Many times, we’ve seen Superman looked on as a god by people he encounters. Rarely have we had such a fine visual representation of the feeling as on the first page on Action Comics #1031.
The composition and execution by artist Daniel Sampere, allied to the hazy colouring effects from Adriano Lucas, sell the idea of Superman as an unknowable figure. The irony is that he couldn’t be friendlier, by virtue of the dialogue given him by writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson.
Of course, the young woman he’s addressing can’t understand him; she’s from far, far away. And Superman has an idea as to where that is, thanks to her whispering ‘Haramethea ua Thalkis’.
The Super Family have brought the girl and several more extraterrestrial refugees to the Fortress of Solitude after saving them from their pursuers – the hordes of Warworld. Superman and son Jon didn’t find frustrating Mongul’s warriors easy, but they managed it. They couldn’t save the sick refugees’ ship, a real ‘hunk of junk’, though, and it plunged into Atlantean waters. Unsalvageable the craft may be, but it does have something of potentially great value.
Superman doesn’t argue, the Atlanteans are in the right. Neither does he fight the ‘Warzoon’ prisoners in the cells of Atlantis, despite what can fairly be described as provocation.
Back at the Fortress, Kryptonian science whiz Supergirl and investigative reporter Lois Lane try to work out where their charges are from. Jon, though, isn’t showing a great deal of commitment.
And in the hospital wing of the Fortress, one of the visitors wakes up.
Warworld Rising Part 2 amps up the adventure and intrigue as possible Kryptonians crash to Earth. Who are the strangers? What’s their relationship with Warworld? What will the Atlanteans do with a piece of the fabled Source wall?
Several things stood out this issue, besides the incredible art – the opening battle scene is epic. The addition of Supergirl at her wisest made me smile, we’ve not seen her since the Bendis run; the mystery as to why the young alien woman is panicky when she sees her chains have been removed; and the callback to Theta waves, a peculiar mental state that occasionally popped up in the Superman books at the turn of the century.
Best of all, there’s very little of Jon moping about Superman’s supposed death – and when he does show moodiness, it’s immediately picked up on by Lois and Kara.
Johnson does a great job with the personalities and interactions, and I hope he continues with a bigger cast as he drops the Superman book and concentrates on Action Comics, because when it’s solely Clark and Jon, things get far too introspective. We need Lois, we need Kara, we certainly need the Daily Planet crew and the return of Clark Kent as secret identity – take away the duality of the hero and Superman becomes generic. On the villainous front. Mongul appears before close of play, waxing lyrical in a wonderfully creepy way.
Someone who doesn’t get any dialogue yet still makes an impression is Krypto, due to Sampere ladling on the adorability. Did you spot him up there?
I’d also like to see more of Sampere’s confident Supergirl, and I have to highlight the highlights of Kara’s uniform, as engineered by Lucas – it looks like she’s wearing velour while Jon is in standard Spandex… this is quietly stunning work.
Letterer Dave Sharpe likewise acquits himself rather well, with his splashdown sound effect one of my favourite things of the issue – keep an eye out for it.
A story this impressive made me all the sadder that the Midnighter back-up strip is using up eight pages that could go to the main story. I’m a little ashamed to admit I couldn’t be bothered to read it this time. I just couldn’t face it – the story hasn’t grabbed me and the art is stylised in a style I don’t enjoy. I’m not saying it’s not good for what it is, it’s just not my cup of tea.
I do admire the cover by Mikel Janín, it’s slick, powerful, daring you not to buy this issue.
I liked the first chapter of Warworld Rising, this instalment is even better – can the creators up the ante further next month?