Action Comics #1034 review

DC’s original Superman comic truly lives up to its name this issue. At the Fortress of Solitude, Lois Lane and Warworld refugee Thao-La defend themselves against Mongul’s assassins.

In the Atlantic Ocean, Superman, Supergirl and Superboy desperately try to end the Mexican standoff between the US and Atlantis over possession of a Warworld power cell.

The fireworks come, and only one of Superman’s lesser-used powers prevents major loss of life. Hoping that if neither side has the energy unit, peace has to descend, Superman takes it away from an understandably angry Aquaman, and the Super Family fly away to plan their next move.

I see Supergirl’s point of view, but I also get Superman’s perspective – what was he to do in the face of imminent disaster? He’d tried to mediate between the two sides, but no one was listening. It’ll be interesting to see what Atlantis and the US do next; Superman is positioning himself as impartial, but I can’t see the Atlanteans agreeing. Most likely, to them Superman is the United States, and ordinary Americans could well pay the price.

And of course, the Supers also have the problem of the Fortress of Solitude incursion.

It never rains… Phillip Kennedy Johnson’s Warworld Rising story has reached part five, and it’s just getting better and better. I wish the pages given to the Midnighter back-up were devoted to the Superman story, as I’m dying to see what happens next. Superman, Supergirl and Superboy all get something to do, as does a fierce Lois Lane, while new character Thao-La continues to be the wild card. Johnson’s dialogue is excellent, while his plotting brings maximum tension to proceedings.

Christian Duce drops by to handle this month’s visuals and continues in the vogue of regular artist Daniel Sampere without subsuming his own style. The panels are big, open, full of dynamic action and emotion. I especially appreciate the relative sensitivity with which Duce – who really should have a regular spot at DC – presents the book’s one moment of brutality.

My favourite panels show how Aquaman and Superman are ablaze with power even when not using their abilities (and check out @Christian_Duce on Twitter to see the original, it’s even more stunning).

The blue and purple tones chosen by Adriano Lucas for the Fortress scenes are excellent, while the clouds over the ocean – presumably some computer wizardry – are gorgeous. And there’s one heck of an explosion.

Letterer Dave Sharpe’s experience tells in panels such as Atlantean warlord Murk’s outburst, above, with the varied font weight, styles and colours adding to the drama. And his sound effects are something else.

The Midnighter back-up appears for the final time this month, with a wrap-up in an upcoming Annual; I can’t give an opinion as I stopped reading it after the first couple of instalments – if you stuck with it and it’s great, let me know!

Daniel Sampere, who returns to the interiors next issue, provides the splendidly moody cover. It sets the tone nicely.

With Jon having taken over the Superman title, this is the only place for solo adventures of the original – thank goodness it’s a winner.

2 thoughts on “Action Comics #1034 review

  1. I too have not been reading the Midnighter strip. Part one of this Superman arc was part two of the Midnighter story, I believe, so I never got engaged and gave up. Good thing, since it’s finishing up elsewhere anyway.

    This arc is the first Superman series I’ve bought in a very long time (I eventually read the Bendis run via the library, and the last thing I bought was … collections of Grant Morrison’s Action run), and I’m actually left a little cold. I looked at how the first six or seven pages of this book (first line of dialogue, some monster calls Lois a “puny little breeding sow; unproductive hyperviolence ensues) compared to the last Superman stories I read. Seven-ish pagers that gave me inventively rendered fun with Streaky, or a sentimental look at Krypto, or a thirty-odd-year relationship between the Kent family and a sweet, if pottymouthed, Smallville waitress, and always reflecting Superman’s values and the spirit of those around him.

    I think that’s the kind of thing I want more than the modern continuity stuff. More infused with the human level, like the Red & Blue short pieces, or the fun, classic-tinged alt-realites in Batman/Superman right now. Much as in other reviews recently, you and others have said “I want entertainment, not ham-fisted and depressing ‘relevance'” (I paraphrase), I want a more uplifting Superman story, and my $25 investment in this Warworld story, well-executed by its own lights, so far hasn’t really delivered for me.

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    1. I’m very much on the same page, it’s the gentle stuff that really does it for me these days; but I’ve been following this story and enjoying the high drama. You’re right, that big guy is very unpleasant. I wouldn’t want a constant diet of this kind of thing. Heck, I’m thinking of starting a campaign to get DC to collect all Mr & Mrs Superman stories from Superman Family. The distribution was so spotty in the UK, but every story I read is utterly delightful.

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