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Action Comics #957

by Ian B on June 08, 2016

Written by: Dan Jurgens

Art by: Patrick Zircher

Coloured by: Tomeu Morey

Lettered by: Rob Leigh

 

 

When I first learned of Rebirth and specifically what was planned for the Superman titles, I was excited. A return to form with the Superman I had been enjoying recently (Superman: Lois and Clark), with Action Comics being taken over by one of my favourite comic villains, Lex Luthor attempting to be a superior Superman? It sounded like personal dream scenario, especially after I quite enjoyed the Superman: Rebirth special. Unfortunately, the reality was not quite what I had hoped.

 

 

The story begins in a genetics lab, currently under siege by a group of armed gunmen, who are there for reasons unknown even to themselves. The power is eventually lost and emergency procedures begin to take affect when we are introduced to who presumably is the main character in this arc, Lex Luthor as Superman, utilizing a high-tech suit to emulate the man of steels powers. Rescuing the hostages and disabling the gunmen, Lex exits the building to reveal to the awaiting media and police that Superman is dead, and he is the new protector of Metropolis.

 

 

We then cut over to the pre-flashpoint Lois and Clark, living in this universe with their son John after the events of Convergence. This is actually the part of this issue that I enjoyed the most, watching the family interact and explaining to John the importance of using his powers responsibly and not simply to make his life easier. Upon seeing Lex Luthor declare himself Superman on television, however, Clark finally dons his classic costume and rockets off to confront him.

 

 

This, unfortunately, is where a lot of the problems with the issue present themselves. In his interactions with Lex that follow, our classic, pre-flashpoint Superman shows himself to be overly violent, attacking Lex first when Lex suggests they talk it over, and extremely impulsive as he shows himself to the world after several issues in his own series preaching about the need for privacy. The worst is his apparent lack of concern with those around him as he springs into conflict with Lex over essentially nothing while surrounded by innocents. The story then devolves into several pages of fighting for little reason, eventually culminating in a reveal that was spoiled by the cover of the issue itself; the gunmen were actually taking Doomsday from the genetics lab. Overall, the story was a disappointment, especially in the wake of the promise that was shown in a more hopeful and classic Superman from Lois and Clark, and it feels like the book couldn't let Lex have his moment in the drivers seat before trying to aggressively shift the focus back to Clark.

 

 

The art is good, as is to be expected of most main series DC books at this point, but many of the colours seem a tad muted and there is a heavy emphasis on shadows that doesn't help at all. Beyond these small issues, however, the art does an adequate job of conveying what is happening and the new design of the Superman suit is a definite improvement over the previous New-52 design. Lex's Superman suit looks good in action, and I can't wait to see it used to a larger degree in future issues.

 

 

Overall, this was an issue that I truly wanted to enjoy, however the focus on action and surprise reveals, mixed with odd artistic choices and a lack of time to acclimatize to a new status quo, that of Lex as Superman, detracted from the issue as a whole, and made it seem more like a preview for the Superman book itself. An unfortunate disappointment that, hopefully, is not telling of how the series will proceed forward.

Our Score:

5/10

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