With Grant Morrison’s time on “Action Comics” concluding in a couple of months, it’s hard to not hear the phrase, “Go big or go home” in regards to “Action Comics” #15. Picking up from last month’s invasion of the Multitude, Morrison teams up with artists Brad Walker and Rags Morales to tell the new origin of Mxyzptlk, his connection with his mysterious neighbor Mrs. Nyxly who earlier wished Clark Kent’s apparent death out of history, and their connection to the Multitude. And is Morrison going big? Absolutely.
“Action Comics” #15 twists and turns in time, jumping back and forth from a rooftop in Metropolis, to the end of time where tesseract mines explode predatory environments while Superman is hunted by an all-star group of foes. And throughout it all, Mrs. Nyxly explains just who not only she is, but Mxyzptlk, Vyndktvx, and how a feud in the 5th Dimension over her hand rippled into the rest of the DC Universe and beyond. It’s a clever story, but more importantly it’s an engaging one. Mrs. Nyxly has spent most of “Action Comics” as a background character, one who a few months ago briefly stepped into the spotlight but then withdrew again. It’s impressive here, then that in just a few pages Morrison gets us to care about her a great deal. The story she tells is engrossing, and even as she explains the doom that lies ahead you want everyone involved to succeed despite the odds.
There are a lot of little details packed into the script of “Action Comics” #15 that make it sing. Explaining the ever-shifting setting of the comic by comparing a shark displacing water while swimming to Vyndktvx disturbing time as he closes in on the kill is a bizarre but intriguing analogy; on some level it doesn’t quite make sense, even as it somehow has you nodding and feeling that it does. It’s that attention to the script that makes a Morrison comic often (but not always) sing, and it’s something that will be missed when he wraps up his run in two months.
Walker and Morales handle the art chores here, and they complement each other’s work well. Mrs. Nyxly’s sad face when says she’ll never forget the sounds of screaming and breaking sells the moment even more than Morrison’s script does, for instance, and the moment at prom night when teenaged Clark is told horrible news is similarly heartbreaking. The best is the final page of the comic, though, with the three images of Superman’s face (present, past, future) all distraught in similar yet different ways is what had me smile and nod a great deal. It’s well composed, and a perfect note to end the cliffhanger upon.
Sholly Fisch and Chris Sprouse tell more of the 5th Dimension’s greatest romance in their back-up story, and unlike some of the past back-ups this one feels like it belongs here. Fisch’s story gives us a little extra insight into what we’ve already learned but it doesn’t feel like it’s overdoing any specific point. And of course, who doesn’t love some pencils by Sprouse? His clean lines are a perfect match for the crisp look of the 5th Dimension, and carrying it into the real world is a handsome finish to the story.
Some parts of Morrison’s “Action Comics” run have been stronger than others, but it feels right now like he’s been saving the best for last. “Action Comics” #15 promises to end the run on a high note, but even if it slips a bit, we still got this great installment. Definitely take a look.