The NY Daily News on Action Comics #870

Cover to Action Comics #870

If you like finding out what happens in your comics when you read them, stay away from The New York Daily News today until after you hit the comic shop, as today’s Action Comics #870 story is spoiled in its pages. It’s one of the very few times Superman has made the mainstream media for comic book story details, rather than side issues, such as the auction to save the house where he was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster or the legal difficulties that surround the character’s copyright.

Spoiler-free preview of Action #870 here


The story in the News reveals what many readers thought was coming, that is, Jonathan “Pa” Kent dies in the issue, after suffering a heart attack as Brainiac destroys the Kent farmhouse in the conclusion of the “Brainiac” storyline by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank.

"It was probably the most difficult scene I've ever had to write," Johns told the News."That's why there's no dialogue in the scene, there's nothing left to say."

The death, of course, is Superman’s history repeating itself as Pa Kent originally died in 1939’s Superman #1, later in the Superboy series, in Superman: The Movie, in Smallville and most recently in All Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. This version of Pa Kent dates back to John Byrne’s reboot of the entire Superman franchise with 1986’s The Man of Steel, when both he and Martha Kent were returned to the land of the living to guide their son as he became a hero. Pa had suffered a heart attack (and resultant near-death experience) during 1992's The Death of Superman storyline, and came close to dying in the "Our Worlds at War" crossover storyline in 2001.

The story in the News - an account of what happens in the issue with some context, is the latest example of pivotal storylines in comics being revealed before the issues have gone on sale, something which may result in extra sales as reader’s interests are piqued and may find a comic book store to buy “that comic where Superman’s father dies,” however, the practice of revealing the storyline in the mainstream media before the issue goes on sale (something in which both Marvel and DC have engaged) tends to annoy fans who, in this case, have been following the storyline for five months. In the eyes of some fans, effectively, this is a report on Harry Potter's final fate the day the final book was released.

And of course, if the coverage in the News does spur casual fans to pick up a copy of the issue, there may well be local shortages, as the solicitation for the issue only hinted at what was going to happen in it, leaving retailers to speculate on how many copies they should order. It’s most likely that the issue will go into a second printing.

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