Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Action Comics #865

This issue is basically a filler issue while Gary Frank gets his shit together for the next arc. That's cool, cause I liked Jesus Merino's work. His art kept the pacing tight, the action smooth and the characters expressive. The way the flashback sequences were drawn...I don't know what you would call that style. There is one problem, however, in that Merino didn't do the cover. Cover art is credited to Kevin Maguire. Maguire's a good artist, but the problem is his Toyman looks nothing like Merino's Toyman. The fat, balding toyman on the cover is nowhere to be seen. The Toyman inside, while a little heavy set, isn't nearly as fat and has a thick mop of red hair. Note to DC editorial, make sure your artists are on the same page. S'cool. Merino's Toyman is as pathetic and deluded as the story presents him. Fits very nicely.

And speaking of the story, it's basically a quick origin retelling of the Toyman (told from the point of view of the Toyman to Jimmy Olsen, who's his prisoner), the tragedy that forced him out of the toy making business and what drove him to murder. It's a sad and meloncholy tale as The Toyman, Winslow Schott, recalls his days as a simple toy maker living with his wife when he's approached by a corporate manufacture to work for them. He turns them down intitally, but three months later his wife is killed in an accident. The corporate manufacturer returns and Schott sells out. He later finds out that the corporate manufacturer is not, in fact, a toy manufacturer but a weapons manufacturer who was using Schott's designs in new weapons systems. Yeah, a bit silly, right? So Schott splits but not before planting a bomb killing evil corporate guy. Schott's caught, imprisoned and on and on.

Overall, I really liked this story. The fact that it was told from Toyman's point of view was a nice way to settle into the head of a guy who's fairly disturbed. We're not talking Joker disturbed, but still pretty damned disturbed. He seems to enjoy being more of a Superman villain, comparing and contrasting Superman to Batman in this odd, sociopathic way. His strange obsession with children and toys and how he wants to keep children pure and innocent, lamenting that adult worries are seeping into children's daily lives more and more. I'd say this is social commentary on Johns' part, but who knows since the commentary is being delivered by a sociopath. It did have me thinking a bit, though in a way rather unrelated to the book, that childhood is, in fact, a relatively recent invention on the part of Western society since the Industrial Revolution, how kids have it infinitely easier now then kids way back when and how fluid these concepts are and so on and so forth. It is kind of annoying hearing people go on and on about the need for kids to be kids since childhood is a passing phase that rightly needs to be used as preparation for a productive adulthood (I say as I sit here typing about comic books). But I digress. Johns was basically trying to tell a simple tale of woe and misery and psychopathy and in an inadvertant fashion crafted a story with at least a couple of layers. Nice.

After Toyman is defeated by Batman (second cameo on a row in this book) and Superman (very brief cameo in his own book) Supes takes Olsen on back to the Daily Planet where it's revealed there are no records of Schott ever being married. Flashing back again, it's shown that Schott's wife was, in fact, a life-sized toy. Nice. Predictable, but nice. After this, the story sets the stage for the return of Cat Grant, a supporting character whose son was, apparently, killed a few years back by one of Schott's creations. Alright, alright. Something for the long time Superman reader to appreciate. I totally missed this story, but I guess I can dig it.

Like I said, it's a filler issue, but it's a filler issue of a decent quality. Nothing to rush out and get but I think it's a worthwhile buy for any fan of Superman.


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