Hey Everyone! Welcome back for my next installment of my New 52 breakdown series. So, it seems like we have been on Action Comics forever (I know) but there is a perfectly good explanation for that. Action Comics released at the Launch of New 52 and then was set to explore deep into the history of Superman. That is why I have decided to start here and almost get it out of the way before really getting into the nitty gritty of the other story arcs. That being said, Volume 4 was released into the second year of publication and do Issue #24 and the Annual #2 are both part of different storylines so I will not be covering them in this breakdown. They won’t make sense here so I will talk about them later when we get to the H’el and Psi-war story arcs. There is the World of Krypton Short stories as well and I will group that altogether after the main story with the Hybrid and the Atomic Knights. Also, the DC Special Valentine’s issue is included but I am not going to be reviewing it. They are just a bunch of cutesy stories about love in the DC Comics. Even with the removal of two issues this is still a large volume to cover so let’s get started!
In Issue #19, Lois and Clark are hanging out when he is called away for a Superman issue, this opens the door for Jon Carroll of the Metro Star to swoop in and talk with Lois. Superman, for the moment, has bigger worries. He finds a war machine that is piloted by a human. They attack Superman but he gets the human out to question him on who he works for, however, that goes on answered with a much larger war machine arrives.
Superman then has visions of Jimmy Olsen there with him and he watches him burn up. The rational side of Superman knows that this wasn’t really Jimmy, but it is enough to shake him.
Lex Luthor is back for this issue, where else would he be? After being diagnosed as a Psychotic Megalomaniac by leading psychologist, Dr. Langarde, he goes on to continue his work to bring down Superman. The thing I really loved most about this Volume is the use of Lex Luthor. I think sometimes he can be a bit corny is some comics, but here you can truly see the menacing genius. He used the war machine attack to get a nanite laced with kryptonite into Superman. This gives Lex the ability to create a virus that can bring down Superman. This issue ends with just that happening 3 weeks later. As Superman is flying his hand is in sudden agony. He falls to the ground and his hand…. isn’t looking so good.
Issue #20 starts with Superman in the Dr. Veritas’s lab close to the center of the earth. She was able to fix Superman’s hand but there were some consequences. That being, the hand in her lab with a life of its own. The hand drained Superman of energy and used him as a power source to create its own life. When Superman gets close it attacks. As Superman uses his powers against it, it only picks up on them. Dr. Veritas sends them both to the Red Sunroom in hopes that this will dampen the hand. Superman then has another hallucination of the hand taking his shape.
Dr. Veritas then portals the handout of there to a galaxy with a Red Sun and limited Oxygen. However, on the news it looks like more than the hand is infected. Regular humans are now also victims. Aria, Luthor’s robot assistant, is concerned but this all plays into Luthor’s plan.
The start of Issue #20 has Lois getting into the mix and chasing the monsters. They then all group into one monster to attack Superman. He is not able to overpower it because it mimic’s him, but thanks to Dr. Veritas, he knows that it needs Oxygen to survive. He takes the hybrid underwater to defeat it with the help with the red sun machine that the Doctor sends as well. In the process he has yet another hallucination, this time of Lois in need.
Upset that Superman has foiled the hybrid plan, Lex attacks Superman is his Lexosuit. With the kryptonite in the suit, it weakens Superman to the point that he bleeds. Plus, Superman is still under the red sun machine. Luthor makes not only his identity known to Superman but also that it was him that sent the virus to attack him. Lois gets this on her phone as evidence but then drops the phone and loses it. Superman does escape Lex and gets away from the Red Sun which brings back some of his powers. Enough powers from him to fly out to the sun and fully recharge and then make his final attack on Lex.
Most people are confused about why Superman is attacking Lex Luthor and think that maybe Lex is the victim here. Lois though stands up for Superman when he takes off out of there.
After the events with the Hybrid, Clark meets with Lois and Jimmy. He was able to recover her cellphone and gives it to her which is all the evidence that they need to put Lex in jail. Clark is then friend-zoned as Jon Carroll shows for his date with Lois.
In Issue #21, we switch gears from Lex to another Alien threat. We start with Hector Hammond who is a Green Lantern Villain. We will get to him more later, for now, just know he is a bad guy. He just left prison and is already making an outer space weapon that could destroy an entire continent. He is then approached by an Atomic Knight, Straith the First Knight of Pax Galactica to be exact.
