Written by: Dan Jurgens
Art by: Patrick Zircher
Publisher: DC Comics
Man does it ever feel good to write such a big number on a comic again. Action Comics has returned to its original numbering, bringing with the the original post-crisis Superman and writer Dan Jurgens to the title again. While I was slightly disappointed in the Superman: Rebirth one shot, this is a much better debut and exactly what I wanted from this series going forward.
This introductory issue features the debut of Metropolis’ own Man of Steel, Lex Luthor! The sight is so shocking, that Clark White, the post-crisis Superman living secretly on our Earth, decides it’s time to reveal himself to prevent Luthor usurping the Superman legacy. From here, we get a lot of wide screen superhero action worthy of the title, with some twists and turns along the way.
While the Superman: Rebirth one shot left me feeling a little cold, I understand why it was necessary, as trying to explain the current state of Superman books to a new reader is likely a very difficult task. With the heavy lifting out of the way though, Action Comics #957 is able to focus on driving the story forward and getting into the stuff I’ve been excited for. It feels like a good jumping on point for readers as long as they don’t worry too much about wrapping their heads around the changes, and even fans of the new 52 will see come cool connectivity with the stories that came before ensuring that they don’t alienate fans with their Superman switcheroo.
The issue itself is well written with good intrigue and a great return to a style of Superman books not seen in a while. His willingness to expose himself might feel a little quick given how long it’s been in hiding, but the act of sacrificing everything he’s built to fight evil is a pretty fist bumpingly worthy Superman moment. Even Luthor’s character development into some sort of “hero” feels natural after his activities in Justice League since Forever Evil without seemingly like too much of a return to a two dimensional villain role, I’m reallyy hoping Jurgens can help further his growth as it’s currently the aspect of the title I’m most interested in. I do think Clark decides to fight Lex a bit quick, especially given how this Clark is usually more reasoned and compassionate, but then I suppose he is more aware of Luthor’s history on his earth and doesn’t want to take any chances.
When it comes to art, Zircher’s big, epic style marks the perfect fit for the title. Every moment feels like something important, his art perfectly punctuating the big events and reveals expertly. It’s another little thing that just made the comic FEEL more like a Superman comic more than anything I’ve read recently. My only complaint would be that his faces tend to show little emotion, usually portraying apathetic faces looking either bored or unsure of themselves.
Another complaint I have is with the use of Doomsday as the central villain for the ongoing story. There’s enough going on with Lex that honestly he could’ve been the central star, using Doomsday feels irrelevant and is honestly a villain I’ve never been a fan of. I understand Jurgens may want to use his own creation, but given how closely this set up already has a bit of a Death of Superman vibe, I’d rather see fresh new content rather than a retread of old stories.
Overall though, this was exactly the sort of debut I was hoping for from the new Superman books. It’s big, bold and features both cool new elements as well as a return to the character’s core elements. I’ll wait to see how Tomasi’s proper debut goes before recommending one over the other, but for Superman fans, Action Comics seems to be the book to go for.