Monday, May 3, 2021

Review: Action Comics #1030

Action Comics #1030 came out last week and once again showed how new writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson has a nice understanding of the inherent goodness of Superman. His Superman has acted and has sounded like the way I want Superman to be.

Even in Future State, Johnson showed us a true Superman, selfless in his never-ending battle to free the slaves of Warworld. We were told as fans that the events of Future State were possibilities but more and more it seems like they are destined to pass. One thing that I sort of don't like is how quickly we are dealing with those Future State arcs. Already it seems Superman is going to be heading off Earth to Warworld and Jon is going to take the mantle. I would have loved to give Johnson maybe 6 months to settle into his style before closing the Future State gap.

As with his earlier issues, Johnson is also leaning heavily into father/son relationships. Here we get to see contrasting relationships of this nature in an interesting way. It also made the hair on the back of my head stand up, fearful of a possible plot turn. Please ... this time ... let's hope I'm wrong.

Daniel Sampere provides the art. His stuff is beautiful. This issue runs the gamut from dungeon to space, from rooftop discussion to open sea robot battles. It all looks gorgeous. Sampere really has some range.

On to the details.

We start out on Warworld.

The 'Chainmasters', the jailers of the planet, are on their knees in front of Mongul, vowing their loyalty.

Chaytil, Mongul's mutilated and mostly limbless advisor, is sure that some rebellion or conspiracy is afoot.

I like how Sampere and Johnson set up the mood of this place. The colors are all reds and oranges, giving a notion of blood. These jailers are on their knees in a certain position, the same position as a ring of headless statues. The message is clear. Others have been there like they are and have lost their lives.

This also jibes with the Worlds of War book where Superman was secretly leading a rebellion. 

Then a hooded figure walks in and says he has gifts for Mongul.

The first gift is a bag of heads. Mongul's sons heads. Here on Warworld, succession is when a son kills the father to claim the title of Mongul. This person has just eliminated Mongul's rivals.

The other gift is knowledge that Superman is the key to Warworld.

Now here is my worry. Given all the father/son themes saturating this book, could this hooded figure be Jor-El, back for a second go around as a villain?? Please, please, let me be wrong.

Back on Earth, the Atom and Batman are putting Superman through some danger room style paces. 

It turns out that there has been a decrease in Superman's power output. It follows the pattern of radiation poisoning, probably from that breach attack. Superman is dying.

Batman thinks this is so concerning that Superman should get his affairs in order. Jon is getting stronger and may end up stronger than Kal or Kara. The League should know that Jon will be Superman if need be.

I know I should be happy that Kara got a mention here. But I am surprised that there was no comment on Kara getting the legacy position in the Justice League. I mean even in passing, she should have been name dropped. 

I'm glad to see that Jon and Damian are still friends despite the forced age difference we have now.

Jon reiterates the fact that there is no further history of Superman in the future around this time. Superman might be killed in battle. Die of poisoning. Or get taken into space by a ship of Kryptonians. 

You can see how this impending doom is weighing on Jon. Nice work by Sampere to let us feel the weight of this. 

I suppose all of these possible futures are probable arcs in the near future.

As in the breach issues, Jon doesn't want to pick up the mantle of Superman. He doesn't think he deserves it.

Imagine Damian of all people giving the solid advice that Jon won't pick the name, it will be picked for him.

What I like about this scene is that Jon is just openly talking about his relationship with Clark. There's is a true father/son pair. That contrasts strongly with Damian who doesn't want to say one word about Bruce. 

So Mongul hates his sons.
Damian doesn't want to talk about his father.
And Jon loves his father and is worried.

Layers and layers.

Superman heads to see Lois who is hunkered down in Kandor of all places.

There is some nice exposition here about Krypton's culture. Gone are the cold, emotionless people from Byrne's reboot. There doesn't seem to be a feeling of segregated guilds here.

It seems like an intellectual utopia where arts and sciences are equally weighted. I wouldn't mind seeing more of it. How about some Untold Tales of Krypton back up?

Clark tells Lois of Batman's findings but she seems to wave it off. She has seen Superman live through plenty of things like this and he always comes out fine.

Here is, for me, the best moment in the book. 

This sort of language is usually reserved for Wally and Linda!

The quiet moment is interrupted by a fleet of Warworld ships entering Earth's atmosphere.

What is interesting is that they are skirmishing amongst themselves.

But before that becomes apparent, Superman is worried it is an invasion. He calls for any of his family to come. Once again, we at least get a mention of Supergirl.

But once again, it is Jon who comes. 

I get the sense we ain't seeing Supergirl anywhere but Tom King's book.

In the midst of the fighting, Superman hears an ancient Kryptonian dialect.

Breaking into the main ship, he is faced with barbarians. Are they Kryptonian? Is this the legendary ship Jon heard about? Are these rebels trying to escape Warworld? Trying to bring Superman back to it? If they aren't Kryptonian, did they learn that language on Warworld from a Kryptonian?

Lots of good questions for me to ponder, especially the mystery of the hooded man. Love the Lois moment. And although we have seen a lot of this father/son dynamic in Johnson's book, at least this time we have some contrasts to mull over too. 

Very solid book.\

Overall grade: B+


Anonymous said...

Jor-El was sent back to blow up with Krypton - it would be awful if that crazy man escaped again. But yeah, it could be him.

It took so long for Sampere and Bruno Redondo, two artists I associate with Tom Taylor's years of digital firsts and alternate universes, to become important contributors to the main DC books. Taylor too, for that matter. They are wonderful talents.

I wasn't sure what could get me interested in the adult Jon Kent, but Tom Taylor is a never-ending fount of good ideas, so Son of Kal-El might actually be good.


Martin Gray said...

It didn’t cross my mind that the hooded person might be Jor-El. Hope not!

Since PKJ seems totally focused on Jon, I’m not surprised to see Kara here, so yes, it’s nice she got a shout-out without being labelled unstable.

Batman’s notion that Jon should get Clark’s League spot doesn’t jibe with all the times we’ve been told it’s not Superman’s power that makes him the best, it’s his heart.

And I still want to know how come Kryptonian + Earthling = even more Super.

Anonymous said...

So Future State is DC's next big get rich quick scheme? Super girl ends up on the moon in her Tragic Amish Prom Gown protecting a bunch of ungrateful jobbers...where she can be quietly forgotten without another COIE #7 triggering event. Never in all of DC's corporate history have they been more open and desperate to write a character into a creative cul de sac...
Will it work?
Of course it won't.
Because they've tried it five times previously and it never worked. Literally DC Comics is the embodiment of madness, doing the same thing over and over expecting different outcomes.

BTW DC has always been incredibly uncomfortable with the notion of SuperGIRL succeeding to full Status as Earth's Defender Should Kal El Perish. Its a very consistent pattern from the silver age until today. Only in a pair of "imaginary stories" was it even ever implied that such a succession would be accepted and successful. So it doesn't surprise me one bit that Jon is taking over from his Father despite being half human...DC has been pulling this rubbish for years.


Anj said...

I know Jor-El was sent back to Krypton. But then Metal happened, a reboot, an omniverse ... for all we know the hooded figure is another Superman!

Thanks for great comments as always!