In Review: Action Comics #960

This is quickly becoming one of my favorite comics.

The covers: Another pair to find while dodging debris from Doomsday. The Regular cover is by Clay Mann and Sonia Oback. This gives the reader a taste of how Doomsday views the world, looking upon Superman and Wonder Woman ready to fight after being knocked down. Superman looks incredibly intense as his eyes go crimson, while the Amazon looks as though she needs more time to come to her senses. I’m not a fan of art that’s blurred to give it a more realistic impression and that’s what’s been done with Doomsday’s hands just under the top text. This looks good, but it would be better without the blur. The Variant cover is by Ryan Sook and it’s an outstanding shot of Wonder Woman rushing into action. Her shield reflects the images of Superman and Doomsday, with the Kryptonian using his heat vision on the monster. Flat out amazing! Overall grades: Regular A- and Variant A+

The story: The mystery man in green states, “Events are moving swiftly. More so than I had anticipated.” He knows that Lois and Jon are watching their father from home as he battles Doomsday. However he adds, “And then the Wild Card. A human Clark Kent.” It seems even he has not foreseen this character’s appearance. And this human had not imagined the monster rearing up before him, its fists raised to smash him. That is until Wonder Woman zooms in and save him. She realizes that this Clark is not the man she’s familiar with since he’s broken his arm. She makes a sling for Clark before turning to see Superman rise out of the rubble and deliver two uppercuts to the antagonist. The two heroes team up after a bit of necessary explanation to readers who were fans of the Superman-Wonder Woman relationship. The fighting goes on for several pages, until Doomsday, again, does something unexpected. I appreciated this from writer Dan Jurgens, who has made this iconic villain much, much more intelligent than he was the first time he appeared in comics. Lex Luthor’s reappearance on Page 12 was great, with his ego, even in this neutral surrounding, being almost as large as his head. The realization that hits the Smith family on 14 is outstanding and had me genuinely nervous for the mother and son. Big kudos must also go to Jurgens for giving the book a few pages to reinforce the closeness of this family. I’m absolutely loving whenever time is given to these characters to show their relationships, something that often seems to be missing in superhero books. Naturally, the threat reappears to stop the family time, but I was ready for the action to resume and it does, closing out with a great cliffhanger. This is a really enjoyable read. Overall grade: A

The art: Cutting to the chase: this book looks incredible. Tyler Kirkham does spectacular work on this book. I admit to being concerned with the opening character, who looks the oldest that I’ve seen him look. However, this character quickly gives way to the fighting. The double-paged spread of Pages 2 and 3 is epic as Wonder Woman saves Clark Kent from Doomsday’s fists. The antagonist looks awesome and Wonder Woman is gorgeous and strong. I really appreciate that the backgrounds don’t suffer in this image, with debris being more than visible, the buildings (that are still standing) shown, as are the concerned bystanders that are way too close to the action. The entrance of Superman on 5 is great, with him knocking the monster back. I also like the tiny panel that includes Jon at home watching his father, whose actions match those of the reader’s. I love how Kirkham uses Doomsday’s thin strands of hair to show the creature’s movement. When the two heroes agree to join forces at the bottom of 7 it’s poster, print, and tee shirt worthy. The second through fourth panels on 10 are a great way to show how one character’s actions have a distant result. The final panel on Page 12 is the first time I’ve seen this character make that facial gesture and it was worth the price of the cover alone. With that gesture, I now want to see much, more of this character on his own. The realization that hits three characters on 14 is great, and the action in the fourth panel perfect. The tension is raised perfectly on 15, with the final panel on that page demanding the reader turn the page as soon as possible. The panel at the top of 17 absolutely sold the dialogue; so much so, it’s one of the visual highlights of the book because of the emotion it conveys. Speaking of emotion, the final panel on 19 screams off the page and at the reader because of how Kirkham illustrated that character. The issue ends with a splash page showing two titans tussling and it’s going to get people lining up at the their comic book stores now for the conclusion. Every page of this book is epic. Overall grade: A+

The colors: Ulises Arreola has a really difficult job with this book. Kirkham is putting an incredible amount of detail into every panel and it falls upon Arreola to direct the reader where to look. His coloring of the first panel had me thinking I was looking at artwork by Alex Ross; this is due to the terrific work on the character’s clothing. When Doomsday first arrives he’s surrounded by a pale orange, that represents the character’s fury, and, as the book progresses, the violence that he inflicts upon the city and the heroes. This was a nice change up from the traditional use of reds in action sequences. It additionally makes the gray of the character’s body stand out, as well as make his shorts strong in green. Superman’s dark blue costume is an eye magnet in every panel. Whenever the antagonist speaks his utterances are in a sickly pale green, giving him a disturbing flavor. Everything Arreola does I like. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Dialogue, Doomsday speech, sounds, the story’s title, the book’s credits, yells, narration, scene settings, and the tease for next issue are by Rob Leigh. I am loving Doomsday’s every word, which are deliciously disturbing looking. The sounds make every punch reverberate off the page. However, my favorite contribution by Leigh on this book is Jon’s, “Dad!Overall grade: A

The final line: This is quickly becoming one of my favorite comics. It lives up to the title: Action. Not only action, but characters as well. I really enjoyed this. Overall grade: A

To find out more about this book or other titles with 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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