Action Comics #1046 review

Steel is the star of the gorgeous cover by Lucio Parrillo, bringing his technical genius to bear on the Genesis Fragment, ‘watched’ by Superman. Inside, Steel is one of the Super Family members taking on supervillain Conduit, who has grabbed the aforementioned MacGuffin needed by Steel and Lois Lane to save alien refugee Thao-La.

While Steel, Supergirl, Superboy and China’s New Super-Man should be enough to stop Conduit, previously roundly routed by a solo Superman, it takes the arrival of Superman 2 Jon Kent to turn the tide…but at what cost?

Phillip Kennedy Johnson turns in a breezily efficient script, and while New Super-Man is underserved – he doesn’t get a line of dialogue – it’s terrific to see him considered main Super Family. I could have done without Jon showing up, as he has his own book, but you can’t have the family without the Son of Kal-El (and Lois!). And he looks great thanks to the chunky stylings of illustrator David Lapham, while Trish Mulvihill’s colours help everything pop.

Steel consciously emulates Superman, taking a tough decision that is, of course, the right one, and I look forward to seeing what he does next, in the upcoming Superman: Warworld Apocalypse special.

I do have a query – Conduit has been sent to get the fragment by Suicide Squad chief Amanda Waller, who has this to say:

‘Your Earth…’. Now, we’re on Earth 0, the regular DC Universe world, and as far as we know Waller and Conduit have always been from there too. It was unclear where Waller was heading with her personal ‘Justice League’ at the end of the War For Earth 3 story, but whether she’s phoning in from Earth 3 or is indeed on Earth 0, why would it be ‘your Earth’? I did wonder if the Waller of recent years, the sociopath who has murdered people on a whim, was actually the Earth 3 version hiding in plain sight…

Meanwhile, in the main strip, Johnson presents the latest chapter of the Warworld Saga and we’re in the home straight. Superman, his ally Kryl-Ux and young charges Otho-Ra and Osul-Ra are trying to get past a Lovecraftian beastie to reach the Fire of Olgrun, which could bring down Warworld dictator Mongul.

In the first half of the story Superman shows Steel knows him well, selflessly throwing his currently very mortal self at the Tremors wannabe to save the exceedingly grumpy Kryl-Ux.

The kids understand what Superman is about, though, having gone from cynical, crushed souls to believers in the power of Hope.

Later, on his own, he meets a strange figure.

And that’s when Superman’s quest becomes truly mythical, with a Classical-style riddle and the ‘Unblooded Sword’ showing he certainly knows how to use its edge.

Johnson’s serial continues to grip, with the battle to liberate the slaves of Mongul moving forward in a satisfying manner. Superman shows again and again that being good, embracing right, is anything but boring. His foes may not like him, but he quickly earns his respect, as happens here with the phantom girl.

And would you look at that art! Fico Ossio firmly locates us in the Necropolis of previous issues, while giving us an adorably L’il Abner Superman. Ossio’s Superman just glows with warmth.

And touches such as the S-symbol our hero is racing through a few images back really add to the visual experience.

Lee Loughridge has helped keep the feel of Warworld consistent as artists have changed over the arc, and he continues the fine work here, while Dave Sharpe adds to the drama with his letters, a trick he also works for the back-up.

So that’s another excellent issue of Action Comics. I’m looking forward to Superman returning to Earth, but I’m equally enjoying seeing the Man of Steel earn that reward.

4 thoughts on “Action Comics #1046 review

  1. “And that’s when Superman’s quest becomes truly mythical, with a Classical-style riddle and the ‘Unblooded Sword’ showing he knows how to use its edge.”

    I enjoy when it’s remembered, even indirectly, that Superman is a mythical character. Jack Kirby’s “Mighty One” tale cemented that in the Bronze Age. I think it allows for more storytelling ideas, even the human moments that most readers seem to crave with near addiction. Now if we can just get Clark Kent back into the myth. Get review as always.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Such a great book and great arc. It is all clicking. From the riddle to enter the temple to the act that shows he is worthy, this is a Superman to get behind. Quick witted and inspirational and courageous. Loved all this. And like the puzzle boxes Johnson introduced a couple of issues ago paying dividends here.

    And the ‘back up feature’ was just as good as the main. Truly a Superman Family tale. Even here, Superman is an inspiration. There is always another way.

    Art in both sides of the book was fantastic.

    Hard to believe … but this time I was right too! Kryl-Ux was the traitor!

    Liked by 1 person

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