Someday your kid’ll see you fall (Action Comics #1029 review)
Action Comics #1029
Writer: Philip Kennedy Johnson
Penciler: Phil Hester
Inker: Eric Gaspur
Colorist: Hi Fi
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
This issue continues directly from Superman #29. Rather than have two different titles, Superman is now a bi-monthly book. Even when Bendis was writing both titles they explored two separate storylines, and often Action Comics and Superman read completely differently from each other. Even the art team remains consistent, which is an amazing feat in modern times. The setup for this first arc is that Superboy knows when his father is going to die since he has been to the future. There is an interdimensional threat and it seems that this is the event that will kill Superman. There is also Amanda Waller working a bit behind the scenes (but that part is still shrouded in some mystery). That is it, a simple yet high stakes set up to kick off Johnson’s run on Superman.
Superman and Superboy are still fighting off forces coming from the interdimensional breach. They find a space station, run by STAR labs, and find out that they are studying the breach rather than trying to close it. There is no clear indication as to why STAR labs are allowing this danger to occur, other than Amanda Waller being wrapped up in it. Eventually, the moment occurs and it seems that Superman has met his match, but he lives. His son is confused but warns his dad that this fight is the last known historical event for Superman. It is impossible to tell if this will be the end or the timelines have changed now. The book ends with a reveal of who the real villain behind the scenes is that ups the stakes further.
I am really enjoying Philip Kennedy Johnson’s run so far. I know it has only been two issues, but the bi-monthly nature of the book allows each issue to not be overbearing and gives the two titles cohesion. Rather than having to cram two entirely different arcs into two titles, the plot and characters have a chance to breathe. There are a lot of great moments in this book. The action is top-notch and Johnson has introduced a credible threat to Superman. The fact that his son knows he is going to die makes the reader care more than they would for some random alien invasion. STAR labs mystery, on why they are allowing this to happen, is intriguing. Rather than giving us an entire issue all about Amanda Waller, or letting them become overbearing on the plot (looking at you Leviathan), it is something in the background. It is being allowed to build organically. It never overstays its welcome, and therefore remains intriguing. Finally, we have some really great moments between Superman and his son. This is where Johnson shows us how well he understands Superman as a character. Furthermore, he goes into the father and son dynamic that sets up not just how great of a hero Superman is but how great of a father he is as well. It is a really touching moment and I am happy to see that Philip Kennedy Johnson’s Superman is full of hope, even when facing certain death. Overall this issue has a bit of everything that a Superman fan could want.
Phil Hester’s art remains incredible. I said before how it reminds me of a Saturday morning cartoon, and it really hits home here. Everything is just so expressive and amazing to look at. And hats off to the art team here for being able to fulfill their duties on such a tight schedule. Often DC can’t keep one art team on a single issue, let alone on this bi-monthly schedule. The art here has already become symbiotic with Philip Kennedy Johnson’s writing and I am glad this arc will remain consistent.
Summary This new run on Superman has a lot of promise. It is able to juggle things like mystery and action, while not becoming so heavy that it holds the title down. Superman is a fun and interesting comic again, thanks to the new team that seems to really grasp the character.