Superman: Action Comics, vol. 1: Warworld Rising
(Collects: Action Comics #1030-1035)
Phillip Kennedy Johnson (writer), Michael Avon Oeming (Illustrator), Daniel Sampere (Illustrator), Christian Duce (Illustrator), Adriano Lucas (Colorist), Dave Sharpe (Letterer)
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
It is a stunning breath of fresh air to read this comic – because I love the big blue boy-scout and it’s always great when we get a good comic about him. He is without a doubt one of the hardest characters to write given his immense power, his character and the image/legacy of Superman. I had decided to try this out because the story sounded curious and Phillip Kennedy Johnson also wrote The Last God which I’ve been reading (it is a great dark fantasy series!) and it gave me a bit of confidence. That confidence has borne fruit aplenty with this series!
Post the events of Dark Nights: Death Metal, Superman has been feeling a little less himself, his powers are not quite what they used to be and he’s doing his best to put on a brave facade and keep fighting the good fight. But it’s not going well and though he has been winning the day, we see that he is struggling. On top of that, there arrives on Earth, a wayward ship from the primary Warworld, containing refugees seeking help, including one wanting to save her people who are the last of their kind, enslaved on the brutal planet. Superman being who he is, sees the looming threat of Warworld inevitably coming to Earth and the plight of the countless innocents from a multitude of worlds that are imprisoned under the Mongul regimes
Taking the technology brought by the Warzoon (Warworld citizens) refugees away to keep it from falling into the wrong hands, Clark seeks the aid of long-time friend and JL team-mate Aquaman to keep them under lock and key in Atlantis. This of course is where things get more and more strained as there are the inevitable attempts by surface nations to steal the tech and then failing that, tensions rise and flare and Superman has to intervene to try and keep the peace as nations are literally on the brink of going to war. In the meanwhile, machinations and dangers come closer to home as some of the refugees are not what they seem and Supermans family and fortress are in danger.
There is tension aplenty, enough action to live up to the title and keep fans of the stuff happy but more importantly, there is good story-telling! Micheal Avon Oeming leads the art team the first few issues and it is a style quite different from that with which people might be familiar – but don’t doubt that it is top-notch! The latter chapters we see the lead art being done by Daniel Sampere. They all manage to bring just as much impact to the action-packed moments as to the more quiet ones and the colouring is nicely bright and crisp. Things feel detailed and yet not cluttered and over-inked and the end result for me was a pleasant visual experience.
Kennedy does a good job bringing us a Superman that feels like the heroic, mild-mannered and good-hearted Man of Steel that I love most. He’s not bogged down by grimness and darkness, he isn’t broody and morose and definitely not a whiner. There are moments where his goodness is almost naive but never foolish and the core of the heroic character shines out well in this tale that shows us a new challenge in a new phase of Supermans life and how he faces it, including being at loggerheads with his superhero peers, all leading up to a decision that leads into the next volume as he embarks on a truly dangerous mission that will test even his might and resolve.
If you are a Superman fan, I highly recommend this comic and the Warworld arcs that follow – it’s maybe not for everyone, but if you like your Supes as I do, chances are it’ll be a good change from what we’ve seen for a good few years now.
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