Tuesday, July 12

Action Comics #902 (8/11)

Reign of the Doomsdays, Part 2”

Takes up immediately from the previous issue. Doomslayer – some kind of highly-evolved version of Doomsday – is trying to rid the universe of the blight of the Doomsdays, and any knowledge of them whatsoever. And because humans seem to keep resurrecting and cloning the original, Earth must be destroyed. That's the basic gist of why he has his “space station” on a high-speed collision course with Earth to wipe out human civilization. The Superman family is our only hope! But Doomslayer has already almost effortlessly disintegrated the Eradicator. Several pages are given over to our heroes fighting to slow the crashing station. They manage to deflect it away from Metropolis out into the ocean – where the impact creates a hugh tsusami. Superboy, Supergirl, and Steel had sheared off at the last minute to stand in the way, leaving Superman alone to slow the station in the last seconds; the combination of Kara's super-breath, Connor's tactile telekinesis, and Steel's gravitron blasters save the city. Superman staggers out of the surf and collapses. Doomslayer himself has survived, however, and leads minion Doomsdays in a direct attack! “Next: Doomsdays +One.” (Is that a shout-out to the old Charlton Comics series by John Byrne?)

Paul Cornell is a crack writer – his characterization of the Superman family is as spot on as his characterization of Lex Luthor in that year-long story arc that preceeded this one. Superman's devotion to the ideal of life comes through clearly in his opposition to Doomslayer's intention: “Why should you be the judge of what Doomsday deserves?! He may be a mass murderer – but the fact that you have achieved intelligence says he has the potential for change, for redemption. Nobody else dies today.” This in defense of the creature that “killed” him. And as Superman stays with the crashing station all the way to an impact that may well kill even Kryptonians, he's thinking to himself: “The Doomslayer targeted Metropolis. Lois. I could get there first, fly her away. Then to Ma's – NO! You don't get to choose one life over another. Never mind one over millions.”

I've given a good bit of consideration to the art of Kenneth Rocafort since last issue. Once again he doesn't do the entire issue, just the first half. The second half, by Axel Gimenez, is more traditional. But I think I've identified what I don't care so much for, and see an easy solution. Rocafort is inking himself, and that's the problem. Actually, I like a lot about the overall effect of his art – the layout, the poses, the basic imagery. It's actually quite good in those respects. But then at that final stage he just goes a bit wild, feeling it necessary to ink every little detail, outlining such things as reflection points, over-cross-hatching shaded areas – again, as I said in my last little writeup, things that modern coloring techniques really don't make necessary. It makes it look almost like a simple pencilled image that's been scanned and then colored. But the effect is that faces and bodies end up looking angular – chunky in places - scratchy, like Bill Sienkiewicz on a bad day. On p. 4 the outlined patches of reflection on his face almost make Superman look like he's got a bunch of bandaids on it. And again, the tip-end of everyone's noses have little round inked highlights that look more like warts.  Like last time, Rocafort's cover simply looks more finished – almost painted in fact. He's a real talent, no question – but the interior art as it appears is not very pleasing to the eye.

To continue with the axe I was grinding yesterday, however, I've got to point out another instance of a heroine's torso being illustrated in a totally unrealistic – and titillating – manner (pardon the pun). Page 16 (this is Gimenez, not Rocafort, by the way): 
Her blue belly-shirt and red S-shield look more like they are body-painted directly onto her skin – again, like a Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition model. There's no way real fabric would form itself to her breasts so perfectly. That normal bunching and wrinkling of the fabric does occur is obvious – just look at her collar/shoulder, armpits, and bicep areas. And if the cloth does adhere that skin-tight, wouldn't her nipples show? … Okay – remember that Kara is supposed to be, what? – seventeen years old? Talk about oversexualizing youth! – and making old guys like me feel creepy for noticing, although the way it's drawn there's no way not to notice. … Again, I guess I sound like a prude, but that's just inappropriate. In my opinion.

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