Comics / Comic Reviews / DC Comics

Actions Comics #881


By Andy Frisk
September 17, 2009 - 19:16

Can the storylines in Action Comics, Superman, Supergirl, and World of New Krypton get any better? Scarily, the answer is yes! Action Comics #881 kicks off Part One of “The Hunt for Reactron,” which pairs Supergirl with Nightwing and Flamebird. The three, now referred to notoriously as The Metropolis 3, are on the run after Mirabai, Reactron, and Metallo impersonated the three last episode, and seemingly murdered Mon-El while destroying Metropolis’ water supply. The three get chased out of Metropolis and hide out in one of Supergirl’s safe houses in Paris, France. Escaping the clutches of Metropolis’ Science Police does little to break the tension though, as Kara (Supergirl) still blames Thara (Flamebird, Kara’s former best friend, and former head of Kandor’s Security Dept.) for her father’s death. Kara also feels that Thara is a “religious nut” who believes too seriously in all of the mythical Nightwing/Flamebird/Rao connections. (Rao being the Kryptonian name for God.) After the three figure out that it was Metallo and Reactron who impersonated two of them, Thara and Kara begin to argue over Kara’s demand that Reactron be brought back to New Krypton for judgment since Reactron is her father’s murderer. When Kryptonians argue, especially hormonally charged teenaged Kryptonians, things are bound to come to super powered blows and attract a lot of unwanted attention…

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With the plot involving The Metropolis 3 and their battles within and without, and the many subplots running through Action Comics, and all of the Superman titles, this overarching tale is nothing short of a multilayered, complex, deep, commentary filled, and fun masterpiece of a story. It’s nothing short of literary brilliance in the sequential art field on the part of Rucka, Robinson, Gates, and Johns as they pull together and deliver this great tale every week. From out of the overarching tale of the existence of the newly created New Krypton and how Superman, the hero who started it all in the world of the comic book superhero, is dealing with his role as Earth’s Mightiest Hero and New Krypton’s Greatest Protector, we get the many varied and important, commentary and idea filled subplots that drive each of the Superman titles’ powerful stories.

These subplots include General Lane’s return and grasp for power through fear mongering and manipulation, Nightwing and Flamebird’s budding romance and dedication to duty as heroes, Supergirl’s reactions to the tensions between her and her mother over the failure to capture Reactron, the power and controversy surrounding a powerful religious experience and the actions it inspires (consider Nightwing and Flamebird’s story), and Cat Grant’s hatred of Supergirl and subsequent trip to the dark side, uh, I mean…far right side, of the political spectrum to join forces with the local right wing-nut talk show host Morgan Edge (who’s sort of the Glen Beck of the DC Universe). Grant is so consumed with contempt towards Supergirl that she swallows the murderous actions of the beings that look like Supergirl, Nightwing and Flamebird, hook line and sinker, unlike Lois Lane who questions that they were really behind Mon-El’s “murder,” because it is out of character for the heroes. Grant assumes the McCarthy-like stance that we see all too often in world politics today, when she tells Lois, “Face it Lois! These aliens that you’ve championed all these years are not our friends…they’re the enemy, and the people who stand with them, who defend them…They might need to start watching what they say and what they write…or someone will think they’re the enemy too…” For Grant, a member of the free press, to attempt to threaten another member of the free press into silence, is the truely frightening result of the xenophobia pushed and manipulated into existence by the powers that be, namely General Lane. This is an example of the important and poignant type of socio-political commentary that the Superman writers have been engaged in for some time now. It’s really great that a superhero comic book, which many “serious” critics overlook, is delivering such a powerful and important tale, demonstrating that they can be worthy of being considered literary and important. Mainstream, indie, alternative, superhero, non-superhero, or whatever, a comic book tale doesn’t get much better than the one we’re reading weekly in the Superman books.

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Some of Perez's great art.
Perez’s art is fantastic as well. He does a great job of changing angles of perspective in nearly each panel in order to give the reader a complete view of the action from all sides. His well choreographed fights are also well drawn, and his shots of Paris from the roof top where Flamebird sits meditating are great as well. Mena’s colors are superb and he spectacularly captures the warm glow of our yellow sun as it dances across the Paris cityscape and pours into open stairwells.

By this point if Johns, Rucka, Robinson, Gates and company have been reading these Superman Family title reviews recently, they’ve probably all gotten some of the biggest ego boosts they’ve ever gotten from the reading of a review. They deserve it though. As a reader of Superman comics for 20+ years, I’ve never enjoyed, been inspired, and thrilled by a Superman storyline as powerfully as this one. Keep up the great work guys!

Rating: 10 /10


Last Updated: December 31, 2019 - 20:28

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