Friday, August 27, 2021

Review: Action Comics #1034

 Action Comics #1034 came out this week and again was another gripping, highly entertaining issue. This title has really been firing on all cylinders. I have been extremely impressed with this story that Phillip Kennedy Johnson has been crafting here. And that means something when I already know that the end of this arc is Superman off-world, a result I wasn't too keen on.

In particular, there are a couple of plot points that I really like. 

 For one, this is a bit of an angrier, more pro-active Superman than I am used to. You can see how the idea of a planet of tortured slaves existing is such a problem to him, such a horror that he simply can't stand by. He has to act even if it against his usual pattern. From his slamming his fist on the JL table last month to things he does in this issue, he is almost unhinged ... at least for him. 

I also love how Kara is being portrayed in this arc. She is often the smartest and most mature hero in the room. I love how in this issue she calls Superman out for his actions, wondering if there was a better way. This is such a different person from the angry, sulking, loner who feels so disconnected she left Earth to get drunk in the current Woman of Tomorrow mini-series.

Christian Duce is on art this issue. Duce really shines in the action sequences. Also, his expressive work on Superman definitely conveys the frank rage Kal is feeling over some of the politics at play here.

On to the book!

We start in the Fortress where a gun toting Lois and Thao La face off against the three marauders Mongul sent from Warworld. 

These killers remind Thao that she was sent to kill Kal. And since she isn't doing that, they have been activated. They are armed with some sort of glowing orb as a 'mighty gift'. To show they mean business, the pulp the other Phaelosian refugees still receiving medical treatment.

This triggers Thao-La who unleashes her heat vision and just vaporizes them.

Brutal scene all around but definitely shows just how big a threat these beings were as well as showing how powerful Thao has become.

It also reminds Thao just what Mongul has over her.

If she doesn't do what she has been told Mongul will kill all the Phaelosians. 

All that good she was feeling, all that 'Superman makes me feel calm' sentiment we have heard from her is pushed aside. She just immolated three people. And it looks like Lois is next.

I was hoping that Lois' gun would be name dropped as a Neural Impacter or a Plasm Disrupter.

No such luck!

Meanwhile, Superman is in the middle of a U.S. Navy and Atlantean Armada standoff. Remember, this all stems from Atlantis claiming the Source Wall rock and all the damage that ensued.

I like how initially Superman tries to calm everyone's nerves, offering standard solutions to things like this. How about a tariff? Or escorts?

But these military forces don't want Superman's help. And Superman isn't happy about that. Not one bit. Look how aggravated he is! Great artwork there.

But when the fleets fire on each other, aggravation become anger. There is a great panel of Superman screaming 'ENOUGH'.

He speeds between them kicking up the water and freezing it with his superbreath creating a wall of ice between the forces. That is one ticked off Superman there. And look at the surprise on Jon and Kara's face. They aren't used to seeing that. 

Neither are we!

If the Source Rock is the cause of all this political blustering and shows of force, Superman will remove the root of the problem.

What a great exchange. Aquaman says he thought it would be Batman who would take the rock. But if Superman does this, things will change.

Even his friends aren't used to Superman acting like this.

Superman says it plainly to the fleets on the surface. He can't allow Warworld to bring death and suffering to Earth, even if it is secondary to this power source.

And then this wonderful Supergirl moment.

As I have said, Johnson really has given us a great Supergirl in his run. Here she says to Superman that he probably shouldn't have done what he did. While she wasn't sure what the right move was, she knows it wasn't this.

This will only inflame people more. There will be consequences.

 Superman stopping a bloody battle with ice I understand. Grabbing the stone the Atlanteans say is theirs? Well, maybe he should have paused.

Once more, we see how out of character this is for Superman. His younger cousin knows this is wrong. But good for her for having the courage to call him out about it. 

Just brilliant characterization. 

And Superman still looks miffed!

But then the three realize that things aren't right at the Fortress. No vital signs can be detected.

When they speed in, they find Lois in a chokehold and Thao saying she didn't want to do this.

All along Jon has worried she is some traitor, some spy from Mongul. So it makes perfect sense that he is the one who springs into action to attack. You can see how she is wielding that 'mighty gift' that the other killers were intent on using. 

But you see how torn Thao is, crying and asking for forgiveness. 

Great art in that last panel. Great cliffhanger.

Not much more to say. I loved every bit of this issue. From Superman's actions, his irritation, Kara's response, and the pressure on Thao, this storyline has been very engaging and entertaining.

Overall grade: A


Martin Gray said...

I agree, excellent issue, especially for Kara fans. I don’t like Thao-La, mind, yes, she had a tough upbringing but she’s too much of a loose cannon to have been left alone with a regular human. Thank goodness for the Lois cannon.

Anj said...

My guess is Thao sees the error of her ways next issue.

Thao shalt not kill?

Martin Gray said...

Oh well done, sir!

Anonymous said...

The whole story remains intriguing and well-written, and Duce's art was excellent. And his Kara exchanged her yellow corset back for her belt - yay!


Anonymous said...

Hello from a french fan of supergirl,

Good teamwork to repel the missiles and i hadn't noticed the supergirl belt return.

Superman had "enough" of this war of ego between atlantis and the usa. Mongul played every well to divide the planet and put Superman in trouble.

On other hand, are the two phaelosiens still alive ? i fell like lazer vision touched them after the big head shock.

Professor Feetlebaum said...

Phillip Kennedy Johnson seems to be of the Brian Michael Bendis school of Supergirl writing. Enjoy these wonderful Supergirl moments when you can, because they don't come up too often these days.

I didn't notice Kara's belt either. That she wasn't wearing the corset thing just didn't register. I'd like to see more of Christian Duce's Supergirl.