Friday, July 29, 2022

Review: Action Comics #1045

Action Comics #1045 came out last week and was another superb chapter in the Warworld Saga. 

I have been very impressed with what writer Philip Kennedy Johnson has been doing in this arc. We are seeing Superman at his most heroic, at his most inspirational, and at his most desperate. Superman is depowered, leading a rebellion, ad trying to free the Phaelosians. Throw in a growing background history of Warworld and the Monguls as well as a heavy dash of Fourth World Kirbyisms, and you have a great story. 

After months of reading Superman and his rebels gaining ground on Mongul, this issue turns the tables. Things suddenly don't look good. This leads to a splintering of a team, never good. We know this story is winding up so no surprise the tension is rising.

Even the back-up feature 'A World Without Clark Kent' is solid bringing in old time villain Conduit (never thought I'd say that) while still tying into the Warworld story. We're back on Earth and the whole Super-family gets involved.

The art for the main arc is William Conrad who brings a sort of soft approach to proceedings. Some of his best scenes are conversations as the stress in the discussions is palpable. David Lapham does the back-up bring his unique style there. 

This book is great. I have loved every issue.

On to the specifics.

The rebels have been hiding in The Necropolis, a sort of living, ever-changing city beneath Warworld. The malleable nature of it has kept them safe. But that safety is over. Mongul's Unmade fighting force is invade and slaughter.

What's worse is the Unmade is mostly the Authority. A turned Apollo, a turned OMAC, a mutated Lightray. Add to that the Orphan-less Darling and this is a formidable crew.

Things I liked here? The fact that without Orphan, Darling is even more ruthless is a nice touch. The rebels calling OMAC 'An Army in the guise of a single man' is a nice play on One-Man Army Corps. But the best thing is the mutated Lightray being called Black Razor is brilliant. The rebels call Razor 'death itself'. See the Fourth World-ness there?? Black Razor ... Black Racer ... both death. 

There is a richness here.

With the troops slaughtered, the rebels have to re-organize.

Do they stand up against the Unmade? 

Natasha has a different idea. The team knows they can't undo the red sun generators without imploding Warworld. So why not change the radiation to something that can juice up Superman and the Phaelosians?

It all sounds a bit new, at first almost magical. But we get the backstory of this in the back-up feature. 

But the idea of bolstering the powers of the Phaelosians makes great sense. And I love that Natasha is the brains here.

As for Kryl-Ux, he thinks the answer is deeper in the Necropolis. The Fire of Orglun is the weapon the team needs to turn the tide. 

It all sounds very 'one ring to rule them all' and even Superman knows that ultimate weapons can corrupt people. 

As for me, I have been saying that Kryl-Ux is the hooded figure working with Mongul. It makes sense he would push Superman to get the Fire. The hooded figure has promised Mongul the Fire. And Kryl-Ux has the scent of Boromir from Lord of the Rings. My guess is he wants the fire to kill Mongul and then be named the new Mongul. 

This time I'm right.

Ultimately though, the plan is right.

Midnighter will try to shore up defenses and convince the Authority members to remember themselves. He's the best choice what with Apollo there. That's a personal connection.

Superman will go into the Necropolis if only to get the Fire of Orglun and keep it out of Mongul's hand.

And Nat will take a team, including Orphan, to Engine City One to turn the radiation.

The problem there? Darling and another member of the Unmade are there waiting. There is a traitor in the midst ... how else could they know?

As for Superman, he is tasked not only with heading into Necropolis but protecting the kids.

I have loved the growing relationship between Superman and Otho-Ra and Oslo-Ra. They have gone from teasing Superman and worshiping Mongul to wearing his crest and wanting to go home to Earth with him.

This is the inspirational Superman, changing lives by example. This is the love of Superman, accepting them into his family. 

Great art in this scene by Conrad. 

Finally, Superman, Kryl-Ux and the kids get to the center of Necropolis. Opening the temple door, they run into Byla, the storyteller.

