Monday, August 16, 2010

Comic Book Review: Action Comics #891

Literary & Artistic Credits

Writer: Paul Cornell
Penciller: Pete Woods
Inker: Woods & Bit
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Cover Art: David Finch & Peter Steigerwald

My Awe-Inspiring Opinion
If you were to ask me who the greatest comic book villain in history is, I would say the Joker; pretty obvious answer right?  But if you were to ask me who’s the most intelligent of all comic villains, Lex Luthor would definitely take the top spot.  Superman is one of the few superheroes whose arch enemy is a mere mortal with no super powers, just a rich business tycoon who has a very developed brain.  And that’s one of the most interesting aspects about Luthor isn’t it?  He’s consistently been a thorn in Superman’s side and has come so very close to defeating the Man of Steel.  The obsessive love-hate relationship with Superman is one of the more interesting character traits of Luthor; his lust for power is immense, but will never be quenched until he has reached a level that surpasses Superman.  #891 of Action Comics brings us an interesting character study of the most intelligent villains in comic book history, displaying how Luthor’s confidence and doubt in himself are always at odds, and the catalyst that sets him over the edge is the Man of Steel.

The book takes us not so much on journey through history, but more so on a fantastic trek through the mind of Luthor.  The oversized larva known as Mr. Mind is keeping Luthor’s brain secluded as a way of digging deeper into the thought process of Superman’s arch enemy.  While Mr. Mind is in control of where Luthor’s imagination ends up, these worlds within his mind are obviously situations Luthor has either dreamt about or fits into his mode of thinking, all of which post him in positions of power and glory; the hero of a clan, a creator of life, and the town sheriff saving the day from the evil outlaw.  (Who has a striking resemblance to the hero of Metropolis.)  Mr. Mind’s purpose is to keep Luthor contained within his own fantasies while the amazingly cute caterpillar attempts some sort of scientific investigation.  But Luthor proves to be a little more of a challenge than the larva Telly-Tubby can handle as Luthor consistently takes control over his dreams, ultimately defeating the worm.

Despite the complexity and interesting nature of this comic, the story does seem to run rather quickly.  This would have been better served as a two issue arc which would allow Cornell to flesh Luthor out even more.

With this minor defect, the story overall is very enjoyable, providing us within insight into three states of Luthor’s mind, all of which allow Luthor to display positive and negative aspects of his life.  But within all of his positive and negative energy, he is able to harness them into one explosive moment where he combines his hatred and love for Superman to deliver the Coup De Grace on Mr. Mind.  It’s interesting to see Lex Luthor call upon the image of his most hated rival, showing that with all his hatred for Superman, he still wishes to be as much like him as possible.

Who the hell is CAFU?  Is it a company, and alias for someone’s name, what?  It’s so confusing.  Pete Woods I do know of, however, and love his artwork.  It took some time for it to grow on me, but I now love to see his name on the cover of any comic.  While the stylization of all the characters remained similar per Woods style, the different sceneries were very much in tune with its known culture.  I was a bit confused about the opening sequence; I couldn’t figure out if this was ancient, mythological Greece or some type of Viking Clan.  It probably doesn’t matter, but it did stick out none-the-less.

My Majestically Climactic Conclusion
I won’t lie, Luthor has been smartly taken advantage of and fleshed out numerous times, usually for the better.  But I’m not sure a comic has ever taken advantage of a character as well as #891 did.  It displayed his dark side well enough, but also brought out the confidence Luthor has in himself too.  So far, the Luthor-based Actions Comics is coming along very well.

Rating: 8.83
Writing: 8.5
Themes: 9
Art: 9

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