Action Comics #1054 review

The battle between Metallo and the Super Family continues in the new Action Comics anthology. The opening page is a picture of intensity as Warworld refugee turned Kent family member Otho looms over a burning car. Beside the car, a burning man, a member of the anti-extraterrestrial Blue Earth movement. Feeling threatened, the immature Otho snuck out of the Kent home, where she and brother Osul were being watched by Jon, and – apparently – struck out. A shocked Jon fears she’s killed the guy, but not so.

It was a trap. The man is one of the Blue Earthers transformed into cyborgs by Metallo using Warworld tech that’s found its way to Earth. And he’s not alone, several members of the crowd are lying in wait for the Super Family. The three youngest members do a good job of defending themselves until Metallo himself shows up and kidnaps the Super Twins. Feeling responsible for Otho’s rash act, Jon declares that he’ll track the kids down. His dad, though, arrives and asks Jon to stay and lead the fight against Metallo’s ‘Necro-drones’, rather than face the Man with the Kryptonite Heart alone. Superman is soon over the city, listening for Metallo.

Confronting the crazed villain, Superman points out that his new green K-powered heart is made of Warworld mineral Genesis, a substance that boosts the Man of Steel too.

Blimey, I was not expecting that. It’s a great panel from artist Max Raynor, who’s been popping up in the pages of DC books for a couple of years and receives the best showcase for his talents yet courtesy of writer Philip Kennedy Johnson. I mean, just look at that super-hearing spread; I’m delighted to see Johnson show just how useful one of the less showy super-powers can be. As for the big bash Metallo receives, why not? Superman hasn’t got a new ability here, he’s tapping into an already established higher power. It’s Shade the Changing Man with punch.

There’s also a use of heat vision I’ve never seen previously and it’s rather effective, visually and dramatically, and it looks great as presented by Raynor and colour artist Matt Herms. There’s also some splendid lettering courtesy of Dave Sharpe.

The fight between Superman and Metallo is intense, with the Man of Steel’s compassion more than a match for John Corben’s hate – Johnson’s Superman believes everyone can be saved, no matter what they’ve done. And Metallo has done some terrible things in this story; sure, he’s being manipulated by someone pretending to be his kidnapped sister, but he still has free will. This issue we learn just who the bad guy is – one of Superman’s biggest villains.

They’re introduced on a cliffhanger, but the really big question to be answered is: is this lady related to Steve Lombard?

Or has Steve been on a trip to Sweden?

The Superman & Lois strip continues with writer Dan Jurgens taking over the pencils from regular artist Lee Weeks, as young Jon gets a nasty shock – but I’m not surprised. I’m enjoying this story, it’s classic comics fun, I just wish it had more pages. The ones we get look great courtesy of Jurgens, inker Norm Rapmund and colourist Elizabeth Breitweiser.

Power Girl has flown off into a special, so we’ve a new third feature this time. Superman’s ally John Henry Irons fights a cyborg arms dealer named Amalgam who wants to smash up the new Steelworks for reasons that go unexplained. He seems to have a shadowy sponsor so I guess we’ll find out.

The big takeaway in this pleasant fable by Dorado Quick and Yasmín Flores Montañez – both promising graduates of the Milestone Initiative talent programme – is that Steel reveals his status as superhero and businessman to the public. There’s also a helpful recap of Steel’s history for latecomers, and a nice declaration as to what the ‘S’ on his metal chest stands for. Colouring the story is Brad Anderson, while Dave Sharpe is on letters duty.

Add in an unusual cover by regular Steve Beach and we have the best issue yet of the new format Action Comics.

4 thoughts on “Action Comics #1054 review

  1. I’m here only until the Jon adventure ends (and I’m disappointed we seem to have been right about the princess unless she doesn’t trust Clark to help her) and skipped the Steel story. Anything they do to try to make him an ongoing character of importance just makes me care less. To me, it’s like putting a pig in the party dress. The Metallo story was more of the same: Art that looked just barely finished and a Superman with no faults at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I appreciate how Philip Kennedy Johnson writes Superman as a figure who really wants to inspire people to be better and to help others. Really taps into what I like so much about the character.

    To paraphrase Captain Renault, I am shocked — SHOCKED — that the alien princess turned out to be the real villain!

    Seriously, I love Elizabeth Breitweiser’s coloring. She’s been one of the best colorists of the past couple of decades, and I really like her work on this feature on both Lee Weeks’ and the Jurgens & Rapmund team.

    My main criticism of the Steel feature was that Yasmin Flores Montanez’s storytelling was not strong, and the action did not flow smoothly from one panel to the next. It felt like a series of individual images that each looked cool but that did not come together to tell a story. I think there’s potential to Montanez’s work, but like a lot of newer artists she needs someone to show her how to go about constructing a story. I miss they days when DC (and Marvel) had editors who worked with newer pencilers to help them learn that ability.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There certainly was one page in the Steel strip that did pull me up in terms of storytelling, Ben, when the hammer came into play during the fight scene (checks page number) on page 6 I couldn’t figure out the sequence of events.

      Maybe the Princess will pull a double bluff and be lovely after all.

      Liked by 1 person

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