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Is Action Comics Better Off Without Superman?

Since Lex Luthor has taken over Action Comics, has it gotten better?

For some people, Superman can be hit or miss. He's DC Comics most iconic character, and some of the greatest stories come out of his books; however, there's just as many mundane, poorly conceived stories in Kal-El's books. Superman has been apart of two major series for years: Superman and Action Comics. However, back in the fall of 2009, Superman left Action comics, after dealing with the situation on New Krypton
 
For a bit, Action Comics starred Nightwing (Christopher Kent) and Flamebird. After that run, Action Comics got a taste of the world of villains when Superman's arch-nemesis, Lex Luthor, took over, but is the book better off now without Superman? 

== TEASER ==
 Cover for Action Comics #899
During issues #866 through #870 in Action Comics, Superman was forced to fight Brainiac: The real Brainiac, not a clone or a robot version. It was an epic battle that resulted in the death of Jonathan Kent, the creation of New Krypton and the release of the bottled city of Kandor. Personally, it was one of my favorite modern Superman stories, but after all was said and done, Superman headed to New Krypton to make sure things were in order, so Action Comics was passed onto someone else.

Nightwing and Flamebird's run, in Action Comics (881-889), was the start of the series missing out on it's biggest star, Superman. While the story was enjoyable, and it was really cool to see a couple of different characters take over the book, it wasn't my cup-of-tea. 
 
However, starting with issue #890, Superman's arch-enemy, Lex Luthor became the star of the book. The story, written by Paul Cornell, revolves around Lex searching for the Black Ring Energy from the Blackest Night storyline. During Blackest Night, Lex Luthor became a deputy Orange Lantern, and since that time, the greed seems to have gotten a little to his head more than normal and he's trying his best to gain that power once again.
 
 Action #900. Will Lex get the black ring energy and use it on Superman?
The storyline has been exciting, intriguing, and filled with a lot of great DC guest stars: Joker, Larfleeze, Secret Six, Vandal Savage and Gorilla Grodd to name a few. Sometimes, when a book has a guest star in the mix, it feels forced, and while that list of names above may seem like a mixed bag of nuts to throw in Action Comics, it works extremely well. Sure, the Joker bit seemed weird at first, but the conversation between he and Lex works so well on the page, so even if in the back of your mind you're thinking, "why is this character pushed into this book?" The end result is brilliant regardless of your first impression.
 
If you've been following, you've noticed I left a key issue out: Action Comics 894. This issue was and is my favorite issue of Action to this point ( read my review here). This issue featured Death from the Vertigo series Sandman. To quote myself, "it's some phenomenal dialogue, and by far, one of the most interesting issues I've read this year." I mentioned before that guest stars can be forced into an issue, and it can feel awkward. Well, as much as I love this issue, it happens here. It doesn't really move the whole story forward as much as the other issues do, but it is one phenomenal book, and it is a great introduction to a Vertigo character who could start appearing more in regular DC books. 
 
Since Superman has been out of Action Comics, we've got to see other character's take on Metropolis, life, and the man of steel himself, and it's been phenomenal. Even though it sucks a little to say "Action Comics is so much better without Superman," it's 100% true. The book is exploring the world created because of Superman's existence; a world readers never see through the other character's eyes. Even though I may not have liked the Flambird/Nightwing run, it was really cool to see these characters as the star of the show, and when the book starred Superman's nemesis, we got to see Lex Luthor as a human as well as a villain. 
One thing I don't hear from readers is that people are upset Superman isn't the star of the book. Does this mean people are enjoying the book more now that the character is out of the book, or does this mean not as many people are reading it? My guess is a little of both. For me, however, the book is the tops right now, and I'm a little sad to know that Lex Luthor won't be the star off the show come issue #901. I'd say give Lex Luthor his own book, but Lex starring in Action Comics feels right since he's just as important to the world of Superman as Superman is. 
 
