Comic Vine Review

23 Comments

Action Comics #18 - Superman's Last Stand; Never-Ending Battle Review

3

It's the end of the battle against the foe from the Fifth Dimension and Grant Morrison's final issue. Perhaps expectations were a little high.

The Good

With Grant Morrison writing this story and a villain from the Fifth Dimension, you know there's going to be some crazy times. That's exactly what we get here. In on oversized issue, we see an all out battle between Superman and Vyndktvx and the Anti-Superman Army. Along the way, we get a ton of crazy visuals thrown at us as Superman fights across time and in his mind.

As a conclusion to Morrison's run, there are a lot of loose ends tied up. We see mention of several characters and events. It's all wrapped up as the battle take place. All the characters you'd expect to see during this run are here and questions are answered.

With the oversize issue, Rags Morales has a lot to draw. We see plenty of scenes from different moments and with all the imagery, you'll want to go back and really get a good look at everything presented on each page.

The Bad

As the main villain for the past few issues, I never really cared for Vyndktvx. Maybe it's unfair to the issue but for Grant Morrison's big Superman run, I simply expected more than Mxyzptlk's nemesis. While I have been enjoying Morrison on ACTION COMICS, I was hoping for more. Despite the grand scenes of pure craziness, there were a few times I was just waiting for it to be over. The ending was great in being true to Superman's character but it felt as if something was missing.

The back up story was cute. But that's about it. It's a message of the future influence of Superman but again, as the finale in Grant Morrison's run, I would've hoped for something more powerful to either put a nail in this story or set the stage for the next arc.

The Verdict

It's the end of Grant Morrison's tenure on ACTION COMICS. We've had some good times and this issue serves to bring a conclusion to many of the threads he started throughout the run. Rags Morales gives us some great visuals in depicting the wacky fight between Superman and Vyndktvx. It gave a nice ending but didn't have the explosive finish I was hoping for. Perhaps expectations grew too high with all the stakes riding on this one. I will definitely re-read Morrison's entire run. Perhaps reading it all together or allowing a little time to pass will enhance the experience. I just wish we had a more grand ending.

23 Comments
Posted by Rixec

The villain seemed good to me - and others too. It's probably just a preference thing, but I think Morrison ended his run perfectly.

Posted by G-Man

@Rixec: I'm glad to hear that. I've seen too many comment bash his run. I've enjoyed it for the most part overall. I just didn't feel this ending. Let's hope the next run continues to be entertaining.

Staff
Posted by johnny_spam

I feel like it was a epic run that ended in a appropriate way I like that Superman could have resurrected his mother but instead saved the people on Mars.

Online
Posted by spinningbirdcake

@johnny_spam: When does that happen? In this issue or was it a past one I've simply forgotten?

Posted by JamesKM716

Morrison's Run is FINALLY OVER

Posted by johnny_spam

@spinningbirdcake: It seems to be implied in a previous issue that Vyndktvx altered reality to kill the Kents. Mr. Nxly had one more chance to change reality but Superman made a promise to the people of Mars in the issue with The Multitude that he would save them and chose for her to bring them back instead.

Online
Posted by monopolyloser

Even though I recently read a large portion of the back half of this run recently, I feel like I need to read it all over again to fully get want happened here.

Posted by kmiller9959

Finally over. Now I can read them all in one shot, because that's apparently the only way Morrison know how to convey a story to readers when he writes Superman.

Posted by ltbrd

I realize I'm going to be the "negative nancy" with this but I just didn't find this run from Morrison very good. The entire time it just felt like he was trying to hard to make something epic in tone and in the end it just came out flat. Perhaps its because of the fact its a monthly series, so having to stretch it out over successive issues simply degraded the overall pace and impact the story could have had.

This would have made an awesome Elseworlds story, something that was 60-80 pages all in one shot.

Can't blame Morrison entirely though, the new 52 in general is revolving around huge, overly complicated storylines and one of the reasons I'm enjoying the Smallville series more than the mainstream DC Universe. In the case of Superman, both titles have simply delved too far into science fiction than the character really needed. The Superman titles do need to incorporate more science fiction elements than Batman and Wonder Woman, as that is his aspect of the Trinity, but the brush strokes in the new 52 (sidebar: can we still call it the "new" 52 now that its been going for a year?) in regards to sci-fi elements are just too great. There is no fine line in the storytelling, its thrown at the reader, forcing them to simply accept the new status quo. As I read Action Comics and Superman I can't help but thinking I'm reading a comic book version of a Saturday Syfy channel movie and while those are great to watch on occassion it isn't programming I want to see every day. The same hold true here.

