Friday, November 25, 2022

Review: Action Comics #1049

Action Comics #1049 came out this week and was certainly an issue to give thanks for. This is labeled Kal-El Returns Part 5 and certainly we are continuing to see what impact Superman and Warworld coming to Earth are having. But this arc here in Action Comics is really a sort of epilogue to the Warworld saga while sowing the seeds for the future.

Writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson is truly weaving a masterpiece in this book. Superman remains an inspiration to the Warworlders. He is a mentor to Otho and Osul. He is the hero of Metropolis. He is truly a hero and the axle of the book with everything rotating around him. 

But the real fun is that the book is really bolstered by the supporting cast we are getting. Lois is strong here. Bibbo is a fun character, embodying someone who is inspired to be a hero by Superman. We are seeing a truly conniving Lex here as well as a semi-sympathetic Metallo. And let's not forget that Supergirl, as well as Thao-La, are well represented here. In particular, this issue where we see a couple of Lex's plans heating up shows me that Luthor is going to be a force here.

Mike Perkins is on art in the main section and his work on the New Gods is a sort if ugly beautiful. It really just grabs the eye and makes you look. We also get some quieter moments and Perkins does something there which is magical. Promise I'll get there. David Lapham wraps up the Supergirl/Thao-La story and continues to give us a clean look with a gorgeous Kara. Give me more!

On to the book!

Over the last couple of issues we have seen Luthor plotting to bring Metallo into the fold as an agent. At first we see Metallo in a rotting body being visited by his loving sister.

Now Metallo has been given a Warworld upgrade by Lex. Even so, Metallo doesn't want to be a pawn, ready to kill himself by squishing his own brain. Such a grotesque and compelling image. 

Lex won't be outplayed. If Metallo cares about his sister, then Lex will use that. A bogus charge has the sister incarcerated in a Luthor 'for profit' prison. 

I like the hyper-intelligent, amoral Luthor more than the mega-armored punching Luthor. Seeing him here willing to use people like this is delicious.

Superman also has had a power upgrade. Mega-charged by the white sun of Warworld, he batters Orion and Kalibak. They aren't much of a threat. 

Superman even says he has a few new tricks.

Hard to tell but this looks like a 'solar flare' which doesn't depower him. Interesting.

With the city in peril, Bibbo grabs Otho and Osul to help him save any citizens in danger. Nice to see Bibbo showing the kids what it means to act like Superman. 

While Orion and Kalibak get pummeled, DeSaad sneaks by and tries to grab Osul who possesses the Flame or Orglun. 

Whatever this Flame is, it isn't going to be snagged by DeSaad. 

Pretty crazy image. Is Osul sort of possessed by this thing, like Jean Grey and the Phoenix force? Is it separate? Or inside him? Whatever it is, it looks demonic.

Understandably, the whole thing freaks out Osul. Is he Orglun now? Is there a monster in him? Will he become a monster?

I love how Superman calms him. Here is a some Pa Kent wisdom. 'Great power doesn't have to change you."

But really what I love his how Perkins draws this panel, with Superman crouching so he can get down to Osul's level and look him in the eye. It adds to that feeling that Superman has lived through this too. Just perfect!

Orion is still pretty ticked about everything that is happening. The Flame of Orglun is best cared for on New Genesis or Apokolips. 

Superman isn't too happy with their approach on 'caring' here on Earth.

And then in a rather bold statement and maybe a bit more threatening than I am used to hearing Superman, he tells the New Gods he is caring for these kids and the Gods can't defeat him any way.

Love the panel showing the cast ready to help, showing the strength of Superman and those around him. I mean I don't think Bibbo could do anything against Orion but there he is cracking his knuckles.

With the New Gods gone, Superman heads up to Warworld to give one last inspiring speech.

It is totally worth reading in its entirety, telling the people on the world that they showed how strong they are and how he will always be there for them even as the world leaves Earth's orbit.

But then this odd moment. Does Superman brand the skin of these folks with the S-Shield?

I get Superman saying that they have all earned the right to wear the crest. But burning it onto them? 
Maybe he is etching it on their armor??

With the speech done, Warworld blasts off, leaving Earth's vicinity.

I described Metallo as semi-sympathetic above.

Yes, he is being forced to work for Lex to protect his sister. Yes he is breaking out of prison.

But does he need to kill the one prison guard who treated him with dignity? Couldn't he have just knocked the guy out? It makes the killing that much more horrible.

Perhaps he isn't so sympathetic.

And then a great new wrinkle.

Manchester Black seemed to suddenly be a good guy when on Warworld and working with the Authority. But we learn all along he was working for Lex. That is fantastic.

Perhaps Black saw the light there. Because he seems like he no longer wants to work for Lex. Of course, Lex is prepared for that.

I mean, look at that last panel. Here is Lex, just a guy, laughing in the face of a super-villain with a high death count. Lex is almost giddy here. Imagine someone like Black thinking he had one over on Lex.

I love this Luthor.

Great main story with new plots. But love that moment between Superman and Osul the most.

In the back-up, Supergirl has to save the city from crumbling around Chaytil and his monster. That leaves Thao-La to take out Mongul's general on her own. The best thing about the interaction is Thao-La basically telling Chaytil she doesn't fear or respect him. 

For a while I was worried that Thao-La might be sticking around to replace Kara. But here it looks like she is a leader on the departed Warworld. Definitely liked Thao as the character who introduced us to the culture of Warworld and the Phaelosians. Glad she has had such a powerful arc.

This is one of the best Action Comics run I have read and I hope everyone is picking it up. My guess is next issue will be a good 'jump on' moment!

Overall grade: A


Martin Gray said...

Lovely review, and I agree, this is a top comic. On the one hand, I’m almost as tired of Lex as I am of the Joker, on the other, Phillip writes him so very well. Lex is such a coward, wanting others to fight his battles for him - let’s see HIM become a cyborg. I was really disappointed by Corben killing the guard, too. It’s unforgivable.

I do think that’s a white sunburst, and I was also confused by the the S-shield scene; hopefully someone out there will enlighten us.

Anj said...

It is interesting to see Lex take such a hands-on approach rather than having a layer between her and the tools he is using.

But he is such a threat. I love it.

Thanks for comment!

Jfeer said...

Well as long as we are dodging the Thao La is the next Supergirl thing, and since she seems to have some potential, why not give her a miniseries to flesh out her character? Give her a cool callsign (“Kryptonja” expl)…just don’t hand that mini off to Tom King is all I am asking.


Bostondreams said...

So from what I have read elsewhere, looks like Manchester Black is how they will restore the secret identities for Clark and Jon, as part of a plan by Luthor.