Action Comics #41 review

It's appropriate that Action Comics is the first book I read from the DC You promotion - it's DC's oldest surviving title, starring their most famous character. 

But Superman is a little different these days. Gone is the blue union suit, replaced by a jeans and tee shirt ensemble. It's reminiscent of the look seen in 2011, when Action was flashing back to the early days of the revamped Superman. And if we can't have the classic, red-trunked look, this will do for a while. 

A while is likely as long as the Truth storyline lasts, as long as the world knows Superman is Clark Kent. Maybe after that he'll return to the classic suit. But for now, it's utilitarian all the way. 

As the book begins, Superman doesn't even have the tee shirt; he's on his way back from a frustrating trip to the Fortress of Solitude, where he was soundly rejected by the Kryptonian tech he hoped would help him in his powered-down state. So now he's wandering around Alaska (good luck keeping the Hulk TV theme out of your head), looking for a way to stay on the downlow, catch his breath before sorting out his problems. He comes across a store, buys a new shirt, a motorbike, gets in a fight and, on receiving a coded phone message from Jimmy Olsen, returns to Metropolis. 

Storytellers Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder tell us it's been a crazy two weeks for Clark, since he was outed as Superman. An editor's note refers us to Superman #41 which, in the way of these things, hasn't actually come out yet. 

(Theatrical sigh...)

OK, it's not Action Comics's fault - Action Comics came out in time. But it's frustrating that all the Superman books are tied into an overarching storyline, and the first building bricks are missing. As I understand, rather than the story weaving from series to series in a linear fashion, each book is examining one aspect of the storyline. I'm not yet sure what Pak and Kuder are concentrating on, but as Superman's world is being torn down - he's been fired from the Daily Planet, is being sued and his bank cards have been cancelled - they're doing a little world building. 

So when Superman returns to Metropolis, after a tense encounter with the police he's introduced to 'Kentville' - a bunch of people on his old block are showing they haven't turned against him by partying hard. One of them is firefighter Lee Lambert, and while she's friendly she doesn't think Clark should be answering her emergency call. 

But underpowered or not, he's still a hero, and is still mighty tough (he's also mighty ignorant in not handing back Lee's handset, but we'll call that enthusiasm). With the thanks of attending fire crew, Clark takes on a massive great monster, a 'Shadow'. It seems he's encountered this species recently, That would be Superman #42, due next month ...

Anyway, there's a satisfying fight, and a cliffhanger full of foreboding. Justified moans about DC's in-house traffic management apart, there's no denying the Pak/Kuder team remains on top form. Superman is the same massive figure, technically alien but full of humanity. They give him a voice, a little tougher than usual but suited to this storyline - I just hope the other Superman writers are singing from the same hymn sheet. New character Lee Lambert (LL, classic!) has potential, and I wonder whether she knew Clark during his temporary identity as firefighter in those flashback Action issues. 
Kuder's art, coloured by Tomeu Morey and Hi-Fi, makes the heart soar. While I'd love him to be drawing the iconic look, he's making new history for Superman here, with big, dynamic moments aplenty. Our hero's race to the pier, for example, is thrilling, as he invents super-parkour with the aid, in a nice touch, of a Daily Planet vending machine. 

Kuder also shows off his knack for mood, with new police character Sgt Binghampton made to look very sinister indeed. 
Superman riding a big motorbike feels a bit weird, but I love that the big, spreading seat is coloured red, providing for cape-like trails. And every page is lettered with style by the excellent Steve Wands. 
The only thing I'm not keen on is Kuder's approach to Jimmy, who looks for all the world like the Prankster, and dresses like a scruffy teenager. C'mon, it was Jimmy who made bow ties cool!
On the plus side with young Mr Olsen, there's a great warmth between him and Clark, and I hope this remains once Truth is over and, presumably, the world forgets who Superman also is. 

As with the Doomed storyline, Pak and Kuder show they can take a tie-in and make lemonade. I'd rather they were going their own way outwith a big story, but I'm engaged. 


  1. Do you know what Superman's depowering means? There might finally be a place again for villains like Toyman! Just think of all the Superman villains who've fallen by the wayside over the decades who might get reintroduced to the mythos; Prankster, Master Jailer, Terra-Man, Riot... I hope DC doesn't waste this golden opportunity, I love seeing those old guys.

    1. Inspired. Tweet Greg Pak at once. He may even throw in J Wilbur Wolfingham...

  2. I may have liked this more than you! But your right that Supes humanity is greater now that he is closer to humanity. That's a good thing because maybe things will stay that way once his power returns.

    1. This may be weird, but one thing I hope he keeps is his sense of taste. It's too sad to think he may be denied the simple pleasures of food by writers reinterpreting what invulnerability means. He should have Super-Taste - far more story possibilities there.

  3. Great review! I am approaching this whole Truth arc with great trepidation. I don't like the premise at all, especially the idea that Lois would out him. However, I've promised myself I wouldn't go off without understanding context, so here I am.

    I liked this issue far more than I thought I would. I went in expecting the worst and thought it wasn't half bad (high praise!). I like your point about making lemonade because that is pretty much how I think this whole post Flashpoint world has been. The writers have had to work with editorial interference and a inflexible publisher vision (which in my opinion is very odd and shows a deep disconnect between who these characters have been and who they are trying to force them to be). Within that context, I enjoyed this issue.

    However, I am still braced for the worst as this all continues.

    Thanks for the review!

    1. You're welcome, and thank you for the comments! I hope you wind up pleasantly surprised by Truth. I'm hoping for a big old U- turn in how New 52 Superman and Lois relate to one another. I foresee tears and hugs ..l

  4. Sorry, I guess I commented before on your Facebook page rather than joining the discussion here.

    That said, your review made me curious enough to pounce on the issue and read it. Thank you, I enjoyed it much more than I thought I could! I even suspect there may be a decent set up for Lois' seeming betrayal as there seems to be something more that happened which has turned so many against our favorite super-powered alien.

    I also think the story sequence is quite intentional, A) keeping Action and Superman in separate explorations of the arc and B) intentionally telling the story in a non-linear order to engender more curiosity and keep us reading.

    1. Fascinating point about the story sequence; I don't think DC have that much guile, but we'll perhaps find out one day!


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