For now, Action Comics is better without Superman, but you always have to keep in mind who the creative team is, and Paul Cornell and Pete Woods have elevated this book to one of my favorites at DC. What do you guys think? Is Action Comics better without Superman? Who would you like to see star in this book?
 
Mat "Inferiorego" Elfring is a comedian, teacher, comic store employee, writer, and Krypto: The Superpup.
 
Follow his inane ramblings about life, comics, and work on twitter: @ inferiorego
62 Comments
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Posted by RYU/BATMAN

Lex Luthor has done some cool things in Action comics. 
 
Hey Matt, Is this your first appearance on "Off Matt's Mind?"

Posted by matrix10st

They'd be nowhere without him he's an eccential character so many character plots tie in to his it would be no pint hes a major asset isn't he
Posted by inferiorego
@RYU/BATMAN said:
" Hey Matt, Is this your first appearance on "Off Matt's Mind?" "
I guess it is. Although, I've written pieces a bit like this in the past.
Staff
Posted by hulk_beyond

nice article dude

Posted by warlock360

that font is from tales from the crypt :o

Posted by RYU/BATMAN
@inferiorego: 
Going to make it official then? Good article overall, really enjoyed how you decided to talk about Lex Luthor's take over of Action Comics.
Edited by johnny_spam

Lex Luthor in Action will start to be a gimmick after a while for some it was one since the beginning just meet a villain have some crazy action move on to the next issue Luthor is not a character that can support his own book for long I'd much rather Superman be in the series. And for him to have some solid support he's either been exclusive to one writer (the JMS debacle) or the victim of editorial changing plans (New Krypton) let him have some stories that move him forward while respecting him and challenging him like Morrison's run on Batman.

Online
Posted by buttersdaman000

Lex Luthors run has been awesome, but Superman belongs in Action Comics. If it wasnt for Cornell's excellent writing you would probably be saying "Bring back Superman Now!!!!!" And since Cornell will still be writing Action comics when Superman returns ( Is he??), the writing should stay excellent........I hope it does at least...... 
I agree though, Lex Luthor is fun to read. If he got his own series I would definitely check it out.

Posted by chalkshark

People are enjoying a good story told well. They're not necessarily rejoicing over Superman's absence from the series. Likely, the Luthor run, as well as the NIghtwing/Flamebird run before it, are DC's way of testing the waters of fan interest in potential new series featuring those characters. The problem with that tactic, though, is that, if the creative team that got everyone excited in the first place doesn't cross over to the new title, the fan's likely won't either. As far as the whole "where does Superman belong" issue goes, the only place I'm missing the character is over in Justice League of America. DC's flagship title should feature it's flagship characters. It's kind of the point of the series.

Posted by Deadcool

Lex looks so badass in Action Comics #899 cover

Posted by Caligula

I don't know if it's better off. But I do like it focusing on Lex.

Posted by Kal'smahboi

I'm really enjoying Lex in Action Comics but I think that it's only good because there's an end game. It's basically a mini series and it wouldn't be near as good as an ongoing.

Posted by The Impersonator

Lex Luthor is a great villain. I would love to read more stories about him.

Posted by longbowhunter

I'm loving Lex in Action. As for Superman, well he already has his own title and then some. Maybe Action Comics should be the stage for Kal's supporting cast.
Posted by Duo_forbidden

Before the Black Ring story with Lex, I haven't enjoyed reading Action Comics since Pa Kent died. I couldn't get into all the tie-ins afterward.

