Action Comics #964 review

Clark Kent has high cholesterol. Who knew? That's the cutest surprise this issue. Well, you'd expect Superman to be burning off the fat like nobody's business. 
Then again, this Clark Kent isn't Superman. Kryptonian tech and a psychic globe prove it as the pre-Flashpoint Superman, who's taken over for the recently deceased New 52 version, whisks the man claiming to be Clark Kent to his Fortress of Solitude. 

Superman suspects Clark is the New 52 version, back from the dead. Or maybe an imposter. Whatever the case, he needs to know Clark is being straight with him

But it looks like he's telling the truth. He seems to be totally sincere when he describes his adoption, which had nothing to do with being blasted to Earth from the dying planet Krypton. So while it seems Superman is perhaps being a bit stern with him, it makes sense that he doesn't tell his 'guest' he doesn't believe he's Clark Kent because he's Clark Kent - and an alternate Clark Kent would have super powers. 

He does soften, though. 
Back in Metropolis, the mysterious bearded man gets onto the grounds of Geneticron, the mysterious company Clark Kent says he was investigating when New 52 Superman asked to borrow his identity. And by the time Superman and Clark Kent get back to Metropolis, Geneticron looks very different. 

There's an eye-catching last page, which I won't spoil, but before that we get several pages juxtaposing an article by Clark Kent with images of our cast. 
Oh, how the Daily Planet loves a first person piece; for 'I spent the night with Superman' read 'My day with Superman'. And just like that, the secret identity is put back in the bottle. Should this Clark somehow vanish from the storyline, return to an alternate Earth or whatever, and the New 52 Superman not return from the dead, pre-Flashpoint Superman can grab his old name back. No more Clark White, or Smith or whatever. 

I love the picture byline of Clark, a pen portrait rather than a photograph. It's a typically stylish detail from illustrator Patch Zircher, who produces page after page of slick, sinewy art. He captures the confusion of Clark, and steely determination of Superman - both desperate to have their questions answered - superbly. Zircher and writer Dan Jurgens work wonderfully well together, ensuring, for example, the recently added statue of Ma and Pa Kent is removed from the Fortress by the time Clark arrives. And the final sequence - the equivalent of a TV drama montage, though hopefully without the wretched Hallelujah playing - has a delightful storybook quality to it. While I'll always prefer a Fortress with a giant key, Zircher's big panel of Superman opening his massive front door nicely illustrates his strength. 
It rather reminds me of one of the first comics I ever bought...
... I was convinced that ruddy great rock was alive, it's fair juddering!

Jurgens does a fine job of developing this book's mysteries, I really can't guess where this is going. At the same time as he moves things into the future, Jurgens gives us little nods to the classic Legend, such as Superman's addition to the Kent farm this time. Ulises Arreola on colours and Rob Leigh on letters add their own skills and sensibilities to the creative package. 
And as for the covers, if there's a better main and variant this year I'll be amazed. The variant is Gary Frank's take on Vitruvian Man - hmm, should da Vinci get a breakdowns credit? - and it's a cracker. Just look at how Frank's worked in the Daily Planet. As for the main image by Clay Mann, also turning on the idea of two-men-in-one, it's just beautiful. Based on an idea by Jurgens, it's superbly conceived and hypnotically executed. Brad Anderson colours the variant, Tomeu Morey the main, and they've done a splendid job. 

The entire creative team - the above-mentioned and editors Paul Kaminski, Mike Cotton and Eddie Berganza - are bringing us what's shaping up to be a classic run. And twice a month at that! 

Comments

  1. And it would be so much better if he were actually wearing his proper outfit!

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    1. Abso-blooming-lutely to the proper outfit!

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  2. Sounds like the issue we've all been waiting for!

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  3. I'm really enjoying this book. Any guesses on who the mysterious man in the baseball cap is? Kenny Braverman got a name-drop in this issue, so I expect him to show up sooner or later... but could it be now?

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    1. I'm not at sure about baseball cap man... could I go out of left field, into a diamond and say Resurrection Man? He wore a baseball cap... nah, I might as well say Wild Dog

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  4. Was wondering what happened to the Ma and Pa Kent statue! One line of explanation would have gone a long way.

    But I loved this issue. This Clarks origins sound very familiar - from parents dying in an explosion to being friends with Kenny Braverman - but an a scar from an appendectomy. Who did the surgery? When? Where? There are lots of ways this Superman could verify/contest some of this Clarks claims.

    But Jurgens and Zircher are so solid here. This mystery deepens and I love it.

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    1. The Ma and Pa Kent Statue is in the Arctic Fortress (New 52 Superman Fortress) - This is Post Crisis Superman's Rocky Mountain Fortress - The Arctic fortress was shown in Superman Rebirth #1 and now has a New 52 Superman statue next to Ma and Pa Kent

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    2. You're right Anj, as a journalist and the son of a scientist, Clark should be doing deep checking into Clark's claims. I wonder if he's just trusting his super-instincts, that would be very Bronze Age. I never actually read the Kenny Braverman stuff, Superman and I were on a break. He was Conduit to something?

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    3. MAngelo, thank you so much. I just can't keep my Fortresses straight!

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