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Action Comics #41

by F.D. White on June 04, 2015

Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Aaron Kuder
Colorist: Tomeu Morey & Hi-Fi
Letterer: Steve Wands

What makes Superman who he is? Is it the ability to fly, having super-strength, eye beams, or icy breath? All of these powers help to define him, but what truly makes him Superman is his unwillingness to give up, to not settle for the hand he's been dealt, to strive to be more. Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder's new arc, “Truth”, focus their story around these ideas. When Superman loses his powers after using his new “Super Flare” ability, he's forced to re-evaluate how he approaches the world, his foes, and his life. He can no longer just fly to the fortress of Solitude to cool off. Literally, the frozen temperatures can kill him. He's still significantly stronger than a regular human, but he's not nearly invincible like we know Superman. He's much more akin to his early incarnations, being able to leap over tall buildings in a single bound.

Despite this radical loss of power, Clark continually reaffirms to himself that he is still Superman. He has to be, not only for the people of Earth, but for himself. A radical change like this is surely a blow to his psyche. Coupled with this devastating loss of abilities is the fact that Lois Lane has revealed his secret identity to the world at the worst possible time. Pak decides to take this journalistic approach to an interesting street level conflict for Superman. There are people who dislike him for all the damage he has caused and now that they know who he is and that he's more human than every they wish to strike. Yet, there are those who know that they need to support Superman now more than ever (just as he has for them). It's great to see a story built around the people of Metropolis, integrated into public and personal opinion. It's a timely story (especially considering the ending) and had me wanting for more at the end of the issue.

Kuder despite moving away from the fantastic, is experimenting more than ever in this issue. Page layouts and line art are at times psychedelic (looking at you giant METROPOLIS lettering in the middle of a panel). A close-up of a police officer is a half page highly marked piece of work, it's honestly overwhelming to look at. His work is able to make a single police officer look threatening because it's so uncanny. It's great to see an artist be able to stretch his style in between arcs.

If there's one negative I have to this book is that it's tied so heavily into SUPERMAN by Gene Luen-Yang. Twice in the book there are reference to events in that series (one for issue #41 and another for issue #42, neither are out yet). Action Comics seems to be happening on it's own sliding timescale that fits somewhere in between the two SUPERMAN issues, yet obviously before and after it as well. It's a little confusing, especially if you're not reading Luen-Yang's work.

Side Note: We're introduced to a new character here, Lee Lambert. With some many other LL initialed characters (Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Lex Luthor), it begs the questions: Will Lee ultimately be friend or foe and just how close will she get to Clark?

Action Comics is paving the way for another great Superman story. Kuder and Pak's run has been a must-read so if you haven't read yet, this is a perfect time to hop on.

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