Thursday, June 28, 2012

Action Comics #10

Genesis 10:8-9: "And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord." So basically, Nimrod was such a mighty hunter before the Lord that people would gasp, "That's Nimrod the might hunter before the Lord!"
Maxim Zarov, codenamed "Nimrod" for obvious reasons (see above Bible quote), is on the hunt for Superman. He decided to begin tracking him from the beginning: the earliest known sightings of him. Doing his research, he noted that for 20 years (20 years? What the fuck?), the Superman sightings were centered around a couple of family farms in Kansas. Once he learned Clark Kent lived on one of them and then moved to Metropolis, he knew he had the scent of his game.

Good luck with that.
Farmer Fry who currently owns the Kent farm gives Clark a heads up that some stranger was asking about him. Clark is too distracted hunting down a serial killer to remember the warning.

Look how young and idealistic young Superman is! He's going to change the world!
While Superman is catching this pervert, he's wearing his Shirt and Jeans uniform. So I began to think that maybe this took place before the Brainiac Satellite story. But that's not true because in the next scene, he's wearing the uniform he received during that battle. He probably felt he should have it washed before wearing it. Little does he know, he should probably have irradiated it before wearing it since it tries to kill him five years later! Rather, the Nano-Bugs on it try to kill him.

I bet Jason Todd would like those Hamsters!
Supes is trying to give away the hamsters that belonged to the murdering perv from earlier. But it looks like he'd also like to tackle some really major world problems with his new Justice League buddies.

Timewise, it looks like this comic takes place after he's secured the suit and emptied Brainiac's satellite but before the Justice League begin using the satellite as their headquarters because Supers is using it as his Fortress of Solitude. It also happens after Darkseid's invasion and before Supes meets with the Legion Members to stop the arms sale in Superman's brain. I don't know which Robin Batman is currently working with or if Diana is currently boinking Steve Trevor. This continuity stuff is hard to keep track of!

This is a very clever moment. Superman, the naive boy scout, casually mentions Batman's secret identity. He doesn't mean anything by it at all. He's just pointing out they have the resources to help the world. But Batman can't let it go. He has to regain the power by pointing out to Superman that he knows Supes' secret identity as well! This is characterization done elegantly.
Afterward as Flash is speaking his mind, Green Lantern casually says to Batman in the background, "You're a billionaire?" Batman replies, "No comment." Hal Jordan is pretty shallow and narcissistic. In Justice League, Batman told Green Lantern his secret identity. But Hal Jordan never bothered to look into it, obviously. Batman would have known everything about Hal Jordan in just a few minutes if Hal had revealed his identity because Alfred would have heard the name through the communication set-up they probably have and done all the research in the Batcave! You know, because he has all of those billions of dollars at his disposal!

Batman's rejoinder to Superman's plea.

And back to Superman.
This dynamic between Superman and Batman is wonderful. They complement each other so well. And Superman really needs Batman to hold his idealism in check. Superman is young and believes he has a responsibility to do everything he can to change the world for the better. But as Batman points out, many of these problems are bigger than simply not enough food or evil people that can be stopped by a bulletproof chest and a pair of laser eyes. I like how Superman leaves feeling alone and misunderstood. And, of course, Batman gets the last word.

People call Superman a boy scout but it's Batman who is always prepared.
All of this dialogue takes place across two pages. Barely a word is wasted. This is why, at some point in their lives, comic book fans stop following characters and begin following writers. I read mostly DC as a kid because I began reading comic books with Crisis on Infinite Earths. I didn't read Marvel because no kid has the money to spend on two universes. But you pretend that Spiderman and the Fantastic Four and Thor all suck compared to DC's heroes. By the time you can afford to buy any comics you want, you're invested with the history of one universe and don't usually bother with the other (one reason many people hate The New 52: they were invested in the DC Universe. Which still fucking exists, by the way. People need to stop crying about the Reboot and start bitching about the bad writers). But at some point, the history and characters aren't enough. Patterns begin to emerge and you notice the same names over and over again on all of the best titles. So you read those titles. And then those writers move to Marvel. Well, guess what? You follow them over there and they blow you away with Marvel's characters.

