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  1. #1
    Astonishing Member Vordan's Avatar
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    Default Pak’s New 52 Action Comics Run (Spoilers)

    Just finished up reading this run so I though I’d share my thoughts given the New Krypton thread went so well. I had dropped the Superman comics a few issues into Pak mostly because at the time I was bitter at DC for their perceived mishandling of the character in my eyes. Now years later I decided to read Pak’s run after finding his entire run’s trades at my library.

    Vol. 5 What Lies Beneath - One thing that Pak doesn’t get enough credit for is the great work he did with Lana Lang. Post-Crisis Lana was literally Lois Lane lite, and they never really figured out what to do with her. She was CEO of Lexcorp, then worked at the Daily Planet (what?), all the while never really doing much beyond pining over Clark. Pak really revamped her for the New 52, and New 52 Lana is my favorite incarnation of the character. In Vol. 5 Lana is working as an electrical engineer and she and Clark team up after Lana and her team discover an underground civilization. I thought this volume was one of the high points of the run and a strong start for Pak. I love how everyone gives Clark crap for trying to make friends with everyone (another hole in the “New 52 Supes was edgy” fallacy).

    Vol. 6 - Superdoom - Fair warning: I am not a Doomsday fan. Besides Death of Superman I have yet to find a story with him in it that makes me give a damn. This came closer than any other post Death Doomsday story to making me care. The whole event was a crossover which had some high points and some low points which I might make another thread about to discuss. If Pak had sole control over the story, he might have made a Doomsday fan out of me, his pages, like “Bro Doomsday” were hilarious and yet he had a ton of great emotional beats. I really liked how Pak actually had Doomsday evolve to the point he has a death field where he kills everything around him just by existing. Hate that Jurgens reset him to gray Hulk with spikes powersetwise. I really liked Clark’s struggles with his inner Doomsday after he got infected. One underlying attribute of Superman that a lot of writers overlook is that he’s got a lot of anger inside him. Part of that comes from his creator Siegel creating Supes in reaction to the death of his father at a young age to a burgler, and I’m not surprised that Pak, who wrote the classic Planet Hulk storyline used his run to look at Clark’s struggles with anger. Overall I liked it but it was weaker than the previous volume, and it should’ve been a solo arc for Pak.

    Vol. 7 - Under the Skin - This was either the best or second best arc in the run. I’ve always believed Superman is ironically perfect for horror. Smallville is a small town in America’s heartland that attracts weird ****. Tell me that doesn’t sound like the setting of a Stephen King novel. Pak uses that well to tell a story of the dead seemingly returning, and Clark and Lana coming into conflict with one another. I loved Pak’s update of Ultra-Humanite, if they’re not going to use Ascended’s “science terrorist”, then I really hope to see Pak’s Ultra-Humanite again. The ending has got to be one of the best Superman moments ever where he lets the Ultra-Humanite, who feeds on fear, drain him dry to save everyone. Also I actually enjoyed the Irons/Lana romance, if Clark and her can’t be together I prefer Lana move on rather than forever pine after Clark. Irons was a badass here and he got a couple great moments. I liked how his metal skin was able to inhibit emotions so Clark and he could get close to Humanite.

    Vol. 8 - Truth - Ah the infamous “Superman punches a cop” storyline. I wasn’t reading at this point and hearing about it out of context just made me think DC was being edgy. Now that I’ve read it though? I gotta say I actually liked this arc, I think it’s one of the best Superman stories in fact. Wrath is a really cool villain who will probably never be seen again, and I loved the part where Clark told Kentville that they were all going to have to be Superman to each other now. This arc showed off Clark’s unstoppable spirit, doesn’t matter how weak he is, doesn’t matter if everyone hates him, he’ll never stop taking a stand for what’s right. This arc continues Pak’s exploration of Superman’s anger as well, with Wrath growing stronger the more ticked off Clark gets honestly being a perfect powerset for a Superman villain. I wish more had been done with the shadow monsters though, and I still think it was a bit of a “cop out” (forgive the terrible pun) to tackle police brutality but then have it so everyone was under Wrath’s control. But otherwise I really liked it. Fleschier symbol is awesome, they should give it to Kon if Clark can’t use it.

    Vol. 9 - Last Rites - The finale and also the worst part. I didn’t really like Savage Dawn at all, and I wasn’t really impressed with Pak’s portions either. I really do like Vandal Savage being a Superman villain, and several of his children like Wrath were cool, so I kinda hope Savage will get another chance to throw down with Supes in the future. Disappointing ending to Pak’s run.

