Paul Cornell writes for Doctor Who and is a friend of Steven Moffatt. As a result he is very acquainted with the Comic Relief special from ten years ago Doctor Who And The Curse Of Fatal Death. In which the Doctor and the Master try to outsmart each other by revealing they have both gone back in time repeatedly to bribe the architect of the building they are in to either create or disarm a series of traps.
And that’s what we have here in Action Comics #899 between Lex Luthor and his hidden adversary – oh blow it, it’s on the cover, Brainiac who it seems has implanted himself into all of Lex Luthor’s scheming with a series of events that have culminated in the current situation of Luthor about to claim the spheres he has been hunting for for the last year. Only for Luthor to reveal his previous plan. Only for Braniac to reveal his strategy. Only for Lex Luthor to reveal his counter strategy. Only for Brainiac to reveal his counter counter strategy, etc etc etc…
It all makes me dive for my longboxes to dig out the past issues and reread them all, looking for all the references in their original contexts.
Anyway, the comic soon gets much bigger than that as it turns into a battle for the very survival of the universe, with Lex Luthor fighting for us all, and as ever, only for himself, before it gets all very Secret Warsy towards the end.
The art from Jesus Merino is… well, it’s kind of okay. Lots of people fistfighting in space in a kind of sub-Jim Lee style crossed with Angel Medina. Derivative without offering anything new but it doesn’t get in the way or anything and I suppose the last couple of pages are rather nifty. But for those of you who have been enjoying the recent Supermanless Action Comics, you’re probably more here for Paul Cornell. And this tightly structured comic, full of editorial notes and a string forward momentum is probably everything you wanted. Seriously, if you haven’t read it yet you should be salivating. And screaming for issue 900.
Comics courtesy of Orbital Comics, London.