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Action Comics #1054
DC Comics

Comic Books

‘Action Comics’ #1054 has an anime-style power-up

Kal-El flexes in the main story, while the backups falter.

Action Comics’ main story, “Power Like This!” by Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Max Raynor, builds towards an exciting confrontation with a familiar adversary. The backups are also here.

SPOILERS AHEAD for Action Comics #1054!

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Picking up immediately where the previous issue left off, we find Otho-Ra in the aftermath of what appears to have been an attack perpetuated by her. Upon being approached by her brother and Superman (Jon), the trio are attacked by Metallo and his drones, resulting in the twins being captured. Jon’s reaction to this development is interesting, as he seems to be wrestling with his newfound position and responsibility not only as (a) Superman, but as the eldest sibling of the Kent house. 

With Superman (Clark) arriving on the scene shortly after, Metallo is tracked to a LexCorp site across town. Despite attempting to talk him down, Superman is made to face a massive Kryptonite blast from Metallo. Almost effortlessly, Superman tanks the attack and proceeds to not only put his fist in Metallo’s chest, but form a Susanoo large energy avatar from the Genesis fragment that powers Metallo’s new heart.

Action Comics #1054

This sequence, not to mention the entire main story, is brought to life by Raynor’s art, which itself is similar yet distinct from Rafa Sandoval’s art from previous issues in the series. This is to say that it’s perfectly fine, particularly in the head-sculpt area where Sandoval’s work gets more than a little same-y; Raynor is able to make Metallo look legitimately menacing, in part due to the crackling flame-like energy effets that radiate from Metallo’s chassis. Everything else in the issue looks largely fine, though my only other complaint on the art front lies with the fact that we are not seeing Superman’s (Jon’s) jacket as often as I would like.

Following this, in typical fashion, Superman (Clark) proceeds to swiftly dispatch Metallo with a combination of this new Genesis-related ability and multiple well-placed shots of heat vision, before offering to help him rescue his sister. It’s only two pages, but the sequence speaks volumes on Superman being helpful to almost everyone, whether ally or adversary. And now, with Metallo as a (presumably) temporary partner, Superman and co. shall go on to trade blows with Tracy Corben’s captor. 

On the one hand, this story is perfectly fine, doing nothing egregiously wrong or offensive (unless you’re the type to take issue with fictional characters developing new powers seemingly out of the blue) while introducing some interesting ideas that may be revisited in future issues. On the other hand, with the reveal of what appears to be the “true” antagonist of this arc, I’m concerned that Johnson may fall into the same trap as the end of the Warworld arc, that is, compressing a great deal of content into one climactic issue.

Then there are the backup stories, which have arguably gone from average to poor. For starters, the Jurgens story, “Home Again, Part Four”, has lost Lee Weeks on art duties, which immediately caused this one to plummet in enjoyment for me, as the previous installments had not really been anything to write home about. Norm Rapmund, the replacement artist, isn’t bad, but when compared to the more stylized illustrations of Weeks, the quality difference is night and day. Add to that a twist that barely warranted a groan, and this first backup is, by and large, a dud.

The second backup, “Steel: Engineer of Tomorrow, Part One”, is borderline alright, though I think I enjoyed the previous backup featuring Power Girl and Lilith more. Written by Dorado Quick with art by Yasmín Flores Montañez, the dialogue is pretty hit or miss throughout, while the rehashing of Steel’s origin comes across as tired and rote (though this might be someone’s first comic book, so I digress).

In any case, the fight between Steel and Amalgam was not bad, and Steel’s speech at the end of the showed that Quick seems to have some grasp on Steel’s (John Henry’s) voice as someone trying to live up the example of Superman by his own means as a working class man turned corporate-type. If anything, while I don’t think the story is bad overall, I’m partially of the mind that the information presented in this backup story (however long it runs) will be summarized or referenced in the opening issue of the upcoming Steelworks by Michael Dorn and Sami Basri, making this backup story spot potentially more befitting of another member of the Super-family/supporting cast (though whether or not I would read that is another matter entirely).

All in all, while I won’t not recommend this issue for those who are keen to keep up with the main story, the backup stories may make Action Comics #1054 a tough sell for readers that want to get the most bang for their buck. This won’t be enough for me to drop the title, but I can only hope that Johnson can keep his foot on the gas in order to maintain the interest of the Superman fandom. 

Action Comics #1054
‘Action Comics’ #1054 has an anime-style power-up
Action Comics #1054
If you're keen to see Superman get another new power that will probably be forgotten after this run, you'll want to pick this up. Otherwise, you can let this one ride the discount bin.
Reader Rating0 Votes
Writing is good – PKJ seems to be setting up some future development for Jon, while also continuing to excel at writing Clark.
Art is also good, Raynor maintains the quality set by Sandoval.
Quick backup is just fine...
...but that's it. Neither a total win or loss.
Jurgens backup is not it.
Table-setting of previous issues prompts concerns for arc conclusion.
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