Action Comics #901

Story by
Art by
Kenneth Rocafort, Jesús Merino
Colors by
Brad Anderson
Letters by
Rob Leigh
Cover by
DC Comics

SWell, this is disappointing.

Despite my misgivings after reading "Action Comics" #900, I was willing to give the title another chance to see if "Reign of the Doomsdays" could somehow transcend its bad basic idea that looks to have been handed down from high above to Paul Cornell and Kenneth Rocafort. But as it turns out, no. Doomsday is not only still not interesting, but his presence drags down otherwise talented creators.

Take Paul Cornell, for instance. His "The Black Ring" storyline in "Action Comics" was inventive and fun, reveling in different villains to show up and tangle with Lex Luthor. But here? That wit and fun is curiously missing. Superman snapping, "There's no time for that cyborg's nonsense here!" and ripping out the Cyborg Superman's "central node" to promptly disable him? It's bad dialogue, and it makes even less sense. (This is a character, after all, that is virtually indestructible and who lately has been hatching evil plans that center around his wish to be destroyed. This smacks of Cornell sidelining a character he was stuck with rather than one he wanted to have around.) It's generally a lot of technobabble and nonsense as the Superman family of characters run around a dull-as-dishwater space station. Superman himself comes across fairly cheesy, with internal thoughts like, "Lois, I will find my way back to you!"

In short, this doesn't even read like a Cornell comic, and I've read a lot of them over the years. I'm not sure what the heck is happening here, but everything that I'm used to seeing in a Cornell comic is curiously absent, to the point that I checked the credits page several times just to be certain it was his name attached to the issue.

Kenneth Rocafort's art is certainly a big switch from Pete Woods. It's rough and jagged, with angular shapes pattered across people's faces, and Superman's ribs practically poking out of his outfit. There are some little bits that I liked a great deal, like how Steel's armor has overlapping plates on the shoulders, or the hard-edged spit curl on Superman's forehead (rather than the normally soft and overly-conditioned lock of hair). But it's got some awkward staging as well, and Jesus Merino's seven guest pages don't mesh at all with the overall look from Rocafort.

After an overall strong run on "Action Comics" over the last year, it's disappointing to see it collapse so badly here. Everything that made the book fun is gone, and what's replacing it feels like a dud. At this point, I'm willing to just wait until September when a new storyline begins. This was just painful.

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