[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Patrick Zircher
When this title began under the “Rebirth” banner, we were told that “It’s called Action Comics for a reason,” or something along those lines. And it started out that way. After a bit of metaphysical re-positioning for Superman and family, Action Comics #979 sees a return to that promise of action!
Lois and Clark are checking out an apartment in Metropolis as we learn they’ve decided to move back to the city from Hamilton County since they are both working at the Daily Planet again. They find a place that works and only worry about Jon’s transition to the city from rural life.
Meanwhile, the Superman Revenge Squad begins to coalesce, as Mongul, Blanque and Metallo learn through their tenuous allegiance with the Eradicator that Hank Henshaw is the man behind the scenes bringing everyone together. He’s sent them to retrieve the Oblivion Stone from Superman’s Himalayan Fortress. You might recall the Oblivion Stone from the Superman: Lois and Clark mini-series that reintroduced the pre-Flashpoint Superman to the current DC Universe. Once retrieved, the Oblivion Stone allows Henshaw to return to his previous incarnation, Cyborg Superman. Action ensues as Mongul is none too happy taking orders from Henshaw and their past from the now classic “Death of Superman” story line is validated for Blanque and Metallo in the form of an extremely physical and action packed confrontation.
Superman gets the alarm that the Himalayan Fortress has been breached and is shocked to see that it’s been destroyed and the Oblivion Stone removed. The bad guys aren’t done yet as Henshaw sets his sights on recruiting General Zod for the Superman Revenge Squad!
One of the first things that jumped out at me with this issue is Patrick Zircher’s art. He has a style that seems influenced by the legendary Joe Kubert, especially in his textures. He’s not swiping the legend or imitating him, but rather exhibiting an influence. As the story itself draws on Jurgens’ Superman stories from the ’90s, Zircher’s art recalls the ’70s, in a good way. Having moved past “Superman Reborn,” everything feels modern and contemporary while at the same time acknowledging a larger past for the characters. In this way it achieves a timeless quality that is hard to dislike. Additionally, when Mongul is rescued from the Black Mercy flower, despite it having a more recent antecedent, one can’t help but recall Superman Annual #11 (First Series), “For the Man Who Has Everything” by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Again, this adds to the timelessness of Superman for this particular iteration.
We’ve gotten over the “Superman Reborn” hump and the timeless quality of the new status quo makes it feel as if we are back where we should be. For fans of the “New 52” Superman, this may be a difficult pill to swallow, but for a more classically attenuated Super-fan, things seems fairly flawless.
I would never have imagined the Oblivion Stone coming into play again, nor the reveal of Hank Henshaw’s past as Cyborg Superman being in play, though it was referenced last issue. What happened to him?!?! Action Comics #979 gets back on track as it barrels forward with an action packed issue with the promise of more while re-setting the status quo for Lois and Clark in a classic setting. It’s almost like the “New 52” never happened!