Superman is at the mercy of Psycho Pirate as he attempts to crush all of Clark’s memories and dreams. The result is haunting, but in a good way.
Psycho Pirate’s plan has been set in motion. Superman attempts to stop him but his psionic weakness leaves him vulnerable to Psycho Pirate’s mental probe. The issue starts off slow and leads into a strange partnership, in theory, between Superman and the issue’s villain. The second half of the issue takes off in an impressive way. We are led through multiple parts of Clark’s past but in a twisted way.
Psycho Pirate takes the form of a snake, guiding Clark through his new realities and tempting him to let go of any attachment he had to his loved ones. Some of these sequences are merely sad, but others are absolutely heartbreaking. Enough to cause Superman to cry during his coma, Psycho Pirate has his way with Clark’s memories like a puppet master. It leaves the reader wanting more and although it is early, the high point of the “Psi War” crossover thus far.
Mike Johnson was able to create an entertaining and thought-provoking issue of Action Comics without relying heavily on combat sequences to deliver a memorable story. These psychological implications will give Superman a shattered pathos that will haunt him for issues to come. If there was anything to take away from the “Psi War” it was that Superman is not indestructible and his mind is very much as fragile as a human mind. Johnson played with this narrative well and was able to convince the reader of that premise without feeling forced.
Tyler Kirkham and Jesus Merino come together for the artwork in Action Comics #24. Despite having separate influences and structures on designing Superman, they came together nicely and it is hardly noticeable that the artwork is done by two people. They synergize in a way that makes both the villain, Psycho Pirate, and the hero, Superman, stand defiant in every panel they appear in.
Although the issue focuses heavily on the emotional aspect of Clark Kent’s history, the artwork was able to keep up and make every emotion clear throughout the mind seize.
For a title like Action Comics, you’d expect there to be a prime focus on action. This issue is nearly devoid of it. Lately the Superman related issues have focused more on storytelling, and it has served the titles well. However, it isn’t for everyone. This strategy is clearly aimed at the vulnerability of the Kryptonian mind in the “Psi War” arc but so far they haven’t been able to deliver the level of action that they were able to before. This problem is only temporary as the “Psi War” is leading to the combat aspect of the arc shortly.
The Action Comics series has taken a break from action to deliver a heart wrenching and emotional look at Superman’s past. The comic delivers on that front and paves the way for not only the continuation of “Psi War”, but also the future inner struggle that Superman has to face.