Pull List Review: Action Comics #5 & Fatale #1

And I’m back to write about the comics I read during January of this year. I’m going to try doing things a little differently, so we’ll see how it goes.

First up are some issues from January, week 1.

Action Comics #5, “Rocket Song”

By Grant Morrison (writer), Andy Kubert (penciller), Jesse Delperdang (inker), Brad Anderson (colorist), & Patrick Brosseau (letterer)

For the umpteenth time we get the Superman origin story but updated new 52 and Grant Morrison style. As I have been since issue 1, I love all the lovely bits the creators throw into the story. First of all, we get the S shield blanket that baby Kal-El is wrapped in, echoing the Silver Age origin story where the blankets Kal arrived in would later be lovingly made into his uniform by Ma (though I don’t recall if that was ever adequately explained since the blankets were supposedly as invulnerable as Kal was), though now that blanket is Jor-El’s father’s cloak, which I think is a nice touch and sure to spin future tales about Kal’s Kryptonian grandfather. Next mentioned is the Phantom Zone because Jor-El (odd: I don’t blink calling Superman Kal, but to shorten his father’s name to Jor just seems weird) logically thinks that he and his family can escape Krypton’s fate by escaping into the Zone. Unfortunately, the imprisoned criminals threaten to do horrible things to Lara and Kal, so that’s probably a bad idea. Krypto makes his first appearance in this continuity as the family pet, but he’s wolf-like in appearance. Given that Krypto attacks the criminals who appear to be escaping the Zone, I’m sure we’ll get to see the supermutt in future Superman stories (yay!). As Jor-El and Lara race to the experimental rocket (I love that it is Lara who thinks of this and not her husband), Jor-El calls the computer AI Brainiac. Does this mean that Kryptonians (possibly Jor-El) created the Brainiac we’re familiar with (called the Collector in this story), or did they defeat Brainiac and incorporate the AI into their machinery? Considering that Brainiac (or some version of him) plays an important role in this first arc of Action Comics, there’s got to be something big surrounding this almost throw-away bit of dialog. Speaking of the rocket, I like the look of it. It’s reminiscent of the classic Silver Age look, but slightly modernized. For fans of the Christopher Reeve movie, we even get the crystalline aspect thrown in. Much of the rest of the story is the rocket AI itself narrating/commenting (hence the title of this issue), and the issue ends with the Anti-Superman Army showing up to steal the rocket’s kryptonite-powered engine. A couple misteps in this issue: 1) Jonathan Kent’s flimsy alien cow that he hands over to the government to hide Kal and 2) Why is this the Anti-Superman Army when they clearly are wanting revenge on the House of El? Shouldn’t they call themselves the Anti-El Army? Anyway.

The back-up story (to justify the $3.99 price tag) “Baby Steps” was written by Sholly Fisch, drawn by ChrisCross, colored by Jose Villarubia, and lettered by Carlos M. Mangual. I loved this! The optimism of the Kents, especially Jonathan, was refreshing. The story chronicles the Kents’ marriage, their attempts to get pregnant before they find themselves on that road of fate that brings them to Kal-El. After reading this I was sad that the Kents are not part of the contemporary Superman story. Why tempt us with these kinds of stories if the characters themselves are dead to us? An interesting piece of information: if the time frame of in vitro fertilization is the same in the DCnU as it was in ours, this story suggests to me that Kal crashed on Earth in the mid-80s, assuming that Superman is in his mid- to late-20s “now”.

All-in-all another great issue from the creators that is developing the early history of the greatest superhero ever.

Fatale #1, “Death Chases Me”

By Ed Brubaker (writer), Sean Phillips (artist), & Dave Stewart (colorist)

If you’ve been reading the last few years’ worth of Pull List Reviews, then you know how much of a fan I am of Brubaker’s/Phillip’s collaborations over at Icon (Criminal and Incognito). So when I read that they were doing another series of an even longer run (this is 12 issues), I didn’t even need to know what the premise was–I just signed up to get it. One odd thing: this collaboration was released at Image instead of the Marvel imprint–I wonder why? Regardless as to who’s publishing the series, issue one was very good (and an even better read the second time through) at capturing my attention and sweeping me through the plot and characters. I especially enjoyed the transitions from scene to scene via the characters. In the first scene we’re introduced to the eponymous title character, Jo (she’s the femme fatale), and in the next (set in 1956), there she is again. From that scene we get Jo’s lover, Walt, and the final scene is about Walt wanting to cut a deal with some bad guy. I just enjoyed the storytelling technique, and I am certainly not doing it justice in this brief overview. I’m not so sure how much I’m going to like the whole horror/supernatural part of this story–Cthulu-type stuff never really interested me–but I do trust the creators to tell a good story. Plus, for those of us getting the floppies, we get comic book extras that will not show up in the collected or digital editions, per Mr. Brubaker’s revelation: “A longer than usual main story, and of course, an article and illustration exclusively for our single issues”. The article by Jess Nevins is “H.P. Lovecraft and the Horror of the Unseen”. Despite my not caring for Cthulu stories, this article makes me more than somewhat interested in what Lovecraft tried to accomplish and compels me to give the odd bird another chance.

Other comics from that week that I read were:

  • Animal Man #5
  • The Defenders #2
  • Hawk & Dove #5
  • Huntress #4
  • Irredeemable #33
  • Justice League International #5
  • Red Lanterns #5
  • Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes #4
  • Stormwatch #5
  • Swamp Thing #5

Please let me know what you thought of Action Comics and Fatale, and the new format. Now go read some comics!

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