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Action Comics #836

Posted: Tuesday, February 21, 2006
By: Michael Deeley

Writer: Joe Kelly
Artists: Dan Jurgens, Kevin Conrad, Dick Giordano & Jose Maran, Ed Benes, Ian Churchill & Norm Rapmund, Phil Jimenez & Andy Lanning, Tom Denerich & Drew Geraci, Renato Guedes, Lee Bermejo, and Doug Mahnke

Publisher: DC Comics

Kal-L, the Superman of Earth-2, lives the life of Kal-El and fixes what he did wrong. He forms a lasting friendship with Batman, and together, they bring down Lex Luthor. He survives his battle with Doomsday. He condemns Dr. Light and other villains to the Phantom Zone. But his harsh ways and uncompromising views of good and evil have turned the rest of the Justice League against him. Fortunately, he saw this coming and formed his own League, one that includes members of The Elite.

One complaint here: The brainwashing of Dr. Light was supposed to have taken place late in the Silver Age, before Supermanís death. I think Kelly got a little mixed up because Identity Crisis was published after "Death of Superman."

This issue is a great argument for why the modern Superman is a pussy. Think about it: His origin keeps getting rewritten, he defers to Batman, a mere mortal, and never makes any hard decisions. He just wants to make everyone happy. On the other hand, he also knows no one individual can impose his views of right and wrong upon anyone else. There is an absolute good: itís life. As long as people are alive, they can make the right choices to help themselves and the world around them. Superman has complete faith that people are basically good no matter what. Kal-L seems to think otherwise. Why else would he play judge and executioner?

Like Superman #226, we get lots of great work from the industryís best talents. Iím sorry thereís only one page of Doug Mahnke, and Dan Jurgens needs a different inker. But this comic is both a tribute and a criticism of the modern incarnation of Superman. Which is appropriate, if you think about it. Superman is basically a simple character. He believes in simple truths. But real life is rarely that simple. Various writers have tried to address that in Superman stories for the last 20 years. The results have been confusing or worse; leaving our hero powerless and uncertain. This issue demonstrates the practical pros and cons of Superman acting like all problems have simple answers.

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