Of all the titles revamped in the New 52, Superman’s books have been among the least consistent and most subject to creator turnover. Now, Greg Pak has taken the reins of Action Comics, and the first superhero is once again getting some good press from the fans within my earshot. Is this really a brand new start for the Man of Steel? Your Major Spoilers review of Action Comics #28 awaits!
ACTION COMICS #28
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Aaron Kuder
Coloris: Wil Quintana
Letterer: DC Lettering
Editor: Eddie Berganza
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $3.99
Previously in Action Comics: Thanks to a clash with an alien creature, Superman and his high school friend Lana Lang have been plunged into an uncanny adventure, traveling deep within the Earth’s crust alongside a warrior of that underworld. Unfortunately for the Man Of Tomorrow, he’s also being followed by the mysterious Ghost Soldier, a warrior whose powers make him dangerous, but whose intentions are murky at best. (He has also successfully stabbed Superman in the chest, a shocking moment in itself.) But what will they find, miles underground?
I LIKE THAT THEY USE LANA LANG.
I admit that I missed the announcement of Greg Pak taking over Action Comics, something that I probably would have checked out before now. Thanks to our weekly Staff Picks feature, though, I was clued in to the goings-on here, and I’m pretty glad that I did. The issue opens with Superman, Lana Lang and an alien warrior known as Ukur have traveled deep within the Earth to find the source of strange disturbances, only to find…
…cute fuzzy lemur-things? The most wonderful part of the issue for me comes right up front, as Clark and Lana (who knows, as she has since at least the mid-80s, Superman’s secret) have a lovely old friends moment. He even quietly ruminates how she used to get him in trouble in class the same way back in high school, offering a human side of Superman that I don’t recall reading much of since the universe was reset. As the story progresses, we’re introduced to a matriarchal subterranean society, some lovely bonding moments between Clark and Lana, and Lana’s hope that she may have just discovered a source of clean energy that could save the world. Pak does a lovely job of balancing the human and super sides of our main character, and the secondary characters (including a queen who is utterly dismissive of “the blue one”) make for a nice chapter of an ongoing tale, in the style of the old Republic serials.
THE ART IS VERY NICE.
Aaron Kuder does a lovely job with the art in this issue, with his linework reminding me of a slightly less angular Scott Kolins, and his take on the Jim Lee-designed Superman armor is one of the best I’ve seen since the kickoff of the New Fitty-Too. Especially nice is the way he handles Superman’s physique, giving him a muscular-but-not-musclebound look that I can only describe as “kinda like Randy Orton.” His Lana Lang is lovely, as well, and his battle sequences are kinetic and fun. The mysterious Ghost Soldier looks a little bit too generic paramilitary for me, but it seems like that’s part of his whole schtick, which makes me more likely to forgive the character design as intentional. As the issue comes to a close, Ghost Soldier and Superman come to an agreement, and the entire coterie makes their way back to the surface world with the energy globe, with Lana thinking that they’ve just change the world as they know it forever. Then, two back-to-back shocking moments turn everything on its head, leaving Superman in dire straits, and turning seemingly harmless characters into bigger threats than anything else in the issue.
THE BOTTOM LINE: IT’S A NICE ISSUE.
Pak and Kuder have delivered on the book’s title, with a lot of action (a fight scene with Superman and Ghost Soldier against an army of stone monsters is pretty exciting) but a thoughtful story in place as well. It’s nice to see someone putting the lie to the expectation that having super-powers makes Superman utterly without weakness and boring, and I’m hoping to see much more from this team, even if higher profile Superman books like Unchained and the upcoming Geoff Johns run on ‘Superman’ may overshadow it. Action Comics #28 had a tough sell going in, but delivered a clever, meaningful tale with some excellent artwork throughout, even surprising me with the final pages, earning a very impressive 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. Here’s hoping that we’re at the dawn of a new era of excitement for the Man of Steel, if only to appease those of us who are still bugged by the whole armored suit…