Monday, March 6, 2023

Review: Action Comics #1052 - Part 2

Last week I reviewed, perhaps harshly, the Power Girl story in Action Comics #1052. Today I'll finish reviewing the stories within. Both of these stories I liked much more. 

The main story by writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson and artist Rafa Sandavol continues the Metallo arc. I really loved this story for a bunch of reasons. The art is really powerful. Sandavol brings a sort of scratchy, rough feeling to the proceedings that really works well. The story continues to be intriguing as Metallo seems to be having his puppet strings pulled by someone out of sight (although probably revealed in solicits). Thankfully, this explains away what seemed to be a glaring discrepancy between Action and the Superman book. But more than this action, Johnson really calls back to his Warworld Saga as the ramifications continue to ripple out. And, as Action Comics now feels like the old anthology Superman Family, I am thrilled that Johnson are showing us family moments for the supers. Great stuff here.

Add to that the Dan Jurgens and Lee Weeks flashback story with a young Jon Kent. Again, Weeks style works well here as he was the artist for the Convergence story and the sequel miniseries introducing us to this dynamic. The story is just starting but I like Jon starting to come unto his powers. But I wonder if there will be a sort of hackneyed 'don't judge a book by its cover' lesson here.

Overall, these both worked very very well. It all starts with the wonderful Steve Beach cover. I like the washed out, lack of outlines bright blue highlighting the family uniforms.

Bring on the book!

In the main story, the Metallo storyline ratchets up a notch.

We open up with Superman and then Steel and Natasha brawling with Metallo in Metropolis. It looks like Metallo has leveled up and will be a true match for Superman. Luckily, with a family around him, Superman is able to freeze Metallo with super-breath and toss him into space.

Great art all around. Sandavol draws the Steel family wonderfully. The action is spot on. 

But I do wonder what Superman did after he threw Metallo up there. I suppose the city needed cleaning up. But leaving a super-villain in orbit seems risky. Why not have Supergirl go corral him?

One thing I love about this run is how Johnson is really bringing in that 'Superman Family' feel to the book. Once again we see that the Kent household is a meeting place for everyone. Reminds me of Sunday dinners growing up. I love how the kids just curl up with Kara. And I love how throughout the scene we see Kara pampering Krypto.

One of the subplots brewing is the 'Blue Earth' movement, a populist group that fears alien technology and culture intruding into Earth lives. 

There has been a lot of talk about politics in comics recently. 'Blue Earth' clearly can be a metaphor for any hate group or any movement on our Earth. I like allegory much more than ham-fisted, on the nose stories that can't be explained away in the context of a superhero universe. 

I also very much love that Warworld, while behind them, remains a big part of the super-family and Otho and Osul.

Here, Otho compares Metallo to the Unmade, resurrected and twisted warriors on Warworld. A very appropriate comparison. 

More to love.

One thing I liked about the young Jon stories back in the Rebirth era was that Clark got to be the new 'Pa Kent', doling out wisdom like Jonathan did. Once Jon was aged and sent off on his own adventures, that parent Clark seemed to fade a bit. And the parent Lois moreso. 

With the inclusion of Otho and Osul, we get more of these family times and lessons. And these moments are spectacular.

So we see Lois and Clark helping the kids brush their teeth. We see them reading them nighttime stories. And we get wisdom.

Like how Clark is his truest face.

And how about when you disagree with people you shouldn't shut them out or consider them your enemy. Maybe you should hear them and try to find out why they are afraid. What they believe. Maybe in the end you're on the same side.

Imagine that. Superman reaching across the aisle. Seeing the best in people. Trying to understand where people are coming from. 


Floating in space, Metallo recalls a terrible moment from his childhood, showing us his abusive father and his horrible upbringing. Now I am not a big fan of all villains having sympathetic backstories anymore than I want all heroes to have feet of clay.

But we have enough 'right wing military' villains in comics. I like this Metallo who must have been looking for a way out, looking for some way to protect his sister. And how that has to be his main motivation in life.

In space, 'Tracy' shows up as a hologram. Metallo has to kill Superman or Lex will kill her. If he wants to protect her, he needs to murder.

Now I had a slightly hard time with this when I read it. But more on that in a bit.

I said that Warworld is still with us.

This quiet moment, seeing Otho still lashing her hands at night, so used to the chains, shows how these kids haven't just left their tortured pasts behind. They are working through it. And I think Otho shielded Osul as best she could. So she probably has a longer road ahead of her.

I have to say I was struggling to reconcile the Lex in Joshua Williamson's Superman who wants to work with Superman and elevate him as a hero with this Lex, butchering and bullying Metallo into the role of assassin. 

Well here we see that it isn't Lex. When Metallo was talking to Lex mid-battle, the real Luthor was silent in his prison cell. It isn't Lex. 

Now this would be a mystery I could really sink my teeth into. Who is manipulating Metallo? Unfortunately, I think the secret was revealed in the May solicits. I like the true villain. It makes sense.

Well, it all ends with Metallo not only prepping to fight Superman, but grabbing some Blue Earthers to mutate into his own 'family'. Good body horror is sure to follow!

I am all on board with Phillip Kennedy Johnson's vision of Superman right now. Loving this story and this book.

Over in the Lois and Clark feature, Dan Jurgens and Lee Weeks continue to bring the fire.

Here, we learn that the young girl who crash landed is Princess Glyanna from planet P'luhnn. She is being pursued by enforcers who are trying to bring her back to imprison or kill her. Young Jon is in over his head but Superman is on the way.

I wonder if this is a simple 'don't judge a book by its cover' lesson for Jon. The pretty princess being the actual villain and the Fleisher-studio evil looking robot being the actual good guy.

But wait, there's more.

Doombreaker, first seen here, has returned. He needs help too!

You know I love these stories with young Jon. And Jurgens and Weeks are like chocolate and peanut butter. 

This book is crackling right now. I love the anthology feel. But bring on a Supergirl feature and please have it done by people who love her!

Overall grade: A (just these two features)


Martin Gray said...

Wasn’t it great!?but orrally do want to know why all these super people are hanging around - there’s a big world out there! And why the new uniforms?

Anonymous said...

It seems Supergirl is better handled loafing in the background, on a couch with her second cousins, playing some card game...Hardly the Brittle Caricature glimpsed in PG's Back Up Feature.
But thats DC fer yuh...