    I really do wish Pak would get another chance at Superman. If he could get the freedom from nonstop crossovers that Tomasi, Jurgens, and now seemingly Bendis got than I really do believe Pak could be one of the top 10 Superman writers. I believe the same thing of Yang, whose New Super-Man run showed that he’s a fantastic writer when he’s not forced to comply with editorial’s stupid mandates. I guess I’ll just keep hoping.

  2. #2

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    UNDER THE SKIN was a masterpiece. I love that one. The only flaw was that there were a couple of pages that weren't drawn by Aaron Kuder (probably due to deadlines) which is genuine shame. Other than that it is a truly perfect Superman story in comic book form.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vordan View Post
    Just finished up reading this run so I though I’d share my thoughts given the New Krypton thread went so well. I had dropped the Superman comics a few issues into Pak mostly because at the time I was bitter at DC for their perceived mishandling of the character in my eyes. Now years later I decided to read Pak’s run after finding his entire run’s trades at my library.

    Vol. 5 What Lies Beneath - One thing that Pak doesn’t get enough credit for is the great work he did with Lana Lang. Post-Crisis Lana was literally Lois Lane lite, and they never really figured out what to do with her. She was CEO of Lexcorp, then worked at the Daily Planet (what?), all the while never really doing much beyond pining over Clark. Pak really revamped her for the New 52, and New 52 Lana is my favorite incarnation of the character. In Vol. 5 Lana is working as an electrical engineer and she and Clark team up after Lana and her team discover an underground civilization. I thought this volume was one of the high points of the run and a strong start for Pak. I love how everyone gives Clark crap for trying to make friends with everyone (another hole in the “New 52 Supes was edgy” fallacy).

    Vol. 6 - Superdoom - Fair warning: I am not a Doomsday fan. Besides Death of Superman I have yet to find a story with him in it that makes me give a damn. This came closer than any other post Death Doomsday story to making me care. The whole event was a crossover which had some high points and some low points which I might make another thread about to discuss. If Pak had sole control over the story, he might have made a Doomsday fan out of me, his pages, like “Bro Doomsday” were hilarious and yet he had a ton of great emotional beats. I really liked how Pak actually had Doomsday evolve to the point he has a death field where he kills everything around him just by existing. Hate that Jurgens reset him to gray Hulk with spikes powersetwise. I really liked Clark’s struggles with his inner Doomsday after he got infected. One underlying attribute of Superman that a lot of writers overlook is that he’s got a lot of anger inside him. Part of that comes from his creator Siegel creating Supes in reaction to the death of his father at a young age to a burgler, and I’m not surprised that Pak, who wrote the classic Planet Hulk storyline used his run to look at Clark’s struggles with anger. Overall I liked it but it was weaker than the previous volume, and it should’ve been a solo arc for Pak.

    Vol. 7 - Under the Skin - This was either the best or second best arc in the run. I’ve always believed Superman is ironically perfect for horror. Smallville is a small town in America’s heartland that attracts weird ****. Tell me that doesn’t sound like the setting of a Stephen King novel. Pak uses that well to tell a story of the dead seemingly returning, and Clark and Lana coming into conflict with one another. I loved Pak’s update of Ultra-Humanite, if they’re not going to use Ascended’s “science terrorist”, then I really hope to see Pak’s Ultra-Humanite again. The ending has got to be one of the best Superman moments ever where he lets the Ultra-Humanite, who feeds on fear, drain him dry to save everyone. Also I actually enjoyed the Irons/Lana romance, if Clark and her can’t be together I prefer Lana move on rather than forever pine after Clark. Irons was a badass here and he got a couple great moments. I liked how his metal skin was able to inhibit emotions so Clark and he could get close to Humanite.

    Vol. 8 - Truth - Ah the infamous “Superman punches a cop” storyline. I wasn’t reading at this point and hearing about it out of context just made me think DC was being edgy. Now that I’ve read it though? I gotta say I actually liked this arc, I think it’s one of the best Superman stories in fact. Wrath is a really cool villain who will probably never be seen again, and I loved the part where Clark told Kentville that they were all going to have to be Superman to each other now. This arc showed off Clark’s unstoppable spirit, doesn’t matter how weak he is, doesn’t matter if everyone hates him, he’ll never stop taking a stand for what’s right. This arc continues Pak’s exploration of Superman’s anger as well, with Wrath growing stronger the more ticked off Clark gets honestly being a perfect powerset for a Superman villain. I wish more had been done with the shadow monsters though, and I still think it was a bit of a “cop out” (forgive the terrible pun) to tackle police brutality but then have it so everyone was under Wrath’s control. But otherwise I really liked it. Fleschier symbol is awesome, they should give it to Kon if Clark can’t use it.

