ACTION COMICS #864 4-30-08

Action Comics 864ACTION COMICS #864
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Joe Prado
Publisher: DC Comics
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka  Optimous Douche Ain’t It Cool News)

Two stories came out last week told from the viewpoint of an omniscient all knowing entity. The first, of course, is DC UNIVERSE 0, which was told by a character that can travel through time, parallel worlds and is somehow tied to lightning. I know the AP wire said this marked the return of Barry Allen, but personally I think DC is resurrecting America’s first super hero – Ben Franklin Man, who can oppress the masses with a wry smile and doddery.

The second (and far superior) deity-inspired narrative was found in this latest installment of ACTION.

I was expecting greatness from this book simply because the story oozed from the pen of Geoff Johns, but I wasn’t ready for the importance that this book would have on the entire DC Universe.

After the end of the tremendous six part Legion story that ended last month, and in light of the universe shake down in coming months, I was fully expecting this story to be nothing more than filler, perhaps “A Day in the Life” story or some one-shot of a second-rate villain wrecking havoc on the Daily Planet.

I was not ready for this issue to kick off the second most important event on the DC publishing calendar – LEGION OF THREE WORLDS (LTW). My cynical nature and history with comic books had me prepared to shell out my hard earned ducats for a series of one-shots and insipid overly bloated countups, countdowns or count Choculas to kick off this event. Well thank you, Mr. Johns, for not only writing an important book from a continuity perspective, but also for crafting it in your usual masterful fashion.

CRISIS connections aside, Johns once again delivers top notch goods from a characterization and story-telling perspective. The entire story is narrated from the perspective of the Time Trapper, who is being set up to be the chief foil in the coming LTW title. Johns could have taken the easy route. He could have emulated his lesser peers by making this villain just a pure embodiment of evil, complete with lots of hand wringing and mwahahaha moments. Instead he gave the character a true voice, complete with some ironically hilarious disdain for Batman.

Speaking of Batman, he truly gets raked over the coals in this issue. From his tête-à-têtes with Lighting Lad to his utter insignificance in the grand scheme of history, it’s clear where Johns’ superhero affinity lies. I’m OK with all of this, Batman is kind of douche when you think about it. Perhaps that’s why I’m less apt to chastise Miller for his work on ALL STAR BATMAN & ROBIN.

I can’t leave this review without a mention on Prado’s artistry, because for 99.99% of this book his pencils are a thing of beauty. I have never seen the phenomenon before where every scene is meticulously detailed and engrossing, with the exception of the main character. There are many different ways to render the Man of Steel, and I am far from being a fan of the engorged Kennedy jaw line that Clark Kent usually possesses.

However, for one brief moment before I bought this title, I thought I had mistakenly missed my comic shop, walked into Blockbuster and was looking at the jacket for the movie “Rocky Balboa”. For anyone that saw Rocky’s swan song a few years ago, you’ll know that Sly no longer looks like Sly. Instead he looks like Sly after getting face raped by a swarm of killer bees. He’s still in great shape for a guy his age, but let’s be honest: time takes its toll on all of us. If all I have to worry about is being a little paunchy in forty years I will consider it a blessing, but you know what, I’m not Superman. Poetic license is one thing, but to render Superman as paunchy with a schnozz that looks like it was broken, reset and then had two kryptonite dildos shoved in each nostril is not how Superman is supposed to look. This, however, is a nit, an insignificant faux pas in what was otherwise one of the best damn issues I’ve ever read of ACTION.

If someone is holding a gun to your head and gives you the choice between only reading DC UNIVERSE 0 and ACTION 864, pony up the $2.49 difference in price, buy ACTION and catch up on FINAL CRISIS in the actual pages of FINAL CRISIS.

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