit to reconfigure my brain to the new look.  I am not taking any points off for something I know is a pipe dream, but a man can still dream, can't he?  With not a whole lot of action, the highlight art wise for me was Supergirl throughout and the awesome looking cameo at the end.

Bits and Pieces:

Action Comics #51 continues the Super League story and while I love seeing Supergirl back in action (kind of), she is a bit forced in here.  I got over that quick enough, but couldn't escape the feeling that this issue was more setup than the first two and stalling a bit until we get to the second round of the crossover.  I hope that's not the case since we still have next week's Superman/Wonder Woman , but I'll leave that until then.  Right now, I can tell you that I am still fully on board with Tomasi's story, even if this is my least favorite issue so far.



  1. Show us more from inside the Fortress, that shit is so cool. And what the hell is behind those locked doors.

  2. You have hit every point I've been saying about the new 52 Superman beautifully. I'm a life long Superman fan (beginning back in 1979) and the New 52 destroyed the whole Super-family (imo) There was too much anger and attitude from both Superman and Supergirl. I stopped reading Superman, for the first time in 37 years, after about 6 months of the New 52. If Superman had been written like THIS from the beginning, he would have been a success and not being replaced by the pre-flashpoint one. Between this current arc and Jurgens Lois and Clark, this has been the best Superman has been in almost 5 years.

    1. i agree totally...why couldn't this have been the superman through the New 52? This Superman could and should have been what we got during the powers, no secret identity, but still the hero who will do whatever it takes to help others.

  3. I can't help but think that Super Parolee is The Eradicator.

    1. I don't remember, did we ever resolve what happened to the Eradicator after the Krypton Returns story arc? Last thing I can recall is him being transported to Smallville.

    2. Eric - Yes. In a Lobdell issue. And while I happen to love continuity in my comics as much as you, considering how fast and loose DC is being with Superman's continuity for stuff that happened two issues ago, I imagine they'll have no problem writing around or downright dismissing a one-off Scott Lobdell issue from the early New52 - Jax

    3. Eric - Let me amend answer your question: No, nothing ever happened after that Smallville issue.

  4. Also... aside from the week explanation about how Supergirl lost her powers, I was a little bothered when Dr. Omen cut off the Chinese Dragon's hand to get the blood sample. I get that it was meant to show what a badass, ruthless bitch Dr. Omen is but wouldn't the dragon's blood contaminate Superman's? It's nitpicky shit to be sure but it is more a testament to how much I'm enjoying this storyline because after years of sticking by, arguably, my favorite character through thin and thinner, I want everything in this great story to be perfect. Since this story doesn't suffer from all the bullshit that Superman has, lately, these little details stand out.
    - Jax