The Warworld revolution is underway, with Superman and his ragtag bunch of rebels determined to dismantle alien dictator Mongul’s evil kingdom. And today the target is the headquarters of Mongul’s mad scientist lieutenant Teacher, as he bids to turn the Authority’s resident mentalist, Manchester Black, into a weapon of mass destruction.
Elsewhere on Warworld, another Authority member, Apollo, is in thrall to Mongul himself.
And after Black has been rescued, and the Mongul minion known as Orphan captured – or perhaps rescued – the rebels share information.
Of course, rescuing June Moone and Apollo isn’t going to be easy, and who should Superman and friends try to free first? Whatever is decided, it’s not going to happen this night, giving the bard Byla time to enlighten Superman as to the universal nature of stories.
Goodness me, this issue is so full of stories it might be called Expositon Comics. That’s not a complaint, though, as writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson continues world-building in fine style. Actually, make that multiverse building, as we begin to see the scope of the current Mongul’s ambitions. While the parallels between baby Kale-El and Moses have long been recognised, the context of Superman’s quest to free the Phaelosians – an offshoot of the Kryptonian people – makes the mapping even more precise.
My favourite sequence this issue shows Mongul having a wee chat with a representative of the United Planets. Safe to say, he has his own style of diplomacy.
In terms of plot surprises, we learn that despite the name, the Orphan Box that’s been a story element may not be related to the Mother Boxes of New Genesis… it’s obvious in retrospect.
Recent issues of Action have had Tales of Metropolis and Martian Manhunter back-up features, but this time the spotlight character is Mongul. But not the current one – it’s the original, the first member of the family to use the title.
You can guess what happens next – and doesn’t that yellow jewel on the alien look familiar?
It’s an interesting little tale from Johnson and artist Will Conrad, showing that despite umpteen generations having passed the Mongul family haven’t evolved one bit, bunch of thugs the lot of them! I wonder if it’s significant, though, that the short is titled ‘Myth of the Mongul’. How many of the details are true? And how the heck does Byla know so much about, well, everything? I wouldn’t have recognised Conrad’s art here as he tweaks his approach, I think, to fit the feel of current Action stories. It’s pretty darn good.
Conrad also contributes a few pages to the main chapter, in another story from Byla, one including that familiar DC phrase, ‘there came a time that the old gods died…’ Safe to say, the Warworld Saga is getting bigger with every issue.
The illustrations for most of the issue are by regular artist Riccardo Federici, working with colourist Lee Loughridge. The work is powerful, sinewy, a feast for the eyes, with Superman and the Authority surrounded by aliens both humanoid and not. There’s always something fascinating to look at, and the storytelling is sharp (though the ComiXology guided view goes awry on one spread of panels). The colours on Federici’s work have the quality of coloured pencils work, it’s a refreshing look. The tones are more intense on the sequence about the old gods, let’s say… bejewelled.
Loughridge also works on the back-up, doing double duty alongside letterer Dave Sharpe, who produces nicely dramatic work throughout.
All in all, this is another great issue, capped by Dale Eaglesham’s wonderfully bombastic cover – I miss the days when we saw Eaglesham’s work monthly at DC… bring back Secret Six! Or even give him an issue or two of this series when Federici needs a break