Action Comics #51 review

Superman storms into the DEO headquarters in National City, where Supergirl is attached to a machine, unconscious. Waking, Kara isn't too thrilled that she's been 'rescued'. It turns out she was there willingly, having been offered help when her powers began to fade in return for the occasional mission. Like Superman, she was a victim of Vandal Savage's power-draining meteor, and ... well, rather than recap a pleasingly info-filled spread, I'll just show you
When Kal shares his own news - he's dying and wants Kara to continue the great work she's been doing - Supergirl forgets her irritation at her cousin's heavy-handed encounter with the DEO. I love this page, showing how the super-cousins are there for one another. 
Meanwhile, back in Metropolis, the unnamed parolee who's somehow been imbued with super-powers and flashes of Superman's personality arrives for a day at the Daily Planet in 'his' Clark Kent guise. Safe to say, with his own personality flashing in and out, it doesn't go well. Actually, that's a massive understatement, as he flat out murders a couple of security guards with an angry blast of heat vision. Can the Planet staffers possibly stand against him?

And in China, mysterious scientist Dr Omen welcomes back the dragon man who grabbed a sample of Kryptonian blood in last week's Batman/Superman and takes the serum. 
A needle might have been easier...

The issue ends with Wonder Woman arriving, shouting angrily at Superman: 'Story continues in our team-up book!' OK, not quite, but she may as well have, for all that her dramatic arrival contributes. She's come to the Fortress of Solitude on what is basically a social call, so why the heck is she in battle stance, sword held high?

I'm bemused, but I'm not complaining. Peter J Tomasi continues his current weekly serial - which solicitations called Super-League, though the comics themselves go for The Final Days of Superman - in compelling style. Yes, the start with Superman as bull in a china shop is a little over the top for the more measured hero we've seen lately, but he's anxious for his cousin... and it makes for a dramatic opening. 

Plus, it leads to an elegant explanation of Kara's whereabouts since her last series closed, tying her power-loss cliffhanger to Superman's own troubles in a massively logical way. And once the cousins have a chance to talk, we see the real connection between them, with Clark confident in her abilities and Kara tearing up at the thought she's going to lose him. If DC continuity is a tangle of computer wires, Tomasi is the cable tidy making everything neat again. 

While the security guards' deaths is grislier than I like, the book regains points for a very nice acknowledgement of Lois Lane's courage, Kara being given the keys to Kal's kingdom and an intriguing viewscreen which may well be showing us possible 'Super League' members. 

Oh, and Superman brings a whole new meaning to 'booting up the computer'.  
Penciller Paul Pelletier and inker Sandra Hope Archer draw the heck out of the story. Pelletier's layouts are intelligent - such as Kara's cape framing her flashback - and dynamic, while Hope Archer's finishes are marvellously sharp. The pairing recalls the great days of Tom Grummett and Karl Kesel, snub noses and all. Pelletier adds extra details for verisimilitude, such as old newsman Perry White's pen-filled pockets and the clouds over National City - how often do artists bother with clouds? The art team draw Kara's New 52 costume better than pretty much anyone else, making it look almost wearable, while they bring real tenderness to this important scene. 
Colourist Tomeu Morey opts for a naturalistic palette, though he's not afraid to go for more intense shades as demanded by the moment. I really like that he gives us some coloured panel backgrounds, too. And the underappreciated Rob Leigh provides the lettering job every good comic needs - precise and sensitive to the rhythms of the script; I especially like the 'inside voice' he gives Not-Superman. 
And Karl Kerschl's cover is dynamite. 

While this is my least favourite of the three chapters the bigger arc has had so far, it's still miles better than most of the stuff we've had over the last few years. Action Comics has been one of the brighter spots in the DC line, and Tomasi, Pelletier and co are keeping up the quality. 


  1. I really hope Kara gets to keep the fortress. I like Post-Crisis Supes, but I really want Supergirl to have her own super-advanced icicle palace.

    On a completely unrelated note, have you been following the Mighty Thor?

    1. She does have that undersea Sanctuary - which I thought Tomasi was referencing with a bit of bolding up here - but I'd rather see her sharing the Fortess, as in the Bronze Age.

      As for Thor, I've not really enjoyed any Marvel take since the gone-too-soon Thor the Mighty Avenger. I'm a Jane Foster fan of old, I remember that time she was taken to Asgard to be introduced to Odin, then just dumped for Sif, but I just don't care for her stint as Thor.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Wasn't Sanctuary destroyed? Oh, Jane Foster went to Asgard, Odin gave her god power so she could be with Thor, but she proved to not be up to snuff. Odin removed her memories of Thor, and he did mourn her for a time before Sif was made his steady.

    4. Yeah,, that was the very story to which I was referring. Am so old.

  2. Fabulous issue.

    I love the relationship between the cousins here showing they love each other and are family. But I also love that Kara is clearly an independent young woman, allowed to make her own decisions.

    Didn't realize that the meteor was draining the Kryptonians. I thought Supes was drained by the Quarmers and had his cells changed. I suppose it is a convenient excuse to explain Kara's predicament.

    Can't remember the last time I saw the super-cousins acting like family. Makes me happy.

    1. Could be that Kara assumed it was the meteor, but there was a Quarmer stalking her. Yeah, that's it...

  3. That Supergirl costume is an abomination. Its time cannot pass soon enough.

    1. It's being drawn better these days, but yeah, you're so right.

  4. Thanks for pointing out this storyline to me, Mart. I'm really enjoying it. And any Paul Pelletier art is an absolute joy.


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