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.