The one positive aspect I will give the broad stroke approach to sci-fi in Superman lately is that it does give us the big set pieces, the big throwdowns, that the reader expects of a Superman comic. It has been a refreshing change of pace to not have a Superman story so focused on introspection. Its just that a little restraint and fine tuning would be nice to see and not something that is coming out of DC lately on the majority of their titles.

Posted by Superguy1591

Not a fan of Morrison, he's too out there for my liking, but I won't bash him. Action Comics # 13 was my personal favorite of his run, but I'm glad it's over.

I'm not fan of Tony Daniels, so I doubt this book gets better anytime soon. I really have been enjoying Sholly Fisch's back-ups and I wish he would've taken over post-Morrison, but oh well.

I think I might enjoy Diggle's run, but he's in for 6 issues? At most?

Posted by Kesho_Ronin
Posted by GalacticPunt

I personally thought he stuck the landing with this final chapter. Which was a pleasant surprise, I was really scratching my head the previous couple issues with how convoluted this was getting. I also think Vyndktvx was a worthy ultimate villain. He wasn't just a rival of Mr. Mxy, he was essentially The Devil. A fifth-dimensional devil who deals in wishes, tricks, and bargains. He struck at Superman from past, present and future, killing Ma and Pa Kent who Superman should have had to guide him as an adult. This tragedy was intended to weaken and corrupt who Superman is. He even went as far as broadcasting a Faustian bargain, tempting all of humanity with eternal life if we would reject Superman in his time of need.

My spoiler-y interpretation of the ending is this:

this Devil does the above and also tries to break Superman down with a painful truth. That he is a "worker drone" exploited for money, for merchandise like the T-shirts. I think Morrison is trying to make us think about what Superman means in our "real" world: simultaneously a symbol of justice while being a commodity which Time Warner must merchandise for maximum profitability. Clark shrugs this off, because he can't let something he can't control get in the way of doing the right thing.

After so many stories of Superman saving the world, this was about the World having to save Superman. Morrison has the optimistic message that if we were tempted by the Devil with eternal life, if we just turned our backs on the purest hero who had saved existence so many times, we would collectively pass that test. Pretty cool. I hope he's right about our species.

And Krypto lives!

Edited by Fantasgasmic

@G-Man: I can't help but disagree. I think your review was EXTREMELY GENEROUS. I haven't followed this book since the beginning, which I know is a "no-no" for Grant Morrison books. I caught a few random books early on, or when they looked interesting, but I started picking up each issue at #15, as it looked like a good jumping on point with a little bit of internet catch-up. I sorta liked the idea of reintroducing Mr. Mxyzptlk, and having a 5th dimensional villain linked to the death of his parents (but that was just because of All-Star Superman and the Chronovore attack). But this whole Anti-Superman Army, and Windex(or however you pronounceit) just never got good. The whole Doomsday robot with Superman's face thing was horrible, the writing was clumsy, bringing in the Wanderers but not having them be any of the Wanderers from the Silver Age or later, and that ending, with the story… ugh. And there are so many loose threads still left dangling.

The most egregious of which is who is Susie?! I have no idea! I mean, I'm aware "she's Lois Lane's niece," but HOW?! Prior to the reboot, Lois had ONE sibling, Lucy, who I don't recall being mentioned since the reboot, but who was younger than Lois and not a mother when she was Superwoman… not that it matters, except that this stupid "soft reboot" implies it's the same unless they say otherwise, so if there was a change to the status quo, someone should've written in a throwaway line at least! If it's not Lucy's kid, whose is it? Is it really her niece, or is it like a very close family friend's kid who calls her "Aunt Lois" because she's so close to the parents? If so, why didn't Lois ever mention these friends or hang out with them on panel? There's a saying in film: "Show, don't tell." You don't have people stand around and exposit say "Superman is so kind. Superman always thinks of others' needs. Superman sacrifices so much for humanity." And then move on to him punching bad guys, or worse using his x-ray vision to read Lois' texts. You show him doing something kind so the audience will know "oh wow, he could've been selfish, but he wasn't, he's really benevolent." Well in comics there should be the saying "Show, or tell, but for the love of god, don't just do stuff without any explanation!" It was bad enough having to decipher the normal amount of Morrison forshadowing/callbacks to stuff that happened months if not over a year ago, but to get to the end and have questions still sitting there. BLARGH!

