Friday, June 25, 2021

Review: Action Comics #1032

Action Comics #1032 came out this week and was another interesting character in this storyline bringing possible Kryptonian refugee survivors into Superman's world.

This arc is connected to Mongul  and seems to be leading directly into Superman leaving Earth to fulfill his role as rebel leader on Warworld in the Future State books. I don't specifically know if I am keen on Superman leaving Earth for a long time so I entered this run with some trepidation. But this chapter at least gives me a good reason for that eventuality to happen.

Moreover, Kennedy does a good job here of including all of the immediate super-family in the proceedings. Lois, Jon, and even Kara have some role to play in this mystery. Is Thao-La a Kryptonian proper? Or some offshoot? Or something else all together? How does she know Kryptonian historical figures and dialects? And is she working with Mongul or against the villain? 

Throw in the Source Wall chunk that was on Thao-La's ship as an enigmatic plot point and you have a couple of decent puzzles for our heroes to figure out.

I'll say I am enjoying this title more than the Superman book and part of that has to do with the more Earth-bound nature of the adventures and the inclusion of the key supporting characters.

I'd be remiss not to mention Daniel Sampere's detailed and lush art work here. Once more, he gives the quieter scenes some gravitas. But the big win is the kaiju fight in a rainstorm at the back end. You will see that those pages just sizzle.

On to the particulars.

Last issue ended with the young girl Thao-La awakening in the Fortress, smashing Kelex, and facing off against Superman.

We get a bit of exposition to open the book. Supergirl and Lois have been trying to unravel the mystery of who this young girl could be. Last issue it was Kara who gave a bit of an info dump. Here is it Lois who bring up the Phaelosians, a group of Kryptonian scientists who fled the planet long before it blew up. 

I find that the more beings that survived Krypton are inserted into a story, the harder it is for the story to end well. Supergirl surviving? Fine. Zod and his family? Okay. Dozens of criminals in the Phantom Zone. I guess. The Kandorians shrunken? I guess if they are confined there. But when you start to bring in more, you end up with something like the New Krypton story from 10 years ago. How do you deal with so many immensely powerful beings? So in the end, I am hoping these are Kryptonian-like beings, perhaps taught Kryptonian culture by the Phaelosians wherever they landed.

But I do love Lois and Supergirl chumming around and investigating together. Surely this Kara wouldn't flee the planet feeling unloved on her birthday? Would she?

Turning the corner, Lois and Kara run into Superman talking to Thao-La. She talks about bearing his mark (so that wasn't placed by Mongul but was there before). She seems to imply that he is some holy figure or hero legend who she expected to come and save her from 'Mongul-Who-Is'. But no matter how she prayed, Superman never came and rescued her or her family from Warworld.

She wears the chains because she is still afraid that Mongul is watching and will see her remove them. And when Superman comes to close, she unleashes blue lasers from her eyes.

Blue vision beams don't sound Kryptonian. So perhaps she isn't native to the planet.

It is clear that Thao-La is traumatized. She immediately cries at lashing out at what seems to be her hero or savior.

I love how it is Lois who is somehow able to get in close and hug her and calm her down. 

Perhaps the S-shield is too sacred or too unnerving for Thao-La to let her guard down.

This is a nice Lois moment.

And Sampere brings such emotion to this. You feel Thao melt into Lois' arms.
Meanwhile, in Atlantis, some Atlantean scientist has been analyzing the Source Wall chunk. It's power is incredible. It has already given off enough energy to keep Poseidonis lit for years.

But there is more.

This thing has been whispering to this man, telling it the dreams of a sleeping god. It then mutates the man into some giant monster. Some nice Cronenberg-ian art here by Sampere bringing the horror.

But the Source chunk is interesting. Is this the spirit of one of the Promethean Giants living within this? Some type of Elder God trapped in there? And how did it end up in Mongul's possession or on that refugee ship? Is there even a Source Wall anymore or was that eradicated in the Metal story?

Hmmm ...

Back in the Fortress, the Supers are coming up empty in their study.

Here Supergirl tries to repair Kelex to get it up and running again. 

Kara: Run tertiary encoder diagnostic sequence twelve
Kelex: Running diagnostic sequence. Unit unresponsive.
Kara: Bypass frontal cortex and repear sequence.
Kelex: Running diagnostic sequence.

I know I am grasping here but I like seeing Kara as the science whiz in this room. She is trying to fix Kelex, not Kal.

Moreover, when Superman says he worries about Thao trusting him Supergirl says 'All she knows is violence and abuse, Kal. She doesn't understand kindness yet. She'll come around. She just needs time.'

That is a wonderful sentiment by Kara. Perhaps it is because she herself has been witness to trauma and has come through it. Certainly someone like that wouldn't be sullen and flee the planet to be alone and away from her family, would she?

I guess I should just say that I am thankful for these moments Johnson is giving us of Supergirl.

If anything, it is Jon who is the cranky one. He has been dealing with the knowledge that Superman disappears around this time in the history books. Of course the appearance of Thao has to be a trap sent by Mongul.