Posted by ssejllenrad
@buttersdaman000 said:
" Lex Luthors run has been awesome, but Superman belongs in Action Comics. If it wasnt for Cornell's excellent writing you would probably be saying "Bring back Superman Now!!!!!" And since Cornell will still be writing Action comics when Superman returns ( Is he??), the writing should stay excellent........I hope it does at least......  I agree though, Lex Luthor is fun to read. If he got his own series I would definitely check it out. "
This
 
@chalkshark said:
" People are enjoying a good story told well. They're not necessarily rejoicing over Superman's absence from the series. Likely, the Luthor run, as well as the NIghtwing/Flamebird run before it, are DC's way of testing the waters of fan interest in potential new series featuring those characters. The problem with that tactic, though, is that, if the creative team that got everyone excited in the first place doesn't cross over to the new title, the fan's likely won't either. As far as the whole "where does Superman belong" issue goes, the only place I'm missing the character is over in Justice League of America. DC's flagship title should feature it's flagship characters. It's kind of the point of the series. "

This too
Posted by The Stegman

i wanna read lex's run in action comics but don't know where to start, which issue did he begin in? 890?

Online
Posted by dewboy01

so superman doesn't appear in view action comics anymore? 
Posted by buttersdaman000
@The Stegman: 
yeah, check it out
Posted by StarKiller809

I think it is better because I get really bored with Superman. He can do anything so, no threat ever seems like it can even hurt him.
Posted by B'Town

YES, all comics are better off without Superman!

Posted by otakucomics

I think what happens is that Superman himself is so iconic that in most writer's hands he becomes unrelatable. What is interesting is his existence and how it affects everything else, not so much him. At the end of the day, his story has essentially been told already, many times. DC won't and, really, can't, allow for the character to change in regular continuity in any real way, and change is what drives character. So, (again, this is generalizing) for the most part, any book with Superman in it, will wind up being boring. Obviously, Elseworlds is a huge exception to this. Having said all this, and while I am loving the Lex run, Lex almost has the same problem because he's just as iconic. But DC always takes many more liberties with their villains in regular continuity.

Posted by Mask of Tengu

Definitely YES!!!

Posted by perry_411

I'm enjoying the Lex Luthor in Action Comics. Good way to view his life and activities.

Posted by Taylors005

i think im a little off topic but...
i think DC should use their other characters to star in the non-specific titles (action comics, adventure comics, detective comics, ect) all the time. DC has to many characters that dont get the as much focus as they deserve and other characters that just disappear completely between appearances. Superman and Batman have their own books so let them play special guest appearance while someone shine in the spot light and beat some baddies. 
other characters like Lex, Nightwing and Flamebird staring in Action Comics and Batwoman staring in Detective Comics should be the standard and only on special occasions should we get the big three in a book without their name on it.

Posted by MrDirector786

That's an interesting thing to hear about. Maybe Action should focus more on other people that have something to do with Superman such as friends, relatives, and enemies and DC should see how well-received the issues are to see if they should keep Superman out of it or put him back.

Posted by FadeToBlackBolt

Not to sound like a douche, but 850+ issues of Superman leading the book, 15 or so of Lex. Pretty sure that's an unfair comparison.

Posted by tensor

not really lex luthor just shine so well he should get his own book it could have been name lex luthor the stories are just solid it just showcase dc has a lot to off even if superman is missing

Online
Posted by Sticky_Venom

I gotta say, I agree with you on Action Comics 894.  That is one hell of an issue that I've gone back to and reread multiple times.  I really hope they continue with Death like that.  She seems really cool.  Also, I'm for Lex staying as the lead in the book.  Its so interesting that way.

Posted by Grim

Superman stories are often boring and predictable. Half the reason this run with Lex is so good is because Supes isnt there to over shadow all the characters and doldrum the story.

Posted by Meteorite

I'm not reading Action Comics (bah, DC!), but Paul Cornell is a bloody good writer

Edited by Valtot

id still like to read superman in action comics but its good to swap threw the supporting cast also to hear there stories like with lex
Posted by Benuben
@B'Town said:
"

YES, all comics are better off without Superman!

"



Thanks for constructive critism annd explaining why you dont like such popular and iconic character. (Sarcasm)


Despite how great is Lex Luthors story, I am kind of looking forward when Superman will be star of action comics again. Because we FINALLY can have a good Superman stories, instead of that Grounded s***t.    