Grant Morrison is one of those names. I might sound like Grant's grandmum extolling his every virtue, but this book is very well done. If it wasn't, I'd say so but I'd be perplexed because I know how good he can be. If I hadn't decided to read all of The New 52 and comment on it, you can be sure I'd be reading far less comics and they'd cross the spectrum of all the publishers. I'm currently reading Super Crooks and Hit Girl as well because Millar is worth reading. But I'm not blogging about those. I don't even have enough time to blog about the New 52. *sigh*

Back to the comic, Clark and Lois and Jimmy are messing about in Clark's apartment. Looks like Clark's trying to foist the hamsters on one of them. Clark is checking out Lois's scrapbook of Superman sightings while Jimmy checks out Clark's Smallville Yearbook.

Clark continues to point out many of these are years before Superman's "first" official sighting. So that's why Nimrod mentions 20 plus years of Superman sightings.
Nimrod watches as Clark and his friends head to lunch. Clark notices him and seems a bit suspicious.
Meanwhile, some metahuman with a hoodie, cape, and mind control powers hitches a ride into Metropolis. He has a glowing jewel in his chest and he calls himself Adam. I don't know who he is since I doubt he's Stormwatch's or Shazam's Adam.

Lois continues to try and get Clark to come over to the Daily Planet while they head back from lunch. They notice a commotion in front of Clark's paper (or old paper? Not sure of the timeline again!) where a man is pushing his way through the crowd. Clark thinks he recognizes him from a story he did and runs toward him to see if he can help. Always with the helping!

And the exploding. Always with that too.
Superman allows everyone to believe Clark Kent is dead. For the time being, I guess, since Clark is fine and dandy years later in Superman! But for now, it works to his advantage since Nimrod heads into Clark's apartment to find out from the landlady that Kent is dead. Nimrod can't believe it and thinks someone has killed Superman before him. Until, you know, Superman shows up. Nimrod pretty much takes care of himself at that point by exploding things off of Superman's chest and into his own face.

Later, in the hospital, Nimrod realizes his own arrogance in knowing that everything leaves a trail but forgetting that that includes himself as well. This time, the prey got the better of him. But the Little Man (Mxyzptlk?) has an offer for Nimrod.

Or Satan!
The back-up story takes place after the events in Action Comics #11! Does DC think I have access to a time machine? Is this meant to fuck with people who can't do things out of order? What if there are spoilers! Okay. Deep breath. I think I can manage!

Clark's friends and co-workers are telling tales about their recently deceased friend (remember? He blew up! I just mentioned that like thirty seconds ago!). Jimmy mentions how accident prone Clark was but those accidents always managed to save someone else from getting hurt! What a lucky guy!
Then Lois says some emotional stuff about what a good person was and how he made everyone around him better. And then they all leave the bar and wish Clark had been there to hear all the great praise. Lois thinks it would have surprised him because he was so humble. But *gasp* Superman was listening the whole time! And it touched him so much maybe he'll save Clark Kent in Issue #12! Also, Superman was wearing his t-shirt and jeans costume. Maybe he saves the Jim Lee Supersuit for Justice League during these early years.

Action Comics #10 Rating: +1 Ranking. I really enjoy comics like this where the big threat really isn't a big threat at all. But the reader gets a glimpse into various aspects of Superman's life here and they're all very well done. I know this is comics so the readers expect the big fisticuff issues but it's issues like these where the reader gets close to the main character so that the reader can care what happens during those big fisticuffs. Supergirl needs a few of these issues. She's already had plenty of getting her ass handed to her.

The back-up story was fairly standard cliche crap but it was written by Sholly Fisch. I don't really expect much out of the back-up stories even though they're costing me an extra dollar.

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