Action Comics kicked into a higher gear last month as Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Daniel Sampere introduced a Warworld story that’s hard to look away from. A mysterious flying barge of a ship was being attacked, and when Superman broke inside to save its crew, he discovered Kryptonians! It’s a mystery worth uncovering, and in Action Comics #1032, the third part of the story adds new wrinkles around the war coming to Earth.
This issue opens with Supergirl and Lois Lane coming to Superman’s aid. Superman is trying to calm down one of the Kryptonians that came over on her ship, but she’s scared and doesn’t know how to trust. Soon we learn a lot more about her people — in a clever sci-fi way, I might add — and the complexities of working with someone who has only known pain and torture.
This issue throws a few new wrenches into the mix including Aquaman, a Godzilla-like kaiju, and another clever use of Batman for this story arc. Once again, Johnson does a good job making all the drama and action feel organic, but never losing sight of Superman as the focal point. In the Batman scene, for instance, we get to see Superman take a meeting with Batman, who is in the act of stopping a gunman fleeing in a car. Seeing Superman float along with the car beside Batman tells us many things, like how Superman knows not to intervene and that Batman has got this handled.
The larger mystery of what happened to Mongul and what is going on with Warworld also begins to take shape. Nothing is said overtly, but if you’ve been paying attention, we’re starting to see how the opening scene to the story arc may be playing into Earth’s current problems.
The art by Sempere is top-notch stuff — he continues to show how he’s one of the best artists working in superhero comics today. From the epic scale of a kaiju attacking a city at night to the empathy that reads loud and clear on Superman’s face, there’s a wide range of emotions and cool-looking imagery. When a secret agent type of character pops up (no spoilers!), Sempere draws him in the most epic fashion. That’s aided by color artist Adriano Lucas, who has the ability to cast great lighting in a realistic way no matter the scene or environment. Dave Sharpe rounds out the high-quality book with top-notch lettering. The “Stay out” line is particularly cool and there’s some great alien language text going on in one scene, too.
One aspect that didn’t quite work is the Aquaman elements, which seem a bit shoehorned in toward the last part of the book. It slows the action and intrigue down a lot, and shifts focus away from what seemed to be the point of the book. It’ll likely pay off later, but it didn’t flow as naturally as it could have.
The backup by Michael Conrad, Becky Cloonan, and Michael Avon Oeming is great, too. Continuing Midnighter’s story, we get to see the plotting of the villain come together, and it’s twisted and horrific stuff. Midnighter’s confidence shines through in the captions, which open with him explaining a bit about his love for Apollo that makes sense. This creative team knows Midnighter is 50% badass and that shines through no matter the scene.
Action Comics continues to be high-quality comics, and it shows from the art to the intriguing story and character work. This is a triple-A title right now, which hasn’t always been the case, so it’s a great time to be a Superman fan.
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