Tag Archives: Geoff Johns

Action 900 – the end of Luthor’s quest, Doomsday bound and killed, Superman renounces his American citizenship, and a few other treats


Action 900 (June 2011) is a 96 page spectacular, more than half of which consists of a story that ties up both the Doomsday story arc running through a variety of books, and Luthor’s black ring storyline from the previous year of Action Comics.  Paul Cornell writes, with Woods, Merino, Jurgens, Rapmund, Morales, Sibal, Frank, Ardian Syaf and Jamal Igle on art.


Assembled through a number of stories, Superboy, Supergirl, Steel, the Eradicator and the Cyborg Superman are all engaged with a super-Doomsday, which duplicates their powers.


Superman is heading up to the satellite where the fight is taking place, when Luthor pulls him across the universe to where he is.


Luthor shows off his great power.  He is virtually in control of the universe, drawing on the power of the Phantom Zone entity.  He takes Superman on a tour through the failings in his life, which culminates with the death of Pa Kent.  Luthor discovers that Superman is Clark Kent (for the second time, but he lost those memories), and that makes him hate the hero even more, for living as if he were a common man.


They fight, and Luthor draws on all the energy he can, which causes the death of the entity.  Luthor gains ultimate power in the universe.


Luthor’s joy spreads throughout the universe.  This was the prophecy Vandal Savage had received, and the reason Death was curious to meet him.  We see other villains Luthor had faced in this run: Brainiac, Grodd, Larfleeze and Deathstroke.  Jimmy, Lois and Perry are happy, but it’s far more rare to see Batman smile.  And neither the Red Lanterns nor the Thanagarians are known for enjoying life.


There is only one rule left by the entity.  Luthor cannot use the power for anything negative.  Like killing Superman.


Throughout all this, we have also been following the rest of the Superman family battling Doomsday.  But none of that, so far, has had any impact compared with the pages on Luthor.


Luthor attacks Superman.  He has to, even though Superman begs him not to, for the good of everyone, including Luthor himself.  But Luthor must defeat him, and there is nothing Superman can say that does not enrage Lex.  The more he fights, the more his power drains, and Superman starts goading him, making him angrier to make the power fade faster.


Luthor is left with nothing, not even the memories of his time (and Clark’s identity).  The Joker is delighted.  Lex did exactly what he warned him not to do.


Superman finally makes it to the satellite, and joins the rest as they come across the bloody, bound body of Doomsday.


Because there is not just one.  Now there is an army of Doomsdays!  Oh, no!!!

This storyline will run for the final four issues of Action.


Damon Lindelof and Ryan Sook tell a really moving short story, as Jor-El hires an assistant to work on the rocket ship.  The man knows nothing at the start, but the answers to the simple questions he asks about the job.  Life support.  One child.  Shot to another planet.  Lead to a chilling conclusion.


It’s quiet, sad, and powerful.  Hard to find a new angle on this story, but they did it.


Paul Dini, RB Silva and Rob Lean have a short piece, which is not quite up to the rest of the issue.  Superman chats with an extra-terrestrial floating hippo, who is frequently mistaken for a goddess as she passes worlds.


In a cute short, Geoff Johns and Gary Frank have Lois invite the Legion of Super-Heroes to a party one night, so she can meet his old friends.


The story that made the news was “The Incident,” by David Goyer and Miguel Sepulveda.  This issue came out at the time of the Arab Spring, and this tale has Superman choosing to stand among the demonstrators.


Superman gets chastised for his actions, as they can be interpreted as American policy, which they are not.


Superman agrees. He stands for something more than just the US.  He renounces his citizenship, to operate from a global perspective.

Shocking, and exciting.  It opens the door for some fascinating political stories.


Four months after this, Flashpoint wiped out this universe.  The gesture, so powerful, turned out to be meaningless as it was “revoked” so quickly afterwards.  So soon, that they knew it was coming before this ever hit the stands.

So perhaps that was the reason they took the chance with this story, bound to cause controversy.


Nice work by Brian Stelfreeze to close out the first, and probably only, comic book to reach issue 900.


Action 873 – New Krypton!


Action 873 (March 2009), the final issue of this book to have the New Krypton story arc, is also part of the Faces of Evil theme running through the DC books this month, with Lex Luthor featured on the cover.


Johns and Woods are joined by Renato Guedes and Jose Magalhaes as the situation spirals out of control, with open war between the forces of Earth and Krypton, with Superman and Supergirl stuck in the middle.  The Justice League and Justice Society are sorely pressed to stand up to an army of Kryptonians, with no qualms about killing.


Alura cuts the Gordian Knot, so to speak, as she takes control of Kandor, flying it away from Earth and to a point on the opposite side of the sun, expanding the crystalline structure to become an entire planet.


