Sunday, January 6, 2019

Action Comics #671 (1991) - "Missing In Action" Review

Writers: Roger Stern
Artists: Kieron Dwyer, Brad Vancata
Cover Price: $1.00
Release Date: October 2, 1991

This is Part 2 of the Blackout story arc. In Part 1 (The Adventures of Superman #484), Mr. Z hypnotized Dr. Emil Hamilton and made him adjust a helmet device he was making for Superman so it would now display Superman's memories and control him. When Superman showed up to try it out, Mr. Z took control of him and they flew off to the Fortress of Solitude. Lois Lane arrived at Hamilton's lab and broke him out of his hypnosis, and Hamilton used his computer connection to the helmet to let Superman take control of himself again. But, with Metropolis already in an energy crisis, he used too much power from the city's main power grid. It caused a complete blackout in Metropolis while Superman and Mr. Z received an immense power serge from the helmet and crashed to the ground, where they both lie unconscious.

The issue starts by showing the chaos on the streets during the Metropolis blackout, and then Hamilton blaming himself for it in a little recap of what happened in the last issue. And on top of the blackout, both himself and Lois have no idea if Superman is still under Mr. Z's control or even still alive.

But then we're taken to a French outpost in the Antarctic where Superman himself walks through the door holding a really messed up Mr. Z and pleading for help.

"... can leap the tallest building in a single bound!" Whelp, it looks like the Man of Steel has amnesia! He has no idea what happened to him, who he is, or that he has powers!

Death of Superman really isn't that far off from this arc so now we get a 5 page taste of Thorn and Gangbuster, who would later be pretty big characters in Funeral For A Friend.  Rose (Thorn) is listening to the radio and all the crap that's happening during the Metropolis blackout, so she goes into that secret tunnel of hers to her secret room and picks up the Thorn costume. Meanwhile, Gangbuster is busting a pair of looters...

He chases one of them down an alley and Thorn is there already so she bodyslams him into a wall. Thorn hands the looter over to Gangbuster, who handcuffs him along with his buddy, and then she hops the fence and takes off, leaving Gangbuster to admire her skills.

Back to Supes, who is in a plane flown by two of the French guys from the outpost, in the middle of the ocean during a big storm. They're bringing Superman and Mr. Z's body-bagged corpse to an island that can get them back home. Superman sits in disbelief that he can actually bend steel with his bare hands after bending a crowbar, and then suddenly the plane starts to go down. One of the Frenchmen crawls to him and cries "Superman... you can fly! You must help us!" But Supes tells him he doesn't even remember how to drive a car, let alone fly, and the plane crashes into shark infested waters.

With the two Frenchmen in one raft and Superman and Mr. Z's corpse in another, Superman throws a a rope to the Frenchmen so they can stick together. But as one of the Frenchman ties the rope to their raft, something from underwater rips it out of his hands and drags Superman's raft away, and then underwater.

There's a little coloring mistake on the last frame there. No big deal but I feel like it should be pointed out.

While Supes pulls himself and Mr. Z's body back into the raft, the mayor of Metropolis is meeting with Lois Lane and Emil Hamilton who are explaining how the power went out and why Superman is missing. But just then he's handed a letter from somebody who may be able to help even more than Superman could: Lex Luthor Jr, whose first appearance was just one Action Comics issue before this (#670). The late Lex Luthor's Australian son, who it turns out is actually Lex Luthor in a new body, is coming to Metropois to help in any way he can.

Meanwhile back on the raft, Superman feels like he's in "some crazy dream--"...

So Mr. Z has returned from the dead and he has no memory either. It's then that they see an island on the horizon. They land by an old shipwreck on the island and have some discussion between the two of them, not having any idea that they are rivals. Superman has been at sea for who knows how long, and Mr. Z has been dead so they're famished. Time for some coconuts.

And Superman has discovered he can fly. It's kinda funny, because from there they assume that they both have different superpower power sets. Mr. Z can come back from the dead while Superman can fly. What else can they do?

Well, Mr. Z can't fly because he tries it and just falls, hurting his ankle. Superman makes him a cast by wrapping what I'm assuming is his cape around his leg. And while they're talking about their powers and how they're going to survive, the ground starts to rumble.

And then there are dinosaurs. "Alive we may be..."

Bits and Pieces

This one is a tough one to rate. Every part of the book with Superman, especially once Mr. Z comes back to life, are great. Hamilton and Lois make for a good introduction by showing what has become of Metropolis. But the rest of the cutaway's drag it down. I understand that Thorn is a thing and will be for awhile here, and so will Gangbuster, but they're not needed in this issue or this arc at all. There's even a scene where Lex Luthor Jr. shows up and gives a big speech to Metropolis that I didn't even cover, and he's pretty huge for upcoming events. But it took away from the fun pages that this single issue could have had with a freshly amnestic Superman.


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