Clark, meanwhile, is at a movie premiere with the one and only Cat Grant who he has recently started a website. They are here to interview both the new star of the movie Ali Allred and the star, Harlen Quint. This happens to be Quint’s last movie. Clark helps Cat get her interview with Ali by frying the other interviewer’s tablets. Quint, though, grabs Clark’s attention when he arrives with an exoskeleton made of Infintium. The only about of Infintium in this universe is in his fortress so the question is how? But with a call coming in from Hammond, Clark doesn’t get a chance to investigate it.
In space, he is greeted by Hammond and his destroyed machine after he and Straith didn’t see eye to eye. Turns out him and Superman don’t see eye to eye either and begin to fight. That is until the leader of the Pax Galactica arrives. Turns out they are there to face a bigger threat. Lexus.
In Issue #23, Lourdes thinks that Superman is merely a distraction and looks to set up for this fight with Lexus. Superman though breaks free and attacks Lourdes and there is some inner fighting until Lexus arrives. Turns out Lexus’s other name is the Devourer which would have been helpful to know.
The Pax Galactica begin fighting Lexus with no plan or strategy which seems to irritate Superman. This doesn’t stop him from getting involved and he even takes the brunt of the attack that the devourer dishes out. Something that surely would have killed on of the others. He doesn’t get knocked out a moment, but it was enough to impress Lourdes. When she wakes Superman, she explains that Lexus is her brother. He was so evil that his father killed him and through his still beating heart into space. From there, he formed a new body from the fragments of the planet he destroyed. (This is rather badass)
Even though Superman was knocked out he is not ready to give up. He grabs Lourdes sword and first makes sure that there is nothing left that is good within Lexus. He then plunged the sword into him killing him. This makes Superman their Liege not but since Superman is just soooo humble, he isn’t interested and send them home.
That sums up the main storylines in issues #19-23, but there was also this World of Krypton series that talks about the meeting or the beginnings of Jor-el and Lara. Jor-el we know is one of the most scientific minds to ever live on Krypton and is a member of the scientific guild. If you don’t know much about Krypton, they have this societal structure where certain jobs have guilds/factions which also gives them standing in the government. The Scientific guild currently really runs the show with their advancements. Even now, a young Jor-el is discovering a once though extinct underwater city.
Meanwhile, Lara Lor Van is a member of the military guild along with her future husband Kra-Hu (Spoiler alert: they don’t work out) They are attending a science meeting. Turns out the meeting isn’t about budgets like they thought, it is about a coup that is being planned to take over the science guild. As the words leave his mouth the Colonel in the Military guild takes Lara’s weapons and shoots the Supreme Commanding Science Guild leader. As if that isn’t bad enough it appears that Kra is also in on the coup and threatens Lara if she doesn’t obey. Of course, she doesn’t, and she takes off. She struggles from this point with who she can trust.
Jor-el learns about the coup the hard way as well when a military escort arrives to neutralize him. He spooks the Teklon creatures to get away but at the surface the military is waiting for him. Lara arrives just in time to rescue him. Jor-el immediately wants to go to the capital but Lara thinks that this is a death wish.
The Colonel has arrived at the Subterranean power grid because he is suspicious about a device. He is told that it is just for power which only enrages him further. Eventually one of them come forward and tells him that it is a sensory harmonic resonator. The Colonel thinks that this makes the people of Krypton more peaceful and science minded, and he plans to use it to control the people of Krypton.
When Jor-el arrives, there are orders to kill him immediately, but it is Kra-hu that steps in. He was playing along all along to eventually stop the coup. He just got a late start. This makes Lara mad because he acted like he was going to kill her. With the Colonel dead, Jor-el destroys his device and we see that in the old Colonel’s place is Colonel Zod!
Issue #23 contains a few short stories that tell about the Villains we will be seeing Superman face. In Issue 23.1 Cyborg Superman, we have the story of the El brothers, Jor-el and Zor-el and their preparations for the end of Krypton. Jor-el we have seen, created pods for people to use to escape and eventually we see Kara-El (Supergirl) leave in one of them leading up to the end days. Zor-el though wanted to use Brainiac tech to put Argo city in a bubble so it could be a location for Kryptonian refugees. After the fall of Krypton Brainiac comes across the almost dear Zor-el and while he is lesser to his brother Jor-el, Brainiac alters him to make him perfect. This is the creation of the Cyborg Superman.