    Vol. 9 - Last Rites - The finale and also the worst part. I didn’t really like Savage Dawn at all, and I wasn’t really impressed with Pak’s portions either. I really do like Vandal Savage being a Superman villain, and several of his children like Wrath were cool, so I kinda hope Savage will get another chance to throw down with Supes in the future. Disappointing ending to Pak’s run.

    I really do wish Pak would get another chance at Superman. If he could get the freedom from nonstop crossovers that Tomasi, Jurgens, and now seemingly Bendis got than I really do believe Pak could be one of the top 10 Superman writers. I believe the same thing of Yang, whose New Super-Man run showed that he’s a fantastic writer when he’s not forced to comply with editorial’s stupid mandates. I guess I’ll just keep hoping.

    Pretty interesting stuff.

    There’s no denying that.
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    Marvel: Spider-Man:Renew Your Vows, Champions, Marvel Two-in-One, Fantastic Four (2018), Avengers (2018), Mr and Mrs X, Ironheart
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  4. #4

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    Pak's run started off very well, but Truth and Last Rites were truly dreadful. I'll cut him some slack though because I, while I may be wrong, I'm pretty sure Truth was editorially mandated, while Last Rites was leading into the soft reboot in Rebirth.

  5. #5
    Mighty Member Yoda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kingaliencracker View Post
    Pak's run started off very well, but Truth and Last Rites were truly dreadful. I'll cut him some slack though because I, while I may be wrong, I'm pretty sure Truth was editorially mandated, while Last Rites was leading into the soft reboot in Rebirth.
    I think only Last Rights & Last Days were truly editorially mandated in the sense they derailed Pak & Yang's plans. Kuder is pretty open about if you ask him at Con's and stuff. The idea that Truth was intended to torpedo the character to bring back Pre-Flashpoint wasn't true at all and the plans were to break him down and build him back up. Kind of like Born Again. I think by that point the initial perception of the New 52 Supes was simply to far gone to recover. There was too much stacked against him by fan perception and DC You's poor reception in general was to severe to recover. Truth was to be a kind of soft reset of the New 52 Superman to break down and rebuild him into something that would address some of the criticisms of the New 52 version i.e that he wasn't a "real Superman." Per Kuder they always intended for him to get his powers back and to build him back up and it wasn't supposed to lead to killing him. Whether that would have included recovering the secret ID and how, who knows though I think it's possible. They seemed to be winding down the relationship with Wonder Woman by that point as well, given it was regulated entirely to the SM/WW comic with minimal references outside of it. They also seemed to be reinforcing the use of the traditional supporting cast a bit more with Lana and Steel in Action and Lois & Jimmy in Superman.

    I was like Vordan though and had stopped reading well before Pak came on board. Going back through, I liked what he did in What Lies Beneath and Truth. The Bizarro issue is also great. The characterization of Superman and Clark was far closer to what Morrison had started. But Doomed was a mess though like most of the big New 52 mandated crossovers. I would have liked to have seen what Pak could have done once the dust settled on Truth. I also think he probably would write a great Lois, had he been allowed to at the time. Pak and Kuder deserve another shot at Superman. Kuder is a fantastic and really kinda underappreciated artist. He seems to be getting bounced around Marvel too much.

  6. #6
    Astonishing Member Vordan's Avatar
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    Yeah I think it was only after Truth flopped that DC started planning to kill the New 52 Superman off and replacing him with his Pre-Flashpoint version. But Jesus, all those crossovers totally killed the momentum on every Superbook. Editorial just could not help themselves, and that ended up sinking the character.

    One think Pak doesn’t get enough credit for is his new villains. Pretty much all of them, aside from Savaxe the kid who morphed into a barbarian in Savage Dawn, were all pretty cool. Harrow, Ghost Soldier, Wrath, his updates to Doomsday and Ultra-Humaite, they were all pretty great.

  7. #7
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    The crossovers are a classic Eddie Berganza thing. You can see them when he ran the Superbooks during the Loeb-Kelley-Man of Action era as well as the New 52 Lantern books.

  8. #8
    Mighty Member Yoda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vordan View Post
    Yeah I think it was only after Truth flopped that DC started planning to kill the New 52 Superman off and replacing him with his Pre-Flashpoint version. But Jesus, all those crossovers totally killed the momentum on every Superbook. Editorial just could not help themselves, and that ended up sinking the character.

