In Review: Action Comics #990

This continues to make itself one of the best Rebirth stories of the DC Universe.

The covers: A trio of covers for this fun issue. The Regular cover is by Nick Bradshaw & Brad Anderson. This is the cover I purchased because seeing Superboy flying, using his heat vision, with his grandfather Jor-El behind him doing the same thing just looks flippin’ awesome! I love seeing images of heroes gone bad and that’s exactly what this is. The characters look terrific and the coloring is perfection! The Variant cover is by Neil Edwards & Jeromy Cox. This has the same two characters, but on the ground. Jonathan looks ready to fly off, though his grandfather holds him back with a hand on his shoulder, while shaking a fist at an unseen enemy. Behind the pair is a skyscraper with broken windows and a collapsed middle. Neat, but I’m not liking Jor-El and the background. The Lenticular cover features the same artwork as the Regular, though if moved slightly the horrific imagery is replaced with a blue sky that features Superboy flying next to Superman. Perfect contrasting images. Overall grades: Regular A, Variant C+, and Lenticular A+

The story: The fourth installment of “The Oz Effect” by Dan Jurgens opens with Superman right in the thick of things. He’s speeding through the capital city of Logamba trying to think of a way to save the citizens from a gas attack from rebels. Realizing that saving the people won’t stop the government from continuing to fight the rebels, he decides to make a change in his tactics. Convincing the two sides won’t be easy, but trouble is also afoot in Metropolis, where the gang at The Daily Planet have just discovered that Jonathan is missing. One character knows a way to contact someone to find the child. Meanwhile at the Fortress of Solitude, Jonathan continues to mesmerized by what grandfather Jor-El is telling him. The previous issue was great for having this seduction of the child begin by grandpa and it continues in this issue. His words wonderfully convince Superboy that only he can help his grandfather. What child wouldn’t feel similarly seeing what the boy has seen? There’s a great two page scene set in a secretive building in Metropolis that further demonstrates the foresight that Jor-El has in making Earth go insane. The final five pages of the book have the confrontation that the cover teased and it ends in a great cliffhanger. I’m loving the heck out of this story line. Overall grade: A

The art: The visuals on this book continue to look fantastic; the pencils are by Viktor Bogdanovic, with inks by Bogdanovic, Trevor Scott & Scott Hanna. The opening full-page splash has Superman zipping between two helicopters, upside down. This is exactly the strong image one wants to see begin a Superman book. This is followed by a vertical panel that stretches from Page 2 to 3 that’s a highly detailed look at a street in chaos, complete with people trying to escape the poison gas. The look on the Man of Steel’s face in the bottom left corner of Page 2 is great. The Kryptonian’s actions in the third and fourth panel on 4 are done in silhouette, but they look awesome as they showcase the hero’s speed. Look how positive and calm Jor-El is as he speaks to his grandson; he’s the very image of a dream relative that’s been missing from Jonathan’s past. However, when he gives the boy some bad news, notice how his face become shaded and his missing eye becomes the side he’s shown from, creating tension and an ominous tone. Pages 10 and 11 are really creepy, suggesting things without revealing specifics to the reader. The splash on 12 is only missing heroic music, it looks that perfect. When the characters come together on the final pages, take a look at Jonathan’s eyes which go wide with shock and confusion. It’s a terrific way to make him wholly sympathetic. Overall grade: A

The colors: I expect Superman’s adventures to be as colorful as the character’s costume, and this book is. Mike Spicer starts the book off with a sickly orange to insinuate the trouble in the city, then uses a delightfully morbid alien green for the gas. Superman’s cape creates a fantastic red streak whenever he speeds through a panel. The interiors of the Fortress of Solitude are faded initially in soft, faded colors to accentuate the dream that Jor-El is selling his grandson. However, when his tone becomes tense, the soft colors become stronger, showing the intrusion of reality. Returning to Superman’s adventures, the colors go bold for the night scenes that are full of explosions. It’s impossible not to look at the blue wide eyes of Jonathan on the final pages. They’ll melt your heart. Overall grade: A

The letters: Narration, scene settings, the story’s title, the book’s credits, dialogue, yells, an editorial note, and the tease for next issue are created by Rob Leigh. Every piece of text that Leigh crafts works. The scene settings are an elongated font, slightly tilted, as if they enter a panel at a Kryptonian’s speed. The dialogue is neat and easy to read, and when someone yells it dominates the page. The sounds are spectacular, but would one expect any less from a Superman book? I particularly like the BRAA-KAAASSH. Overall grade: A

The final line: This continues to make itself one of the best Rebirth stories of the DC Universe. The story is engaging and the visuals are out of this world. You want this! 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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