Friday, August 26, 2016

Review: Action Comics #962

Action Comics #962 came out this week and brought the Doomsday storyline to a sort of close. It isn't really a finale and more like a pause. And I am okay with that. This is the beginning of the Rebirth era. This is the first arc of many that will build up the Mr. Oz character and plan. And we as readers are still getting acclimated to this Superman being part of this DCU.

Bringing Doomsday into the opening arc was something of a risk. If you start out there, where do you go? And certainly writer Dan Jurgens has played up the threat of Doomsday nicely. The heroes have barely been able to contain him here. So I was worried that the ending might be too pat. As we'll see there is a sort of deus ex machina ... or at least a machina ... which helps speed things along.

But Doomsday is a plot device, not a character. The real enemy here is Oz. And we still don't know much about him. I know we are only a month into Rebirth but I keep hoping for some more clues. Throw me a bone!

Stephen Segovia is on art here and does a good job with the proceedings. He seems to be a nice halfway point between Pat Zircher and Tyler Kirkham. He is almost perfect in that manner in that he bridges the other issues in a way that will make this artistically fluid when this arc is read in one sitting.

On to the book!

Last issue, Mr. Oz sent his flunkies out in a way to try and help capture Doomsday. But they turn out to be cannon fodder. Despite their little plasma cannons, Doomsday rips his way through them in the most brutal fashion. Whether it is a knee spike through the torso (a la Bullseye and Elektra) or a head being stomped on like a grape, Doomsday is unstoppable. Yes, these are nameless characters there only to show how awful Doomsday is but it works. Doomsday is a force of nature here.

Meanwhile, Oz watches on. And watches everyone. He is even able to peek into the JLA satellite and see Lois and Diana talk. He wants to see what Superman can do and he wants Doomsday as a weapon, or an energy source, or a prisoner.

Certainly this multi-screen voyeurism is highly reminiscent Ozymandias. But I'm not buying it. Too obvious.

 Meanwhile, Superman has a plan. He just keeps trying to move Doomsday. Whether it is flying him in a bear hug or throwing him across the landscape, Superman is trying to get Doomsday to somewhere.

I always wondered why Superman doesn't do this maneuver more often. Someone is bugging you? Throw them hundreds of miles away.

And nice kinetic feel to the panel by Segovia.

Turns out that Superman has been luring/sending Doomsday to *his* Fortress of Solitude. Not the Arctic one owned by the post-Flashpoint, dead Superman but his mountain Fortress as seen in the recent Lois and Clark mini-series.

I'm glad that Jurgens is utilizing the small continuity we saw in that mini. From the statues to the Oblivion Stone, this place exists. In my mind, this should be Superman's fortress (the other seemed to be bequeathed to Supergirl).

But even with the 'Doomsday protocol' initiated and the Fortress' defense systems activated, things aren't going well. Superman can't get a second to actualize his ultimate plan. Doomsday is too insanely powerful.

Realizing that things are getting truly scary, Lois and Jon plead with Diana to help. And Wonder Woman agrees. She heads to the Fortress and is able to engage and distract Doomsday long enough to allow Superman to grab his Phantom Zone projector, sending Doomsday away for good.

So there is some stuff to like here. How crazy is it that this Superman had a 'Doomsday Protocol' set up in his Fortress? How deep into Clark's psyche has Doomsday crawled that he had this plan? Talk about being prepared ... but maybe also scared.

Secondly, it again shows just how over the top this Doomsday is. I really felt the threat of him. Diana is a nuisance more than anything else. And Superman is pretty ineffective.

But with Doomsday gone we still don't know where he came from. How did he end up in that skyscraper? Is he plucked from the pre-Flashpoint world? Or is he this continuity's Doomsday?

I didn't mind the 'rescue' by Diana. It showed how outmatched Superman was. But also, we need some more closure with Diana. Remember, she was in a relationship with the dead Superman. This can't be easy.

This small interaction where Superman says their battling together felt like old times to him. He and Diana were allies. And Diana says she honored to be fighting with a Superman again.

But is there anything more platonic than a fist bump? This Superman's 'old times' wasn't a romance; it was friendship. This was a nice way to show that the romance between a Superman and a Wonder Woman is behind us. This is the new reality.

But there is more.

Heading back to Metropolis, Superman confronts Lex about the legacy of Superman.

Lex falls back on his old rant about how humanity needs a 'normal person' to look up to and be inspired. And that is Lex ... not a Kryptonian. (As if every normal person is a billionaire with New Genesis armor.)

While Lex asks to be allies, Superman isn't so sure. There may not be evidence yet but Superman still isn't trusting this Luthor.

I like this friction. Luthor really isn't an outright villain currently. But he isn't a nice person either, in deeds and words. I like it.

As for Mr. Oz? Well, his technology is powerful enough to deflect the Zone beam to his headquarters, grabbing Doomsday and putting him in some stasis device.

So the fact that Oz is happy that he 'finally' has Doomsday seems to mean that Oz wasn't behind Doomsday showing up. So that mystery is still out there. And earlier, there are hints about Doomsday's power. I wonder if Oz is going to use Doomsday as an engine rather than a fighting machine.

So Doomsday is off the chessboard but not completely removed. It is a decent way to end the arc. And the Phantom Zone projector is the ultimate cleaner. It is an easy out but here it seemed appropriate.

I still think Oz will turn out to be Osterman. But we'll see.

Overall, this was a good issue. As usual, the small moments struck me more than the battle sequences. But Jurgens and Segovia do a good job with the action in hyping up the sheer power of Doomsday. So this was rather entertaining. So far, Rebirth hasn't let me down.

Overall grade: A-

1 comment:

Martin Gray said...

Very nice review ie we're in agreement, blog-wise! I really do like Segovia's work, it's that kineticism you mention, along with a certain sleekness.

I really hope we learn who Mr Oz is soon.