The couple of pages following Kandor’s departure show a montage of actions and reactions.  We see the Daily Planet staff – Perry White, Jimmy Olsen, Cat Grant, Ron Troupe and Steve Lombard, watching the event dispassionately.  While the other Kryptonians leave Earth along with their city, Nightwing and Flamebird stay on Earth, as does a mysterious woman in a Superwoman costume.  The Justice League and Justice Society monitor New Krypton.  We also see the Phantom Zone and Bizarro World (along with Mon-El and Bizarro), examples of those unable to live peacefully with others.


In the first of two epilogues, Doomsday’s body gets taken by Sam Lane, to be examined by Luthor.  Agent Liberty suspects something shady is going on with Lane, and follows him.  He gets murdered by the new Superwoman.


And Alura, needing a strong military to defend against Earth, as Zod, Ursa and Non released from the Phantom Zone.

The story continues in the next issue of Supergirl.


Action 872 – a shocking death


Johns and Woods continue with the New Krypton story arc in Action 872 (Feb. 09), bringing back some great old characters.


The Kandorians have been examining the various cities and creatures that Brainiac had been storing.  Zor-El and Alura show Superman and Supergirl the Creature Commandos and GI Robot, both shot into space by the government after they were considered too uncontrollable (and both last seen in the 80s, in Weird War Tales), as well as Ultra – The Multi-Alien, last seen in Mystery in Space in the late 60s.


Luthor has restored Brainiac’s consciousness, and spends as much time humiliating him as examining him. Not such a wise move.  Brainiac remains in mental control of his ship and the cells within it.


In an odd sequence, Metallo and Reactron, at Sam Lane’s orders, and now wearing matching outfits, attack and kill some Kryptonians.  But they make no effort to escape, and are brought to Zor-El and Alura.


Brainiac takes opens the cells of the Creature Commandos, GI Robot and Ultra – The Multi-Alien, and takes control of their minds, sending them against the Kryptonians.


Reactron, a Supergirl enemy from the 80s, becomes a more impressive character in this tale, with his gold kryptonite heart.  Also makes him a good partner for Metallo.


As the Guardian summons the Justice League and Justice Society, insisting that action needs to be taken about New Krypton, Reactron murders Zor-El.

The story continues in the next issue of Supergirl.

Action 871 – Kryptonians gang up on Doomsday


Geoff Johns is joined by Pete Woods as the New Krypton story arc runs for the next few months in Superman, Action and Supergirl.


Lex Luthor gets a few surprises in Action 871 (Jan. 09), as he finds out that Sam Lane is still alive, having faked his death.  And that Brainiac is in Lane’s possession.  Lane doesn’t need to even try to enlist Luthor is examining the alien.


Continuing from the end of Superman, Doomsday is on the loose, bring dealt with by Superman and Surpergirl.  Agent Liberty rushes the president away, and Alura sends Thara off, before Zor-El joins the fight.  Doomsday may be able to kill one Kryptonian, but doesn’t stand a chance against a group of them.


And while the Kandorians celebrate defeating Doomsday, the display of power is viewed as dangerous by the US military.


Throughout this issue we have also followed Commander Gor and Lieutenant Mur, as they explore Earth with disdain, and long for the rules and authority of General Zod.  They enter Superman’s fortress, but find themselves unwelcome.


There’s a new Nightwing and Flamebird in the Fortress, and they are on Superman’s side.

The story continues in the next issue of Supergirl.

Action 870 – from the highest to the lowest


Johns, Frank and Sibal pull off one heck of a conclusion to the Brainiac saga in Action 870 (Dec. 08).


As Brainiac insults Superman for becoming a “brute,” like those on Earth, Superman shows that brute force can sometimes be effective.


Superman gets away from Braniiac yet again, and finds Supergirl, now being studied like he was. He frees her, but there is too much going on for him to be able to tell her about her parents.


Grabbing Kandor and Metropolis, he vows to the other cities that he will be back, and sends Braiiaic flying out of his ship, crashing to the Earth.


Superman puts Metropolis back where it belongs, and brings Kandor to the arctic, where he lets it grow.  It makes a horrible sound as it emerges from its bottle.  Superman is enraptured by it, and does not hear his mother call for him, as Jonathan Kent collapses from a heart attack.


Kandor is restored, full-size, on Earth.  Only then does Clark hear his mother, and rush home.


Too late. From the heights of exhilaration, to the depths of despair.

The story is followed directly by the Superman – New Krypton Special.

Action 869 – Brainiac takes Metropolis


While I love the cover for Action 869 (Nov. 08), one would never guess that the story inside, by Johns, Frank and Sibal, is nearing the climax of the Brainiac storyline.


His ship begins to send tendrils and probes down to Metropolis, and the Daily Planet building is the hub of the action.  We see Lois Lane and Supergirl on the roof, Cat Grant and Jimmy Olsen by a window, and Perry White, Steve Lombard and Ron Troupe in the office all struggling to survive.


Brainiac is both a physical and mental match for Superman, and as threatening as he ought to be.  Superman does get away from him, though, and goes to retrieve the stolen cities.


