Review: ACTION COMICS #960


Written by Dan Jurgens
Art by Tyler Kirkham, Ulisses Arreola, and Rob Leigh
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: July 27, 2016

The twice monthly shipping pattern for Action Comics is preventing this from being the Doomsday story that just won’t end, but the fourth part of “Path of Doom” in Action Comics #960 is starting to wear a little thin. Superman and Doomsday are still punching each other around. Writer Dan Jurgens and artist Tyler Kirkham bring Wonder Woman into the story, adding a distinct advantage to Superman’s corner.

With Wonder Woman in this issue, Jurgens pulls readers back from the fight, in a decent attempt to balance action and character. Wonder Woman has questions for Superman, some of the same ones the readers may have, but the two of them agree to keep trying to end Doomsday’s destruction. That doesn’t preclude Jurgens from giving readers insight between the two. The writer even expands that to the rest of the cast, having Wonder Woman meet the other Clark Kent, be present for Superman’s confrontation with Lex Luthor, and even meet Lois and Jonathan.

Jurgens does a nice job of leveraging Wonder Woman to be the readers’ point-of-view representative, as Wonder Woman delivers the most impactful line of the comic book, directed at the relationship between Lois and Clark. There’s a lot of heart in this story, but that seems to slow the pace of the main brawl a bit.

The art doesn’t want for energy, as Kirkham’s drawings project rawness and, unfortunately, unfinished grit. That grit works in the fight scenes, but in the quieter moments, it leaves a lot of work for colorist Ulisses Arreola to complete. The colors border on garish, everything is bright, like melting crayons in the summer sun, but that just dulls the impact of the primary-color-clad duo (trio if you count SuperLex) throughout the story.

His style brings a little Freddie Williams II, a little bit of Tom Mandrake, and a little manga. The latter is especially prevalent in the scene on the Smith Farm, as Lois and Jonathan watch the fight from afar. There, as well as throughout the story, Kirkham’s art favors dynamic posing over logical storytelling, going for the big splash or the heroic pose with the action of the battle — the logistics of the fight – playing second fiddle. It’s not bad, mind you; it just gives the readers more space between dots to connect. Wonder Woman hurls Doomsday at one point, but the only indication of the throw is a set of motion lines.

Even letterer Rob Leigh adds to the visual barrage of Action Comics #960, with sound effects tracing panel borders and documenting the fisticuffs. The more dynamic sound effects have transparency applied to them, helping preserve Kirkham’s lines underneath.

Overall, the art works for the story, but not for the series. Kirkham’s style is divergent from series initiator Patrick Zircher’s more realistic presentation, and, once collected, the flow from one to the next is going to be visually alarming. I’m not sure which artist is on deck for Action Comics #961, but that will be the fifth (and final? Penultimate?) chapter of “Path of Doom”. Whoever it is has a big-time battle ahead of them, as all of the players appear to be on the board, so it’ll be time to see what Jurgens can really do with this tale.

The Verdict: 6.0/10


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