Publisher: DC Comics
Writer: Rob Williams
Artwork: Guillem March, Hi-Fi (colours)
Letters: Rob Leigh
Release Date: 23rd August 2017
The latest issue of DC’s Action Comics features a classic stand-off with Lex Luthor on one side and Superman on the other. But despite claiming he isn’t in control, could Lex actually be enjoying himself? There was a time when Lex was a bad guy, there was no moral grey area, but comics have grown up and gotten more complicated, and it’s a heck of a lot of fun to explore the psyche of a former super villain.
Rob Williams brings us the thrilling conclusion to this two-part tale which takes us back to a familiar yet uncomfortable series of events. The machinist has finally succeeded in turning Lex against Superman and there is a small thrill in watching him struggle with something he obviously has longed for but previously cast aside for the greater good. We see a reformed villain doing everything he can to fight against the darkness inside him, rekindled by the Machinist’s technology. It is rare to see an inner struggle of a being powerful as this one, and yet the outcome really does feel like it could have gone either way. Williams does a good job of presenting a scenario that feels truly unwinnable and the conclusion is a satisfying one.
Guillem March does a wonderful job of a capturing the strength and ferocity of Lex as he trades blows with the Man of Steel, he does an equally good job at showing just how much punishment Superman can take. We are never in any doubt as to just how powerful both warriors are and there is a real danger that some lasting damage could be done to both parties. The facial expressions are just as important this issue and Lex steals the show in that regard, from his near transformation to his very real struggle against himself, we can see and feel each moment of turmoil and anguish.
Hi-Fi is once again on colours and provides us with a visually distinctive and impactful book where the colour just pops right off the page. Every beam of red energy shooting from Clark’s eyes sears the page, the energy powering Lex’s suit seems to produce an audible hum and of course the last few pages are dramatic and powerful thanks to careful choice of vibrant tones.
The story winds up well enough but it is the final panel that really grabs our attention, this might be Lex’s first encounter with the mysterious character plaguing the DCU and it clearly leaves its mark.
This issue wraps up a short but enjoyable tale of classic rivalries married with suspense and a larger mystery that has been encompassing the DCU since its Rebirth. It is friendly to new readers but I would strongly suggest anyone reading this just pick issue 985 before this one as it does add something to the tale. The book is well-paced and if it was intended to be ‘filler’ it is definitely one of the most enjoyable fillers in recent memory.
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The writer of this piece was: Dave MacPhail
Dave Tweets from @ShinKagato