I love Superman's response. Even if it is a trap, he can't let these Phaelosians suffer more. So it doesn't matter if it is a trap.

And that is a perfect Superman response. He is a hero. He can't let it lay. He has to help. He rises above.

Realizing he can't storm Warworld alone, Superman tries to convince Batman to mobilize the League. While Thao's cells aren't Kryptonian, they are Kryptonian-like. They need to be saved. But Batman wants no part of it.

Before the discussion can continue, Aquaman sends Superman a distress call. Giant kaiju have risen and are encroaching on Florida. 

Is this that scientist mutated? Or is this a monster from below who has been maddened by the dreams emanating from the Source chunk. 

This is a great fight. It is like Superman meets Pacific Rim! Great action panels!

When punching doesn't get him anywhere, Superman heads down the beast's gullet. He finds a city like structure dotted with glyphs calling itself The Necropolis.

And then the thing talks to him, It seems to give some sort of prophecy of Superman going somewhere and impacting the god dreaming within the source's life dramatically. Then Superman will enter Necropolis.

Now this is a mystery. My guess is we have never heard of whatever god this is before. It will be a new villain. But how did this city manifest here (it turns out it is an illusion)? And how does it know all this?

I'll admit it. I read these lines a bunch of times and can admit I am a bit lost. But also, I'm intrigued!

In the end, Superman freezes this thing from the inside stopping its rampage.

Superman asks to take possession of the Source chunk given this threat and this news of psychic emanations effecting things. But the Atlanteans aren't keen on turning it over. When Steve Trevor arrives to try and claim it for America, things get even muddier. Who will blink first?

I love Aquaman's dismissal of the words 'U.S. waters'. Perfect.

So this was a very solid issue. We have two interesting plots running side by side here. I assume at some point Thao's life and the Source chunk will cross paths. We have great character moments from the Super family. I love how they interact with each other. 

The Source plot is also interesting. Could Mongul know that this rock would impact life this way and so sent it to make things insane? Or did Thao have this? Steal it to power the refugee ship? But then again, Mongul sent her here to kill Superman.

Riddles wrapped in puzzles. And thrilling art too!

Great stuff all around.

Overall grade: B+


John (somewhere in England) said...

The last three issues of Action Comics have been refreshing and inspiring with great characters, wonderful art and convincing dialogue. It was stories like this one which turned me into a comics fan in the first place.

Bostondreams said...

The art in this is gorgeous. And as to your comment here: "I know I am grasping here but I like seeing Kara as the science whiz in this room. She is trying to fix Kelex, not Kal."

I don't think you are grasping. And couldn't it also be the case that Kara likely has a stronger and far more fluent grasp of Kryptonian than her cousin? Unlike him, she grew up speaking it and spoke it longer than she has spoken English. And, well, Clark is after all American. We all know how good we are with second languages. :)

Anonymous said...

Hello from a french fan of supergirl,

Thanks you for the traduction of kryptonease.

Kara is the best for the science, luckily she is there considering te number of times Kelex has been destroyed.

Anonymous said...

Sampere continues to be excellent! This book is in solid hands.

He puts time into his full page splashes - I feel that those need to be highly detailed to look actually good and not cartoonish, and he puts in the work.

Too many splash panels take away from the drama the writer intended, because they look like the artist might have used them as an opportunity to catch up on their schedule - they draw something with no more detail than a regular panel, and just blow it up to full page. So they finish a page in 2 hours instead of 8. But not Sampere - his splash panels look great. (He's not the only one who puts in the time, by any means. Many are breathtaking. But too many are a waste of a page.)

So far this is a very fascinating and well-written storyline. Gives me hope that if Superman is exiled from earth, Kennedy could make it great. His House of El one-shot showed how good he can be.


Martin Gray said...

Another terrific issue of Action Comics, I hope they’re kidding with the Future State Warworld stuff and that Johnson and Sampere continue to give us Earth-set stories.

Superman is pure compassion here and Lois and Kara are equally great. Jon is indeed still a bit miserable, but good on him for pointing out the obvious. I wonder if the young girl is from the future, perhaps someone saved by that Super-Clan, that might explain why Supeman is a legend to her.

The giant monster is definitely the scientist transformed, it has the same neon patterns. The Atlanteans are great, no way are they content to be subservient guest stars. And good on Johnson for bringing in not just Vulko, but Murk.

That illusion prophecy business is intriguing… doesn’t Superman know to let sleeping gods lie?

I think it’s a tad unfair to say Batman wanted no part in helping the prisoners, he wants to learn more before rushing into a trap. Wasn’t this sequence gorgeous? If the Bat Office doesn’t swoop in and grab not just Sampere, but colourist Adriano Lucas, they’re missing a trick… oh, hang on, Lucas is already on Nightwing!

I really liked Arthur telling Murk Superman would get the job done, the Leaguers should be seen to have faith in one another.

And how great to see ice breath used. Other things that made me happy include Steve Trevor swashbuckling his way into the story, and that silhouettes panel by Sampere.

And that cover by Janín is wonderful. Amazing issue all round! Well, story, I never bothered with Midnighter.

Top review!