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Action Comics #51 Review

Comic Books

Action Comics #51 Review

Action Comics plays host to part three of “The Final Days of Superman,” an eight part story about Superman preparing for his inevitable death. That’s right, Superman is dying, but because his heart is so big and he’s one of the greatest heroes ever, he’s attempting to make it so that Earth doesn’t go without a protector. So far the series has been rather good, but how about part 3? Is it good?

Action Comics #51 (DC Comics)

Action Comics #51 Review

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This issue opens where the last part left off and DC puts it succinctly in their summary:

Superman is shocked to learn that Kara has been missing for some time as part three of “Super League” begins! Now, with Batman’s help, Kal-El is on his cousin’s trail—but he can’t believe where it’s leading him and who she has joined!

Why does this book matter?

Peter J. Tomasi is writing a classic comic book arc over multiple titles, not only incorporating elements from each (like Batman in the last chapter), but capitalizing on different art styles that imbue different aspects of Superman. Batman/Superman #31 had a darker tone and a younger looking Superman, while this chapter has a older and more refined looking Superman. We’re getting a variety of tastes of Superman, including a new version that’s clearly evil and on a rampage in this story arc.

Action Comics #51 Review
“Hey Fred your eyes are on fire again.”

Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?

First off, we get a nice check-in with Supergirl aka Kara as to where she’s been and what she’s been doing. Tomasi reveals she’s involved with a company attempting to revitalize her since Vandal Savage leeched much of her powers. It provides a slightly new angle on the superhero business and makes one wonder if she can really take the reigns from Superman once/if he dies.

Tomasi is doing a great job with the slow burn of side stories involving a mysterious woman from China and the “new” Superman. Each issue checks in on the characters revealing a bit more info, but instead of feeling slow and infuriating he’s done a great job giving us just enough info to pique our interest. This new character who claims to be Superman has been heroic in issues past, but also a jerk–in this issue though, we see he’s anything but. I don’t want to spoil it, but just know it gets very dangerous at the Daily Planet very fast.

The art by Paul Pelletier with inks by Sandra Hope Archer has a decidedly 90s superhero feel to them. Particularly in the opening pages as Superman rushes to save Kara do these pages show a detailed Superman that looks great. One of the best moments takes place in the flashback scene, which is told in a double page spread with Kara’s cape dissecting the past and the present. This page is gorgeous and not only easy to follow but quickly explains her past in dramatic action. The false Superman sequence is also great fun to follow with panels that showcase his insanity, but also the unbridled power at his fingertips. It’s going to be fun to see him take on Superman in later issues.

It can’t be perfect can it?

A few things didn’t ring quite as true as Tomasi may have wanted. In the opening sequence Superman appears to be a bit erratic when he rescues Kara, even telling an innocent person to shut up. It would make sense that Superman isn’t himself seeing as he’s dying and all, but it seemed out of character for the good-hearted hero we know and love. Finally, the cliffhanger is one of those moments that’s just there. It didn’t build from anything, nor did it make me want to read the next issue no matter what, so in that regard it didn’t work for me.

The art for the most part is fantastic, but I did catch an oddly small head on Superman in one panel and, unless I’m mistaken, the bad Superman doesn’t look like he did in the last two issues. Either he’s a new character or the face is a bit off and that created a bit of confusion for me.

Action Comics #51 Review
I want a Fortress of Solitude!

Is It Good?

“The Final Days of Superman” continues to progress the growing threats to Superman well as he plans for his eventual death. The art is detailed and pretty and this third chapter, aside from a few hiccups, makes me excited to read it all over again once all eight chapters are released.

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