Welcome to the fifth installment (and second actually on Monday) of Sunday Reviews with JoeLovesComics, a segment on here where I talk about comics I enjoyed, and why I liked them!
All reviews will be spoiler free.
"There's a golden age... when every kid knows their parents are indestructible. Infallible. Immortal."
I'm not too embarassed to admit that back in March I was reluctant to try out this and Action, despite the new creative teams. Still hopelessly bitter about a certain creative choice from the previous run, I just didn't really feel like it. But I started seeing pages, some positive reviews, then eventually thought there was no better time to catch up then ready for Jon's new solo book out this week.
I'm so glad I did, it was lots of fun! But anyway, it makes sense to focus on the first issue first of all.
I loved how Phillip Kennedy Johnson wasted no time getting back to the dynamic between father and son. Currently reading the Tomasi/Gleason omnibus so Jon just being there helping Clark out felt very reminiscent of that run. Like that quote at the start of this review, love the idea in Clark's narration and focusing on his legacy and appearance to Jon, a theme throughout all the issues. Just the little moments when Jon points how much longer it has been for him since certain things feels great to acknowledge it.
Previously known Phil Hester's artwork on Family Tree with Jeff Lemire from Image (which I need to read actually, was waiting to get all the issues) and with the bright colouring by Hi-Fi (which I always adore) it really highlights how geometric Hester's artwork is.
Personally I think it works nicely for the story, they do feel dynamic and I liked the designs of the things that they are fighting in this story, shown on the cover to this issue. The art here just feels very clean cut, not overly busy which art can be sometimes, which I quite like about it.
Anyway I've talked enough about this issue, let's move onto Action #1029 for the second part of this storyline!
Action Comics #1029
"This is the day. The day that comes for every kid. The day they their heroes fall."
I really liked this issue, to be honest. There's not a huge amount I can say that I haven't already said about the first half of this arc, but I did like the neat detail of the covers. The "A father falls... A son rises!" just sums up the idea behind this arc and nicely ties the issues together from a design point of view.
The issue is a satisfying conclusion to the storyline, with an interesting character behind it. Mainly I love how it explores the themes of legacy, and fatherhood. At one point Clark tells Jon about something he learnt from his dad, it's a powerful moment that comforts Jon that he is more ready than he thinks he is. I liked the way his knowledge of the future from the recent Bendis Legion run is used in that way, putting even more pressure on him that he knows any day now he might have to take over. Then the tease at the end brilliantly made me excited to go onto the next issue for the start of the Warworld Rising storyline. When it comes to the art, again not much else I can say that I haven't already said. Bright, clean, great action sequences I liked it.
Now, I didn't talk about the Tales of Metropolis backup in Superman because I didn't have anything to say about it, but I was pleasantly surprised by this Midnighter backup.
My only experience with him before this was a story in the DC Pride anthology, so I wasn't really sure what to expect. I also hadn't read any of his Future State backups so was worried I was going to be confused. But no! I managed to catch on pretty quickly and actually enjoyed it. I thought it was an awesome idea, with lots of themes I'm a sucker for so that probably had a lot to do with it, and the art was perfect for the tone of the story. Dark, but with awesome bursts of colour where needed. Given the choice, would I have wanted the issue to have a backup at all? Well like most people, no. But since it was there I read it and enjoyed it and was excited to read more of it. It provided a stark contrast to the bright Superman story that's for sure.
Action Comics #1030
First of all, wow that cover. Absolutely gorgeous work by Mikel Janin, the soft oranges of the background and the trade dress really making the blue and red of his costume stand out, I just love it.
This was such an excellent issue. Following up on the ending of the previous issue, the focus on Warworld and Mongul is just so awesome. Daniel Sampere's artwork on Future State Aquaman was simply a delight to soak in, so having him here is such a treat. With amazing work by Adriano Lucas, they manage to give Warworld such an epic feel which rich oranges that really creates an atmosphere.
Then we go to Superman, and holy- it's just him flying above the sea, but it looks absolutely glorious. So bright and vibrant and just wonderful to look at. Liked how separately through the help of friends both Clark and Jon are continuing some themes and the impact from "The Golden Age" with some great interactions between their respective friends. The ending of the main story is where it really kicks off, and wow what an awesome moment to end it on.
Awesome story, gloriously beautiful art just all round excellent. Not much to say about the Midnighter backup that I didn't already say for the first part, but I liked the direction of it, disturbing but effective with a complete tonal shift to the main story that's weirdly refreshing switching between the two reading these issues back to back.
Action Comics #1031
I really mean that. This storyline is really turning out to be pure action packed superhero sci-fi epicness and I am all for it. That first page instantly showcasing the stunning work of the art team of Sampere and Lucas, the blue and red of Superman's cape against the blazing brightness of the background, his symbol of hope standing out as Thao-La reaches out for his hand.
But just in general what an issue. Such a great mix of blockbuster action, character moments and a very intriguing and exciting storyline unravelling. Nothing much else to say about this issue other than that it was truly an absolute joy to read.
Additionally the Midnighter backup is going along nicely, with some great action of it's own and a brilliant ending that I genuinely did not see coming. All round good stuff!