He finds that his uncle and aunt, Supergirl’s parents, Zor-El and Alura, are alive and in Kandor.


They explain how the domed Argo City survived the destruction of Krypton.  Supergirl got sent to Earth shortly before Brainiac found the city in space.  He merged it with Kandor, eliminating anyone found “redundant.”


But as Superman is getting his history lesson, Brainiac has been busy. Metropolis is now his.


With Superman captive again and Metropolis bottled, Brainiac is ready to dispose of Earth, and fires rockets from his headship.

The story concludes in the next issue.


Action 868 – Superman finds Kandor


Johns, Frank and Sibal continue with the Brainiac storyline in Action 868 (Oct. 08).


As this issue begins, we learn that Superman has been missing for a while.  Supergirl comes to the Daily Planet, looking for Clark, and has as run-in with Cat Grant, which will lead to an animosity between the two, which plays out in Supergirl’s book.


Superman has been held, examined and studied by Brainiac’s probes, but breaks free.


He faces a far less friendly version of Koko, Brainiac’s white chimp, than either that appeared before.


He also discovers, in a chamber containing dozens of bottled cities, Kandor.  Not a fake Kandor, not an almost-sorta Kandor.  But the real one.


And finally, he confronts Brainiac.  Again, the look of this character is a nice blend of new and classic.  During the time Superman was being examined, Brainiac had drawn information from him about his home, Metropolis.


It would seem Brainiac really has done his research on Superman, as his headship approaches the Daily Planet, to the shock of Steve Lombard and Cat Grant.

The story continues in the next issue.


Action 867 – Supergirl breaks the news


Johns, Frank and Sibal continue the Brainiac storyline in Action 867 (Sept. 08).


Superman brings what he believes to be Brainiac back to the Fortress. He shows Supergirl the various bodies that Brainiac has used over the years.  But Supergirl informs him that he has never met Brainiac.  No one has.  Everything Superman has dealt with in the past were simply probes that he had sent out.


Superman heads into space to find the real deal.  Brainiac’s robotic forces are attacking , and destroying, a planet whose population has actually been seen before. I did not catch this allusion the first time I read this issue, it’s very subtle.  Later issues make it clearer.  But the aliens seen in this segment are the ones who created Ultra – The Multi-Alien back in the 60s in Mystery in Space.


Superman fails to stop the destruction of the planet, and winds up in Brainiac’s hands as the issue ends.

The story continues in the next issue.

Action 866 – Brainiac steals Kandor


Johns, Frank and Sibal begin another long story arc, this one dealing with Brainiac, in Action 866 (Aug. 08). It’s one of the “Sightings” stories, a label given to tales featuring villains who will be important over the coming months.  As it refers to Brainiac, who is also the title character of the story arc, that’s a bit of a given.


The issue opens on Krypton, many years earlier, as Brainiac steals the city of Kandor, putting it into a bottle.  Zod and Ursa are there, and tried to stop Brainiac’s robotic servants, but failed, and watch with horror as the city disappears.


As was set-up in the previous issue, Cat Grant returns to the Daily Planet.  She comes off as a much harder character, although Clark believes that is a defense she is putting up because of her son’s death.


Another old/new character for the Planet staff is Steve Lombard. Steve had appeared a few times since Crisis, but never in a significant role.  Now, it takes Clark only three pages before he uses his powers to embarrass the obnoxious and flirtatious jock.


Superman flies out to Smallville to check on his parents, and is there when what he believes to be Brainic attacks. It’s a weird attack though.  Once the robot scans Superman, he simply collapses.  But we see, deep in space, the real Brainiac in his headship, heading for Earth.

The story continues in the next issue.

Action 865 – the dark secrets of the Toyman


Geoff Johns and Jesus Merino craft the best Toyman story in…umm…ever, in Action 865 (July 2008). Over the years, the Toyman went from a relatively harmless villain, to one obsessed with revenge, to a child killer.  This story puts a new light on all of that.


It begins as the Toyman kidnaps Jimmy Olsen, wanting to tell him his story.  He doesn’t like being labelled a child killer, and insists that he did not kill Adam Grant. Olsen is skeptical.  Toyman never made any such claim at his trial.


But that was not the real Toyman.  We discover that Winslow Schott is a master of building robots, so real that no one ever suspected.  As well as the bald killer robot, whose actions infuriated Schott, we see the more recent Toyboy is also one of his creations.  The second Toyman from the 70s, who Winslow worked with Superman to capture, was yet another of his robots.  Most disturbingly, Hiro, the Japanese boy who has been an ally of Batman and Superman, is yet another Toyman robot.


Batman breaks in to save Olsen.  He had tracked the Toyman from Arkham. Neat that it isn’t Superman.  Batman has to deal with all the Toymans.  But he’s Batman, so he succeeds.  The real Toyman is carted off to prison.


The reference to Adam Grant should have cued me in, but I didn’t see it coming.  Cat Grant’s return is set up at the end of this issue.  She had not been seen in the Superman books for at least five years.