Monday, August 28, 2023

Review: Knight Terrors Action Comics #2

Knight Terrors Action Comics #2 came out last week, a split issue telling us two stories. One story is the extended Super-family fighting the Cyborg Superman in a horrific tale of despair and blood. The other is Power Girl fighting her Symbio-ship and herself to escape a sterile environment. 

I'll start off by saying the Super-family story by Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Mico Suayan, and Fico Ossio is incredible. Knight Terrors isn't exactly a must-read event. I don't know if this story will ripple into the main Superman books. But it is a great character piece for Otho and Osul. There is a brutal ending to the Cyborg Superman, showing us his greatest nightmare. It ends with a Wizard of Oz homage. And the art by both artists is just incredible. This is a horror story first and foremost, something I can't say about all the Knight Terrors books. This is terrifying. Fantastic. And the art is the right mix for this story. I'll be gushing throughout.

I'll also add that Johnson reminds us of a couple of things which came out of the Warworld saga which have been pushed a bit to the back regarding the twins. So I just ate this up with a spoon. 

The Power Girl story, by contrast, seems to fall flat. I honestly don't know what writer Leah Williams is doing with 'Paige' anymore. We went through a back-up story in the main Action Comics book where Power Girl seemed to come to terms with who she is. She even changed her name to Paige. She was a troubled, lost soul not the confident Peeg I am used to. But I thought at the end of that story we were in a better place. Instead, this issue plays up Power Girl's self-loathing. A self-loathing Power Girl?? I have never seen that .. ever ... in all her history. Vasco Georgiev's art is subtle and slick. But this seems way wrong.

The Superman Knight Terrors books have been, for the most part, successes in my mind as they have probed into the characters' minds in a way that builds on the main books. The Johnson/Suayan/Ossio story is so spectacular, it elevates this whole issue.

On to the details. 

The Cyborg Superman has taken the extended Super-family into the nightmare realm. The Cyborg has absorbed Conner and taken over. And now he is going to do it to the rest of the family. This is gory, bloody body horror at its best with the cyborg forms all claws and blades, meaning the organic material is cut up and flayed. 

The art completely sells the story. Here Suayan shows us the terrified Kenan, wide-eyed and bloodied, as the enemy veers in.

You need an artist who can amp up the horror to successfully tell this tale.

But there is another element to this world. Other fears to explore.

Let's play into the agonies of Warworld. The Cyborg says Superman brought his team to Warworld to die. Zombie versions of the Midnighter, Apollo, and OMAC claw out of the ground to attack the team as well, taking out Natasha.

Here, Fico Ossio's more raw approach to art serves the material. These are crumbling zombies and look like decaying cadavers. The look on the twins faces is perfect.

Remember, while Otho and Osul lived in the extreme environment of Warworld, they are still kids. They are the ones being assaulted here. To bring the terror of Warworld back to them is what their nightmare should be.

But there is more character development as we explore their fears.

The Cyborg can tell that Otho's fear is losing her brother, their being separated. She has grown up, prematurely, with a protective persona for Osul. Of course she would be afraid of losing him.

That last panel by Ossio, just the one eye of Otho peeking out again highlights that fear.

Osul's fear is that perhaps he isn't even himself anymore, now the avatar of Orglun, the old god. 

I always thought that Orglun had a sort of Crom feel to it and this panel plays that up. This is a warrior god.

Just look at this panel if you want to know what superb comic art is like, energy crackling around Osul, the god looming behind him. 

Back to Otho, we see how Warworld haunts her. 

She fears still being in chains, still being bound to Mongul, still being there.

We have seen her anger when she sees injustice on Earth. She is still harboring these feelings. Another tremendous splash by Ossio here.

Amazingly, the twins are able to shake off their fear and fight back. 

This is a nightmare realm for everyone. What is Henshaw's fear? That his wife hates him. His whole revenge mindset against Superman is based on the idea that Superman couldn't save Henshaw's wife. His love for her is paramount.

Now innumerable corpses of her arrive, telling him that they hate him, and dragging him into Hell. 


Horrific art. And a perfect twist to end the tale. The Cyborg is beaten by his own nightmares while the Supers were able to fight theirs off. 

Thankfully, Johnson gives us a little respite, a little palate cleanser after all the gore.

Everyone wakes up. The twins give us a perfect Wizard of Oz moment, when Dorothy wakes and says all her friends were in Oz with her (albeit in other forms). (Hmmm ... Kenan as Lion, Nat as Tin Man obviously, Conner as Scarecrow. Conner's nightmare is he is stupid. Nat's is she is heartless. Kenan's is he is cowardly. All are wrong.)

After wallowing in the blood and mud, I needed a smile. Fantastic.

I especially love how Natasha says that it was the twins who saved everyone. 

This story might be one of the most gripping things I have read in a long time.

And then the Power Girl story.

Within her nightmare, 'Paige' continues to be hounded by different realities fed to her by the Symbio-ship. 

In an odd couple of pages, Power Girl dances in the air on a bolt of cloth like a Cirque de Soleil dancer. While she does it, she admonishes the Symbio-ship. All these visions of people hating her don't matter. 


Because she hates herself more.

She then throws herself into a pit of spikes, killing herself.


Since when has Karen hated herself??? Or been so overwhelmed by self-loathing she would kill herself even in a dream.

But Leah Williams decides to multiply this.

She has Power Girl kill herself in the dream at least 847 times before she figures out a way to break free, by turning off the power in the ship. 

Awake, she thinks she has finally freed herself from the AI. But a cliffhanger says that might not be true.

I'm not the biggest Power Girl fan but even I know that she is not like this. And I thought all this 'I don't belong, who am I' stuff was settled in the recent back-up story and Special?

Two stories. One brilliant. One confusing and aggravating.

But trust me, that super-family one is worth the price of the book.

Overall grade (combining scores for both stories into one): B-


Martin Gray said...

A wonderful review, one the Super Twins story deserves; there’s such a great mix of character depth and action in here. And the art is just terrific - chained to the chest of Mongul, now there’s a nightmarish image.

As for Power Girl, yipes! The mischaracterisation of Karen continues… is Leah Williams working through something here? I was hoping for better after the surprise Showcase references last time.

Dick McGee said...

Pretty much done reading anything supposedly PG-related any more. Whoever this character is, it sure isn't her any more and hasn't been for quite a while.