The cover tells you where this issue is going - back to a fully powered Superman, clad in red and blue and ready for anything. Knowing the destination doesn't spoil the ride, though, as drivers Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder deliver the best issue of Action Comics in months.
We're in disaster movie mode. Vandal Savage's minions are causing chaos on Earth. Above it, the hijacked JLA Watchtower, Stormwatch HQ and Fortress of Solitude have lassoed the comet Vandal believes will make him all powerful. The Justice League, Lana Lang and Steel are being drained of energy by Savage. In Metropolis, ordinary people are stepping up, headed by Supeman's friends Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen and Lee Lambert, who are evacuating the city, block by block. And Superman?
He's powered by green Kryptonite, wearing the heart of the unfortunate Metallo around his neck, and pumped up. But he's thinking straight, planning a takedown of Savage and soon, backed by such powerful allies as Mr Terrific, Justice League United and Subterraneans Baka and Uruk, he's taking the fight to Vandal and his super-powered children.
It's wonderful to see Superman inspiring everyone around him, and even better to see him appreciating his friends. In an issue full of big moments, this quiet page is my joint favourite. Plus, we get this:
And there you have it, in black and white (and purple and brown...), Lois did the right thing in revealing Superman's secret ID to the world. And Superman realises this, and is grateful for what she did. Time to put the cries of 'betrayer' behind us once and for all.
Jimmy also gets a fabulous moment. Determined, loyal, repurposed villain tech at the ready - that's Superman's pal.
There's also a lovely panel or three for Lana lovers, the entertaining complexities of Life with the Savages and the return of the super powers. Co-writers Pak and Kuder give Superman a breather moment to appreciate what he's feeling, and as a reader it's wonderful to see a smiling, confident, calm Man of Steel again. Superman's narration throughout is well-done, there's no doubt that after some tough times, the centred superhero is back.
Vandal Savage does go on a bit, acting as Basil Exposition, but it's actually rather nice to see Pak and Kuder try to make the random convolutions of the Truth storyline seem like they were all planned. Bless them.
Aaron Kuder draws part of the book and provides layouts for the whole thing, ensuring that despite four other pencillers and a slew of inkers, there's one eye-popping look. David Messina, Javi Fernandez, Bruno Redondo and the always reliable Vicente Cifuentes do a bang-up job, delivering Kuder's vision. Kuder, Fernandez and Cifuentes ink themselves, with Gaetano Carlucci and Juan Albarran also pitching in. Tomeu Morey, Wil Quintana and Arif Prianto colour with verve. And Steve Wands letters every page, with his usual eye for detail.
With so many artists on board, how the heck do I credit the people behind my favourite page? Who makes Kuder's breakdown so fantastic? Best just look at the thing.
And if any of the creative team happens to read this, please let us know!
I also have a favourite spread, one of three consecutive double pages towards the end. I'll let you come across it for yourself, you'll know it by it's post-darkness feeling. Dawn has arrived, and we've earned this gorgeous moment of hopefulness.
The story isn't over yet - there's one more Superman/Wonder Woman and a Superman to go, but if those two books are anywhere near as entertaining as this double-sized fiftieth issue special, bring 'em on.