In Review: Action Comics #958

Two Clark Kents and two Supermans against Doomsday equals chaos.

The covers: Deja vu, anyone? Superman continues to swing punches at the behemoth know as Doomsday who holds the Kryptonian in his fist. History seems as though it will repeat, except Lex Luthor, wearing his Superman powersuit, is also engaging the monster. Will two Supermen be able to stop the force that famously killed the Man of Steel? This is a fairly sketchy cover from Mikel Janin who has done much better work on many other titles. The colors are trying to put some detail into the work, but the entire piece is coming off as smudgy, especially on the antagonist. I expect better from Janin. The Variant cover is by Ryan Sook. This is a cover I can get behind! The image is split down the center vertically by a red tear. On the left is Superman, his suit a dark gray and his eye menacingly crimson. On the left is Luthor as Superman, his eye an emerald that matches the glow of the S on his chest. A terrific way to show competing heroes. Overall grade: Regular B- and Variant A- 

The story: If this is a reader’s first introduction to Action Comics, this could be a bit confusing. Even for old fans, this could be a challenging read since DC has undergone a Rebirth. Credit must be given to writer Dan Jurgens for bringing readers into the story as smoothly as possible with a quick first page summation of Superman, Super Luthor, a man named Clark Kent, and the arrival of Doomsday, who killed Superman on an alternate Earth. Narrated by Superman, the Last Son of Krypton is wholly focused on stopping Doomsday’s rampage and making sure history doesn’t repeat itself. As he and Luthor battle the monster, Clark Kent is instructing Jimmy Olsen to continue taking pictures. The young photographer is confused, since Clark is part of the story: Lois Lane outed Clark Kent as Superman to the world — he doesn’t know who the Clark is before him. Watching the battle is the mysterious Mr. Oz and, in their apartment, Lois and Jonathan Kent. Their seeing Clark Kent run across the screen only confuses them. The battle rages with Superman knowing every move Doomsday will make, but Lex keeps involving himself, making things difficult for Kal-El. Problems become compounded when Doomsday does something that was unthinkable in their original fight. The book ends in a solid cliffhanger with one hero having to make a very important decision, while a viewer is about to make his move. A little confusing at first, but this issue evolves into an easy and thrilling read. Overall grade: A

The art: This is my first exposure to Patrick Zircher’s art and he does a pretty good job on this book. His style reminds me of Joe Kubert, especially in the characters of Doomsday and Mr. Oz and the settings — take a look at the city on Pages 3 and 8. The visuals go from very thin line work to extremely loose thick lines, employed often in the settings. To bring a fight this massive to life, Zircher has to move the point of view around constantly to track bodies as they fly about. The double-paged splash of 2 and 3 has a strange angle for the fight, as Doomsday’s punch to Luther sends the self-appointed hero flying. The problem is Doomsday’s arm that delivered the punch doesn’t align with Lex’s path: how could someone swing a straight armed punch causing Luthor to go in that direction? Things are better on 4 with Superman nailing Doomsday in the chest. When Superman is punched backwards on 7, he looks great, as does Doomsday who leaps in for the follow through on 8. On 9, though, the villain has been spun around. How is this possible in such close quarters, given on how he was positioned on the previous page? I’m all for cheating in visuals to make the action grander, but some of the poses seem well beyond the scope of believability, even for a comic book. However, after this page all the action sequences are much improved, though the object that takes up one hero’s focus on 17 and 18 is an extremely rough illustration. Sharing the panel with the hero, that’s illustrated with such an incredibly thin line, makes this object look sloppy. A lot of hits and misses visually, but servicable. Overall grade: C

The colors: Good coloring from Ulises Arreola. Luthor’s suit lights up strongly in his appearances, with it radiating off the page. There’s some really good coloring of characters’ skin, which is shown right out of the gate on Page 1 with Jimmy and Clark. The backgrounds of the city are given a dull tan which makes the heroes and villain really pop off the page. Doomsday’s speech is given a great lime for whenever he growls, making him even more of a monster. The sound effects are primarily orange, giving them a strong punch. I want my Superman comics to have bold colors on my hero and Arreola delivers. Overall grade: A

The letters: Rob Leigh provides narration, the story’s title, dialogue, book’s credits, Doomsday outbursts, sounds, transmissions, text on a screen, a weak final word, and the tease for next issue. I’m pleased as punch to see Leigh making the narration different from the dialogue and his sounds on this book are absolutely a match for a fight between Superman and Doomsday. The font used for Doomsday’s moans and growls is also exceptional. Overall grade: A 

The final line: A few concerns with the visuals keep this from being a perfect book, but the story is great. I’ll continue to follow this series if it stays like this. Two Clark Kents and two Supermans against Doomsday equals chaos. Overall grade: B+

To find out more about this book and others that feature Superman go to http://www.dccomics.com/

Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer’s Guide for several years with “It’s Bound to Happen!” and he’s reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He’s taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.

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