Action Comics #983 (September, 2017)
“Revenge, Part V”
Writer – Dan Jurgens
Artist – Viktor Bogdanovic
Inker – Jonathan Glapion
Colorist – Mike Spicer
Letterer – Rob Leigh
Associate Editor – Paul Kaminski
Editor – Mike Cotton
Group Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.99
I know I’ve said this before but I do so miss the days when half the credits in a comic book weren’t for variant cover artists and a platoon of editors. Not sure why that annoys me so much…
Back in the day the books felt as though there were a lot of people working on them, so much happened and the books felt substantial… now, it often feels like just the opposite, and yet “editor city”.
Keep in mind, I’m not talking about this book in particular… it’s just one of the very few 2017 books I look at on the blog from time to time.
We open at the Fortress of Solitude where Kelex is pleading with Lois and Jon to vacate the premises. His programming clearly states that they must be protected at all costs. This is starting to become trope-y, it seems we traveling down a similar road in every Superman story since Rebirth. Kelex declares the Fortress a War Zone… and we shift scenes to see the face-off. It’s the New-Look Superman Revenge Squad on one-side… and all the folks who wear the “S” on the other. Superman asks Cyborg how he’d manage to regress back into his machine-y form… a transformation Henshaw refers to as an improvement and attributes to the Oblivion Stone. Zod uses this opportunity to address his troops telepathically via Blanque.
He then lunges at Superman, smashing him into a wall… and noting the somewhat blank look in his eyes. It doesn’t take him but a second to deduce that, at least for the moment, Superman is blind! The rest of the battlers pair off for some one-on-one action. Supergirl takes on Cyborg, which is appropriate considering her opening Rebirth storyarc. Superwoman is paired with the Eradicator, Kenan faces Blanque, and Steel is up against Metallo. Blanque manages to catch Kenan off guard by speaking to him in Mandarin… then he crushes him under a pillar of ice! Meanwhile, Lois and Jon are led to a cute li’l escape craft.
We rejoin Superman and Zod as they continue to pummel one another. This part is super cool… Zod realizes that without his sight, Superman is relying on his other senses… like using his super-hearing to key onto his heartbeat. Knowing how focused Superman is on paying attention aurally… Zod, get this, screams into his ears! Now, that’s an awesome idea!
Superman is suddenly swept away… he and the Flash are, what the hell… feeding a gorilla a Snickers bar? Oh, sorry… poorly placed ad, is all (see below). Actually, after Zod lets lose with his a capella stylings, a silence overtakes the Fortress… and in that silence, Zod can hear… Lois and Jon!
He turns to Superman and informs him that he’s not allowed to have them. Then, moments later… the escape craft takes off… and Zod blows it out of the sky. Zod is frickin’ ruthless here… I think I’m finally starting to “get” him.
With that riff-raff out of the way, Zod returns his focus to seeking out the Phantom Zone projector. He knew Jor-El well enough that he had a pretty good idea where Kal-El might keep something like that… and it turns out, he’s right on the money.
Zod and Cyborg squabble a bit… Cyborg thinks it’ll be easy to free the prisoners, which only confirms that he’s never been to the Phantom Zone before (just you wait, pal). Before Zod can flip the ol’ switch, the Superman Forgiveness Squad arrives to shut the proceedings down. Or, ya know… not. Zod zaps them into the Phantom Zone. Whoops.
Then he sends the Eradicator and Cyborg Superman in as well. Ruthless.
The issue wraps with the super-sevensome floating in the ethereal detention of the Phantom Zone. To be continued… probably.
For what was basically a fight scene, this was really good. Very engaging and delivered a nice cliffhanger. This is still probably my favorite Rebirth title going.
That’s not to say I had no problems with it… because there is something that bugs me. There’s this over reliance on putting Lois and Jon in danger that really distracts… and almost feels like it steals pages from the story. I mean, sure… it’s his wife and kid, and they should have a place in the book… but, every single issue is Superman protecting his family now.
And I’m not a guy who keeps a tally of how often a “damsel” is put in “distress” or anything, it just feels like we’re going to the same well too often… and it’s always a sleight of hand type of thing. Let’s look at the current/recent Superman arcs… in Superman (vol.4) we’ve got Black Dawn… in it, Lois “loses a leg”. Let’s face it, we all knew that wasn’t going to be real. Here, in Revenge, Lois gets blown up in a cute li’l space craft… does anybody think that’s gonna stick? Not that I want some irreparable harm to befall Lois (or Jon) because I don’t, but I’d like there to be a story where that is not at least part of the focus.
I remember when DC revived the second volume of the Flash following Infinite Crisis (and Bart’s short-lived title). In it, Mark Waid introduced Wally and Linda’s twins Jai and Iris… and, ho boy, every damn issue was focused on them. It was distracting… and all I wanted was a straight-up Flash story. Now, I’m feeling similarly with Superman. Not that I dislike Jon (I did dislike Jai and Iris… greatly), but at this point if DC were to give Superboy an ongoing… he’d have one more solo series than the Man of Steel himself… because as it stands, it’s as though Superman has zero.
Ahem… back to the issue.
I feel like I’m finally starting to “get” Zod. He comes across as a master tactician and a grade-A bad ass here. It probably helped matters that we didn’t get a super-cute “kneel before” meme thrown in here. But, I gotta say, I really enjoyed his depiction here… and him screaming into Superman’s ear? Amazing. I can’t say for sure that hasn’t happened before, but if I’m recalling correctly, this is the first time I’ve seen (or noticed…) such a thing. It was a really cool move!
The Phantom Zone brings with it it’s lofty and terrifyingly cruel reputation here. I was happy to see Zod describe it as a fate worse than death… because, it totally is. Imagine just floating in nothingness, observing life for millions of years… without any hope of the release of death. That’s a horrifying thought!
I am intrigued as to where this story is headed… we’ve got our Superman Forgiveness Squad… and Cyborg and Eradicator in the ethereal hellspace… all seven of them “wear the S”, so I gotta assume that might figure into where this story is headed.
Viktor Bogdanovic provides art, and he’s pulls it off quite nicely. I enjoy him on New Super-Man, and think he’s got a very nice style. Faces do get “blobby” from time to time, but not so much that it distracts.
I will say… I think these Snickers ads are pretty weird. It’s kinda shocking that these are being drawn by top artists… they’re almost too good, because it does take a minute to realize that what we’re reading isn’t part of the story. At least it’s not as bad as last time where a Superman/Doomsday battle was interrupted by a Superman/Doomsday Snickers ad. Now, that was confusing…
Overall, despite my complaints about Jon and Lois hanging around, which are just my complaints… I don’t expect many/any to agree, I’d say this is definitely an issue and arc worth checking out if you haven’t already.