Friday, September 30, 2022

Review: Action Comics #1047

Action Comics #1047 came out this week, the first part of the 'Kal-El Returns' arc. It was fantastic.

Phillip Kennedy Johnson has just come off the Warworld epic, a barbarian rebellion story where Superman leads and overcomes. Throughout that action filled tale, we had wonderful character moments showing us just who Superman is and just how he inspires.

I feel this issue serves two purposes, both epilogue to Warworld and prologue to the upcoming arc. So there isn't much action. But boy is there characterization. Superman continues to inspire. Luthor is chilling. Lois is supportive and loving. Metallo is forlorn and withdrawn. And the Super-family proper is ready for battle and thrilled to see their mentor returned home. They act like a family!

The whole book just sings. It is almost a primer for what Superman and his supporting cast should be. In particular, I haven't been this afraid of Luthor in a long time. There is something about this vindictive, deluded Lex that is more frightening than any 'merged with J'onn' Apex Lex ever was. Lex is evil but pictures himself as a humanist. Brrrr ...

Add to all these powerful moments, the fantastic art of Riccardo Federici sizzles here. It is emotive and lush and flowing. I love it. David Lapham continues to shine in the back-up feature showcasing the entire Super-family. I really like his take on Kara. Add the 'movie poster' cover by Steve Beach and you have a winner all around. 

On to the book.

The book starts with a dilapidated Metallo in Strykers, his robot body falling apart. His sister is visiting him, talking about some heroic event where he saved her. He looks pathetic. For the first time I felt sympathy for him, his brain encased in some busted down body. I don't know if all villains need a sympathetic back story but I'm willing to hear this one out.

But then we switch right to action, appropriate for the title. A tank of some sort if fleeing Metropolis only to be stopped cold by the returned Superman. I'd love to see somewhere how the city changed in the absence of Clark. Did crime spike? Did Jon fill in well?

Great image here by Federici. I feel it is an homage to something or reminds me of something but I can't quite place it. 
Of course this all occurs on a bridge. A car goes over and needs to be rescued.

You want to know who Superman is? Look at how he interacts with these kids. How humble he is. How he tells them to wear their seatbelts. 

This is my favorite 'good moment' of this book. 
He streaks from the rescue to the UN to discuss the fact that he has parked Warworld in orbit around Earth. People are worried about the presence of Warworld and the 'existential threat' it could be.

You want to know who Superman is? Look at how he handles this. Calmly he talks about how some people view him as a threat. Some countries as a whole are looked as a threat. How preconceived notions aren't always truth.

And then he says he is responsible for the Warworld denizens. He hopes everyone will help him help them. 

I love how the entire Super Family is there with him, supporting him. 

In what I think is great transition, we shift to Lex. He is one of those people who think Superman is a threat. Superman's return might upset 'Project Blackout', something he must be plotting. 

He activates a drone Lex-o-suit to head to Warworld. 

You want to know who Lex Luthor is? He sees the desolation of Warworld, the blood soaked deserts, the Superman flags up, and thinks 'This would be Earth by now if not for me'. He thinks he has saved humanity from Superman who would raze the Earth.

So narcissistic. So paranoid. So deluded. Even the art here suggests he is off kilter. None of the panel borders are right angles, all tilted.

An upset Lex is dangerous. But compelling. This is my favorite 'evil' moment of the book.

Lex also had an insider on Warworld feeding him intel about Superman's doings and the tech up there including 'necrocyborg' technology. 

Who was giving him info? Doesn't sound like a Kryl-Ux move. Maybe the Enchantress?

The drone finds what Lex is looking for - a heart incased in a dead strung up being. Hmmm ... Metallo in the first scene. A heart uncovered. Hmmm ...

Thankfully there is enough page space to get a little more Lois/Clark reunion.

The Kents have taken in Oslo and Otho. Incredibly they are acting like normal kids.

They remind Lois of a young Jon, too quickly gone, too quickly aged.

I love that this history of Jon being aged is being addressed in books these days. I love that the sadness of that lost time for Clark and Lois is being emphasized.

And then a great cliffhanger.

Lex brings something to Metallo, presumably it's the alien heart in the box.

But even more intriguing is how Metallo is telling Lex to get out. I haven't read a Metallo story in a while so I don't know if I have enough recent knowledge to know what their relationship is.

We also get a back up feature that really should be called The Superman Family. Steel, Supergirl, and Conner Kent are all still in the Fortress helping Thao-La. She's been unconscious for the months Superman was away on Warworld.

So what a day to wake up ... when Warworld is suddenly in orbit around Earth!

They don't know this is Superman victorious. So the gear up and get ready to fight. 

I love how Supergirl doesn't even want to think about Superman being dead.

I said this was a Superman Family story. 

You want to know how Kara feels about her cousin? Look here. She gives him a super-hug when he shows up. You can see from Lapham's art that she almost bowls him over! I love it! These two are family and friends. They always should be!

This scene isn't just wonderful because of Kara. We see Superman tousle Connor's hair and even thank Thao La for inspiring the seeds of the rebellion. That's Superman.

Too bad the remaining generals of Mongul's elite guard are also there ready to avenge their leader.

One small thing about this is the presence of OMAC in the returning heroes. They died in the Warworld special. Perhaps these pages were drawn before that was cemented?


This was a lot of words about a comic. But there is so much pitch-perfect characterization here it deserves it. You want to know who the characters are? You want to see beautiful art? You found the right place.

Overall grade: A+


William Ashley Vaughan said...

Luthor is chilling in this. As for Metallo not wanting Luthor anywhere near him, there was a moment in one of John Byrne's Superman stories in which Luthor steals Metallo's kryptonite heart for another anti-Superman scheme of his. The fact that this will kill Metallo bothers him not at all. If this Luthor and Metallo had this kind of interaction in the past, no wonder Metallo doesn't want Luthor anywhere near him. I also agree that Supergirl greeting Superman with a big hug when she sees that he is still alive was wonderful. As a bonus, here is a Supergirl gag that you might appreciate from the artist of the Sally Forth strip.

Tim Price said...

Your enjoyment of this run is palpable!

Anonymous said...

This was a pretty good book, its hard to make Metallo sympathetic but then again imagine the PTSD of a human brain trapped in a badly damaged cyborg body? Kara’s reunion had a nice feel to it, we are a long way from “H’El’s Moll” or “Ruthye’s Enabler”, but I still think DC would love to promote Supergirl tto Superwoman and thus project her into obscurity and start afresh with Thao La…
Agree re. Luthor, his Megalomania is at white hot temps…