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Action Comics #1050
DC Comics

Comic Books

‘Action Comics’ #1050 braces us for change

The darkness before the Dawn of DC.

If you’ve been reading any of DC’s more recent comics, or have an ear to the ground regarding news from the blue corner, you’ve no doubt seen the ads for the sweeping changes that are coming to the Superman comics landscape. Action Comics #1050 promises to be the launch point you’re looking for if you haven’t already been keeping up with Philip Kennedy Johnson’s run on the title, complete with some changes to the status quo and peppering of setup for upcoming issues of Superman and Action Comics.

Without getting into spoiler territory, Action Comics #1050 is largely a transitory comic, to the point where the last five pages are dedicated to teasers for Superman, Action Comics, and Adventures of Superman, respectively. Given that hitherto, AC has been a Superman solo comic, it’s necessary that there be time dedicated to how the Superman family of comics is about to change, though the execution leaves a little to be desired in this case. In particular, given the inconsistent quality of the Kal-El Returns Special issue, I believe the story provided in #1050 would have made an excellent substitute narrative for the three stories on display in the Special.

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Further, while the issue presents a (very comic booky-y) solution to a problem carried over from the Bendis runs, this development presents more problems than may be obvious from a first glance or cursory reading of the issue. How Taylor, Williamson, and Johnson choose to tackle this change in their respective Superman titles will be interesting to see, along with any accompanying fallout, but this initial showing does not fill me with confidence on a narrative level.

'Action Comics' #1050 braces us for change
DC Comics

On the other hand though, the art on display here is more than acceptable, especially the contributions from Nick Dragotta, showing Superman’s raw power in an incredibly stylized fight sequence starting in the streets of Metropolis. Clayton Henry and Mark Perkins both have good showings here too, with Henry’s simple but sharp illustrations contrasting well with Perkins’ more true-to-life watercolor stylings.

Finally, despite any quibbles I may have with the actual story of this issue, it’s always fun to watch Superman really show his enemies who they’re dealing with. This issue is no exception, as the final portion of Superman’s fight with Luthor has Clark perform a feat that will surely be played up by comic book fanpages on social media, while also potentially providing some low-key setup for Jon’s upcoming adventures as Superman.

A few other things I noticed:

  • I still don’t know how to feel about Manchester Black’s role in this specific issue after seeing how willing he was to work with Superman in the Warworld Saga. It’s just a little strange to me that he would do what he did, leading to him being in the situation that he’s in during this issue.
  • Very convenient to have all the important supporting characters at the Kent Farm when the big status quo change takes effect.
  • Lex’s play to get Superman on his side is bafflingly silly and bold, i.e. par for the course for him.
  • On the one hand, Lex’s Warsuit in this issue is pretty garish (‘LEX’ in big block letters is a neat touch). On the other hand, I love that there’s a little *PING* sound effect from his suit, leading me to think he’s got some New God technology on hand to do with as he pleases. Typical Luthor.
    • However, even this upsets me a little as it reminds me of the squandered potential of Lex as a Superman that we saw in Jurgens’ run on Action Comics during the Rebirth era.
  • Perkins renders Clark to look like Henry Cavill in one panel :(

Action Comics #1050 is not bad. However, I found myself asking myself “why?” more often than I’d like when reading a Superman comic. I sincerely hope that PKJ is able to continue on the momentum he’s built since his Future State debut as a Superman writer, but I would be lying if I said that this issue blew me away. Perhaps my tune will change when the actual “new era” begins in #1051, but until then, I am remaining cautious of this next stage in the Superman narrative.

Action Comics #1050
‘Action Comics’ #1050 braces us for change
Action Comics #1050
Time will tell whether or not Action Comics #1050 is truly the beginning of a new Golden Age for the Last Son of Krypton, or the latest failure by DC to effectively utilize its most important character. Despite the excellent art, a handful of questionable decisions leave me with less confidence in the upcoming Superman family relaunch.
Reader Rating0 Votes
Excellent art across the board from Perkins, Henry, and Dragotta
Nice sequence of Clark showing his powers post-Warworld Saga
Entertaining story on display here...
...that is unfortunately marred by some strange writing choices
Feels like mildly inconsequential, borderline filler content before #1051 (especially when the Kal-El Returns Special felt even more like filler than this)
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