Action Comics #1032
I'm really liking Thao-La as a character. The whole idea of the lost colony of Kryptonians enslaved on Warworld is such an epic and awesome one, but it's so well grounded through Thao-La herself. She explains to Superman what happened to her on Warworld and it makes for a nicely emotional sequence in an otherwise action packed issue.
So speaking of the action, the cover does relatively accurately represent the events of the issue. I love how Atlantis is involved with this whole storyline, it just adds an extra layer of complexity that makes for such an intriguing read. The ending of the story just shows the situation is only going to get more complicated and I am all for it. But yes, the kajiu looming in the background behind Superman and Aquaman. I've said it for the previous two issues and I'll say it again, there's some absolutely glorious art in this issue. Including one particular page showcasing the kajiu and it's absolutely magnificent. Just simply perfect man am I loving the art in this book. The next issue comes out this week so I'm so excited to see where this all goes. Still liking the Midnighter backup, definitely interested to see where that goes as well!
Action Comics Annual 2021 #1
Like with the Midnighter backups in the main Action run, I hadn't read the Future State material relevant to this, so I wasn't sure if I would be lost but I was fine!
As promised in the solicitation, this return to the House of El is framed in a way that tangentially connects it to the current Warworld Rising story. The events of the House of El in the annual are being told to a young character (won't spoil who) on Warworld, giving some more depth to a them in a great way.
But yeah, like I said thinking about it I basically experienced the story the same way they were, with it just being told to them. There wasn't a huge amount to it, just a really fun story featuring the descendants of Superman, a great cast of characters that I wouldn't mind seeing again someday. Plus the appearance of a certain longer established Superman character that appears on the cover behind them, and yeah there were some fun moments, some great art was definitely worth the read I enjoyed it.
I mentioned when talking about #29 how "The Golden Age" storyline where Clark and Jon are fighting together reminded me of the Tomasi/Gleason run I'm reading at the moment and this had the same feel.
I loved the way the issue started, with a contrast between almost harrowing panels but emotional dialogue, framing the arc as Clark writing about it in a journal to Jon and Lois. That was definitely a sweet touch and continued the strong emphasis on their relationship in these Infinite Frontier issues.
Then we go into some wholesome Kent family content of them finishing a game of golf. I've mentioned this a few times, it's the small details like this that really round off the stories and humanise the characters. After everything that has happened to Jon and he has done recently, he can still enjoy some time with his family, just so nice to see.
In terms of the majority of the issue, I thought it was a pretty solid sci-fi story, Superman returning to a world he had apparently saved once before, but this time with his son. The apparent history added an extra dimension to it (and also allows us to find out some things through Jon asking him) and yeah it was a fun read with an exciting ending to tease the next issue. I hadn't heard of Scott Godlewski's artwork before this, but it had a really soft look it which I really liked, it felt very dynamic and animated and the colours by Gabe Eltreb were great.
Overall, a great issue with some heartwarming dialogue about Jon from Clark, a interesting alien planet storyline and some nice refreshing and soft looking art.
Honestly when I was intrigued to try out the current Superman run it was partly due to covers like this, and the Action 1030 one. Awesome work by John Timms on this, so dynamic and love the action on it and the reds and the blues and yeah love it. So excited for his work on Jon's solo series, always liked his art.
But anyway, the issue itself! The bottom panel on the first page honestly shows exactly why I like the art in these issues. Superman is really dynamic breaking through wood, with such an animated facial expression. Jon is just flying in in the traditional pose, but just thought he looked younger than how he's often been drawn nowadays. Just looks like a good balance between the pre aged up Jon and the current older Jon. Might just be his pose and facial expression in that particular panel though as doesn't look like that throughout the whole issue (apart from a couple other similar flying moments).
But in general as the second part of the arc not much to be said that I haven't said already. Love the progression of the story it's a cool idea, and especially with the dynamic between Jon and Qarath O Bakkis and the relationship between a child and his father on the two different worlds. All leading to another exciting ending setting up a conclusion to the arc that continues the themes of Jon having to learn to manage on his own as Superman.
"Is this the end of... Superman?" reads the final trade dress on this cover. The character? Well no but you probably didn't need me or the issue to tell you that.
The current run, renumbered in 2018, however? Yes it is ending and being replaced by Jon's solo series, as I've already mentioned a few times. This was a fititng and satisfying conclusion to this Shadowbreed storyline. A returning villain on an alien planet Superman has been to once before, with him and Jon learning valuable lessons about fatherhood and legacy along the way? Yeah it was a fun arc.
With the backstory of the return of the Shadowbreed revealed in the conclusion to this arc, it continued the themes of fatherhood, specifically the dynamic between father and son on this world and I liked how that was compared, naturally to Clark and Jon and that dynamic on Earth. Jon works out how to be a hero on his own, and it just has an all round wholesome end to the arc. Same comments about the art as previous issues, loved it lots of fun. Definitely worth checking out, maybe when the trade releases if you need something to read someday!
This article was written by JoeLovesComics, who you can follow over on Twitter for (albeit shorter) thoughts on comics he loves.