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Week of Cool Comic Book Moments – Superman Doing the Impossible


Every day this week will see me feature a brand-new Cool Comic Book Moment. For this week only, I’ll be specifically featuring cool moments that happened so far this year. Here is an archive of all the past cool comic moments that I’ve featured so far.

Today we continue with how Superman finally defeats the villainous Vyndktvx in Grant Morrison, Rags Morales and Rick Bryant’s Action Comics #18…

So throughout Grant Morrison’s run on Action Comics, Superman was beset by the villainous Vyndktvx, who is from the same dimension as Mxyzptlk. The thing is, since he is outside our comprehension of time and space, he is actually attacking Superman in different times and different places all at once. Which is a handy attack, but what it boils down to is that there is really only ONE attack, it just focuses on Superman at different places and times. Therefore, if there is only ONE attack, then Superman only has to beat him ONCE for him to beat him ALL the other times, as well.

So Superman concentrates on defeating him in the present. Vyndktvx is forcing the attack, choosing to make Superman feel extra pain by linking Superman’s mind with the rest of the world, to feel the suffering and fear that is about to come. However, that plan backfired as Superman used the power of the entire world saying their name backwards at once to compel Vyndtvx to say HIS name backwards, as well, thereby banishing him back to his own dimension (where he will stand trial for crimes committed there)…






It’s a powerful moment and a wonderful ending to the last battle of Morrison’s run on Action.


I’m no big on Morrison’s personality cult plots, but I liked Rag Morale’s little joke in the fourth-to-last panel.

Pedro Ferreira

May 15, 2013 at 5:28 am

Urgh. Definitely not a Morrison fan. So, 5-D words are like thunder, if they all say their names backwards he’ll be defeated? Why, exactly?

Why is that any different from “If I count to one hundred backwards you’ll be defeated” or “If I sneeze three times you’ll be defeated”, or any other thing?

Sorry, not my cup of tea. On the “Superman Doing the Impossible” section, I much prefer when Alan Moore came up with those amazing little moments: Superman saying “Do you know how many molecules of air there are in the atmosphere? If you want I could count them for you”, or “Do you know what radio waves look like? I know, because I can see them”.

But Morrison, in my opinion, can’t reach the heels of Moore’s accomplishments.

Do you read much Superman, Pedro?

I agree. Why in the hell would he be compelled to say his name backward just because everyone else did?
The villian just wanted to fit in that badly? Superman farting atomic gas in his face would have been a better solution. Tluc nosirrom anicham-xe-sued.

What’s with all this cult of Morrison crap? Lol.

You don’t like the comic. Ok.

Pedro, Moore used those “amazing little moments” to /make fun of/ Superman. This is the opposite of that.

Action Comics is nowhere near Morrison’s best work, but it’s still quite cool, especially towards the end.

Pedro Ferreira

May 15, 2013 at 11:46 am

joshschr, I read quite a lot of it in the past, currently not so much, because somehow the authors can’t seem to (in my opinion, of course) “get” the character.

I quite liked (albeit not “loved”) Morrison’s “All-Star Superman”, but to my mind, the most recent example of someone writing Superman as I like him was the Action Comics run of Geoff Johns (and to a lesser degree his Secret Origin stories). In the middle of all the adventuring there were some seriously wonderful Superman moments there.

Elpie, I disagree that Moore was making fun of Superman. If anything, they’re Moore’s attempt to prtray Superman as someone truly incredibly powerful, but not in the usual sense, portaying innovative uses of his abilities. Both sentences are from Moore’s work in the late eighties, the first from a Swamp Thing story, the second from “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow”. Indeed the latter, along with “For the Man Who has Everything”, are genuine love letters to Superman from Moore (as well as Moore’s “Supreme” run, who at the time were the best Superman stories published outside of DC… :) ).

As for Morrison, i recognize the guy has talent, an original way of making comics, some serious courage to try some of the things he does… But I seem to be virtually invulnerable to his stories, they don’t move me (or interest me) in the slightest. All of his “Batman” left me cold, I hated “Final Crisis”, couldn’t muster the patience to keep reading his “Action” run. This goes back, in fact – I’m of the heretics who doesn’t hold “Arkham Asylum” in high esteem. I remember reading it and thinking, “if it wasn’t for the wonderful McKean artowrk, I don’t think this would be as acclaimed”. I don’t question that Morrison has genuine LOVE for Superman (and Batman), and clearly these Action stories are his tribute to Supes… But again – it’s a question of taste – they don’t do anything for me.


Gastol: He is a well-loved writer, who has been given a lot of high-profile series to pilot. Any time someone or something is really popular and influential, there is a backlash. You’ll see the same thing happen in the comments section wheneer we discuss Moore, Warren Ellis, Neil Gaiman, Garth Ennis, etc. We’ve all been there, I guess, when everyone you know seems to be really into a movie/band/book/whatever, and you’re just like “What the hell do you all see in this??”

