Written by: Greg Pak
Art by: Aaron Kuder and Howard Porter
Published by: DC Comics
After a slightly disappointing deflation of the themes in Action Comics #43, I was a little more hesitant about this newest issue of the series, however this instalment is much more consistent and focuses more on the elements that have made this one of the best recent Superman runs in recent years. It’s a stronger issue that has settled into it’s groove and makes me excited for Truth as a whole.
With the reveal last time of the villainous shadow creatures having possessed many of the citizens, this issue follows in a much more “traditional superhero” type way, with lots more punching involved throughout. It may on paper sound a bit jarring to the political intrigue and character study I loved so much in previous issues, but given how much groundwork was laid last issue for this change it feels a bit more naturally developed. It does offer Aaron Kuder the chance to flex his muscles a bit more and offer up some brilliantly framed and paced action scenes. He also gets the chance to delve back into some of his more horror focused designs with the shadow creatures who come off a lot more threatening than they have any right to be. The main villain herself is a bit weak, the name “Wrath” being particularly groan inducing, but it allows Pak to springboard into some more interesting themes such as mob mentality and other relevant issues that have been brilliantly implanted into the story so far. If having to include more traditional superhero elements is the price we have to pay in order to get to the intriguing stuff then it’s a price worth paying, it may be a little frustrating to see a weird mix of metaphor and literal real life issues, but Pak is limited by what he can do in a mainstream superhero comic. He still handles the material with respect and, more importantly, fantastic writing.
The rest of the story does a great job further examining Superman’s character amidst the status quo changes as well as how this comic connects with the wider Truth story. This issue more or less concludes the current conflict, giving Clark a chance to reflect, a nice satisfying pay-off. It also teases where the story will be going, it’s putting the puzzle pieces together in interesting ways and creating a nice tapestry that doesn’t punish readers for not reading every series, but provides nice little bonuses for people following all the titles. These final few pages are also drawn not by Kuder but by Howard Porter, and while I’m not usually a fan of multiple artists on one book, Porter does a good job with the material and the tone is so different from the main part of the story that I think a different artist actually fits better.
Action Comics #44 is a great issue in a series that has been on a consistently fantastic run. Pak seems more comfortable than ever with Superman and is pushing the character in interesting new directions. This issue closes the introduction on Truth and teases that there are plenty of stories still to tell with this status quo. As long as the stories are consistently this good, I’m certainly on board.