Current Reviews


Action Comics #865

Posted: Friday, May 30, 2008
By: Joey Davidson / Erik David Norris

Geoff Johns
Jesus Merino
DC Comics
Joey Davidson: 3.5 Bullets
Erik David Norris: 3 Bullets

Joey Davidson 3.5 Bullets

Action Comics #865 is a one shot issue about the Toyman. Here, Johns gives readers a glance into the mind of one of Supermanís lesser villains. The Toyman kidnaps Jimmy Olsen and tries to convince him to run a story in the Daily Planet about the so-called truths of his origin and struggle. In one issue, Olsen calls for help and escapes with the aid of both Supes and Bats.

Thereís a strange theme that runs throughout the issue that presents, in my opinion, the most striking facet of the entire story. Toyman is fixated on the concept that he is not a Batman person. The Toyman, in his own mind, doesnít belong in Arkham Asylum with Batmanís people. No. The Toyman is a Superman person. He belongs with the Superman people. He belongs on Stryker's Island. Johns is hitting on something here. Batman and Superman both have their own sets of villains. Each set seems remarkably well suited to their crusader. While Batmanís villains are dark, sick and twisted, Supermanís villains seem strangely brighter, morally just in their own minds, not so nuts. Itís odd to think that these villains are self-aware insomuch that they are able to differentiate between what it takes to be a Batman person and a Superman person. An odd concept, but thatís really anyone can walk away with in this issue. Unless, of course, you love the Toyman.

The art of Jesus Merino comes in with no surprises. Well executed and gorgeous in spots, readers wonít have trouble working through this one. The flashbacks have this neat water-color feel to them that repeats several times throughout the book. The current happenings all look polished and tight, what one would expect from a standard, major book issue.

While fans of Geoff Johns and Action Comics will likely see this book as a required purchase to keep the series complete, I urge those that approach Action Comics more casually to save their dough for some more epic books. Final Crisis, maybe? Johns is always fantastic, and one can bet that he will return to greatness over the coming issues, but this one-shot feels more like filler. The final page even tells us readers that the story will return to Braniac in two weeksÖhereís to that!

Erik David Norris 3 Bullets

The Toyman has always come off as an overly cheesy villain to me. Much like the Ventriloquist in the pages of Batman, Toyman doesnít seem up to snuff to compete with superheroes. Thatís until I read this issue of Action Comics. What you get when you plop three buckets on the counter for Action Comics #865 is a stand-alone story about Winslow Schott, the Terrible Toyman, and just how insane the man really is. The issue also serves as a continuity cleanup crew which was nice for me, always having a problem with remembering all the renditions the character has seen over the years.

The issueís biggest success comes in the form of Schott recounting his origin to his hostage, Jimmy Olsen. The sequence is beautifully water colored giving a Tim Sale like quality to Jesus Merinoí s pencils while also giving a genuine motivation to Schottís actions. I also took a particular liking to the juxtaposition of what makes a Superman villain vs. a Batman rogue. It seems that Toyman walks a fine line between both camps, showing a wackiness and naivety fitting for the themes of Superman, while also showing a fractured mentality and psychosis lumping him with the best Arkham Asylum has to offer. Geoff Johnsí script does a stellar job covering both scenarios with the issue culminating in a Toyman vs. Superman / Batman fight to drive the message home of where Schott truly fits within the villain society.

However, my biggest concern with the issue; where does this all fit? It was great to see Toyman given a revamp to spark interest in a dated character, but what is Johnís plan with him? With next month starting the epic Brainiac arc, I feel like this stand-alone has no baring ramifications. By the issueís conclusion Toyman isnít a threat anymore, taken completely off the playing field. Therefore, as character piece it was nice, and creepy, but I canít shake the feeling I would have been perfectly fine without it, instead moving right into the start of the Brainiac saga.

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