Action is the name of the game as this issue opens, with Superboy frantically fighting off a near-crazy Thao-La. The refugee from Warworld has seen her friends murdered by lackeys of Mongul, and believes that if she doesn’t kill Superman’s loved ones, the rest of her people will be slaughtered. She’s already attacked Lois in the Fortress of Solitude, but the reporter counsels Superman not to let Thao-La be hurt.
The Mongul-controlled blast doesn’t kill Thao-La, but she’s in a bad way. The device allows the Man of Steel to tell the warlord he’s coming for him. Before that, though, there’s sad business to be taken care of.
In ordinary times, the Justice League would be ready to join Clark for his trip to Warworld in a second, but Superman’s refusal to hand over the Genesis Fragment – a super-battery – means they have to stay on Earth for the moment to appease governments. But they’re not Superman’s only option.
Lois also worries that Clark is flying into a situation that may be too much for him, but his reassurance is mighty.
The issue closes with Superman and his new Authority setting off for Warworld.
The big surprise this issue is that the superb Grant Morrison/Mikel Janín Superman and the Authority mini-series is set in the present day. In it, Superman has referred to a secret mission, but we haven’t learned what it is. Yes, the Superman in there has weaker powers, a subplot that’s also been present in Phillip Kennedy Johnson’s stories, but they’re much weaker than we’ve seen in Superman and Action Comics. Also, Janín’s Superman has the Reed Richards temples… but it does indeed seem that the Authority book takes place between pages 9 and 10 of this issue. Yet all the evidence puts that book decades in the future… could it be that future Superman is sending help to his past self? There are outs as to why all the new Authority members look pretty much as they do in the present day…
… or do we just say, Infinite Frontier, everything counts? Any ideas?
Kennedy Johnson continues to impress with his sharp scripting – the funeral scene is touching, a father-son talk rings true and the Lois moments are exemplary. Here’s my favourite panel of the issue
Krypto is as much a member of the Super Family as anyone else, he matters! Talking of Super people, while Supergirl is still around at the start of the issue, she vanishes without a word, which is a shame.
Daniel Sampere really should be getting a big push from DC – his storytelling and finishes are just the business. Every page looks wonderful, whether it centers on conversation or conflict. Sampere’s Superman is particularly excellent, and the tenderness of his night flight with Lois is something else. And Adriano Lucas, who has been getting plaudits for his work on Nightwing, adds extra life, just look at the ice in the Fortress a few images back, and the glow of the city, below.
And the core creative team is completed by Dave Sharpe, whose letters have the drive demanded by the script.
With the Midnighter back-up ended, there’s room for something else – the Tales of Metropolis strip from recent issues of Superman. And I enjoyed this episode far more than any of the previous ones, as Jimmy Olsen investigates Bloody Mary, City of Tomorrow style. In his narration, the red-headed reporter tells us he needs ‘someone who can handle something this dark’. This excited me, I love teenage witch Traci-13!
Oh. The Manhattan Guardian. Not even the Metropolis version.
Still, this was good fun, courtesy of writer Sean Lewis, artist Sami Basri, colourist Ulises Arreola and that man Sharpe again.
The cover, by Daniel Sampere and colourist Alejandro Sanchez, is a corker, The body language, the expressions, the autumnal palette – it all works beautifully.
So, next month, an extended sequence on Warworld begins. Bring it on.