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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 Midnight Monk

I like Action Comics better now with Sups but since I don't like him in general I'm slightly bias on that but Lex's stories have been more interesting to say the least rather the the dealing of Clark Kent and his pals at the daily planet

Posted by Doctor!!!!!

Why the hell not?!

Posted by DEGRAAF

I would love to see Lex either have his own seires or keep Action comics for at least a couple more years. I like seeing how things go from the villains point of view.  
 
It's not like superman wouldnt be in it, they would still fight every so often. Lex could even go up against other heroes. I might be one of the only ones but i hope and want Lex to succeed in his mission. He needs a power boost to put him on the same playing field as Sinestro
Posted by DEGRAAF
@Taylors005 said:
"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. "

I like this idea
Posted by Trodorne

I too have been hooked, lined and sunk into the plot development of Lex Luthor taking over action comics. i mean we get enough titles with superman in it, and it would be nice if the two traded off owner ship of the title once in a while. 
 
 Like they could do every 10 issues its superman, every 10 issues its lex, or they could do every 10 issues its a story about brainiac as he is going across the universe.

Posted by Grimoire

I was going to start reading action comics but when Luther became the lead I decided not to since I don't care what happens to the bad guys.

Posted by Bobby X

This is my absolute favorite book on the shelves right now so I guess I have to agree, despite the fact that Superman is my  overall favorite comic book character. I'm a huge Paul Cornell fan also though so it's tough to discern whether I'm enjoying the book so much because of the main character switcheroo, or just because of Cornell's brilliant and ridiculously  fun writing. I guess I'll find out when Superman returns to the book under Paul Cornell in #900...
Posted by Lvenger

More Superman related comics and apart from that everything is damn good if I'm honest with Action Comics. You got the conclusion to the Black Ring and the Reign of Doomsday coming up with Superman's return to the series. What more could you want?

Posted by CrimsonTempest

Action Comics is definitely better without Supes, even more so with the Luthor stories. I will definitely make it a point to ask Mr. Cornell if he'll consider making a Luthor monthly after #901 at C2E2.

Posted by PowerHerc

Nope. 
 
Action Comics without Superman is like soda-pop without carbonation - it's flat.
Posted by entropy_aegis
@B'Town said:
"

YES, all comics are better off without Superman!

"

Secret six is a lot better without knockout. 
and as much as i love this ongoing with lex,i have wonder if the constant villian of the month theme has do to something with its success. 
Posted by Screamolad

Superman is always around and never gone. hes going to come back in the future. comics might actually be good without superman. to let some others heros come out on top. Instead of having superman taking all the glory.