He then sends him out looking for others that Brainiac can make perfect. This leads to the brutal destruction of at least one planet before the end of the story. Eventually we will see Cyborg Superman again.
In 23.2 we have the back story of General Zod. Zod’s parents belonged to the science guild and was out in wilderness working on a project. I think we are led to believe that Zod let this out of his cage, but we do know for sure that his parents are killed in the creature’s attack. A year later while on an expedition, the El brothers happen across Zod’s distress call and find him all jungle book style. He goes on to grow up in Kandor and in the Military guild. However, after taking Lieutenants Non and Faora he shows his true colors and unleashes a monster on Kryptonians. He then uses this to wipe out the home of the Char where he was when he was younger. Because of his actions, Zod is sent to the Phantom Zone. In the last page we see that Zod left his father behind on purpose to be killed by the Char. Ouch.
Then in 23.3 we have Lex leaving prison after serving time for the virus he unleashed earlier this volume. When being released he is surprised to see that Superman is not there to great him. He also has an issue with a competitor, Noel Spheeris, that he hands by decimating him.
He then initiates project Ghost town that sends a ship into space only then to pretend to be in distress so Superman can save it. Superman though, hasn’t been seen all day and doesn’t arrive to help the ship so Lex lets it fall to the Earth killing all on board. He has planned this so Superman will take the fall. His assistant also takes a sudden fall when she goes to call 911. Oh, and the shipped happened to land on Noel Spheeris’s house.
For the last mini issue # 23.4, we have Metallo. We have seen Metallo waaaaaay back in Volume #1. He was created to go against Superman if need be but was then taken over by Brainiac. He spent several years after that incident in a coma unable to wake from his injuries. It isn’t until General Lane suggests adding kryptonite to give him a boost does, he wakes.
They then use him as a soldier but Corben is not the same man he once was and has a ruthless streak about him and killed A LOT of people. This has General Lane making the choice to take Metallo out. Instead of just dying though, Metallo lives and walks the bottom of the ocean for several months until he makes It back to General lane. Luckily there is the Metal 2.0 project and Sargent Brizuela take him on. Metallo instead jams a metal pole into 2.0’s heart. This has Brizuela enacting his self-destruct to take out Metallo with himself.
After the attack, General Lane has the pieces counted to confirm that Metallo is in fact dead. I think he is going to be disappointed since we see Metallo being entered a new group of villains with Scarecrow, the Secret Society.
And with that, we are all wrapped up for this volume! Next week check back for my journey into the red, green and weird of DC Comics starting with Animal Man Vol. 1: The Hunt!
This volume is overloaded with some really good content. We get the best of both worlds really, the earth issues that Superman often faces from mostly Lex Luthor. Then the space/alien issues that are sometimes drawn to Earth. I loved the history of Krypton added in here as well as the short stories included about out villains. Why Superman is missing is something we will discuss in the Superman comics.
Where to Buy:
Action Comics Vol 4: Hybrid: https://amzn.to/2PpsWVe
Animal Man Vol. 1: The Hunt: https://amzn.to/2kvWRw5
Read All of My DC Comic Breakdowns!
- Batman Vol. 4 – Zero Year Breakdown! (New 52)
- DC Comics: Zero Year Breakdown! (New 52)
- Batman Vol. 5 – Zero Year: Dark City Breakdown! (New 52)
- Batman/Superman Vol. 1: Crossworld Breakdown! (New 52)
- Action Comics Vol. 1: Superman and the Men of Steel Breakdown! (New 52)
- ‘Justice League’ Vol. 1: Origins Breakdown and Review!
- Action Comics Vol 2: Bulletproof Breakdown and Rating!
- ‘Action Comics’ Vol. 3: At the End of Days Breakdown and Review!
- Action Comics Vol. 4: Hybrid Breakdown and Review!
- Animal Man Vol. 1: The Hunt Breakdown and Review!
- Swamp Thing Vol. 1: Raise Them Bones Breakdown and Review!
- Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E. Vol. 1 War of Monsters Breakdown and Review!
- Green Arrow Vol 1. Midas Touch Breakdown and Review
- Blue Beetle Vol 1: Metamorphosis Breakdown and Review!