You’re the only constant in any universe (Action Comics #1030 comic review)
Action Comics # 1030
Writer: Philip Kennedy Johnson
Artist: Daniel Sampere
Colorist: Andriad Lucas
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Action Comics and Superman titles are now finding their own voice. While earlier issues were intrinsically tied together, they are not going their own way. Action Comics seems to be focusing on Warworld (for the time being) and Mongul, while Superman will eventually stop and reboot as a Jonathan Kent Superman title. Thankfully Action Comics will retain Philip Kennedy Johnson as the main writer, so the world and themes he is building will continue to matter and grow. The main hook remains, of the series, that Superman’s foretold death is imminent. And it seems the catalyst of this event is Mongul and Warworld, something hinted at at earlier issues but starts to come to the forefront here.
This is another fairly quick read, that also functions as another intro into Action Comics. While the previous issues set up Superman as an overall “series” it is now focusing on where this specific title is going. Mongul is planning to bring Superman to Warworld, and while there is no direct conflict there yet it sets up some of the politics on the planet and how things may proceed. It is already known that Action Comics will shift there so the setup is minimal but more than sufficient. The rest of the comic focuses on Superman and his family. There is a great moment with Lois that really shows why their relationship is so important. Superboy (soon to become Superman in his own title) has a moment with Damian Wayne, discussing his fear of his father’s eventual and incoming death. A bit more specifics are revealed on the prophecy, from the future, that creates the cliffhanger to this issue. This book is a series of smaller moments that all promise to create a fairly interesting arc and direction.
Normally I would be upset that another intro and shift is happening. But, Philip Kennedy Johnson is making this work organically. The storytelling here is smooth as he continues to be able to introduce many different plot points without overbearing the reader of the script. Every scene has purpose and does not overstay its welcome. He balances the thematic elements in the pages with Superman and Lois, and Superboy and Damian Wayne. It is here he is able to build on his knowledge of the characters and really flesh out what everyone stands for. It makes me care about every single character, and Jonathan Kent has not been written this well since being aged up. However, Johnson does not just lean into themes as he is also able to move the plot forward in an engaging way. Mongul’s WarWorld story is intriguing. He does not let it linger and simply sets up the stakes and moves on. I want to read more, I am not left exhausted (Leviathan I am looking at you). He is also able to expertly weave in some of the prophecy of Superman’s apparent incoming death leaving the comic on a really interesting cliffhanger. All around this comic has so much going on, without being heavy on exposition. Philip Kennedy Johnson clearly has an expert understanding on how to script a comic.
Daniel Sampere’s art is amazing here, and it is transformative from page to page. The Warworld introduction is gritty and disturbing. Every panel seems uninviting and horrific, even though it is a simple conversation. The mood and tone is just nailed perfectly on every panel. He is then able to shift into a loving moment with Superman and Lois, and a real personal friendship with Superboy and Robin. To go from cold to warm like this is a real feat, especially when keeping the comic cohesive. Of course, Andriad Lucas’ colors play a big role in setting the emotional mood here. Of course this is Action Comics and there is a brief action sequence that allows the book to become dynamic in a new way, showing off Sampere can handle dialogue as well as Superman smashing a giant robot. This is just a beautiful book to behold.
Summary Philip Kennedy Johnson reintroduces the readers to Action Comics, and what the comic will focus on from here. So far it all seems very promising, and it is a great time to add Action Comics to your pull list.