Overview

Action Comics #901

Review

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Action Comics #901

Credits

  • Words: Paul Cornell
  • Art: Kenneth Rocafort, Jesus Merino
  • Colors: Brad Anderson
  • Story Title: Reign Of The Doomsdays - Part 1
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: May 25, 2011

Years ago, Doomsday appeared to have killed Superman. In his wake, four apparent heroes, Steel, Superboy, Cyborg-Superman, and The Eradicator took up his mantle. Since that time, Superman has returned from the dead, Superboy has been joined by Supergirl, Cyborg-Superman had served time as a member of the Sinestro Corps, and Steel and The Eradicator mostly kept busy in the background. With a team of new Doomsday clones ready to end the reign of these supermen, can all that wield the S-shield stave off their attacks?  

Ending his fan-favorite run of Lex Luthor's Action Comics with the title's landmark 900th issue, Paul Cornell has been one of the rising stars of comic writers in recent years. With artist Pete Woods off the book and Superman back in the lead, it's effectively a new direction for Cornell. While it may be a new start for the writer tackling Superman proper for the first time, it comes at an odd time. J. Michael Straczynski's having Superman question ‘The American Way’ in his "Grounded" storyline in Superman, while Action Comics #900 featured a controversial plot point of Superman renouncing his American citizenship. All this factors into Reign of the Doomsdays being an under-promoted event, perhaps because it’s a small last arc for the title  before Flashpoint changes the direction of the entire DC Universe.   

Paul Cornell's writing has definitely earned him the praise he’s gotten these past few years. In this story though, while the dialogue is good, there are a few missteps in the plot. Superman's early removal of Cyborg-Superman from the board is completely out of left field for the character, taking out a possible ally in what appears to be an attempt for Cornell to trim the already insular story down to the heroic Superman, Supergirl, Superboy, and Steel. Eradicator only has a few scant lines before his the shock ending on the last page. The worst bit is the suddenly self-doubting Superman,  who ponders to lock himself in with Doomsday to spare the Earth, only to immediately dissuade himself from that concept considering it "defeatist talk". Traditionally, Superman would never have this sort of internal monologue; he'd either not even consider the option, or go through with it with full gusto and certainty.   

Since the days of Hunter-Killer, Kenneth Rocafort's art has been on the radar for his sharp angles and attention to detail. In comparison, Jesus Merino, who fills in for a few pages in the middle, would be adequate if he were the only artist on board, but in comparison to Rocafort's pages, stands out as a mismatched filler artist instead of a strong supplement.  

Reign of the Doomsdays feels as if DC's trying to spin their wheels and taxi around before launching a new direction for the hero, and even possibly trying to clean up the Superman mythos before new stories start in September. Undoubtedly, Superman will survive the encounter, and Supergirl and Superboy appear to be safe bets. Steel, The Eradicator, and Cyborg-Superman may be up in the air with this arc, but outside of a few cameos here and there, they've not had any true focus in recent years, and therefore lack emotional ties. Compared to the previous storyline featuring Lex Luthor that fully embraced the character, complete with Jimmy Olsen back-ups that proved the need for a relaunch of Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen, it feels as if DC Comics was cleaning out their closet in anticipation of Flashpoint and found some rarely used toys from the 1990s.   

While this adventure isn't explicitly bad, you expect more from Paul Cornell, and the longest-running superhero book.

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