He is the one who has been filling in the details of the Orglun myth and about Thaklis and the Phaelosians. 

Here he seems to be the vessel for some higher power in the Necropolis. (You might remember way back when before Supes left Earth, there were visions of the Necropolis and Atlanteans speaking in tongues.)

Byla was charged with only revealing the Fire of Orlgun to someone worthy. Is Superman that person?

One thing I know ... Kryl-Ux isn't worthy. 

The back-up feature starts with Nat talking to John Henry Irons. Somehow Thao-La has stabilized from last issue. And through the magic of comic book science, Irons has figured out a way to filter the Genesis Wall fragment's energy to be healing and not mutating to Thao. This is why Nat thinks she can do it on Warworld. 

Okay, it is still a bit sudden but at least we get a little explanation. 

However, the power to the Fortress gets cut and Conduit shows up. After a skirmish where, once again, Lois grabs a weapon of the wall (PLEASE have her call one a Neural Disimpactor once!), Conduit grabs the wall piece and takes off!

Irons needs the wall to heal Thao-La. And she won't let Conduit get away with the theft.

So she puts out a family call. 

Hey, Supergirl being included made me smile. But Connor and Kenan! That made me smile wide!

Bring it!

This is another solid issue bringing us closer to the end. This has been an arc for the ages, a modern classic! Love Lapham's take on Supergirl.

What did you all think?

Overall grade: A


Anonymous said...

Will Conrad did most of the art, not Michael Conrad, who writes with Becky Cloonan.

Brett Peeples also did some pages and I don't think he's just an inker. i think he drew a few pages with a heavier feel.

This continues to be a great story.

Didn't Zod take half of the population of Kandor with him to populate some planet? That happened in the prior edition of Batman Superman. Seems like that's where they could belong. I am reminded of the series world of krypton where the kryptonians briefly tried earth but it didn't mix well, so they populated a planet at the opposite end of our solar system.


Bostondreams said...

Sigh. I wish Powergirl had been in that family shot. Ah well. Good issue!

Martin Gray said...

I love Power Girl too, but she’s never been a fixture in the super books. Then again, neither has Kenan Kong, though he does have the ‘Super’ appellation.

Another great issue, though the inconsistent art was a tad disappointing. The character moments were as good as usual.

I can’t remember, is there Genesis material on Warworld? Or is Natasha going to have it teleported or something.

Anonymous said...

Yes, there is tons of Genesis material there.

I admit to being utterly lost. I've lost track of all the MacGuffins they are searching for and might use to defeat Mongul, not that I ever understood them in the first place.

When Superman first spotted writings on the walls, he realized they were related to markings on the Genesis fragment sent with the Phaelosians to earth (do we know why were they sent?), but the same writings now seem to be leading to the buried Olgrun fragment.

They are going to use Steel's device to filter out harmful radiation from the Genesis material, to make it safe to power up Superman and the Phaelosians - presumably it would convey even more power than a yellow sun could. And/or, they are going to apply the device to the red sun energy the star forge is creating - to convert that to a yellow sun? Or convert it to something else? Is the sun's energy related to Genesis material? I don't know. It must be, since the same device is involved. Plus they are seeking the fire fragment of Olgrun. How does that connect? And then there's the jewel Mongul wears around his neck, which looked like it had something to do with Olgrun's colorful fragments, but I don't know if/how that figures into anything.

It seems like they are collecting enough magic materials to win this fight 5 times over.

It has all gotten very convoluted and I've given up trying to exactly follow this. I mean, I thought about it enough to type this up, but now I have a headache.

I wonder if PJK could actually write out a coherent explanation of it. Or maybe someone else can illuminate it for me.

Of course Lia was converted to the Black Razor and Orphan lives comfortably in a bottle, so I don't know why I would get hung up about the mechanics of things. It just would be nice to connect all of the pseudoscience pieces.