Ideas percolating in DC Future State are beginning to rear their heads in the main books, and that’s evident in Action Comics. Phillip Kennedy Johnson introduced readers to one of the wildest concepts in Future State: Superman as he put our favorite flying hero into an entirely different world. Stuck in a constant state of fighting inside a gladiatorial ring, Superman is a slave to Mongul. This week, Action Comics #1030 drops us back into Warworld with Mongul on his throne and the world of Future State knocking on the door of the main universe. Prepare the war drums!
This issue is beautifully drawn by Daniel Sampere with colors by Adriano Lucas. The very first page shows off the Chainsmen of the Hordes kneeling on a waxed floor before Mongul pledging their allegiance. From the detailing in their costumes to their reflections on the floor and the sunlight peeking through on the left side of the page, it sets the mood and atmosphere before a bit of chaos takes place in Mongul’s world that sets in motion some real danger for Superman and Earth.
In the very next scene, Superman is put through the ringer by Batman to test out his powers and make sure he’s healthy. Even though Batman is in this book, Johnson makes it all about Superman and he cleverly uses Batman to prop up Superman and make his health all the more serious. Sampere draws Superman in a way that’s hopeful, positive, and inspiring. The glow of the sun on his shoulders by Lucas adds to that feel, which soothes the soul and reminds us Superman is the ideal.
The rest of the issue is comprised of only a few scenes, but each adds to the narrative in ways that are interesting. A scene between Damian and Jon plays into the fact that maybe Jon doesn’t want to be Superman one day (even though we know from this week’s news that will be the case) while Lois plays a part in Superman’s lineage in a clever way. Elements that make Superman great are all presented here, from family to futuristic science fiction technologies, to the incredible strength Superman has with him every act. It’s clear as day Johnson has a great handle on the character, and the varied scene changes all help keep the plot moving and the story interesting.
That goes for the final scene, which features a crazy flying warship not unlike something out of Mad Max. In a well-written and drawn double-page layout, Superman approaches the ship with confidence, gives Jon some strategy, takes out a few missiles, and realizes something is afoot with the ship. All of these elements build towards a cliffhanger that’s shocking to Superman and to the readers. It’ll also supply ample new twists for the narrative to explore in Action Comics #1031.
This issue also contains a backup featuring Midnighter by Becky Cloonan and Michael Conrad with art by Michael Avon Oeming. It’s a continuation of their story involving Midnighters from different timelines. It doesn’t serve as a good jumping-on point like the main Superman story and it actually reads confusingly since there are multiple voices and characters to keep track of. Its singular purpose is to get a rather simple plot element across, making the story feel limited.
Action Comics #1030 introduces readers to a new story arc that balances everything that makes Superman great under the ever-present danger of outside enemies. With its plotting always moving forward and Superman’s optimism stoked to the max, Action Comics brings the ideal Superman story to life.
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