Friday, July 28, 2017

Review: Action Comics #984

Action Comics #984 came out this week and was another incredible issue, wrapping up the Revenge storyline in a very entertaining and satisfying way. I really feel like this was a big blockbuster movie of an arc. There was tremendous action. There were incredible character moments. There was a reclamation of a supervillain who I was tired of seeing. And best of all, there was the return of some Superman mythos, something that will be fascinating to follow.

Writer Dan Jurgens really weaved a wonderful story as the motivation of the villains completely flipped halfway through the story, keeping me very engaged and on the edge of my seat. I said it last issue and I'll say it again. This is the best General Zod story I have read in about 20 years. I have been bored with Zod prior to this arc where he suddenly became a deadly, strategic, and somewhat sympathetic character.

After seeing Jack Herbert and Viktor Bogdanovic play with all the Superman family, we get Patrick Zircher's take. The art here is stunning. As always, Zircher gives the proceedings a cinematic feel, delivering a well-paced and gorgeous book.

And we get more Mr. Oz ...

On to the book.

Last issue, the Superman Family (sans Supergirl) was sent into the Phantom Zone by Zod, along with the Cyborg Superman and the Eradicator. It is clear that Zod has a mission for the Eradicator. And Blanque is maintaining a telepathic link despite the agony it is causing him.

Once within the Zone, whatever part of the Dark Vault which blinded Superman is purged. He can see again.

I love this panel by Zircher showing the nightmarish landscape of the Zone. And we hear about how the body is intangible. It is repaired in that state and no one ages. So this sounds a little different than how we have seen the Zone portrayed over in Supergirl's book.

And I love Luthor saying the Zone has potential. Everything he says has a sort of ominous undercurrent. He isn't the purest hero is he.

 I also have lots of questions about the Zone though. The 'body is intangible' seems to be wrong. Because a page later, the Superman Family battles the Cyborg and the Eradicator physically. So are the bodies intangible? Or not? How does the Eradicator fire energy beams (especially when a couple of pages later Superman says the Eradicator has no energy powers in the Zone)?

I know the Zone is an odd place. But some basic laws about it that are absolute would help me as a reader.

Initially, Zod played along with the Cyborg as a member of the Revenge Squad. But it became clear last issue that he has his own agenda.

In this issue, both Metallo and Mongul try to challenge Zod, he dispatches them. Mongul wants to rule the cosmos? Here is a left uppercut sending you there. This is a Zod I want to read!

I love this page. That is amazing! Brilliant.

Remember how it seemed that the Superman team was hopelessly outgunned. Well, Zod is taking out some of the villains for them.

It turns out that Lois and Jon were not in the vaporized escape pod from last issue.

The disembodied voice tells Jon to get into the armor and use it to attack.

I thought the voice might be Mon-El. But it is someone who knows the armor well ... more on this later.

Hmmmm ... 

 Jon's attack is a momentary pause in Zod's attacks. Quickly Zod begins to dismantle the armor and threatens to kill Jon.

But that pause is enough to let Supergirl regain her senses. What a great panel.

I have been waiting to see Zircher's take on Kara. I am not disappointed. What a fabulous panel. Just fantastic.

 I said this last issue when Zod lost his mind when he saw that Superman had a wife and child.

Is this because Zod thinks it weakens the Kryptonian bloodline? Or is this somehow linked to Zod being denied a family? Are Ursa and Chris Kent in continuity? Is Zod upset because Clark has something that Zod wants, that Zod lost??

Turns out I was right. As Superman is battling the Eradicator, he is surprised by two new combatants ... Ursa and Lor-Zod!!!

Check out Lor-Zod's smirk. This isn't your happy-go-lucky Chris Kent.

So the mission for the Eradicator was to find Zod's family.

I loved Ursa in the New Krypton arc, a completely unhinged, killing machine. So I love having her back in continuity. The question is what history has occurred between these people. Yet another very satisfying twist in this arc.

 And Lois gets into the act, sending Krypto (remember he was there) into battle. Supergirl bashes Metallo.

I don't know if I can tell you how giddy I am as a reader with this arc. So many characters! A huge throwdown! And Supergirl and Krypto vs. General Zod!!!

