There was outrage in sections of the US media recently as a story in Action Comics #900 saw Superman renounce US citizenship. Comic readers knew that as a standalone short in an anniversary issue, David Goyer’s tale would likely never be followed up on. And here we are just a month later, with President Obama making a personal appeal to Superman to stop a massive missile from bringing planetary extinction.
Not that Superman hears the plea, as he’s in outer space, already knee-deep in the situation, trying to avert the catastrophe from the inside. It’d be a little easier without a bunch of customised Doomsday clones pursuing him through an immense, labyrinthe craft. He has help, mind – Steel, Supergirl, Superboy and the Eradicator were all on the ship before him, kidnapped by Doomsday Prime at the behest of the departed Lex Luthor. Together, they make quite the team, but will they be enough?
Well, we’ve a few more issues in which to find out. As Superman says here. ‘… winning this is going to take a long time’. Doesn’t sound like good news for those of us who find Doomsday a crashing bore, but the storyline has a secret weapon – writer Paul Cornell. Having done a fine job of handling Luthor’s run in this title, he’s been retained for Superman’s return. And it’s a good decision – Cornell gets straight to the heart of his heroism. Leadership, strategic nous, a preparedness to sacrifice folllowed by the determination to fight on, warmth … this is the Man of Steel at his best. And there’s a heartening surprise at the beginning of the book, as Superman takes a no-nonsense approach to one particular annoyance.
With the spotlight on Superman, there’s less space for Supergirl, Boy and co to strut their stuff, but everyone gets a moment or two. I especially like the affection between Kara and Clark, something we need to see more of. The action scenes are big and thumpy, as you’d expect in a Doomsday story, but I’m betting on Cornell to get more creative as the arc continues.
The physical stuff does allow joining artist Kenneth Rocafort to show what he can do, and the fights fair rock the page. His Superman reminds me of Jim Lee’s in its power, but minus the noodling we have a happier result. His layouts give the story room to breathe, something also achieved by Jesus Merino, who handles almost half the issue. Merino makes a sizeable splash, lterally, with a cracking full-page of our heroes upended by the Dolly Mixture Doomsdays. And colourist Brad Anderson’s subtle shades bring the illustrations to greater life. There’s good work, too, from letterer Rob Leigh, who looks to be having fun with the speech patterns of new character the Doomslayer, who looks an awful like the silhouetted baddie who’s sending the ship into Earth’s orbit. Don’t trust him, chaps!
Rocafort’s cover is eye-catching, just about surviving the ugly banner ad for the Green Lantern film which DC has slapped on all its books this week (because, you know, comic fans have no idea it’s coming out).
I’ll be glad when Reign of the Doomsdays is over – this is part 7, for crying out loud – but I’m more confident than previously that I’ll be well-entertained along the way.