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    Review: Action Comics #896

    By | December 30th, 2010
    Posted in Reviews | % Comments

    Written by Paul Cornell/Nick Spencer
    Illustrated by Pete Woods/RB Silva

    Part 1 of a 2-part crossover with the Secret Six! Lex Luthor doesn’t want to get his hands dirty fighting Vandal Savage (that Black Ring energy ain’t gonna find itself!), so he hires Savage’s daughter Scandal and her Secret Six team to take the immortal villain down for him! Continued in SECRET SIX #29!
    And in the hit new JIMMY OLSEN co-feature, Jimmy signs up for a “Win a Date” auction, but much to his surprise, so does his ex, Chloe Sullivan! While Jimmy ends up on a date with CrazyPants McGee, Jimmy’s archrival snags Chloe! D’oh! And wait, are those wedding bells we hear? Better hope they don’t toll for thee, Olsen!

    Paul Cornell and Nick Spencer continue their all too great run on Action Comics in both the main feature and the co-feature. As the year draws to a close and DC drops it’s page count, co-features, and price point, how does the last Action Comics of the year shape up? Find out in the review after the cut!

    Without a single doubt in my mind, if you have any love for Superman’s extended universe and you are somehow not getting this title, then you are missing out on one of the best (if not arguably the best) DC title currently in circulation. Paul Cornell has once again proven himself to be a force to be reckoned with when it comes to writing, and combined with the bourgeoning talent of Nick Spencer and RB Silva oozing out the back of the book like mad, this was the best comic I’ve had the pleasure to read and review all week.

    Cornell is one of the freshest voices DC has in their arsenal, and his rendition of Lex Luthor proves that time and time again. Cornell has brought in a brand new division of calculating brilliance to the character and has managed to somehow fill Luthor’s world with villains and make him the hero. Cornell infuses his wonderful style of British humour (as seen in Knight and Squire) into the dark comedy of Action Comics, giving it a somewhat Misfits vibe. Action Comics even takes home the badge of being the only comic to make me literally laugh out loud to the point I had to share the comic with who I was sitting next to, to which they received similar responses, as Vandal Savage’s response to Lex Luthor’s plea about the definition of happiness is absolutely timeless. Cornell is also the best person to write the Secret Six since Gail Simone (if anyone else has even attempted that) in an absolutely pitch perfect rendition of the villainous hit squad.

    The amazing thing about the title though is that with this issue, it becomes clear how carefully Cornell is plotting this story. While at the surface it might at times seem like Cornell is just picking and choosing villains to throw at Lex, this issue makes it much more clear that there are somethings that have been lurking in the background since the first issue with the return of Mr. Mind and his somewhat-revealing dialogue. It offers a new layer of depth to the story which offers it up to re-reads so we can see just how much was placed in their from the beginning. Mr. Mind’s note about Luthor being hung upside down is rather key here as well, considering it’s the way Cornell’s first issue of Action Comics actually began. While Death had noted before that there were larger forces at work here, it’s nice to begin to see threads coming together.

    Oddly enough, this is the first issue that Pete Woods hasn’t been as stellar as he has been through the run. Woods definitely made himself a Super-related name with his work on the Last Stand of New Krypton, and I was happy to see him get steady work as the artist of Action Comics. For some odd reason, this issue features a few panels that aren’t as sleek as the rest, seeming somewhat rushed, with the inks and colors that usually give a nice polish to the issue and a definitive tone instead giving off a somewhat dirty vibe (at least, in comparison). Robot Lois seems less sleek as she usually does, although Woods does manage to give her an amazing sequence of arrival within the battle. Woods does do tremendous amount of work with the issue and I still can’t imagine anyone better to be working with Cornell on this story, but it does feel a tad off.

    Continued below

    Meanwhile, the Jimmy Olsen backup offers up one rather firm question: why is this not it’s own stand-alone ongoing title? Spencer has done some great work with his two issues of THUNDER Agents, but this rendition of Jimmy Olsen feels like the DC Comic he was born for. The easiest description of the story so far has been simply “Holy wow!”, but the longer explanation is that Jimmy Olsen simply hasn’t been this relevant or entertaining in the longest time. Sterling Gates did a good job of bringing back Olsen as a character with some kind of interesting story to him (making him quite a bad ass too), but Spencer is reminding all of us why Jimmy Olsen ever had his own title, with the frequent callbacks and great character portrayals being at the top of the list as to why. RB Silva is also the perfect artist of this back-up and an absolute on-fire talent working at DC. To not give him more work on the character seems truly criminal. Silva truly captures the youth of the characters with his art as well as the comical nature of the situations that Spencer writes them into. It’s a pitch perfect rendition of the given script and certainly elevates Silva’s work as a talent to be on the constant lookout for.

    If anything, I’d want to buy a Jimmy Olsen ongoing for this duo’s work more than I want to buy any other Superman or Batman title at the moment. This is the book DC needs, and taking away our back-up – even if it was to give us $2.99 price points across the board – is an incredibly silly mistake. They took so long to try and get the back-up formula right, and once they did they decided to take it away? For shame, DC. For shame!

    This is the last issue ringing in at $3.99, and the last issue of Jimmy Olsen awesomeness until the wrap-up special (which is a damn shame). The double team of Cornell/Woods and Spencer/Silva was and is a force to be reckoned with. However, it’s more than worth that extra dollar as this is one of the few comics that will give you the legitimate bang for your buck that we all so earnestly crave as sharp consumers. If you aren’t picking up this title for some odd reason, do yourself a favor and get this week’s – especially if you’re a fan of Secret Six, Vandal Savage, amazingly dry wit and overt humor, and good comic books.

    Final Verdict: 9.6 – Buy

    Matthew Meylikhov

    Once upon a time, Matthew Meylikhov became the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Multiversity Comics, where he was known for his beard and fondness for cats. Then he became only one of those things. Now, if you listen really carefully at night, you may still hear from whispers on the wind a faint voice saying, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine is not as bad as everyone says it issss."