Friday, February 25, 2022

Review: Action Comics #1040

Action Comics #1040 came out this week and was another great chapter in the Warworld Saga. Now this is a saga, meaning many chapters. And this issue read like the beginning chapter of the next arc within the saga. This was a world-building issue, showing us more Warworld culture, some Warworld history, and some great character moments.

Writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson is doing a wonderful job here. The foundation of this story is Superman freeing the slave of Warworld through inspiration and sweat. But there is so much more here. This is like reading history. Johnson is really making this feel like a deep, complex, three dimensional, well thought out universe. I am completely impressed with how fully formed this all sounds. It is just incredible.

Artist Riccardo Federici continues to shine here. There is a soft pencil feel to his work. There is almost a storybook quality to the work which gives this story a feel of grandeur. But like Johnson, I love the world building Federici is doing here. From the alien clothing to the monstrous beasts, this really feels like a fully-formed culture here.

I have been loving the Warworld Saga. This issue is another great link in this narrative chain.

On to the specifics.

We start in the arena where Superman is again battling for his life. 

But there is so much to love about this entry in Superman's Warworld journal.

First off, I love how he self-identifies as Clark Kent. I have always felt that Clark is who he really is.

But I also love the Warlworld nickname Clark has earned. Un Bahle'na Gahl, the unblooded sword. Sure, this is an insult on Warworld now. But as Clark continues to win without killing, to fight but be merciful, I can imagine this is going to become a rallying cry to the people, a point of proud that he hasn't drawn blood.

And then this part where we see just how backwards the thinking on Warworld is. 

Kindness seen as cruelty. Cruelty is seen as kindness. 

Superman needs to show people that isn't true. Or remind the prisoners about it.

And he sees signs of hope in people who remember their old lives and are willing to fight.

But no wonder those trapped here have embraced Mongul as a hero and chains as a sign of freedom. Everything is backwards.

Look at Federici's work here, just staggering.

And then in a strange move, Mongul himself comes out. 

When Otho-Ra and Osul-Ra declare the tyrant as their hero, he puts their words to a challenge. A true Warzoon would kill their sibling. That is how you get ahead.

You can see now on Otho-Ra's face that she sees now how Warzoon think. Maybe this is the moment when she learns how backwards things are here. Because she can't imagine killing her brother who she has been protecting all this time.

But Osul-Ra maybe is considering it.

How fascinating. You see how people can fall under the sway of this warped world, even brothers and sisters. And how wonderful that these two are actually going to be important characters, perhaps the POV characters for us readers.

Superman steps in before Osul can do something. Kal pounds on Mongul, that is until Mongul uses his chest beam to put Superman down. 

And then Chaytil says what we all have been thinking. Why is Mongul leaving Superman alive? Why not just kill him, squelching any hope he is bringing and removing someone who is a potential threat.

Sure the 'why make him a martyr' is a convenient excuse. But then Mongul says he has plans for the United Planets and needs Superman alive for that.

But I still wonder why. After this Mongul saw the prior get beaten time after time, you think he'd learn.

Things get a little more squirrely for the rebellion when OMAC is recruited.

Lightray can be brought back to life. And will be brought back to life. If and only if Mongul can use OMAC's armor.

Once more, you see how Mongul and his cronies work, attacking any vulnerability that can be exploited.

Alas, I sort of saw this happening. 

Back in the prison, Otho-Ra screams at Superman that she doesn't want or need his protection or his wisdom. They say they are Warzoon.

And then it is time for more lessons. 

Superman reminds them they are Phaelosians, a people who prized Truth and Justice more than anything.  The Warzoon spew lies. These two aren't Phaelosians. 

And people protecting others is a strength, not a weakness.

I'll always love seeing Superman as an inspiration. And this, focusing on the young who have been inculcated in this bizarre way of life, is just pure Superman.

The speech is interrupted when Nat Irons says that Midnighter is leading his own rebellion to destroy the Star Forges, the devices which both weaken Superman but also keep Warworld held together. It is something Superman doesn't want.

Perhaps Kryl-Ux know another way Superman can help, something they can do.

Kryl sneaks the two out of the prisons, into the deeper layers of Warworld, past the giant worms which live there and into the Necropolis, the tomb we saw in Action Comics #1032.Remember, a chunk of the source wall (or something like the source wall) powered Thao La's ship.

Here Superman encounters the entirety of the wall. And just touching it seems to juice him up. Perhaps this external power source is going to be what helps our here overcome the red sun generators and defeat Mongul?

But this scene of Kryl and Kal descending has a sort of Paradise Lost feel or Orpheus feel, like the two are entering Hell. And the other thing I like is the conversations as the two work their way down. Kryl isn't sold on Superman's ethics, wondering if Clark isn't giving Otho and Osul bum advice.

I am hoping that Kryl will thaw just as it seems Otho has. She said 'Truth and Justice' to the two as they slinked out of their cage. Maybe between 'The Unblooded Sword' and 'Truth and Justice' Superman has his sound bites?

But things are getting ugly up above. 

Warriors are flooding the prisons, slaughtering all they see. Superman needs to learn a lesson. Maybe his friends, including the children, being murdered will teach him.

But this last panel sums up a lot. Otho isn't going to let Osul be slaughtered. She is going to protect him. She's learned a different lesson.  Look at her left hand telling Osul to stay back. Look at the determination on her face. That is sweet art.

There was a fair amount of exposition in this issue. We saw a lot and get told a lot. But it all just enriched the story. It deepens the whole saga, the whole world. 

This whole issue moved things forward a bit but made the whole story more complex. 

Overall grade: B+

1 comment:

Martin Gray said...

What a wonderful issue. I didn’t review it this time or it would have been pure gush! Great review!