Review: Action Comics #1033
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writers: Phillip Kennedy Jonson and Becky Cloonan & Michael W. Conrad
Art: Daniel Sampere and Michael Avon Oeming
Colors: Adriano Lucas and Taki Soma
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
Superman steps in to try and cut through the politics and get the Justice League, Atlanteans and U.S. Government see the bigger picture as the showdown in the Atlantic Ocean escalates.
While it takes a little while for the story to develop, the main point of the Superman story in Action Comics #1033 is quite interesting and evocative. As Superman tries to demonstrate that the issue of slaves on Warworld may be more important than the petty politics at play between the U.S., Justice League and Atlantis, the social justice crusader Superman rises to the surface that was a large part of his character when he was first introduced back in Action Comics #1 (1938}. Grant Morrison tried to revive this aspect of the character when DC relaunched Action Comics in The New 52 about 10 years ago, and it’s a worthy facet of the character. Johnson’s actual story is feeling like a stronger example of this.
Daniel Sampere delivers again with some truly wonderful pages. The look on Superman’s face when he addresses the Justice League in the attempt to open their eyes to the predicament of the slaves on Warworld is phenomenal. He captures everything about Superman and the gravity of the situation in a single panel. It’s remarkable.
When the family comes together to face the threat as one, it’s exactly what should be. Characters that have been around for so many years and with so many costumed associates that flesh out their worlds should be a family. With Batman and Wonder Woman they may not be actual blood relatives, but with the Super-Family you’ve got Supergirl and Jon who are blood relation to Superman. This was a really strong theme in the super-books during Rebirth under Tomasi/Gleason and Jurgens, but it was attacked once Brian Michael Bendis took over. Johnson is still hampered with an artificially aged-up Jon, but he’s doing his best and he’s tying it into the refugee Kryptonians which promises to expand the roster of surviving Kryptonians.
The Midnighter tales that rounds out Action Comics #1033 lean even more heavily into the Jack Kirby/Fourth World inspiration. And, it’s a good thing. Michael Avon Oeming continues to evoke the King in his art and at the same time make it completely his own. It’s one of those nostalgic things that reminds the reader of those classics while being far from a swipe or rip-off. It’s really great stuff, down to the decision to use the Ben Day dot look for shadowing at times. Taki Soma delivers on the colors as well, perfectly accompanying Oeming’s drawings.
The time travel twists provide another interesting plot element as Midnighter has to improvise since things are not exactly going as planned. There’s even a bit of humor as well, indeed, “The hammer is pretty cool.” It all serves to set up a finale…somewhere down the line, one assumes in the Midnighter Annual 2021, scheduled for release on August 28. The journey there has been excellent and is a high point in the Infinite Frontier era, giving Superman a run for his money in his home title since the character’s debut in 1938. The Midnighter feature pushes the book into a higher bracket.
The only aspects of this story that aren’t working are Warworld itself and Jon. Warworld has yet to be explored in order to explain exactly how it fits into the puzzle. It may come, but the rest of the ideas are so strong that it’s hard to care about Warworld. Jon is awkward in this storyline. While his knowledge from the future plays a role in his attitude an demeanor, I can’t help but wonder how much better it would be if this was 10-12 year old Jon experiencing it and learning the big lessons from Superman while also learning about this aspect of his Kryptonian heritage. It’s oddly a good thing that Jon doesn’t get a lot of exposure in Action Comics #1033.
Action Comics #1033 is another wonderful issue. Both the Superman and Midnighter stories have built over the past few months into simply fantastic comics. Interestingly, the both do a lot of the same things well while at the same time being completely different. These stories will obviously end soon, but right now they are combining to make Action Comics one of the books you should be reading.