Action Comics #979 (July, 2017)
“Revenge, Part One”
Writer – Dan Jurgens
Artist – Patch Zircher
Color – Hi-Fi
Letters – Rob Leigh
Associate Editor – Paul Kaminski
Editor – Mike Cotton
Group Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.99
I understand that complaining about something like having a big reveal spoiled on the cover is kinda like shouting into the wind in 2017, but, c’mon… the Cyborg Superman reveal was kind of a big deal to some of us “old timers” who weren’t quite sure whether or not this version was still a “thing” post-Rebirth.
Oh well… let’s get to it. Oh, by the way… Hank Henshaw is still Cyborg Superman… just so we’re clear.
We open with Mongul totally wrecking Superman all around Metropolis, to the point where the Man of Steel is actually begging him for mercy! How did this happen? Did we miss an issue? In fact, no we did not… this is just the result of Mongul having a Black Mercy flower attached to him! Folks may know that from the Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons story, For the Man Who Has Everything… though, a helpful footnote reveals that this was also part of the opening arc of Trinity (which I never got around to finishing!).
Meanwhile, Lois and Clark are taking a look at their new apartment in Metropolis. I’m not sure if their big move is a result of the recent events of the Superman (vol.4) book, or if it was just time for them to make a change. Either way, they appear happy to be home.
We shift scenes to Superman’s Himalayan Hideout where Mongul, the Eradicator, and Blanque are combing through the wreckage in search of… the Oblivion Stone! They eventually find it, however, also find themselves confronted by Fortress inhabitants Dratania and Klon.
Back in Metropolis, Lois and Clark sign their lives away for their new apartment and consider how they might introduce the idea of moving to young Jonathan. The conversation doesn’t get very far, as Clark is alerted to the goings-on in the Himalayas… and so, faster than a speeding bullet, he splits.
He arrives at the ruins, and receives a static-y status update from Kelex. The Oblivion Stone has been taken… by Blanque. He continues through the wreckage, only to find the bodies of Klon and Dratania. Kelex reveals that Blanque wasn’t working alone, and informs Superman that he was flanked by the Eradicator and Mongul. Superman swears vengeance.
Meanwhile on the Moon, Blanque and company arrive… and Mongul is none too pleased with the idea of handing over the Oblivion Stone to Hank Henshaw. Things become heated, and before we know it, a fight is on. It’s at this point that Henshaw strips himself of his human trappings and garb, revealing himself to be… Cyborg Superman! If only that wasn’t spoiled on the cover.
At this point in reading, memories of Green Lantern (vol.3) #46 and the fall of Coast City during The Reign of the Supermen came flooding back. Mongul and Cyborg Superman are no strangers to one another. Moments later, I read something similar coming out of the Eradicator’s mouth. So happy to have some more of the old continuity back!
The issue wraps up with Cyborg Superman overpowering Mongul, forcing him to his knees so he might kiss his hand. During which, Cyborg Superman reveals their recruitment mission isn’t done yet… next stop *Zzzzz* er, I mean, Zod!
It isn’t often that I write a preamble that mentions all my misgivings with a particular book. Honestly, the only problem I have with this issue is the fact that Cyborg Superman appears on the cover. Even though I’d say there was very little doubt that Henshaw would ultimately be revealed to still be the Cyborg, I really think that reveal should have occurred on the inside.
Otherwise, I dug the hell out of this. It feels like with every issue I’m getting another piece of my childhood back. That’s probably the wrong reason to like something, but… whattayagonnado, right? There are so few contemporary things in this hobby that make me happy anymore, so when something does… I just gotta hold on to it.
The story we get here is a great opening chapter that uses subplots from previous issues. It feels like Jurgens is using that old, pre-“written for the trade” comics storytelling structure… and, it just feels like home. I just love that we’re getting story arcs of varying length, with “connective tissue” in subplots. It’s such a striking and welcome change from “every six issues is a new ‘movie’, pal!” Just couldn’t be happier with this series.
Should I mention the art? Probably oughta, right? Well… damn, this was a very pretty book! I remember first experiencing Zircher’s art around the turn of the century on Marvel’s Thunderbolts, and I thought he was great back then. Somehow, he has managed to become so much better! He did such an amazing job here… and I notice there’s no inker credited, so I gotta figure he pencilled and inked this book. Dang.
Well, if I haven’t gushed enough… I’ll say it again, the Superman titles have been my tippity-top Rebirth books. This really feels like Superman-done-right. So glad that Dan Jurgens is steering this ship toward 1,000 (and hopefully beyond… and by beyond, I don’t mean Action Comics Volume 3 #1). If you grew up in the 80’s or 90’s and miss that Superman… I think you’re safe to come “home”.