Action Comics #963 Review

Written by: Dan Jurgens

Art by: Patrick Zircher

Publisher: DC

Now that Doomsday is finally out of the way, I’ve hopped back on board the Action Comics train in hopes of finally seeing some progression. Thankfully, the book seems vastly improved from when I left it, featuring much better characterization and more than just retelling Death of Superman, though the pacing is still hugely problematic and really putting me off.

This issue spotlights the new Clark Kent as he gets involved in some investigative journalism i.e., beating up company executives at midnight on a rooftop. I find it funny that an issue centered on Clark’s journalism skills manages to feature roughly the same amount of action as a six part story of Doomsday wrecking the city, but that’s the magic of Action Comics. Jokes aside, the issue does manage to give Clark a much more heroic personality than the title has so far offered him, with a definite rootable quality that makes his action scenes tense and enjoyable. Even though he’s claiming not to be Superman, he sure does manage to maintain that heroic quality.

There are a few other developments too that I’d forgotten had happened, such as Lex now owning the daily planet that open up great avenues for storytelling potential. I hope Jurgens will take his time to explore more of Clark’s life in the Daily Planet, since Tomasi and Gleason are examining his family life. It could be just the spin the title needs to make it stand out from the rest. Unfortunately, it’s from this point that ugly issues begin to rear their head…

The main problem with the issue however is how stupid Dan Jurgens assumes you are. I can’t count how many times the same information is told to us over and over and over and over and over and over. Instead of an issue revealing to us how this new Clark Kent came about, we instead get some teasing towards the answer (with the full story being obvious by now, but of course we’ll find out in about 20 issues time at this rate) with most of the dialgoue being:
Then pages and pages of proving he isn’t Superman. I meant honestly, I don’t know who out there needs constant reminding or proof that this Clark isn’t Superman, but I’d much rather they just get on with it. It’s like that scene in The Simpsons where Apu and Homer visit the head of the Kwik-E-Mart. Jurgens spends so much time going “are you REALLY not Superman??” that by the time he’s satisfied and ready to move on the issue’s over and you’re another 3 bucks down. I’d also like to reiterate at this point that I’m still considering this issue an improvement over the doomsday stuff.

Patrick Zircher also returns to art duties, with a competent style that, aside from one oddly positioned catch at the end, looks decently solid. There’s some nice fluidity to the action that makes these scenes enjoyable, and he draws a damn good Clark Kent, I just once again wish he’d put some emotions on the faces of his characters. It’s terribly distracting to see them constantly either bored, apathetic or angry.

Overall, Action Comics is improving and finally going somewhere, but it looks as if the pacing issues are going to be a consistent problem going forward. It’s a real shame, as there’s a lot going on in this series I’m interested in, but it’s so grating to have to have everything spoon fed to me. I’m on board again for now, but this title needs whipped into shape fast.