Action Comics #814 Review

Reviewer: Chris Delloiacono
Story Title: Another Day at the Office

Written by: Chuck Austen
Penciled by: Ivan Reis
Inked by: Mark Campos
Colored by: Guy Major
Lettered by: Comicraft
Associate Editor: Tom Palmer Jr.
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Publisher: DC Comics

Leave Chuck Austen alone!

Why is Chuck Austen the most maligned writer in the industry? I admit that I have not read much of Chuck’s recent work, but I have mostly enjoyed his time filling in on Exiles. I also thought his back-up stories in the previous two issues of Action Comics (featuring Lana Lang and Gog) were excellent. As good as that work was, Action Comics #814 is nothing short of a home run in every regard! Austen’s captured the essence of Superman in his first story and given him the hip spin that the big blue Boy Scout has desperately needed. Without a doubt, this is one of the finest Superman stories in some time.

What I liked most about the story was that several interesting subplots were introduced, but this was an all-inclusive story that can be enjoyed entirely on its own. This is just the type of story that the comic industry has to produce more of—a smart story that puts forth continuing elements, but also offers an entire tale for your money. Chuck Austen has set the tone here for his entire run, as well as hinting at what is to come as we go forward.

The issue begins with a sequence featuring the hijacking of an elevated train. A train that Clark Kent is firmly evicted from by said hijackers, only to be replaced by a testy Superman. Instead of being in ultimate goody-two-shoes mode, Superman matches witty banter with the crooks and shows a hard, but comical edge. Superman defuses the situation with a minimum of damage, and no injuries. With this opening sequence, Chuck Austen firmly establishes Superman as the best and brightest that the DCU can offer.

Perhaps the greatest strength of Austen’s writing is the sequences with Clark Kent. Much of the story features Clark in the Daily Planet newsroom. Austen’s got Clark back to being the opposite of Superman. He’s not brash, bold, and nobody really seems to take much notice of him. Clark’s beneath the radar so much that Perry White doesn’t have time to talk with him throughout the course of an entire day. As Clark waits to speak with Perry, he continues to dash outside and save the day, as only Superman can do. Clark as written by Austen is the opposite end of the spectrum from Superman. Exactly the way the character was envisioned some sixty-five years past.

Chuck Austen doesn’t leave us in a lurch for classic superhero moments either. Instead of just fighting the mundane, Superman is forced to face off against Kalibak, Steppenwolf, not to mention legions of a Parademons, as well as Darkseid himself. I’m not going to spoil why the Apokolips Bunch are in town, but let’s just there could be some tough times for the Man of Steel ahead. Once again, Austen’s Supes shows his mettle, unleashes some nice quips, and defuses the situation completely.

Chuck’s amazing story is complimented by the equally amazing artwork of Ivan Reis and Mark Campos! Reis and Campos capture the grandeur of Superman, his enemies, and the setting of Metropolis brilliantly. Not only does the action come across wonderfully, but the pair brings Superman to the page with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face that shows his love for what he’s doing. Kal-El is Superman first, Clark Kent is just a way for Kal-El to mingle with humans. His life isn’t about being Clark, it’s about the good he can do as Superman. The art by Reis and Campos captures this feeling perfectly.

I’ll tell you, I did expect this comic to be good, but I was taken aback by the sheer greatness that was begun here. Will the team keep up the brilliance that was their first effort? I don’t know. But if they keep it close to this level, we’ll be talking about one of the greatest runs on a Superman book ever. It’s only one issue, but what an amazing way to start!