All right, now usually, I wait for a little bit of time (sometimes a long time) before an issue is out before I review it. I've made exceptions recently for CAPTAIN AMERICA: PATRIOT and LIFE WITH ARCHIE, simply because I feel that both series could use the immediate support. I'm going to make an exception again, right now, not because this particular comic needs the support, but because those of you on the fence may be thinking of getting it, and it'll sell out quickly.
ACTION COMICS #894 is when Lex Luthor, who has been headlining ACTION COMICS for a while, meets Death of the Endless. Yes, that Death. Neil Gaiman's Death. You might be wondering if this story is worth getting.
Now, keep in mind, I haven't been reading ACTION. I don't like Pete Woods' art, and I know nothing about Paul Cornell. But I bought this anyway, because I didn't want to chance that this story was awesome and that it would sell out.
As far as I can understand, Lex Luthor has fallen off a cliff, and then he's confronted by Death. They talk for a good long while, and Lex goes off into the stages of loss -- denial, bargaining, etc. -- and he and Death have a big long chat. The ending is very predictable, as there's really only two ways it could go, and I figured they weren't going to do the one. That's all I'm going to say about it.
Okay, so how does it read? Well, quite frankly, it's really good. I don't regret buying it. As a SANDMAN fan, I like Cornell's portrayal of the second-oldest Endless character, and she honestly feels as if she walked right out of Neil Gaiman's book, with Neil Gaiman's pen, and just started talking in Paul Cornell's book. Death is very, very true to character here.
But as cool and great as Death is as a character, she's never really been the protagonist in any of her stories. DEATH: THE HIGH COST OF LIVING uses her as a counterpoint for a boy named Sexton, who is having trouble dealing with his life. DEATH: THE TIME OF YOUR LIFE uses her to highlight what an ensemble of characters feel about living and dying. Even her appearances in SANDMAN highlight the characters she's interacting with. Death isn't so much a character as she is a storytelling tool to see where certain characters stand on living and dying. She shines on her own, and it's her job to make others shine.
And let me say this: Lex Luthor shines. A lot. It's hard to do be informative here without spoiling it for everyone, but basically, Death has Lex review his life, and Lex gives it all up. First, he tries bargaining his way out of it, then when Death forces him to just talk, you see Lex exactly as he sees himself. Let's just say that whatever's been stripped from him lately in an attempt to get him back to his Silver Age, mad scientist persona, has been given back to him. This is Lex from Lex's eyes - the Lex Luthor who thinks he's doing the right thing, and his personality really shines through.
The art by Pete Woods is actually good for this story. I don't think Woods can draw action very well, and his figurework is kind of stilted, but Death looks here like she just walked out from one of the Gaiman books, and the pacing and body language of Lex Luthor is very subtle and telling. For this issue, at least, Woods shines.
If you're a fan of Death, you may want to get this. She doesn't really do anything that you haven't seen before, but it is nice to see her again.
But if you're a fan of Luthor, I think you should get this. One can never tell, but I believe it will be seen as one of the definitive Lex Luthor stories ten years from now.
You may want to hurry though, because...