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Friday, September 30, 2016

Tales From The $3.99 Bin! - Action Comics #14-#18

Next up in this final week of Superman Month, I thought I might as well finish off Grant Morrison's Action Comics run. I’ve more or less talked about every aspect of that run here except for #0 from Zero Month. Morrison’s run was pretty good and I will do another post about the run as a whole. The ones I'm talking about today are Action Comics #14-#18.

When we last left off, Clark Kent had died… kind of. Basically, Superman had to let “Clark Kent” die when an accident happened. Anyway, Superman tried on a new identity but he missed being Clark Kent. Mrs. Nyxly revealed herself to be from the 5th Dimension and basically wished Clark Kent back to life. Yeah, it gets weird and it’s going to get much weirder. This is Grant Morrison, after all.
Grant Morrison handled all of the main stories while Sholly Fisch handled the back-ups. The artwork gets varied up a lot in this one. Rag Morales and Brad Walker handle the pencils for the main stories while Chris Sprouse handles the pencils for the backups.

Action Comics #14-#18
Writers: Grant Morrison and Sholly Fisch (back-ups)
Pencils: Rags Morales (main), Brad Walker (main), and Chris Sprouse (backups)
Inks: Mark Prospt and Andrew Hennessy (main); Karl Story (backups)
Colors: Brad Anderson (main); Jordie Bellaire (backup)
Letters: Steve Wands, Carlos M. Mangual, and Taylor Esposito
Editor: Matt Idelson and Wil Moss

SYNOPSIS

...

Superman fights the Devil and wins… Well that’s what happens in it! Do I have to synopsize these issues? Wait, it’s my blog! Of course I don’t have to! Okay… I think I can do this where it makes sense. Just bear with me…

#14 has Superman face the Multitude. They are a basically a force that goes around the universe and destroys planets. The only planet it hadn’t destroy was Krypton. He’s facing it on Mars since he was actually called up there when a research team gets in trouble. With the help of the research team, he’s able to repel the Multitude (who looked like angels) away from Earth. All seems good until Lord Vyndktvx (Lord Vinnie for short) reveals himself and kills the research team. He then attacks Superman.
This was legitimately a shock.

#15-18 pretty much covers this final arc of Superman facing Vyndyktyvx. We finally learn who Lord Vinnie is from Ms. Nxyly. He was another imp who was jealous of her relationship with Mr. Mxyxpltk, someone Superman hasn’t faced yet. Lord Vinnie ended up killing the King-Thing Brpxz of Zrfff (Nyxly’s father) with a a powerful weapon and that somehow unleashed the Multitude in the 3rd Dimension. Since Superman and Jor-El were able to repel the Multitude, this injured Lord Vinnie and he basically swore vengeance against Mrs. Nyxly, Mxyxptlk, and Superman. The two lovers were able to escape to Earth and became mortal. Mxy was left in a coma in the hospital for years. Lord Vinnie eventually found Mrs. Nxyly and killed her while Clark was talking to her.

Lord Vinnie set his sights on Superman. He wanted Superman to suffer for what he did on Mars. While using his extraordinary powers, he was able to recruit a group of super-powered Superman haters. We got folk like Xa-Du, the Kryptonite Man, Metalek, the hunter Nimrod, and others. He then attacks Superman throughout time to the point where time becomes fluid. He even gets the Dark Anti-Superman from Action Comics #9 to come and kill Superman on Earth. Lord Vinnie was even responsible for the Kents’ death in this universe too.

Luckily, Superman has plans in beating Lord Vinnie. He was able to warn allies across time and space. Krypto comes in to help.  The Legion of Superheroes from a pretty dark future also help. What’s left of the Legion go through time to basically solve the problem of Lord Vinnie. We even get Adam Blake around to help take care of the minions. Some of the good minions even join his little group of Wanderers. Superman is able to send Lord Vinnie back to the 5th Dimension by getting him to say his name backwards. Thanks to Ms. Nxyly’s third wish (a trick she had), he was able to save the Mars crew and Grant Morrison’s run comes to an end.
Hey, the art's actually working for me here.

As for the backups, they mostly center on things happening around everything. One centers on Clark basically seeing Krypton explode in an interesting way. Another has a time displaced Clark see Johnathan Kent for one final time. Another one shows Ms. Nxyly’s background with Mr. Mxyxptlk. Another one ties into this Legion’s dark future we see in the main story. Finally, we get a mostly wordless story about some kids in a Superman museum. They see what’s there and it inspires them to be better.
Man, stop playing with my emotions!


OPINION
So… what I did think? I may have had a meltdown up there, but I do like the story. It’s not the best though. Morrison tries his best to resolve all of the plot points he introduced in the earlier issues here. What we end up getting is a story that spans time, space, and even dimensions. I think I had said before with this run that I wasn’t a fan of the weirdness of the run. I’m just not a big fan of the 5th dimension (the concept, not the band), so it’s hard for me to fully enjoy the story. It also skips around into different time periods and you’re usually not sure when it’s taking place. I know it’s a part of the story, but it’s a little too much this time.
So... when did Superman die in the New 52? I'm not talking about the recent death either.

That doesn’t mean I don’t like it at all. I do like that it is a throwback to Superman’s Silver Age, though. Morrison throws in all sorts of stuff that was introduced in the Silver Age like the Legion of Superheroes, Krypto, and all-out weirdness. This is kind of like Morrison’s Batman run where he had Batman go up against a Devil of sorts. Lord Vyndktvx (I hate spelling his actual name) is definitely in that role of the adversary and even more so here. His backstory has kind of a Paradise Lost feel to it, he makes deals with folk, and he’s pretty annoying. I also like that he basically attacks Superman throughout all time but I do think that got pretty confusing even for me. The backups were also pretty good even and pretty heartfelt at times.
Man, I'd hate to be him.

The artwork was a little mixed for me. Rag Morales’ work was not that good this time around. It didn’t look as polished as it did in earlier issues of the run. He started out the run and I guess he needed help finishing it off since Walker takes most of the work too. Even Walker’s work didn’t look that good to me. It may have been the inks or colors that didn’t make it all look that good. Add the fact that time is broken and you get some incoherent stuff.

There are still some cool panels that look good. The action beats were nice for a comic called "Action Comics." I did like the different nods to Superman’s history. One big example I can point to is when the Red Kryptonite lady is making him change into a lion and ant. I told you those Silver Age comics were weird! I did think that Chris Sprouse’s artwork was good for the most part.

Overall, the final issues for Morrison on Action Comics were a little disappointing. That doesn’t mean I don’t like them though. I know what he was trying to go for but it all didn’t click for me. Maybe if I read the whole run, it might all actually make some sort of sense or something. If you think I’m done talking Morrison and his run, think again. For the final post this month, I’ll be talking about the run as a whole.  So, come back in a few hours or something like that.

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