Review: Action Comics #1037
[Editor’s Note: This DEFINITELY contains spoilers]
Writers: Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Shawn Aldridge
Art: Miguel Mendonca and Adriana Melo
Colors: Adriano Lucas and Hi-Fi
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
Superman goes head to head with Mongul and it doesn’t go particularly well for the Man of Steel. Nor the rest of his team for that matter.
Johnson has some interesting ideas at play in Action Comics #1037. The idea that the United Planets is not willing to assist Superman in his campaign is interesting. And, we know from last issue that there’s some intrigue afoot with Thaaros. This mystery, while not involving Superman directly, like the still simmering mystery of the Phaelosians holds the reader’s interest. This debate deserves more exploration. Whatever is going on in the background is more profound despite being a subplot than the main storyline of Superman vs. Mongul.
Amidst the fight we get a few exciting moments with Manchester Black and Enchantress as they lend their special abilities to the cause. Miguel Mendonca does a great job on art this issue taking over from Daniel Sampere. Mendonca wows us with some really nice double page spreads that are dynamic and perfectly capture the flow of the action. The story brings Superman to a point of losing his temper and Mendoca depicts an angry yelling Man of Steel masterfully.
The second feature is the fist chapter of a Martian Manhunter tale. While it’s hard to see how this fits with what we may already know about J’onn, the story plays out like it’s setting up his police officer secret identity. The first few pages demonstrate how J’onn seems to use different identities with no real grounding. It’s a storyline with potential, it just seems odd that we are introduced to a police officer in the story that bears a strong resemblance to John Jones, his classic Silver Age/Bronze Age ID. In a nod to J’onn’s original artist this police detective is named Certa- Joe Certa was the original artist on the Martian Manhunter back in the 1950’s.
While DC should get a pat on the back for not soliciting this issue as “The Death of Superman,” the story never really feels like it’s the end of Big Blue despite the prophesy in the beginning of Johnson’s run. It’s been the weakest aspect all along and it continues to be so. It started out like a pointless side story and it still does- something to endure in order to get to the interesting ideas Johnson does have.
Action Comics #1037 is a mixed bag. The best parts don’t get the focus, and the Martian Manhunter second feature has a clearer direction even if everything isn’t obvious at the start. However, Miguel Mendonca and Adriana Melo combine for a strong artistic outing across both stories. Once again Julian Totino Tedesco provides an exceptional variant cover- what a story that would be! Perhaps, once we get past this second “death of Superman” Johnson can explore the interesting concepts he’s introduced.