So fantastic.

But Zod is able to extricate himself enough to open up the Zone. Zod, Ursa, Lor-Zod, the Eradicator, and Superman all spill out.

With Zod injured and wanting to protect his family, the three and the Eradicator fly off.

And while Kara thinks they should follow, Superman says saving their friends from the Zone is more important.

Check out Blanque. That telepathic link into the Zone overwhelmed even his mind!

So just like that the battle is over.

 Except for this delicious bit of justice.

Superman releases his friends from the Zone. But he leaves the Cyborg Superman there.

I kind of cheered a little at this moment. Another winner in this issues!

Nothing left but an unbelievable wrap-up.

The voice helping Jon? Mr. Oz. The fact he knew about the armor does give some credence to the recent theory that Oz is Jor-El (from some continuity). It would explain all the 'I have taught you' moments and his willingness to keep Jon alive. But Oz always seems to use the name 'Clark' ... not 'Kal'. I think Jor would use the Kryptonian name.

And Zod? It looks like he has gone to another world, one with two yellow suns, to establish a new Krypton. Whatever this world is, it is inhabited. Zod talks about needing three days to take over. Any guesses about this planet? I am going to go out on a limb and say it is Colu! Hello Brainiac!!!

So overall I loved loved loved this arc. It was just a spectacular story, gaining momentum as it moved along rather than slowing down. And it had enough surprise twists to keep me engaged. Plus it was the reinvention of the Superman Family, fighting as a unit. Just wonderful.

Overall grade: B+


Martin Gray said...

with strong plotting from Dan Jurgens (and his editors?) and fantastic visuals from Patch Zircher and co.

I'm definitely not buying into Jor-El as Mr Oz, though - for one thing, there's no continuity since the Silver Age in which he's known Kal-El long enough to have taught him anything. Even then it wouldn't have been much beyond how to eat Kryptonian cereal!

Anonymous said...

A wonderful read indeed.

My one big gripe is the healing aspect of the phantom zone. It creates more questions than it answers. Would Mon-El heal in the phantom zone now? I wish they would define the general behavior of the Phantom Zone so it doesn't feel like every writer makes their own interpretation. In hindsight, the whole blindness thing felt meaningless when it was so easily fixed by Deus Ex Machina. It now feels like a plot point for Superman to bring in the family, but I think it shouldn't have to take Superman going blind to call for the Superfamily.

I hope this writer gets to do more Action Comics Family teamups soon.


Jude Deluca said...




No seriously you have no idea how pissed off everyone is that Chris was brought back but, like, with Zod. It was bad enough when DC decided he didn't exist anymore but this put some people over the edge.

Martin Gray said...

I've not seen this online outrage but I don't doubt a few people are complaining very loudly; such is the internet. If this change has put people over the edge they really need to get a grip.

TransformerMan said...

Love the cover! :)

Jude Deluca said...

Well not "edge" edge. I shouldn't have used hyperbole sorry.

Anonymous said...

"I've not seen this online outrage but I don't doubt a few people are complaining very loudly; such is the internet. If this change has put people over the edge they really need to get a grip."

I've seen some "fans" not only hating it but also coming to dislike Jon because of it. Irrational reaction because Jon has nothing to do with the decision to make Chris loyal to his father, but those same voices also hate Kara on the grounds that DC allegedly removed Cir-El to get her out of Kara's way (apparently we are to believe that Cir-El was a much beloved and popular character with a long run)

Anonymous said...

Lor-Zod (not the one from New Earth, this version, from the Prime Earth, never left the Phantom Zone) not only looks like his parents, but he's actually acting like them and being raised by them, which is the way it should have been. Get the fuck over it you losers! What was so great about Christopher Kent in the first place???? That was just dumb unoriginal crap and they couldn't even give him his own superhero name. But once again, DC fans show just how pathetic and greedy they are and are unwilling to ever except change in any shape or form and will cry like babies about it. You already have Jon Kent... the know, the actual son of Superman and Lois from the Pre-52 world... but that's just not good enough for them...

This issue actually humanized (to a certain level) Zod, his goal all along was to get his wife and kid back, not his army and that's one thing a lot of people are missing because there too busy being getting triggered...