Action Comics #976 (2017)

Action Comics #976 (May, 2017)
“Superman Reborn, Part Four”
Writer – Dan Jurgens
Pencils – Doug Mahnke
Inks – Jaime Mendoza, Christian Alamy & Trevor Scott
Colors – Wil Quintana
Letters – Rob Leigh
Associate Editor – Paul Kaminski
Editor – Mike Cotton
Group Editor – Eddie Berganza
Cover Price: $2.99

Alrighty, today we’re going to wrap up the latest (as of this writing) of the skatey-eight hundred attempts to straighten out Superman’s continuity.  Four issues to fix ’em all!

As with most other of our “completed” subjects, you can pop over to our Collected Editions Page and check Superman Reborn out in it’s entirely… chronologically even!

Let’s wrap this puppy up!  Tomorrow begins our Third Annual Twelve Days of Christmas on Infinite Earths!

We pick up where we left off, and ol’ Mxy sure is ticked!  He lambastes the high-collared Kryptonian for being a cheater… but, here’s the thing… the fix is already in.  Jon celebrates the return of his parents, though when he calls out to his father… Superman doesn’t recognize him as his son!  What’s worse, neither does Lois.  They just figure him for a delusional lost boy.

Mxyzptlk celebrates his victory… and the Super-Fam is confused as to just what he’s getting all excited about.  Mxy comes clean that this whole mess is way above his pay-grade, and there’s someone far more powerful pulling the strings… but doesn’t say who.  Superman has about had it with the imp, and goes to choke him out.

Mxy shape-shifts into Clark Kent, and jokes about fixing the “secret identity problem”.  Yeah, yes and no, I guess.  Meanwhile Jon pleads with Lois to remember him… and, sadly she just can’t.  Mxy then grows real big and reminds Superman of the contract they signed last issue before racing to the top of the Infinite Planet Building.  If you recall, if Superman won… Mxy would screw off back to the Fifth Dimension… what wasn’t made so clear is that, he would be taking Jon with him.

Amid the chaos, Jon is approached by a pair of glowing blue orbs (you see where this is headed?).  They encourage him to use his power to fight of Mxyzptlk… and he does!  Only, it’s a weird telekinesis-type thing… but, I guess the “normal” rules don’t quite apply right now.

Suddenly, Mxy’s world begins to crumble… Superman and Lois look at the boy, and, although they still don’t know who he is… they realize that he is the key to everything.

The blue essences merge with Superman and Lois… making them remember everything… also, making them complete.

The whole situation is being monitored by Mr. Oz… who can’t quite believe what he’s seeing.  Upon turning the page, I’m not sure I quite believe what I’m seeing!  It’s as though everything has been put into its place.  Superman’s entire history made (relatively) linear!  He and Lois were never on the run as the “White” or “Smith” family… they’ve always been at the Daily Planet.  Jimmy and Perry know all about their son, Jon.  They’re married.  Doomsday once killed him.  It’s a blend of new and old… and for the most part, it works well!

Then… Superman appears with a brand new-ish costume!  I remember them making a pretty big deal out of this… and it had a shelf-life of less than a year!  Oh well.

We wrap up with the Super-Family returning home… to Metropolis.  Another event that Mr. Oz is paying keen attention to… and it’s here that we get the impression that all of these changes are even above his pay-grade.  There’s someone else out there…

Okay, let me get this much out of the way.  I was satisfied with the ending.  Despite my misgivings with The New-52! overall, I’m still a stickler for the “everything matters” school of thought when it comes to comic book storytelling.  To my mind, if something from continuity hinders a story you wanna tell… you’ve got a couple of options.  You either rewrite the story you want to tell (ha!), or you just don’t draw attention to the contradictions.

So often these days writers and editorial go out of their way to prove their stories are correct by simply taking the old ones out of existence… see also: 52!, The New.  There is a way to “fix” things without ticking off entire generations of your customer base though… and I think stories like this (also DC Universe Rebirth) does as good a job of that as any.

Dare I say… if they used a story like this (but sorta-kinda in reverse) to introduce The New-52!, I’d have actually been more on-board with the entire endeavor!  All we got in the Summer of 2011 was… hey, everything’s new… because we want a few awesome months on the sales charts.  I honestly believe there wasn’t much more thought put into it after that.  The way much of the line meandered (even right out of the gate) might be more evidence of that.

Now, while I really like the result… the story here, is kinda all over the place.  Over the past few days I’ve referred to these issues as “breezy”… which I stand by.  You could read through all four part inside a half hour… and that’s including making a sandwich beforehand.  So part of me feels like we spent far too many pages telling this story…

… but, another part feels like we didn’t use enough.  Let me try and put my thoughts together and explain this.  I feel like Dan and Peter tried taking us on a roller-coaster ride here.  If we were interested in playing along (and not spoiling things on social media), the sky really was the limit for this storyline.  It could have resulted in the loss of Jon Kent.  It could have resulted in the dissolution of the marriage.  It could have resulted in a return to the Bronze Age “protect the secret identity at all costs” type of stories.  Hell, it could have even brought back The New-52! Superman as “they guy” going forward…

… but they didn’t take enough advantage of the uncountable possibilities.  So many potential gut-wrenching moments left on the table.  Lois and Clark don’t remember Jon?  Well, don’t worry, they’ll remember everything in 3-4 pages.  I just feel like this was a missed opportunity to really play with our emotions… really make this feel like just one of a million outcomes it could have been, instead of just speeding along to the one we all had a pretty good idea it would wind up being from the get-go.

I mean, we had four issues to tell this… and, as mentioned… they were all five-minute reads.  Why not “compress” a little bit, and explore some of the possibilities?  Make this a true celebration and acknowledgement of Superman’s entire history… even if some bits of it were to be kinda molded to fit the new(est) chronology?

Oh well… what do I know anyway?

Overall… I’d say this is certainly worth reading (in collected format), but you might wanna bring a second book to bed with ya, because this one will zip on by.  It’s important, and it’s pretty… but, that’s really about it.

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