Thursday, 4 April 2013

Andy In Action

My Comic Book Guy, Mark, tells me that, although Andy Diggle wrote the current Action Comics no 19, he will merely be plotting from no 20 because of pressure of other work. This is a Bad Thing whereas a run of Andy following Grant would have been a Good Thing.

My comments will show that I have read almost no Superman for many years.When, in no 19, Lois Lane gets interested in Kent but he backs off, I cannot help remembering that they were married until recently but the continuity was changed yet again and I do not think that the outgoing continuity was properly wrapped up as Alan Moore did with the Superman of Earth 1 in "Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow?"

Andy has to write a story that fits in with the other Superman titles and with the rest of the New 52 which means that the immense potential of the character is nowhere near to being realized. We need to see how the mere presence of even one Kryptonian would change the world forever. Instead, we get the pretense of business as usual despite the presence of hundreds of super-powered beings flying overhead, despite even the at least annual occurrence of a major event like an alien invasion, an evolutionary turning point or a cosmic crisis. So Andy has to show us Supes fighting war machines. John Byrne and Marv Wolfman made a start on a more realistic treatment of both Superman and Luthor but Byrne almost immediately returned to all the rubbish, Lori Lemaris, Mr Mxyzptlk etc, that initially he had seemed to discard.

The issue begins (almost) exactly as I would have wanted. Kent and Lane are covering a civil war in an unfortunately fictitious Middle Eastern country. We see four pages of people in a bar and learn about Lane's coverage of the war. Kent as Superman intervenes because the regime is smuggling in illegal weapons to crush the pro-democracy uprising. But he didn't intervene when they used legal weapons? This is the sort of question that Superman comics need to address. Why and to what extent does he intervene?

Luthor sent the "mechs" to trigger a US invasion. Here are welcome signs of the real world intruding into a Superman comic. But, at the end of this issue, Luthor has infected Superman with Kryptonite nanites... Longer term, I would prefer less Kryptonite and more about Superman and the US intervening in the Middle East. But, of course, it is too early to judge a story from its opening issue.

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