Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Gotta Catch'em All!

PICK OF THE WEEK: Action Comics # 842 by Kurt Busiek, Fabian Nicieza, Pete Woods

The current storyline in Action Comics centers around a giant alien called the Auctioneer who's been snatching up famous monuments and putting them up for sale on some intergalactic version of eBay. This issue reeks of silver age goofiness, but it never becomes so completely ridiculous that you stop caring about the story. Besides, it gives Superman the chance display his bonafides to a world that still doubts his identity and motives.

When the Auctioneer notices the insane number of rare and collectible super beings that Earth has to offer, he decides to take advantage of this untapped market and begins kidnapping them, heroes and villains alike. Superman ends up in a cell with Skyrocket, Aquaman, Blue Jay, Livewire, and the Veteran.

Stories like this pop up every now and again in comics. Nigh omnipotent alien or villain comes along, grabs up a bunch of super beings for whatever reason. Hodge-podge group always manages to escape and put the kibosh on villain'a plans. Pretty standard.

This one kind of reminds me of an Ultra-Humanite story from JSA a few years back.As predictable as they are, I can't help but to love most of them. Don't tell anybody, but I even have a few fond memories of Secret Wars.

In Action Comics #842 we get the same basic story. All the super guys and gals are floating in some weird energy field that negates their powers. It's up to Superman and the random assortment of metas he's locked up with to save the day. Also, Nightwing and Firestorm have managed to stow away on the alien prison ship.

There's a nice little bit where everyone's standing around arguing about who's going to be in charge. Meanwhile, Superman and Nightwing have already formulated an escape plan.

Busiek and team successfully mix comedy, sci-fi, and heaps of good old fashioned super hero drama to produce one of the most entertaining Superman stories I've read since...well, since last issue. This is the kind of stuff I'd like to see in the Justice League title.

One of the coolest parts about stories like this is trying to identify all the background characters. Some of the more interesting characters I've managed to spot are what looks like a blond Zatanna (1st panel, two left from Superman), Sam Simeon (1st panel, three up and one left from Superman), and Dr. Fate(1st panel, two down and three to the right from Superman.)

Any thoughts on who the Zatanna lookalike might be? Coloring mistake, perhaps? What about Fate? I'd love to see Simeon turn up as more than just background decoration later on.

Maybe one of you guys with a more complete knowledge of DCU characters and a better set of eyes could point out some more little nuggets.

What say you oh great and powerful floating head of FDR?

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Blogger Steven said...

I'm pretty sure "blonde Zatanna" is Zatanna with a coloring mistake, since when we see her again she has dark hair (but consistent placement, good job Woods).

I'm more curious about Kryptonian #3. Since Superman's surprised, I guess we can discount Krypto and Power Girl.

Do I smell Zod?

8/31/2006 12:48 AM

Blogger Brandon said...

I'm sure I've read somewhere that a mysterious rocketship with an alien baby will crash to Earth sometime in the near future of the DCU.

Super Baby, perhaps?

8/31/2006 12:53 AM

Blogger Sleestak said...

Now that's some Silver Age goodness right there

8/31/2006 6:35 AM

Blogger Brandon said...


Coolest cover design I've seen in a while. I wish more comics were like this.

8/31/2006 7:38 AM

Blogger Chris Sims said...

Huh. The floating head of FDR's speech patterns seem alarmingly similar to mine.

8/31/2006 9:01 AM

Blogger Dwayne "the canoe guy" said...

Well, probably since I'm the oldest one in the room, I'll see who I can ID.

Hmm got bad eyes but I was able to pick out:
Solomon Grundy
The Beefeater
Capt Cold
Black Manta
Ultra the Multi-Alien
Ragnell the blogger

Notice that they weren't able to catch either Ambush Bug or Jonah Hex

8/31/2006 11:05 AM

Blogger Matthew E said...

I continue to hope for Mon-El.

8/31/2006 12:34 PM

Blogger Brandon said...

Chris: The floating head of FDR is, in fact, an alien shapechanger from beyond the moon. He chose what he thought would be the most pleasing form and manner of speech after watching old Earth broadcasts of the history channel and reading through the ISB archives.

Dwayne: The Beefeater! I was wondering who the hell that puffy pantsed dude was. Where'd you see Ultra?

Matthew: That would be interesting. Has he been written out of continuity as a Daxamite?

8/31/2006 4:01 PM

Blogger Dwayne "the canoe guy" said...

When I close my eyes real tight & shove my fists into the sockets, then I see Ultra. All Ultra, all the time.

9/03/2006 12:03 AM

Blogger Brandon said...

I hear they got medicine for that.

9/03/2006 12:51 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has nobody noticed that this "alien auctioneer" story is a less silly version of the first Manga Khan story from the old "Bwa ha ha!" Justice League?

9/15/2006 4:11 PM

Blogger Brandon said...

Anonymous: Yeah, I noticed that. I wonder if Manga Khan exists in the post-Infinite Crisis DCU. Maybe the Auctioneer is the new, revamped Manga Khan.

9/16/2006 6:50 AM


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