In Review: Action Comics #989

A conversation, a confrontation, a meeting, and a seduction make this a highly enjoyable read.

The covers: A trio that you don’t have to be a man of steel to track down. The lenticular cover is by Nick Bradshaw and Brad Anderson. This features an image of Superman holding the Earth carefully in his hands, looking at it with reverence. Move the cover a bit and the illustration transforms to Jor-El holding the world and crushing it in his hands. This is a study in contrasts that works well. There’s also a non-lenticular version that features the same imagery, though with Superman on the left side of the cover and Jor-El on the right. As much as I liked both of these covers, I purchased the Variant cover by Neil Edwards and Jeromy Cox. This has Jor-El in a fury, punching his way through The Daily Planet’s golden globe that sits upon the building that houses the paper. I like the anger in the character and the destruction he’s causing. Overall grades: All A

The story: After the previous two issues focusing on Jor-El’s reveal and justifications for watching his super son, it was surprising to have writer Dan Jurgens begin at The Daily Planet as Miss Janet tells J.B. to be brave. They enter the lobby and he tells her to go home. Perry White, Jimmy Olsen, and Lois Lane are dismayed at all the chaos that seems to broken out across the globe. They wonder where Superman is. Oblivious, Jonathan Kent plays a video game. Shots disturb their thoughts and the trio see J.B. burst in with a pistol. He’s also got explosives strapped to a vest on him. He says, “That’s right. We’re all goin’ to see God. Together.” This dramatic scene is put on pause as the story shifts back to the Fortress of Solitude where Jor-El tries to convince his son to abandon the people of Earth. When words aren’t enough, he has Kelex access news outlets and private networks to show the inhumanities occurring around the world. The shocking scenes compel Superman to leave to help his adoptive planet, leaving his father to fume. There’s a surprising moment from a supporting character on Page 7, creating a countdown clock in the second panel. The warring nations, though briefly seen, have some good justification for their actions, though there are some visual clues that they’re in the wrong. I was fooled by 11 and immensely pleased by the surprising conversation on 12 and 16. The high point of the book is the final four pages. It was creepy and hit all the right marks to keep the prey interested. I have to know what happens next. Overall grade: A+

The art: Dan Jurgens is the breakdown artist on this issue with Viktor Bogdanovic doing pencils and Bogdanovic and Trevor Scott doing inks. This book looks terrific. J.B. is ferociously intense on the opening page, shown only in profile and from the right side of his face. His opposite is Miss Janet, who is small and unassuming. The bottom of the page has them entering the lobby of the Planet and the tone is ominous with J.B.’s hand in his jacket pocket. His full reveal at the bottom of 2 shows he’s more than just a crazed gunman. Page 3 returns to the Fortress of Solitude showing father and son staring each other down. The second and third panels on the page are close-ups of the pair, showing how they feel at the moment. The father is calm and cool, while the son is ready to fight. There’s a full-paged splash on 4 showing all the horrors occurring in the world and Superman’s reaction is perfect. Better still is his reaction and action on 5, leaving both characters unsatisfied. On 6 and 7 the scene returns to the Planet and take note how J.B. never has a complete image of his face shown; this is a good way to show him as someone incapable of clearly seen or understood. The character he’s speaking with is clearly shown, showing this individual to be the audience’s voice. 11 teases someone, leading to a great reveal on 12. I am in love with the look of the character in the second panel on 13. It’s really subtle, but check out the neck tattoos on 8 and 15 — how long has this influence been going on? The seduction of one character that runs through Pages 17 – 20 is incredible. Each character’s face puts a good spin on what each is saying and feeling. The last page had me momentarily believe it was glimpse into Otto Binder and Al Plastino’s famous creations, but no. For all the action and harsh emotion, this book looks beautiful. Overall grade: A+ 

The colors: Notice when the two villains are having their conversation in the elevator the colors are dim and dark, representing the pair. When they arrive at their destination, the colors go bright, while they have gone even darker in the final panel; even in the light their natures are dark. Mike Spicer knows exactly how to use colors to enhance the story’s tone. The first panel at the top of 3 has some great lighting effects streaking around the characters. Again, take note of how Spicer increases the tone, with the character in the second panel streaked in light, while the other is complete clear to the reader — nothing is hidden or obscured. Colors conceal the identity of a character on 11, allowing the reveal on 12 to be especially dramatic. When Superman goes into action the colors are yellows and orange to intensity what’s occurring. The bright colors on the final page had me hoping…but, no. Spicer is doing a great job on this book. Overall grade: A+

The letters: Rob Leigh is responsible for dialogue, transmissions, sounds, yells, Kelex’s dialogue, the book’s credits, scene settings, narration, and the tease for next issue. I was really impressed by the variety of styles Leigh employs, especially Kelex’s dialogue and the sounds. One would expect a Superman book to have incredible sounds, and this does, with 11 having some terrific ones and a great yell from an individual in the first panel. Leigh makes reading this book a fun visual experience. Overall grade: A+

The final line: A conversation, a confrontation, a meeting, and a seduction make this a highly enjoyable read. More questions than answers in this issue, but it’s extremely entertaining. This Jor-El is quickly becoming one of Superman’s most readable foes. Overall grade: A+

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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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