The final issue in the Andy Diggle and Tony S. Daniel arc of Action Comics has been released. The three-comic arc started strong but faltered a bit towards the center. Did the final piece fit into a beautiful puzzle, or a miserable one?
Andy Diggle’s story comes full circle with the unveiling of Action Comics # 21. The issue succeeded in almost every aspect of its predecessor. Out of the three Hybrid storyline issues, Diggle’s writing was the strongest in this one. He was not only able to hone in on the definition of each character’s personalities, but he was also able to bring out something chilling out of a particular one.
Lex Luthor was displayed in the most terrifying way imaginable. Each line he spoke was more memorable than the last. His words not only sent chills behind the spines of the characters but of the readers as well. As chatty and self-involved as he can be, his feats of strength are worth noting. Lex was able to crush Superman with little effort,as the fight took place under a Red Sun light device. This brought a simple yet effective dynamic to the action sequences and really brought out the action that the first issue of the arc was so willing to display.
The artwork was brilliant, once again. Each page attempted to one-up the previous scene, to great success. Whether a modest display of fists swinging, or an intuitive take off to the Sun, every page screamed creativity and passion for the source material. Tony S. Daniel really set a bar for future Action Comics artists, and it is hard to imagine not comparing them for months to come.
Although the series was brought back to form, there are a few questions that are still on the horizon. The comic started with Superman continuing his fight against the Hybrid, which is surprising, as the Hybrid was taken care of in the last issue. It was clear that Clark was still having hallucinations from the infection he sustained back in Action Comics # 19. That being said, the scattered remains of Hybrid manage to stay in the background in a number of scenes. It was confusing because it was hard to discern whether Superman was really fighting Luthor or not due to the hallucinogenic mind games.
While Lex Luthor was handled in a powerful and dramatic way, was it really necessary? We are almost two years into the New 52 and so far we have dealt with Luthor twice in Action Comics. There are villains of Metropolis that have yet to even be introduced in the New 52 and it feels almost unfair that Luthor gets a second arc, albeit a smaller one. Hybrid remains the core of the story and the big pull for future Action Comics, but we’re left with more questions than answers and a resolution that felt (as the run did) a bit rushed. It could be argued that the arc as a whole could’ve been stronger if solely focused on the new Hybrid monster.
Though it had its missteps, the Hybrid storyline as a whole was an impressive one. Andy Diggle and Tony S. Daniel portrayed a striking and dominant Superman, an impressive look into their cast, and an unbelievable direction towards the artwork. The series brought Action Comics back into proper form, and it will leave a mark on the book for years to come. Hopefully Scott Lobdell and Tyler Kirkham can continue where the last team left off, even if it’s just for a few issues, and give the new creative team after them a strong universe to welcome them.