28th Apr2021

‘Action Comics #1030’ Review (DC Comics)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Phillip Kennedy Johnson | Art by Daniel Sampere | Published by DC Comics

Admittedly it doesn’t take much prompting for me to pick up a Superman book, but one look at the great cover on this book, and a heads up this was the start of a major new arc, and I was most definitely in. That’s not to say, though, that I’ve been happy to pick up all things Super of late. Ever since the New 52 misfire, I’ve found the Superman books to be very hit and miss, and certainly not a patch on the books from the 1980’s and 1990’s. It does seem quite often that new writers no longer embrace the qualities and sensibilities that made Superman such a great character down the years, and impose on him whatever makes their stories work.

So, let’s see if Phillip Kennedy Johnson’s new story arc ‘gets’ him.

With a title like ‘Warworld Rising’, it makes sense to start on, er, Warworld. Enter Mongul. A B+ on the galactic mega-villain scale, though firmly behind a certain Darkseid in the pecking order (though don’t tell him that). Like a medieval King, Mongul’s control of Warworld and its inhabitants is based on keeping them too scared to try and overthrow him, and constantly looking over his shoulder so his own children don’t murder him to become the new Mongul. So it’s pretty handy that a mysterious stranger has bumped off all Mongul’s sons for him, along with a promise to deliver something even better. Seemingly, Superman himself.

Speaking of Kal, he’s being put through his paces on Earth by Batman and The Atom. Seems that ever since Superman’s wounds sustained fighting the creatures from The Breach, he’s losing a step. Nothing major just yet, but noticeable, and Bruce thinks it’s some form of radiation poisoning. To make it worse, Bruce ‘suggests’ starting to groom Jon Kent (Clark’s son Superboy of course) so he can step up if Clark deteriorates too much. Talk about making a hero feel old. To make things worser still, Jon confides to Damien Wayne (Batman’s son, and the current Robin- keep up) that in the Legion of Super-Heroes records Superman disappears about this time. No-one knows exactly how or why. Jon may be hearing his name called for duty quicker than he wants it seems.

One brief interlude with Lois and the bottled city of Kandor later, and Superman’s back on the clock. A large fleet of alien vessels have arrived in Earth’s atmosphere and, judging by the heavy weaponry, not just popping by to say hello. Clark recognises them immediately as Warworld ships. Him and Jon start to disable them, when one of the ships starts to fire on the others. Even odder, Clark hears what is definitely Kryptonian language being spoken. Curiouser and curiouser.

As if that Superman goodness wasn’t enough, we also get a Midnighter back up story, in much the same way Action Comics used to always have a lead story and back up. I’ve got to be honest, wasn’t really for me. Found it all very confusing, not having read the lead up stuff, but it seems two versions of Midnighter keep shifting between bodies or something. The younger version is in the older body and needs to kill someone before he does something in the future. I think. Not for me I’m afraid, story or art wise.

The main story, though, was pure gold. Johnson captures the feel of classic Clark, his relationship with JLA teammates and with Lois. Jon and Damien really feel as though they have a genuine relationship too, as legacy heroes with very famous fathers. Although the Warworld story was only really set up, it promises a lot, with big hints about possible future directions. The art, by Daniel Sampere, was at times stunning. In some panels it looked as though he was channelling a little Neal Adams, giving his Superman a superbly classic look. Definitely up there with my favourite Superman artists now, just beautiful art.

So, a near flawless lead story, but a backup that just jarred with the tone of the book for me. Worth buying for Sampere’s art alone though. Literally Super.

**** 4/5

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