While writing this post it took me 20 minutes of searching before I found any real info on Susie. She's a Golden Age character whose last appearance was 1955. Fuck you Grant Morrison. Fuck. You. This is why people hate you. Well, this and killing off characters who evolved beyond your original scope and became loved by thousands. Not every stupid, zany, Golden Age story or character needs to be referenced or brought back into modern times. Not when there's been 58 years of their non-existance and nobody clamoring for more. A little wink of Superman being a lion, or splitting into a Superman Red and Superman Blue as part of a hallucination is fine (although the red and blue supermen reminded me more of the last time they referenced that story in the 90s, when he had the crappy electric powers). But I was waiting for Suzie's parentage to be explained since randomly picking up issue where Lois, is unconscious for pretty much the whole thing. This book was so frustrating I can't even form cogent paragraphs; I'm rambling non-linearly like this book did for the past 4 issues in a row! MINIMUM!

Deep breaths… in, out. Anyway in your review, Tony, you said, "there were a few times I was just waiting for it to be over." To me, a single one of those instances reduces a book to a 1 star rating at best. If you wanted the book to move along faster because the pacing was horrible (which this was) or because the dialogue was bad(check there too) that's one problem (or in this case two). But to make you want it to just end… where your brain actually hurts from reading it, and you just want to give up… I don't get how that isn't a 0 star book.

Posted by Dernman

I didn't like his run but Morrison is gone now and it's time to move on. I hope the fix Captain Comet though.

Edited by RideASpaceCowboy

This issue single-handedly redeemed the entire run, particularly the scene with Jor-El explaining to the infant Kal-El 5th dimensional looped-narratives. If only this run wasn't tarnished by Rags Morales' atrocious art, it surely would have achieved greater critical and commercial acclaim and joined the canon of essential Superman tales. Alas, the quality of a comic is 49% writing and 51% art.

Posted by sinestro_GL

So other than seeing Superman in the book...I had literally no clue what was going on.

Posted by bladewolf

Lackluster ending was lackluster. It wasn't bad...but the way everyone finally defeated the big bad was rather lame (albeit I think it was a reference to Superman's socialist roots which Morrison only mentioned 10,000 times in Supergods). I saw it as sort of a battle of capitalism/selling out vs. socialism/remaining true to your ideals. It's...somewhat of a heavy handed message and could've been done better. I also just feel like Morrison tried to do too much with these last few issues which is what made them so odd (did we need an appearance by Lex Luthor? Was the plot about Nxy's son necessary? Did we have to bring back Superdoom from issue 9?)

Posted by Equonox

3 words:

Bring. Back. Metallo.

Edited by sho3s22

@G-Man said:

@Rixec: I'm glad to hear that. I've seen too many comment bash his run. I've enjoyed it for the most part overall. I just didn't feel this ending. Let's hope the next run continues to be entertaining.

agreed. I feel like he hit his stride through issues #7-12 and then from there it was just "good", but give the guy some credit. Superman is one of the hardest characters to write and he's already done his ultimate superman story (All Star Superman). We can't forget this was sort of Morrison's lead into Multiversity, so he may have been limited in what he could do creatively. For what it was, Superman's early days, I thought his run was epic.

EDIT: The ending was lackluster though!

Edited by Reignmaker

@JamesKM716 said:

Morrison's Run is FINALLY OVER

Yep. JLA and New X-Men will remain my favorite Morrison works, but I couldn't care less for what he did on Action Comics or Batman.

It feels like after his success on All Star Superman, he became more obsessed with interweaving weirdness for its own sake than just telling a solid story.

Posted by munkieKONG

"Despite the grand scenes of pure craziness, there were a few times I was just waiting for it to be over."

That's really the only sentence that needed to be said. Action Comics started out good, but the latter half of this run was just.... I felt like I was trying to make myself like it because I should. It got too weird for too long.

Posted by Kal'smahboi

I liked it a lot. I thought it hit Supes' character right on the head, and I loved the way Morrison weaved decades and dimensions into a single event in our eyes, as people that couldn't possibly comprehend it. Overall, I thought it was a great run. Individual issues had their ups and downs, but it was 18 issues - that's expected. I can't wait to reread the run straight through.

Posted by G_Money_Christmas

I honestly had no idea what the hell was going on throughout that entire book.