    One think Pak doesn’t get enough credit for is his new villains. Pretty much all of them, aside from Savaxe the kid who morphed into a barbarian in Savage Dawn, were all pretty cool. Harrow, Ghost Soldier, Wrath, his updates to Doomsday and Ultra-Humaite, they were all pretty great.
    It completely was not the intention at all. I talked to Kuder about it, they has a longer plan to get him back to full power and build him back up. Savage Dawn was rushed in to get him back to full power so they could kill him off. The plan really was to Born Again him into a soft reboot and reestablish him. I think if they had had a little more time it may have worked. Though the rest of the Superbooks just were not on the same level at all. Even Batman/Superman was kinda lackluster and that was Pak's as well. That probably suffered from having both the Truth Superman and the Gordon Batman. Though it seems that a lot of people were just kinda done and it was going to take something really drastic to get people to give it a second chance.

    I liked Wrath and the design for the new Doomsday. Giving him Omega Red's powers was a decent addition. I did not like the virus thing or "SuperDoomsday." And Doomed on the whole was just a convoluted mess. I know I read it, but I don't remember the Ultra Humanite at all actually.

  9. #9
    Ultimate Member Last Son of Krypton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vordan View Post
    Yeah I think it was only after Truth flopped that DC started planning to kill the New 52 Superman off and replacing him with his Pre-Flashpoint version. But Jesus, all those crossovers totally killed the momentum on every Superbook. Editorial just could not help themselves, and that ended up sinking the character.

    One think Pak doesn’t get enough credit for is his new villains. Pretty much all of them, aside from Savaxe the kid who morphed into a barbarian in Savage Dawn, were all pretty cool. Harrow, Ghost Soldier, Wrath, his updates to Doomsday and Ultra-Humaite, they were all pretty great.
    From my understanding, it was while they were working on Convergence that this decision was made. The L&C mini feat. pre-FP Supes was announced when Truth barely started, and DiDio was already hinting about a book spinning out Convergence when the "event" was still going on. I recall an interview where Tomasi said that plans for "Final Days" were formed when they were working at the first arc of Truth. Also, Kuder on his twitter said that Truth was changed halfway the first arc or something like that.

  10. #10
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    I thought New 52 Ultra-Humanite was interesting as a new take but I wasn't really crazy about him being called Ultra-Humanite. Just felt like too dramatic a departure from the traditional version.

  11. #11
    Astonishing Member Vordan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frontier View Post
    I thought New 52 Ultra-Humanite was interesting as a new take but I wasn't really crazy about him being called Ultra-Humanite. Just felt like too dramatic a departure from the traditional version.
    Old version wasn’t getting used much, so I don’t really have a problem with it. Hell the old version is back but has anyone bothered to use him? Not that I’ve seen. Granted no one has yet to use Pak’s version but it was at least an attempt to reinvent him.

  12. #12
    Astonishing Member DochaDocha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vordan View Post
    But Jesus, all those crossovers totally killed the momentum on every Superbook. Editorial just could not help themselves, and that ended up sinking the character.
    Pretty much my lasting impression of the Super books from that time. I couldn't be bothered to read many comics because it felt like none of the creative teams on the books could actually do their own thing. Maybe the exception was Geoff Johns and JRJR's run, but that in itself felt like a temporary event more than anything else.

    The beginning of Pak's run? I enjoyed it a lot. I just wish he gave us more clarity on what Lana's day job was.

  13. #13
    Moderator Frontier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vordan View Post
    Old version wasn’t getting used much, so I don’t really have a problem with it. Hell the old version is back but has anyone bothered to use him? Not that I’ve seen. Granted no one has yet to use Pak’s version but it was at least an attempt to reinvent him.
    I get that, but I just didn't care much for the reinvention. May as well have just called it something completely different.

  14. #14
    Ultimate Member Last Son of Krypton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DochaDocha View Post
    The beginning of Pak's run? I enjoyed it a lot. I just wish he gave us more clarity on what Lana's day job was.

  15. #15
    Ultimate Member Sacred Knight's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vordan View Post
    Yeah I think it was only after Truth flopped that DC started planning to kill the New 52 Superman off and replacing him with his Pre-Flashpoint version. But Jesus, all those crossovers totally killed the momentum on every Superbook. Editorial just could not help themselves, and that ended up sinking the character.

    One think Pak doesn’t get enough credit for is his new villains. Pretty much all of them, aside from Savaxe the kid who morphed into a barbarian in Savage Dawn, were all pretty cool. Harrow, Ghost Soldier, Wrath, his updates to Doomsday and Ultra-Humaite, they were all pretty great.
    Whatever the reason, its a decision that will live on in infamy with me. I want this stuff back so bad, someway, somehow.
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