5 Things to Like About Action Comics #865

Geoff Johns is doing a good job on a number of titles, but the one that might be getting a little less publicity is Action Comics. He does do a lot of retoconning (nobody seems content to leave to a Crisis anymore), but sometimes it's to good effect. At once redeeming and perverting Toy-Man in the latest issue is a good example. 5 things to like about it?

5. This notionThis talks to us as fans. It's also fine meta-text on the kinds of villains heroes draw. And it's a critique of what's been done with Toy-Man over the years. In the story, Toy-Man feels he's been unjustly sent to Arkham Asylum. And in a very real way, exposure to the crazies in that place ("Batman villains") has driven him mad. Comics families, DC Universe cities, have a nature that cannot be denied. Spend time in Gotham, you might get some dirt on you.

4. These panels
Yeah, he probably does. Do villains choose how they want to play it? If you want to rob banks with your gimmick, go to Central City. If you're into leaving clues and getting your head kicked in, go to Gotham. Want a quick arrest, but a fair shake? Metropolis.

3. Toy-Man's redemption and reinvention
So the pedophile-killer Toy-Man was a robot that could fool Superman. Hm. That's a bit cheap as far as retcons go. EXCEPT that Johns sells it by inserting every Toy-Man appearance in continuity with these things. I mean, there's the Golden Age Toy-Man and the one from Super-Friends! Plus the animated adventures Toy-Man and the more recent Hiro Okamura. (Note that both cartoon versions still had their day in the comics, so they're not just visual puns.) He's made the "other" Toy-Men, actual "toys". Continuity porn? Or a love for the history of comics that runs deep?

2. Toy-Man confessing to Jimmy Olsen because, y'know, he's only 16
Oh yeah, that's right, characters actually age. Well, Toy-Man's mistake should be forgiven as Jimmy's only aged 6 years in the last, what, 67 years? Putting him in here as an "eternal youth" is just perfect.

1. The return of Cat Grant
Personally, I've always liked this character. She added a lot to the Superman Family when she came on board post-Crisis, and not just because she completed the Superman's Girlfriends trifecta of brunette-redhead-blond. She actually dated Clark for his own self, then Jimmy in an April-September kind of deal, was raising a kid by herself, and hey, who's doing the Daily Planet's gossip column these days anyway? She's potentially as strong and driven as Lois, but more malleable. I think I'm more curious about seeing her again than I am Brainiac.

So... are you a Superman person or a Batman person?


Madeley said...

Hmm, that's a good question. If pressed, I suppose I'd have to say I'm a Batman person. But I'd like to be a Superman person.

Anonymous said...

Batman all the way... I don't know why, but I like it that there are no(or almost) supers in batman... just a bunch of crazies

Austin Gorton said...

As I've gotten older, I've become more and more of a Superman person.

But I'll always enjoy Batman a little bit more.

rob! said...

I'm an Aquaman person.

Barring that, a Batman one.

why is Cat Grant dressed like someone out of Sin City?

Siskoid said...

I'm definitely an Aquaman person too. I don't quite believe in Johns' dychotomy here.

As for Cat, well, who knows where she's been living all these years?

SallyP said...

Superman or Batman? Hmmm....hard to say. I like Batman's supporting cast a whole lot more than I like Batman. I like Superman as a person, although I find him jus a tad dull.

I'm really a Green Lantern Corps person.

Sea-of-Green said...

Batman, definitely.

But I'm with Sally -- I really prefer the intergalactic chaos of a good Green Lantern yarn. :-)

De said...

Keep in mind that Cat's son was stabbed to death by "one of the Toyman robots." That sort of thing changes a person, for better or for worse.

Siskoid said...

I think that's part of my point (if that's addressed to me). Jimmy and Lois have parameters that they can't easily move out of, but Cat's always been more of a blank slate.

Anonymous said...

Why are things always put to be dichotomies?

Batman or Superman?
DC or Marvel?
Elvis or Beatles?
Coke or Pepsi?
Nikon or Canon?
Straight or on-the-rocks?
Republican or Democrat?
Import or Domestic?
Brand-name or generic?
Hot or cold?
Black or white?
Right or wrong?
Good or evil?

Siskoid said...

Well, the nature of superhero comic books (white vs black) makes it rife with dichotomy. It's also easier to understand.

Think back to Arkham Asylum and how lost Two-Face was making decisions with a tarot deck.


Anonymous said...

I'm another Aquaman person, wow there's more of us out there than you'd think.
I totally agree with you about Johns' Action Comics stuff deserving more publicity, this issue was the best Toyman story I've read since...Well it was pretty damn good! And I'm also glad Cat's coming back.

Maxo said...

I'm with Teebore, kinda. When I was a kid I was much more into Superman, then it was Batman as I got older. Now that I'm even older (I sense a trend), I'm leaning back toward Superman.

By the way, Batman definitely lies — who's the one clenching his fist in those panels, huh?

Maxo said...

Oops — I guess they both do! But Batman is cocked and ready to start the beatin'.

Anonymous said...

Batman and Superman are, somewhat, opposites in many ways.

Superman is about dealing with (enter thing to be dealt with here) as the most powerful being on the planet.

Batman is about dealing with (you know the drill) as a human in a meta-human world.

They both deal... but have totally different sets of tools.

It's, in my opinion, easy to be a Batman person, because (at least theoretically) anybody could be Batman.

As for Superman, it takes some work. It's not easy being a Superman person... You really enjoy being a Superman person when good writers make it worthwhile. Like in this rag. Who would have thought... Toyman was fun.

Toby'c said...

I like both characters on an equal level, but I have a lot more Batman (and Bat-family) trades on my shelf than Superman, as well as a lot more on my shopping list.

Siskoid said...

Perhaps by virtue of sheer volume!

Toby'c said...

Partly it's because most of my collection is still made up of stories that I've seen adapted before, however loosely, in films, direct-to-DVD movies or TV. So on the one hand there's movies like The Dark Knight Rises leading me to seek out multi-volume epics like Knightfall and No Man's Land, while the various Superman movies available haven't adapted anything longer than the Death and Return of Superman.


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