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Reviews and commentary by Tony Isabella
"America's Most Beloved Comic-Book Writer & Columnist"

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for Thursday, November 12, 2009

Action Comics 879

A short while back, I was enjoying and excited about the "New Krypton" storyline that was running in Action Comics, Supergirl, Superman, and Superman: World of New Krypton. Then, all of a sudden, I wasn't enjoying it quite as much or as excited about it. I can tell you exactly when this occurred; it was when I read the 35th and final issue of the "World Without Superman" arc and the prologue of the "Codename: Patriot" arc following it. Despite running 35 issues - with some additional specials - "World Without Superman" had no ending. Indeed, the last of the three issues I'll be discussing is filled with cliffhangers and, for the continuation of some of those plots, readers are directed to other DC titles entirely. I need some closure.

Action Comics #879 [$3.99] finds the Kryptonian heroes Nightwing and Flamebird trying to stop two murderous sleeper agents which General Zod sent to Earth. All four, good and bad alike, are attacked by "Codename: Assassin" and his crew of beefy alien thugs. "Assassin" is working for General Sam Lane, who is running an anti-Kryptonian "black ops" and who has recruited a number of villains, including Lex Luthor, to his illegal secret war. At least, I think it's illegal.

Memory fades when a story runs over 30 issues.

By the end of this chapter, Flamebird reveals some Phoenix-like power, Lois Lane learns her father isn't dead, and some weird mystery woman captures the sleeper agents off-panel. It was not a satisfying chunk of story.

Neither was the Captain Atom feature that followed. Here's a character who hasn't been interesting since Alan Moore painted him blue and took away his clothes. His DC history is so muddled that I don't know if he's a hero or a villain this week...and I really don't care. His lost-on-another-world story will likely tie into General Lane's activities at some point - the alien bruisers Atom fights are the same as those in the lead story - but there's just nothing compelling in this initial chapter.

Action Comics #879 gets a dismal one out of five Tonys and it earns that one on the basis of Lois showing her ace reporter smarts. That's when she's at her best.


Supergirl 43

Supergirl #43 [$2.99] is, by far, the best comic book of this trio. Kara writes a letter to her father, who was murdered by one of Sam Lane's killers, while preparing to choose her guild. Writer Sterling Gates presents various aspects of New Krypton life and adds some much needed dimension to Alura, Supergirl's mom and leader of New Krypton. There's a nice scene between cousins Kara and Kal-El as they investigate the Superwoman who infiltrated New Krypton and outstanding art from Jamal Igle (penciller), Jon Sibal (inker), and Pete Pantazis (colorist). It still bugs me that this series continues to gloss over Alura's key role in the murders of several Metropolis police officers and Supergirl's culpability in same, but I keep hoping for a satisfying resolution to that story. Hint: Kara testifies against her mom, gets probation and several thousand hours of community service, while Alura spends the rest of her life in the slammer.

Supergirl #43 earns four Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony

Superman 690

The main event of Superman #690 [$2.99] is a white guy (Atlas) kicking the ass of a black guy (Steel). Because DC has so many positive black super-heroes that it's okay to make one of them the villain's bitch. Count me among those who'd like to see John Henry Irons treated with more respect.

This is followed by various vignettes: the Guardian shaking up the Science Police (to be continued in Superman: Secret Files 2009), a scene with Zatara Jr., Mark Merlin, and the Parasite (to be continued somewhere), a play date between Katana's kids and the Guardian's daughter (to be continued in this title and in Justice League of America), a talk in space between Ion and future Legion of Super-Heroes member Tellus (to be continued in Superman Annual #14). It's like reading an infomercial.

Superman #690 gets no Tonys.

No Tonys

I'm not breaking up with the Superman titles, but I am taking a break from them. They have good writers in James Robinson, Greg Rucka, and Sterling Gates. They have good to excellent art. They have some great characters. But they just aren't giving me what I need as a reader.

Oh, Superman titles, I hope we can always be friends, but I'm going to be reading other super-hero comics, many of them published by Marvel Comics. True, the "Dark Reign" stuff over there involves four times as many issues as "World Without Superman." I might be setting myself up for more disappointment. I just need something different in my life right now.

I'll find my way back to you. Maybe we can even double-date with the Batman titles. Take care of yourselves.

Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

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Zero Tonys
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.

ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.

TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?

THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.

FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?

FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.

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