Home > DC Comics > Action Comics #818

Action Comics #818

August 7, 2004

Quick Rating: Below Average
Title: Enemies as Numerous as Grains of Sand

An army of bad guys is after a weakened Superman – can he take them out?

Writer: Chuck Austen
Pencils: Ivan Reis
Inks: Marc Campos
Colors: Guy Major
Letters: Comicraft
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Cover Art: Arthur Adams
Publisher: DC Comics

There are a lot of things to like about this issue. Ivan Reis is quickly solidifying his position as one of the best Superman artists in years. The character is bold and proud, the action scenes are great. He may look a little blocky at points, but it’s never too bad to get around and the title is a real joy to look at, from the fantastic pages to a really great cover by the legendary Arthur Adams.

But none of this art will help the story in this issue.

Superman, having been shot with Kryptonite, heads out in the streets to fight an army of superpowered thugs who heard of his weakened state and want to take advantage of the situation to, hopefully, take out the man of steel once and for all. Most of the issue is a fight scene, which is often where Chuck Austen shows his strengths. Not this time.

The version of Superman in this issue is so cocky as to be completely unbelievable. As he’s being shot (not shot at, shot, with actual holes and wounds appearing in his body), he’s standing there cracking jokes. He appears out of nowhere, delivers powerhouse punches, and basically stands around looking tough. It goes way too far. Clearly, the intent here is to make Superman look like a real contender, a bit grittier than the “boy scout.” Instead, it’s just impossible to swallow.

The worst comes as he’s hovering above the villains and talks about “you human beings.” It’s condescending. It’s belittling. It’s the speech of a man who considers himself above other people. It’s not Superman.

Then, as the dust settles, we take a left turn from the fight scene right into the soap opera, with Superboy asking probing questions of Wonder Woman, delving into issues that were settled years ago. And then we get a surprise last-page “shocker” which – again – digs up issues that were settled years ago.

There’s nothing new in this issue, and the stuff that is here was mostly put to rest a very long time ago. It’s not working. The artwork is the real saving grace of this title – I’ve become a big fan of Ivan Reis and Marc Campos. Right now, they’re the best thing Superman has going for him.

Rating: 4/10

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