Review: ACTION COMICS #958

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ACTION COMICS #958
Written by Dan Jurgens
Art by Patrick Zircher, Ulises Arreola, Rob Leigh
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: June 22, 2016

I’m pretty sure following the outcome of this issue Lex Luthor is going to strongly consider the addition of some vanity-sacrificing headgear. Following the major reveal as Doomsday exploded onto the scene in the previous issue, Luthor wasted no time getting involved. By the end of Action Comics #958, Luthor appears to be much, much more involved than he may have anticipated.

Dan Jurgens keeps plenty of parts moving throughout the issue, filling the twenty pages of Action Comics #958 with emotion and fighting. The emotion is found both on the battlefront in Metropolis and in the Kents’ – er, Smiths’ house miles away from the fight. From the relative safety of their home, Lois watches as her husband once more tangles with the beast that laid him low. The Superman in this comic is the pre-New 52 Man of Steel, the one who died in combat with Doomsday once already. Naturally, Lois is uneasy about him fighting Doomsday again, especially now that Lois and Clark are parents to young Jonathan. Through Lois, Jurgens begs the readers forward, insisting that they invest in the battle.

That battle is rough and loud, with Doomsday moving in every panel he’s in, straining against the borders artist Patrick Zircher tries to use to contain the fight. Zircher packs details into the backgrounds and onto the characters, at times threatening to overburden the stock of the page with detailed drawing. Every panel where Doomsday trades blows with Superman or Luthor wants to be a full-page splash, and Action Comics #958 feels less dynamic because Zircher has so much assigned to him to communicate visually. Zircher keeps the art clean and the characters consistent, making somewhat easier work for colorist Ulises Arreola, who keeps the colors subdued whenever they’re not used to identify any of the story’s combatants.

Throughout Action Comics #958, Jurgens and Zircher describe the city of Metropolis to the readers, from the monorail to the news team from WLEX covering the battle via chopper. Skyscrapers and towers frame the battleground, but the focus of the fight remains on Doomsday. Jimmy Olsen engages a familiar non-combatant, trying to figure out what it is that he’s seeing, especially given that the readers are the only ones in the know that the Superman fighting here is actually from the DC Universe prior to the New 52. Or at least from Superman: Lois and Clark. To the characters on the page, it must actually appear that Lex Luthor is right: there is an imposter in the fight.

Fighting against Doomsday brings plenty of action and suspense, as each blow could change the course of the battle. This should be an epic fight, but Jurgens and company almost diffuse it by making it the lead story for Action Comics return to the regular numbering. Doomsday has become just another foe, and Superman can’t possibly be in that much danger, right? After all, this is only the second post-Rebirth issue.

It’s an interesting mash-up of familiar concepts blended together, but what readers and critics seem to be quick to dismiss (or simply forget) is the presence of the mysterious Mr. Oz. The hooded figure slips into the panels of Action Comics #958, adding a layer to the story, a non-combatant party to the fight, and a quantity of the unknown to this tale. Whether or not those ingredients result in a fresh recipe or a distinctly unimaginative casserole remains to be seen. So far, there’s at least plenty of action, suspense, fighting, and solid art.

The Verdict: 8.5/10

 

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