Action Comics #879
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Diego Olmos & Bit
Co-feature written by James Robinson and G. Rucka; co-feature art by Cafu
Published by DC Comics
Review by THE Rev. O.J. Flow
"GET OUT OF OUR MIND!!!" -- Thara Ak-Var (Flamebird)
One of the highlights for me in a "World Without Superman" has been the partnership of Nightwing (Hey, the other one's busy elsewhere now!) and Flamebird. Their overall task and storyline is inspired, I just wish Action Comics #879 could've made the highlight reel in a better way. A piece or two of genuine plot development occur, but there did seem to be a bit of disconnect with the art team and writers. Seriously, DC. This is a top Superman book and the art team supporting writer Greg Rucka's script is a revolving door right now. Fix that. Fortunately none of the art has sucked so far, but I could hardly blame Greg for closing his eyes anxiously before opening the envelope every time he gets a new issue at his desk. Pick a team, people!
In hot pursuit of a Bonnie & Clyde team of Kryptonians operating as "sleepers" on Earth since a Phantom Zone awakening from way back in "Last Son," Nightwing and Flamebird find themselves just as pursued by the Feds. Codename: Assassin has a horde of uglies with his to take out ALL Kryptonians on the scene, and at least one revelation appears to be a tad relevant. Lesson learned: Do NOT trifle Miss Flamebird. We find that superhero name of hers is not a misnomer.
On a technical aspect, I have some issues with Action Comics #879. I know we're dealing with metas here, but, to my knowledge, things kick off in the New Mexico desert, and all too quickly does the activity move into a heavily populated Los Angeles for a reason I can only imagine. If the Kryptonian Bonnie & Clyde wanted to lay low, they could've picked better locales to bail from C:A and Nightwing & Flamebird. Another matter struck me -- and I'm not the stickler type, normally -- a 2-panel sequence where Clyde has Bonnie unconscious in his arms only for her to confront Nightwing head on a panel later had me picking up on this editorial disconnect between writer and artist. Fortunately Rucka delivers a compelling script that can withstand most artistic/editorial shortcomings. As is the case of Mon-El in Superman, our streets are in good hands, theoretically, with Christopher Kent and Thara Ak-Var. There is no question of their desire to do good by this world in the Man of Steel's absence.
Speaking of Mon-El, I was a little surprised to see a vital sequence to the entire "World Without Superman" played out between him and Lois Lane in this title instead of Superman proper. Seems like ages since the Lane Family dynamic was hit on other than the apparent recent passing of Lucy Lane (Superwoman?), but it is addressed here to great effect here thanks to Lois and Mon's efforts. Many are the chinks in armor finding their way to General Sam Lane, and the layering of this development by Rucka and James Robinson has been more than welcome. Also glad to get the name of the general's mystical, tattooed assistant, and I won't blow that revelation here. I've been here on "New Krypton" from Day One and only now did I get her name read loud and clear to me -- am I wrong?
Significant to this issue of Action Comics is the inclusion of a new second feature, Captain Atom. I'm a big fan of the backup story movement DC is pushing, so seeing something in a Superman title is an added bonus. However, another chapter or seven is necessary before I make heads or tails of this new volume of Captain Atom. Not to say it's bad, not at all, but Chapter One starts and ends in a simply bizarre fashion. For one, I can't even say I know where the lead character left off (by no means reading every DC book, I couldn't tell you where we last saw Nathaniel Adam), and the story just kicks off with Atom launching into a confrontation with a most unexpected assemblage of adversaries. Save for the introduction, the exposition is kept to a minimum, and the concept that Captain Atom working as a government foil may serve as a contribution to the book's lead story is revealed in no way whatsoever here. This MAY be a component to the agenda dictated by Gen. Lane ("My mission is the same... An enemy base that is a threat to the government."), but at this point only James Robinson and Greg Rucka know. This feature is helped greatly by exquisite artistry by Cafu (Gesundheit!), but I do know that every other story I've caught in other books (Manhunter, The Question, etc.) has done a better job introducing the character to a potentially unfamiliar audience. Considering the surreal nature of this first chapter, I feel as disoriented as the story's protagonist.