Action Comics #865 Review
Action Comics #865 review by Hugo Bravo
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Jesus Merino
Geoff Johns has been on an incredible streak for the last year. After wrapping up his much delayed Last Son of Krypton arc and his visit to the year 3000 with the Legion of Superheroes, Johns is once again ready to revisit classic Superman mythos within the pages of Action Comics. The star of this issue is Winslow Schott, a badly-dressed Golden Age villain who attacked with exploding teddy bears and killer dollies. With his goldilocks hairdo and trusty pogo stick, he was a staple in Superman's earliest adventures, proving to be more of a nuisance to the Man of Steel rather than an actual threat.
Geoff Johns rewrites Toyman's origin and modernizes him for today's angst-adoring audience. Schott was a happily married toymaker driven to evil when he was tricked by a weapons manufacturer who used Schott's toy building skills to create weapons. Jesus Merino's watercolor illustrations in the flashback portion of the story look great and remind one of classic Superman artwork by Tim Sale. Winslow Schott breaks out of Arkham and kidnaps Superman's pal Jimmy Olsen to write a story on him, to reveal the true Winslow Schott to the public. He chooses Jimmy Olsen, since Schott doesn't trust adults (and is surprised when he learns Jimmy's actual age.)
The Toyman has been portrayed in TV and comic books in half a dozen ways, but rather than go over each of his incarnations, I'll just say that Geoff Johns not only explains all of them within a few pages, but makes it so believable and realistic in terms of the character that you can't help but wonder why no writer thought of it before. Another great aspect of this book is how well he implements the whole 'Are You a Superman Person or a Batman Person' argument that has been a staple of many comic book discussions. Schott clearly defines himself as a Superman person and feels disgusted at the thought of being sent to Arkham Asylum, where the usual Batman foes reside. His preference stems from an underlying trust and acceptance for Big Blue, which explains why he may have never been the threat that he could be.
The story also features some great guest appearances by Batman, Jimmy Olsen, and the Prankster, another villain who recently got a revival of his own in Superman's main book, thanks to Kurt Busiek. The most intriguing cameo, however, comes in the last page from a Superman supporting character that has been hurt by the Toyman worst than anyone. Though her appearance may be unknown to most readers, judging from what Johns has done with Winslow Schott in the previous 20 pages of this book, I sense he may have some big plans in store. Filler stories in between major arcs are never supposed to be this good, especially when they feature a D-List villain as its main attraction. Though being classified as a contender for Gotham villainy may seem like an insult to Schott, this story is actually a great compliment to the character. Under Johns' writing, the Toyman went from goofy throwaway character to a sick, brilliantly twisted individual, diabolic enough to hold his own along Batman's rogues. He just happened to have landed on the brighter side of the DC Universe.