by Nevs Coleman

Action 894.

(As some of you may have seen on Facebook earlier this week, I’m on of the contributors to the newly launched Fantasy Advertiser site. Here’s a special preview of my review of Action Comics 894 for all me loyal fans.)

Well, for those of you not following Neil Gaiman on Twitter, aren’t checking his blog each day to see if he’ll write  a new Sandman story and don’t hate Amanda Palmer because she’s shagging him, you may not be aware that the most popular member of the Endless Pantheon has returned. Not in a new mini-series nor a Fancy Panties Graphique Novella, darling, but in the most recent issue of, er, Action Comics. Starring Superman. Well, it used to. Now the lead feature is Lex Luthor, who, having become one of the Rainbow Lanterns during last year’s crossover: Blackest Night, has decided he wants those space powers back and will do anything to attain them once more. He apparently died last issue or something and now Lil Miss Camden High Street is here to have a natter.

Yep, chirpy, cheeky, perky Death is back. Neither drawn by Chris Bachalo nor (shock, horror!) written by Neil of The Gaiman, everyone’s favourite Winona Ryder lookalike returns to, um, chat with Lex Luthor for a bit. Before telling him he’s not really dead, she was just checking in on him and he wakes up and it was all a dream. OR WAS IT? Is this all leading up to some kind of Vertigo/DC crossover in 2012? I hope so, because I would pay good money to see John Constantine in any scene with Mr. Mxyzptlk or Plastic Man and Destiny for that matter.

While I greatly enjoyed the launch of Knight + Squire (also by Paul Cornell) this month, I can’t help feeling this was a bit of a wasted opportunity. It’s alright, although as someone who gave up on Superman comics once All-Star Superman finished, I was slightly lost to what was going on. To people who are buying this on the back of Death’s appearance: I don’t know if they’d be intrigued enough by what was going  to be lured  back in for the next issue. A nice little character study into the way Luthor’s mind works, and reasonable mid 90’s Vertigoesque art, but really not that else to write home about.

Or at least, that’s what I’d say for the main feature…

Nick Spencer’s back up strip: Superman’s Pal: Jimmy Olsen, on the other hand, is an absolute delight! The insanely talented author of such joyous works as Forgetless, Morning Glories and Shuddertown seems to have kicked his way through the stodge of dull, pointless page filling second stories and the utterly depressing landscape that is the DCU in 2010, to knock out a chapter of Jimmy Awesomeness. Modern story-telling, fun characters, utterly daft premise, genuinely funny dialogue and tourists from space on the lash! All aided and abetted by the spectacular artwork of  RB Silva. This guy’s stuff is beautiful! As though someone had amalgamated Kevin Maguire’s body language, Dave Stevens’s finishes and smooshed it together with Moebius’s design sense. The begining of it can be read at rather amazing website

Whilst being the 2nd chapter, I wasn’t confused for a second to who anyone was, why they were there and what they wanted and unlike, oooh… 98% of modern superhero comics, I wanted to know what happened next.

So, Action 894, then: If you write poetry about how much you would be the perfect guy for Death or have a dartboard with Amanda Palmer’s face on it, then you probably own this already (if not, Forbidden Planet: Shaftesbury Avenue had tons of copies last week). Otherwise, it didn’t seem to add much to the larger story going on and I wasn’t compelled to pick the next issue to see what happens next to Ol’ Lexie. Nick Spencer’s Jimmy Olsen ought to be its own title, and one hopes for a reprint of all the chapters in one comic!

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