Posted by ImperiousRix

I think Action Comics, much like most comics with titles that don't necessarily have a hero's name in them, should be open to have different characters circulating through them. 
I know it's well known that Detective Comics is Batman and Action Comics is Superman, but I like to see them switch things up.

Posted by EganTheVile1

No, it is a Superman brand, subscribers will be pissed

Posted by GraveSp

Luthor's story is awesome, i doubt I will read once he is no longer in it

Posted by AFArtist1973

An Action Comics title without Superman in it anymore is like Football without a quarterback.  Just doesn't work, in my opinion.  Although the entire cast of AC should have their time in the sun, of course, the whole cast is based off the one who was the star for it in the frst place, Superman.  Put him back in the driver seat, and let it be a long road trip...  give everyone a turn at the wheel.  I'd like a few issues of each of the members of the Superman team have their time to shine. 
 
We've seen Perry White have his chance in the sun during the "Grounded" story arc so far, and I know that Jimmy Olsen's been featured in an issue or two, I believe.  What happened to some stories just featuring the Daily Planet staff getting some scoops and the bottom line?   
 
Anyways, put Supes back in the picture and then let's see the Action happen again! 
 
--Jim

Posted by Eyz
@ImperiousRix said:

" I think Action Comics, much like most comics with titles that don't necessarily have a hero's name in them, should be open to have different characters circulating through them. I know it's well known that Detective Comics is Batman and Action Comics is Superman, but I like to see them switch things up. "

Exactly!
'nuff said!
 
Since the book isn't called "Superman", I like Action comics to features characters inspired of from Superman mythos. Like Detective Comics hasn't always features Bruce Wayne or or those ol' Mystery/All Star/All-American/etc.. Comics haven't always featured only Dr. Fate, Green Lantern & co but featured specified arcs on specific characters.
Posted by TDK_1997

I think that Action Comics is cooler without Sups.

Posted by Soldier zero

I've been a fan of parallel storylines involving a hero and his nemesis since Mark Gruenwald run on Cap (when the Red Skull and his Skeletron Crew used about half of each issue to plotting) so I definitly like this run, it gave us some interesting angles regarding Luthor psychology and narrative significance.

Posted by JonesDeini

Yes...issues featuring superman I read...0. Issues staring Lex Luthor...more than 0 :P

Posted by moffattbooks

so make Action Comics more about the whole group as well as Clark Kent, simple as that

Posted by Out_of_Space

Yep !!!

Posted by NightFang

Superman should return too Action Comics, and Lex should get his own ongoing comic series.

Online
Posted by Green ankh

bring back some of the early pre-superman stars.
Posted by charlieboy

i have only read one issue of it and it was good. but honestly it has more to do with the artistic team rather than having superman in it.
Posted by Herx

Action comics is a superman title, despite the title not containing the words "superman" in them. It's the series he debuted in maaaaaany years ago and has always been assassiated with the man of steel. But it's also more than just a superman title, it's a title involving the world of superman, the people he meets, the villains he fights and the relationships he builds. Superman has other series which have the words "superman" in the title, therby dictating that your going to get superman in that issue.... suposidly. Action comics doesn't. It helps having him in the series, remingding us that action comics is dealing with his world and his patch in the DCvers, but the comic has grown up enough to be able to showcase the other characters in supermans world without the man of steel being present, showing a new dynamic and a new view point on characters who most likeley wouldn't get their own spotlight or series. Superman should return once in a while, but it's now the perfect opertunity to explor the other characters of Metropolis.

Posted by Billy Batson
more superman ongoings!
Posted by kennybaese

Goddamn is that #900 issue rad. First trade for this run comes out in April and I can't wait to read it.

Posted by Radread

 The book has been really enjoyable with the following Lex instead of your average Superman stories.

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