Some people are cool about it and present it as their opinion, like Pedro up there, who is sure to note many times that these are just his own feeling on Morrison’s writing (which I appreciate, by the way, and wish there more people on the internet like that). Others do the internet-asshole “my opinion is fact” thing, which we’ve all seen enough to know what I mean.

For my money, I’m a pretty big Grant Morrison fan, but haven’t loved everything he’s done. I’ve made it clear many times in this comments section that I’m not a fan of his Marvel work (X-Men especially). I have yet to read “Marvel Boy” though, which I’ve heard is great.

This isn’t my favorite Morrison work by a long shot, but it’s still pretty great. I really wish he would’ve stayed on the book longer, especially seeing the utter chaos it’s been in since he left.

I think that the idea that the mental energy of all of humanity simultaneously saying their names backwards would compel its mind to do the same action will either make immediate sense to you or you just won’t ever get it. But there is a thing that Morrison often gets at, regarding the literal power that ideas have, and i do admit i am getting a little tired of him mistaking that idea for an actual climax.

Travis Pelkie

May 15, 2013 at 4:56 pm

Oh, man, now I have to find what I was intending to ask you about/tell you about regarding this book. It’s been so long now, and I didn’t want to spoil it for you if you hadn’t read it yet, but now I can’t remember!

The Action run definitely started out slow (ironically enough), but once the pieces started falling into place, it got to be a lot better.

There’s nothing cool about how Morrison wrecked Superman.

Whew, I’m glad you came by to remind us all that you hate Grant Morrison. I was getting worried.

I do love how Rags Morales downplays the awful elements of Superman’s New 52 costume design.

Chris McFeely

May 16, 2013 at 5:46 am

I had two potential interpretations of how this one worked:

1 – 5D words are like thunder. So when everyone said their name “in 5D” – backwards – the worldwide thunder of humanity speaking as one caused Vyndiktvx so much pain he had to flee back to the fifth dimension.

2 – The other character we see in the last panel of the preceding page saying “Xvtkidnyv” is explained to have been another three-dimensional manifestation of Vyndktvx, but damaged and separate from him (he’s, essentially, the “arm” he accidentally ravaged in the multi-spear incident). When he said HIS name backwards, it caused Vyndktvx to do the same.

Isn’t it more like he’s sending the signal back through the feed that the 5D guy has locked him into? So the 5D guy is using HIS mind to send all the pain and suffering from all the HUMAN minds into Superman’s, and, using the awesome power of ideas (and his Super Brain, or something) Superman forces the idea of “saying your name backwards” through the 6 Billion Earth-minds and force-feed the idea back into the 5D guys head, making him say it? It’s like feedback through a speaker. He’s just sending it back the other way. It’s been done before, but this seems like a pretty cool ending. It’s amazing that certain people keep wanting Superman to defeat someone not just by “punching” and he DOES here, and it’s somehow not good enough for all the haters. It seems kinda like the poor guy (and all the creators who work on his books) can’t win.

sigh…timetravel stories – nobody wins.

Travis Pelkie

May 18, 2013 at 2:34 am

Chris’s second point was something I was going to bring up. The guy saying “Vindictivx” (sp? I dunno!) backwards on that page is the son of Mr Mxy and his princess love, and I didn’t think we HAD been told that he was a version of Vindictivx.

The way I read it was that the son “later” (damn 5D time!) BECAME the adult Vindictivx that came to the princess’s realm and tried to woo her, before Mr Mxyzptlk came in and stole her heart.

Which means that the dude was going after his mom. But in the past. Or future. Or something. Dammit, I dunno!

I thought we were going to get a way out based on something that recurred with the 5D people. Right on page 1 of Action 1, the creepy little dude we later find out is Vindictivx says “I’m teetotal”. That sorta odd phrasing stuck with me, and then later the 5D princess/Clark Kent’s landlady offers him a drink, which he refuses, being Superman and not drinking. I thought she was offering him a drink because then he’d have liquor in his system, and if Vindictivx tried to devour him, he’d … essentially throw up Superman because of the alcohol, because 5D creatures couldn’t handle it in their systems. Or something.

It seemed like a good idea to me.

I didn’t think we HAD been told that he was a version of Vindictivx.

I believe we had. I don’t think that was what Morrison was getting at (vis a vis everyone saying their name backwards), but if he was, then that certainly works as well.

Travis Pelkie

May 18, 2013 at 3:05 am

Well, the “damaged arm of Vyndictvx” part is neat. I’ll have to re-read the run, since I obviously missed a big thing there. And the part of him saying his name backwards and that being the winning reversal (he IS one of the last ones shown speaking backwards) is cool too.

The “guy’s revenge plan is because he got turned down by … his mom” part… not so much.

Ah, now I remember the other part of what I was going to ask about this issue.

Have we ever seen a link between Mxy’s backwards talking stuff and Zatara and Zatanna’s? This seems so much like something Roy Thomas would have told us about. ;)

JC Lebourdais

May 19, 2013 at 11:46 am

I liked it better when it was called the Archangel Network

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