Review: Action Comics #904

So long, Superman!

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

With the arrival of Flashpoint #5 and Justice League #1, the end of Superman as we know him has arrived.

Sure, DC can argue that the Superman in the new 52 relaunch is the same character, just with his past and his iconic costume radically changed and his marriage ended by editorial mandate. But let's call a reboot a reboot. Whatever comes next may be Superman and it could even be wildly successful. It just won't be my Superman.

So it falls to writer Paul Cornell and artists Axel Gimenez and Ronan Cliquet to close out the modern era of Superman with a rousing epic adventure.

But this is not the epic I would have hoped for. Instead, it's got a lot of super-punching and silver age style characterization and exposition.

As in the last few issues, Superman and his extended Super family of Superboy, Supergirl, Steel and the Eradicator in Doomsday's body (don't ask) have been taking on three Doomsday clones alongside Earth's greatest heroes while a highly evolved fourth clone calling himself the Doomslayer plots to destroy the Earth in order to end Doomsday's legacy forever. And at the end of the last issue, the Doomslayer seemingly obliterated Superman inside of his alien vessel in order to keep the Man of Steal from foiling his plan.

Fortunately for Superman, the ship is alive and it converted him into information in order to save him and communicate with him. Back on Earth, Supergirl and the Eradicator get a few hero moments while punching out the other Doomsdays. I wish I could describe the events in greater detail, but that's essentially everything that happens on the planet.

Back on the ship, Superman finds a way to send the ship home and save the Earth, but one of his supporting cast members decides to make sure that Superman can't sacrifice himself in the process. It's not that I doubt for a second that Superman would bring that fate upon himself before wishing it upon another character. But he just sounds silly when he explains his reasoning out loud.

I suspect that straight forward superhero action may not be Cornell's strength, He wrote a terrific year long storyline prior to this which focused almost exclusively on Lex Luthor's quest for ultimate power.(On a side note, I just realized that the current continuity Lex Luthor never reappeared after Action Comics #900; which means Cornell got the last word on Lex too.) It was only when Superman and the Reign of the Doomsdays came into this book that it started going off the rails. The bulk of that story was loud and dumb, with a multitude of mispaired artists desperately trying to keep the book coming out on time.

It's with some relief that I can report that Cornell does finish up with a strong Lois Lane and Clark Kent scene that reestablishes that he can write two people having a conversation that doesn't sound like it escaped from the '50s. Cornell's Lois and Clark are actually sexy and fun in their last dinner as a married couple and it's a good note to end the issue on. The art in that scene is handled by Cliquet, who has an appealing take on both characters.

The bulk of the pages are by Gimenez and he does a serviceable job. However, there are definitely pages that look rushed and sketchy. It's not that the main story could have been saved by the artwork alone, but it certainly would have helped if there was a single artist throughout the entire storyline who was at the top of his game. Great art can help you forgive a mediocre story. Average art will never have the same effect.
When it comes to ending a story, Cornell seems to have a solid grasp on what's going to satisfy an audience. Unfortunately, the journey to get to that point wasn't as enjoyable as it should have been.

Crave Online Rating: 5/10