Warning: This post contains spoilers!
Disclaimer: This review is solely my personal opinion. Action Comics, Superman, Superboy Lois Lane, et al, are property of DC Comics/Warner Bros. Entertainment.
Publisher: DC Comics
Story by: Dan Jurgens, Paul Dini
Art & Colors by: Doug Manhnke, Ian Churchill, Jaime Mendoza, Wil Quintana, Mike Atiyeh
Lettering: Rob Leigh
In June of 2016 DC Comics relaunched and revitalized its main line with their new “DC Universe Rebirth” initiative, a move meant to take characters back to their core and restore the legacy of the DC Universe while also continuing to build on what the Nu52, Multiversity and Convergence had brought by continually adding new aspects as well. One of the biggest shake-ups of the initiative so far, aside from the possibility of Dr. Manhattan, the mysterious Oz & other Watchmen characters manipulating the history of the DCU is the return of the pre-Flashpoint Superman into the current continuity along with his wife Lois Lane and their son Jon White-Kent who has become the new Superboy. And the current storyline in the Superman books “Superman Reborn” has promised to give readers some answers to not only the current history of our favorite Kryptonian, but the overarching story around his involvement in Rebirth in general.
Issue #975 of Action comics is the second part of the four part “Superman Reborn” storyline and begins with Superman flying Lois to Metropolis to Clark’s old apartment now inhabited by an evil doppelganger Clark Kent that they believed to have kidnapped their son Jon who disappeared in a mysterious blue light in part one. Once they get to the apartment they look around and have no luck finding Jon, but the fake Clark confronts them and attacks Superman, angry and accusing the real Clark of letting him down. This leads to a very interesting fight scene where the doppelganger transforms into various Superman villains ranging from Lex Luthor to Bizzaro, to Brainiac & Doomsday repeatedly telling Superman to guess his true identity until Clark realizing the only person capable of doing this is his long time 5th dimensional nemesis, Mxyzptlk! The imp tells Clark that he kidnapped the boy because he felt that he had been forgotten by Clark and as punishment was going to erase all memories of Jon from his life and disappears. Clark tells Lois they have to go after him and try to find Jon, with Lois simply replying “Jon who?”
In the second story we see Jon Kent in Mxyzptlk’s dimension talking to the imp about all the stories his dad had told him about the “Purple Hatted Man”. In return Mxyzptlk tells Jon about how he was apprehended by the mysterious Oz and imprisoned for quite some time. At first his imprisonment didn’t bother him because he knew that Superman would know something was up and come looking for them, over time however Mxy grew frustrated and came to the conclusion that Superman didn’t really care about him anymore, this in turn made him even more determined to break out of his prison and get revenge on the man of steel. He explains how after he escaped he had to put a spell on himself to make himself believe that he was Clark Kent so Oz wouldn’t be able to find him, though eventually the memories bleed through the cracks and he remembered his true self. The story ends with Mxy tricking Jon and asking him if he would like to play a game of cards.
In terms of storytelling both Dan Jurgens and Paul Dini do fantastic jobs on their respective stories, Jurgens part moves the overall plot of the event forward by finally revealing the identity of the fake Clark Kent and Dini’s story gives us some much needed backstory explaining the true Mxyzptlk’s long absence from the DCU and the reasons he has decided to harass Superman and his family once again. Both stories work well with one another to move the overall narrative forward and the dialogue for the characters is spot on, you can feel Superman’s distress at the inability to find his son and Lois’s frustration towards Mxyzptlk. The second story gives us some sympathy for the devil so to speak as we can see why Mxy has taken this action as he feels that someone, who was in his own warped mind considered a friend had abandoned him, we also get a good feel of both Jon’s fascination at finally meeting the purple hatted man his father had told him stories about growing up, and his anger at Mxy tricking him and forcing him to stay with him and play games. These stories are both well crafted tells that capture the true spirit of the mischievous and cunning, yet also childish and impulsive nature of our impish antagonist.
As for the art, it too is well done as a whole, though I will admit some of the facial expressions Mahnke gives the characters seem off to me. This doesn’t negatively effect the story as a whole, but it does make some panels in the first story feel a bit awkward, especially in regards to Lois who has a fair number of awkward or somewhat odd facial expressions. Wil Quintana however does a solid job on the coloring in the first feature. The second story’s art by Ian Churchill however is spot on, with spectacular panel arrangement and truly amazing art and near perfect facial expressions from Mxy in each panel, and Mike Atiyeh’s coloring really makes the whole thing feel fun and lively as a story starring a 5th dimensional imp and the son of Superman should.
Overall while both stories were fairly straightforward and simplistic they were well executed in both writing and art, and gave us a satisfying pay off to the duplicate Clark Kent mystery which has been building up in Action for quite some time now, it also does a good job of getting you excited for the next part of the “Superman Reborn” storyline by leaving on just enough of a suspenseful tone to leave you wanting more. I for one would definitely recommend giving this issue, and the “Superman Reborn” storyline as a whole a read!
Writing: 9 out of 10
Art: 8 out of 10
Overall: 8.5 Out of 10.