Friday, May 27, 2022

Review: Action Comics #1043

Action Comics #1043 came out this week, another excellent chapter in the Warworld Saga and an issue that had a back-up feature that I can actually get behind.

One thing I have been saying all along is that writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson is world-building in this arc. We are learning about the history of Warworld and now the name Mongul. There is a lot to unpack here as more history is hinted at here. There are mysteries to solve here. There isn't much Superman action here. But there is a lot to digest as things get deeper and more interesting. 

What Superman stuff we do see is intriguing. It is one thing to see him leading rebel raids, being a man of ... well ... action. But I like seeing that he is thinking of Earth. And I like seeing him look a little uneasy as the mantle of tactical leader is thrust upon him. Inspirational leader? That's easy for him. Making military decisions? Maybe not so much.

The art is a solid mix between Riccardo Federici and his feathery pencils as well as Will Conrad and his heavy feel. This is really pretty to look at.

This is one of the best books on the shelves. On to the specifics.

Last issue, the Revolution obtained an Orphan Box, a sort of sentient machine with teleportation capabilities. Armed with the weapon, the team begins to rescue their own. 

Heading into the siege, Superman is thinking of Lois and Jon. He can't die here. I like that.

First up to be rescued is Manchester Black. He is hooked up to some machine created by Mongul's elite The Teacher. The Teacher is close to perfecting his machine which will manifest into reality all of Black's nightmares. I love that Black says his nightmares are the Arthur movies. He speaks for all of us. Johnson has captured Black's voice nicely.

This is a most successful raid. The group frees Black, separates 'The Orphan' (the baby in the jar) from 'Darling' defeating that monstrosity, and grab The Teacher.

The rebels are hiding out in the Necropolis, the bizarre, ever-shifting city beneath the surface. And Mongul is destroying it hoping to root out the revolutionaries.

An unseen person tells Mongul that the dismantling could lead to planetary destruction. 

One thing I know, don't question this Mongul who is quick to kill.

One thing I think I know, this hooded figure is Kryl-Ux. I don't know why Kryl would be a double agent. But this time I'm right.

Meanwhile, we learn that Apollo has become an 'unmade warrior'.

And now, seemingly under Mongul's control, he uses his power to move Warworld towards its next conquest.

We've seen OMAC turn. We now see Apollo turn. Will Apollo fight Superman? Or will seeing Midnighter break the conditioning?

This is probably my favorite mini-scene in the book. 

Apollo has been moved and is at one of the most heavily guarded areas on Warworld.

But we learn that the Enchantress has been captured by The Mother, another of Mongul's Elite. Kennedy gives us some backstory. Mother was a vampiric demon from one of the worlds Warworld consumed. Mongul turned her. Apparently the Enchantress is Mother's dearest possession. If taken, the Mother might go mad.

So what does Superman do? Who does he save?

You can see that these are not the decisions he is used to making. You can see the doubt and worry in his eyes (great work by Federici).  He isn't a military leader. So who does he save and who does he damn? Such a great humanizing moment.

Oh, and one more thing. All the knowledge about the Mother came from Kryl-Ux. A little convenient, no?

Meanwhile, Apollo does his job, taking Warworld to a peaceful planet, one quickly overrun. 

Remember the Durlan who destroyed Superman's message to the UP at the beginning of this arc? He's back. And it clear he has made some deal of appeasement with Mongul. It is one Mongul is taking advantage.

You can see this isn't an even deal. Mongul claims the planet and asks for UP tech to boot.

I hope this guy gets a comeuppance. It also shows how appeasing tyrants never works.

And then more world building.

We see how the Necropolis is filled with universal stories (one of which sounds like Moses or Superman). 

But one story is intriguing and obviously key to this arc. But it is new. 

Within the Necropolis is part of Olgrun, the first god. He was killed by the other gods and split into 7. I mean it is horcrux-esque. The pieces strewn throughout the universe.

Good myths have prophecies too. Should the seven pieces be united by someone worthy, Olgrun will be reborn a hero. If found by someone unworthy, Olgrun destroy reality. 

So I don't know if I need an Elder God myth added to the already complex Warworld history. Is this too much world-building? I guess we haven't learned exactly what the Necropolis is. I'll have to wait to see how this all plays out.

The front end of the book ends with the rebels under fire.

The back-up feature is the myth of Mongul. 

On some backwater planet, we meet Guldejo, a scavenger Warzoon. This is Warworld before it became the tech monstrosity.

Guldejo investigates a nearby explosion to find an alien scrounging in the uncovered Necropolis. This alien doesn't even acknowledge Guldejo and that enrages him. Picking up a rock, Guldejo bludgeons this alien to death. 

Such a minor offense. But immense.

Guldejo peels off the 'skin' of the alien, wearing it as armor. He renames himself Mongul, the first Mongul.  He organizes the Warzoon and is filled with endless rage.

Nice origin. 

The yellow stone every Mongul has worn since was peeled off that alien. No doubt it is one of the seven Orglun stones.

But what was the alien looking for in the Necropolis?

And why is the Superman symbol present in these writings?

Hmmm ...

Overall a solid sort of middle chapter, nudging the main plot along but adding in new threads. I love seeing how deep Superman is in this revolution. I like the idea of a double agent within the revolution. I like that rescuing the Authority is part of the rebel mission. 

Will the Orglun plotline hold up? We shall see.

The art is so slick. Federici really has this almost elegant take on a barbarian tale. 

Such an impressive book.

Overall grade: B+


Martin Gray said...

Oh well done, I never considered that there would be a traitor.

Of COURSE there’s a traitor! I bet you’re right.

I’ve heard people compare the stones business to the Infinity Gems, which reminds me, I really must read that original Starlin story one day.


Awesome review! I love the lore that PKJ has infused into the Warworld concept: I'd love to find a way to fit it into the original Mongul backstory from the bronze age, with his feud with Arkymandryte and the search for the crystal key to activate the OG Warworld (IIRC it had to do with Martian Manhunter and Mars).