Review – Action Comics #978 (DC Comics)

Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Art: Carlo Barberi
Colours: Hi-Fi
Letters: Rob Leigh
Release Date: 26th April 2017

Connecting directly to the previous issue, we are shown the remainder of Superman’s origin story here, but some of it comes with a twist.  We also witness the formation of a new super villain group, one with some fairly interesting members, to say the least.

Dan Jurgens has clearly been playing the long game when writing the first issue of this arc as things are way more interesting in this latest chapter.  We get to see a lot of what we already know about Clark’s life prior to him becoming the world’s greatest hero, but we are also treated to several new scenes that help cement a few things.  First of all, the Death of Superman is now back in his origin after being confusingly confirmed and then retconned during the course of the New 52 series.  The second big thing is Clark’s memories.  Although he doesn’t realise it he is now made up of memories from both of his lives, New 52 and his life before.  It’s handled subtly but there are scenes with him in his old era costume followed by scenes with his Kryptonian armour.  Jurgens weaves some interesting new flashbacks in, but also continues to push the villain story from the last issue forward.

Carlo Barberi is on pencils this time around and his work is both clean and detailed.  Superman looks suitably heroic in stature and despite having to draw him over four different incarnations Barberi manages to make them all look unique which is pretty impressive.  He also excels at expressions, which, given Clark’s past, is definitely a good thing.  We witness some of the key events in his life and they are all the more resonant because of the way Barberi captures Clark’s facial reactions.  Hi-Fi returns on colours this issue and continue to utilise a muted colour palette to augment Barberi’s pencil work.  The colours are still sharp but it does take on a slightly dream-like feel at times, allowing us to see the difference between Clark’s flashbacks and the modern day.

This issue is a much easier value proposition for both new and old readers since it manages to balance lore building and advancement a little better as it pushes us forward into the next arc.  The changes made to Superman’s past this time around are more meaningful than those in the issue prior, and also more interesting as they help to confirm some events whilst adding new, interesting elements to his backstory.  It does still suffer a little from having one foot in the past and one in the present, especially given how far along we are now in the post-Rebirth continuity, but this arc will definitely will benefit brand new readers who have little or no prior experience of the Man of Steel to this point.

My hope last issue was for a bigger pay off to the Villain story running concurrent with Clark’s past, and we do see some of this touched on here in the final few panels.  It is unlikely to surprise anyone who is a veteran of the series but it will still leave a lot of us grinning as we wait for next month’s issue.  As mentioned above, this issue and the one before serve as an excellent introduction to the current Superman continuity and if you are new or just curious about what elements have stuck from previous incarnations then this is definitely something you won’t want to miss.

Rating: 4/5.

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The writer of this piece was: Dave MacPhail
John Tweets from @ShinKagato

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