A few words on Action Comics #4

I thought that Action Comics #3 was terrific when I read it last month. So I was really looking forward to #4 which made its debut earlier this month. But I have to say that more than anything else, it confused me. Maybe it comes with the territory of being new to comics. The art work was for the most part good, although not as good as previous issues. In particular, there was a drawing on page 9 in which Superman looks to be lifting a tank on his shoulders, but the perspective is all off, and it looks as if the tank is floating in the air behind him. Then on p. 13, there is a frame in which Superman’s face looks very different from his faces in other frames. Maybe it’s just me.

What confused me most of all was the sudden splitting of story lines. Partway through the comic, the story suddenly ends with the words, “Continued in Action Comics #7. Next: Interlude: Rocket Song.” This is Action Comics #4–why would you suddenly jump to a different story line only to continue this story three issues down the line? Even more confusing was that the issue contained a second story line, “Hearts of Steel” which seemed to focus on the backstory of Steel and was far less interesting, than the Superman story line.

Maybe long-time comic book fans out there can tell me if this splitting of story lines and insertions of non-sequitoresque backstories is a common practice. It may be that I am confused simply because I am not used to the practice. But I have to say that it does make the story somewhat more difficult to follow. I’m just looking to have fun and be entertained when I read these. I don’t want to have to work this hard!


  1. Comic book storytelling has taken on many forms and changed a lot over the years. In brief, there was a time when backup stories were the norm, and sometimes (but not often) they would focus on or comment on the main story. (Sometimes they were just a way for a writer and artist to keep publishing stories about a favorite character; for a few years, Firestorm was a backup character in the Flash, even though the stories were completely unconnected and all they shared was the letter F.)

    It’s also not the norm to interrupt a story line with another story and then return to it later. Usually, this happens because a creative team is late with an issue, so they get another team to do a quick fill-in, or they publish a finished story that they have been holding for whatever reason. I don’t recall that being the case here; the last I remember, Grant Morrison had not fallen behind in his writing. (From the DC webpage preview for the issue, it seems as if it might be a backstory that connects to the storyline; see http://www.dccomics.com/dcu/comics/?cm=20940 .)

    As for Steel….John Henry Irons had a much more interesting origin before the reboot. He was one of the four Supermen who showed up after Superman died in 1992. Irons had been saved by Superman and decided to become a superhero to honor Superman’s memory. You should track down some of those stories; they were quite good.

  2. The tank on page 9 wasn’t being lifted by superman it was by the giant robot you can see its hand on top of the tank, this is a bit obvious as it them uses it as a head and shoots clark


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