Review: Superman – Action Comics, Vol. 5: What Lies Beneath by Greg Pak

Superman – Action Comics, Vol. 5: What Lies BeneathSuperman – Action Comics, Vol. 5: What Lies Beneath by Greg Pak
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Yes! This title continues to get better & better!
Pak did an excellent job with this volume, and wrote a story that really showcased Superman’s strengths as a character.

Ok, first you have Clark’s Secret Origins issue. Now, I’d already read it in the Secret Origins vol. 1 collection, but I thought it was a good fit for this volume.
It’s a touching story about Clark/Kal told through the overlapping voices of the two women who loved him most.
His biological mother, Lara, who sent him away to save him:

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And his adopted mother, Martha, who raised him to embrace his humanity:

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It’s sappy, but it works as a short story.
I have to say, I believe one of the biggest mistakes the New 52 made was killing off Martha Kent. The mother/son dynamic between those two shouldn’t be wasted. Besides, I think it helps keep a character as powerful as Superman grounded & humanized when you see him going home and helping his mom out with chores.

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Zero Year also makes its way into this volume, but it’s not set in Gotham, so I’m not sure what the point was. I guess it’s just there to let us know what Clark was up to while Bruce was off fighting the Riddler…and learning to be The Batman?
Eh. Whatever.
It didn’t suck. It shows a cocky, t-shirt wearing Superman trying to beat back the forces of nature, and finding out that sometimes a softer touch is needed.

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On to the main event!
Lana Lang is quickly turning into one of my favorites, and stories like this one are the reason why.

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These two share a deep trust, that comes from years of friendship, and it really make their interactions on the panel pop. Not to mention, they used to date when they were younger, so there’s still a tiny part of each of them that still wants to impress the other. It makes for an interesting dynamic, and one that you don’t see done well very often.

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Ok, the main story takes place before the events of Doomed. I wish I’d read this one first, because it explains who the blue monster kid was, and where he came from!

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It also explains who the hell Ghost Soldier is, and why Clark would (maybe) trust him.

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Without giving away the plot, I just want to say that THIS Superman needs to be the role model for all the future incarnations.

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I’m an immensely powerful being, and FUCK YOU if you think you can make me do something that goes against my morals!

Thank you, Pak! Thank you! Superman should kick ass and take names, but he should not act like a bully or psychopath. This volume is a perfect blend of that. Clark has a great moral compass, and he has the mojo to back up his decisions. Excellent job on nailing his personality in this one.

Definitely Recommended For Superfans!

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Review: Superman: Doomed by Greg Pak

Superman: DoomedSuperman: Doomed by Greg Pak

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you’re a fan of Big Blue, then I think you’ll enjoy this one.
I’m sort of surprised that this played out as well as it did, to be honest. I was sort of expecting more flashbacks to Krypton or something.
But they kept this about Clark, and the story was pretty darn good!

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Wonder Woman & her relationship with Superman plays a Huge role in this one, and if you were planning on reading Superman/Wonder Woman, Vol. 2don’t. Everything but a Future’s End issue is already packed into Doomed, and it makes a hellava lot more sense when you read it all together.

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Doomsday gets loose, turns into some kind of a Doomsday-Prime beast, and starts rampaging across the planet. Superman is forced to do the One Thing he doesn’t want to do, and…kttttk!
But there’s a problem! Of course!

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To save everyone, Superman inhales all of the spores that puffed out of Doomsday when Supes blasted him. And now…
{cue dramatic music}
He’s turning into Doomsday!

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The rest of the story is all about how to save the planet from Brainiac, and save Superman from himself. It’s a catch-22, because they need Superman to take out Brainiac’s fleet of ships, but every time he enters Earth’s atmosphere he loses control of himself and Hulks-out…thanks to the government blanketing the planet in Kryptonite.

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What I loved?
Diana & Clark have a pretty interesting relationship. I love that she’s the only one who is strong enough take him out if he totally loses control, and she’s willing to do it. But she also never gives up on him, even when he’s acting like an asshole. She doesn’t do that angry girlfriend thing, and stomp off with her feelings hurt.

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And speaking of never giving up, can I get a round of applause for Batman?! He’s another one who refuses to throw in the towel on Clark.
He’s Diana’s biggest ally in saving the Man of Steel, and I love how much this showcases his (very deeply buried) feelings for his friend.

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John Steel & Lana! Loved these two! Again, you get to see how much Clark means to the people in his life, and how deep their loyalty to him goes.
*sniff, sniff* Do I smell romance in the air for these guys?

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Another cool tidbit is the BFF status between Lois & Clark. They genuinely care about each other as people this time around! Instead of Lois pining after Superman because he always saves her life, and ignoring the dorky reporter next to her? Well, Lois may still (secretly) harbor the hots for the man in the cape, but she also has some conflicted feelings for her friend.
And Superman’s feelings for her seems to go a bit farther than just friends, as well. When he argues with the monster in his head, Doomsday keeps referencing ‘her‘ as the reason Clark won’t give up.
Hmmm? Why not just say Diana if that’s who he’s talking about? I think this is a teaser for things to come…

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I have to admit I wasn’t crazy about Lois (once again) getting superpowers. It doesn’t sit right with me, and it’s sort of annoying that it’s turning into the go-to plot device for this title. We all want Lois to play a big role in the stories, but there has to be a way to do it without turning her into a Power. Maybe I’m wrong?

Overall, this was an excellent story, though.
Recommended for Fans of Superman!

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