Monday, December 1, 2008

Action Comics #821-824 (1-4/05)

Art by Ivan Reis & Marc Campos

A story running as a b-plot through Action Comics involved the return of the xenophobic Preus, a former patrolman of the bottle city of Kandorian who had gotten loosed upon the Earth with powers rivaling Superman's. Preus found himself a new adoptive home in God's Peake, a white supremacist encampment where he found a willing and disposable army to aid in his pursuit of racial purity and the death of the "pretender" Superman (who had become a deity in Kandor years prior.) After raping a series of women to death, Preus was confronted by the Manhunter from Mars, who had been dispatched by the Man of Steel while Clark Kent saw to a convalescing Lois Lane. Speaking of people "almost as powerful as Superman," whenever those magic words are spoken, it is safe to assume the Alien Atlas is going to be humiliated once again. One assumes Preus, hailing from a shrunken city, is used to dealing with things on a smaller scale than most. His dark-hued energy blast either managed to effect the intangible J'Onn J'Onzz on a sub-quark level, or through some other unexplained means, and the Martian Marvel was a goner. Shortly afterward, J'Onn was found by an investigating Jimmy Olsen chained to a St. Andrew's Cross, morphing uncontrollably and surrounded by flaming pits. Olsen joined him in bondage, strapped shirtless to a giant metal S-Shield. Is it just me, or is it getting kinky in here?

Now, brief words on story author Chuck Austen: A talented artist and the writer of soap operatic adult comics in the late 80's/early 90's, Austen was rescued from obscurity by Joe Quesada's Marvel. He soon transitioned from a black & white War Machine mini-series to scripter of one of their biggest moneymakers, Uncanny X-Men. Whether due to his noted disinterest in continuity, his shady background, or his tendency toward incredulous turns of events, Austen found himself out of favor at the House of Ideas, and followed the traditional route of exiting a burning bridge into the DC Universe, especially toward the Superman line. While his sarcastic Superman in intense action situations won him some fans and raised sales, the controversy surrounding Austen led to his removal from Action Comics. While Austen brought the action to a head in the book length Action Comics #824, it was an editor writing under the nom-de-plume of "J.T. Finn" who wrapped the tale in the extra-length follow-up issue when Austen was unceremoniously dumped. Most of the art was by Ivan Reis and Marc Campos, though a host of others also contributed, including Luke Ross, Renato Guedes, Shane Davis, Cliff Richards, Fabio Laguna, Larry Stucker, Will Conrad, Art Adams and Ian Churchill.

Summoned by Jimmy Olsen's signal watch, Superman arrived to save the day from Preus, who only served as part of the master plan of the futuristic villain Gog. Also involved was a now fully sentient Doomsday, who joined the party as part of an odyssey that spanned millennia. Insult to injury, it was shirtless Jimmy Olsen aiding the weakened J'Onn J''Onzz in walking out of harm's way. Due to Doomsday's presence, the Justice League evacuated all other heroes and civilians from the area. As part of these Doomsday Protocols, a revived Manhunter was prohibited by Batman from rejoining the action. Long story made short, Preus nearly died in battle with Superman, while Gog and Doomsday vanished due to alterations of the timestream, and Martian Manhunter remained punked.


Bookgal said...

"Shortly afterward, J'Onn was found by an investigating Jimmy Olsen chained to a St. Andrew's Cross, morphing uncontrollably and surrounded by flaming pits. Olsen joined him in bondage, strapped shirtless to a giant metal S-Shield. Is it just me, or is it getting kinky in here?"

Seriously! LOL Bondage fantasy: No longer just a wonder woman comic thing!

And "Almost as Powerful as Superman"? Lets try, just as powerful in the shared powers, and with some extra powers clark doesnt have. Gah! DC annoys me sometimes to no end!

Like you observed in a previous post, its like they have to keep screaming "HEY LOOK! SUPES IS TOP DOG! YOU KNOW! CUZ HE's OUR BOY!"


Diabolu Frank said...

My bondage fantasy: The Man of Steel, bound in a futon under a red sun lamp, forced to watch the last three Superman movies looped in a row for a week straight, given relief only by the occasional Jon Cryer vehicle. "Hiding Out?" "Morgan Stewart's Coming Home?" "Dudes?" He likes pink, but does he like "Pretty In Pink" very much?

Luke said...

"After raping a series of women to death..."

Oh, how lovely, Mr. Austen! Nothing I like better in my DC Comics than fatal rape! At least Dr. Light had the decency to... yeah I'm going to let that joke die on the vine I think.

I have to give the man credit, though. Chuck Ausen did pretty much create the idea of the alternate Captain Britian Corps, through the Kelsey Kirkland Cap, which lead to Albion and the Shadow Corps over in New Excalibur, which I am a huge fan of. Yeah, I said it, what of it?

Diabolu Frank said...

Say wha? I thought the multiverse of Captain Britains went back to Alan Davis issues of the British series (w/Moore? Delano?) It was certainly played with enough in Clarement Excalibur...

I'm no prude, but rape of any kind in a friggin' Superman comic seems way out of place.

Luke said...

Oh don't get me wrong, the Captain Britian Corps was created during the Alan and Alan period of the feature in the UK.

What Austen came up with was the idea that there might be a Captain Britian who took the sword instead of the amulet. The Kelsey-Cap from his stint on Avengers (right before Avengers: Disassembled) was the first such character. In New Excalibur, Claremont took the idea and ran with it, creating arch-badguy Albion and his Shadow Corps, all of whom had chosen the path of might over the path of right.

Diabolu Frank said...

Ohhhhh-- my bad! In truth, I've never read much Captain Britain, and resented his presence in Excalibur. I did buy the first part of Austin's new take though, and followed upon his progress a ways back through Wikipedia.