Before this review begins, let me make it clear that I like the concept of this comic. After the New 52 version of Superman died, the real Superman (who lived in the New 52 Universe somehow) returns. Of course in the aftermath of 52 Superman’s death, Lex Luthor is trying to take over as Metropolis’s protector, using a large mechanical suit that gives him Superman-like powers. This could have made for a good comic, but this issue is kind of a mess, just like pretty much all of DC’s continuity lately.
The opening scene where Lex Luthor stops a bank robbery really is the only good part of this comic. It’s quick, it feels like the bank robbers planned their attack quite well, and Lex Luthor’s brutal yet non-lethal methods are fitting for his character. The very next scene could have worked as well, but it’s kind of boring. It’s Superman, Lois Lane and their son moving into a farm upstate from Metropolis. There’s a conversation where Clark and Lois tell their son he shouldn’t use his developing super speed for selfish reasons but it’s kind of meh. Also, the TV is already set up and watching a live news channel. I’m not sure how that makes sense – usually it takes a while to set up cable in a new home, and I don’t see any kind of satellite dish or antenna on the house anywhere. Same goes for internet streams, so how are they getting the news channel exactly? Maybe I’m spending too much time on this, but my brain just can’t ignore these kinds of flaws.
The issue eventually leads to a confrontation between Superman and Lex Luthor. In concept this could be a great fight, but the dialogue is repetitive, with Lex constantly saying “you’re not Superman” while the gathering crowd just talks about how surprised they are. There’s one reveal half-way through the fight that’s more weird than it is intriguing, and the last page promises a big fight in the next issue, where Lex and Sups might need to team up.
While the issue isn’t anything special, the art by Patrick Zircher is great. There’s a lot of detail, both in the characters and the environment. The opening fight scene uses close up shots quite well to keep the mystery alive, at least until Lex Luthor reveals himself, holding two of the well-armoured robbers unconscious. His mechanic suit looks fantastic, with its glowing S and the lights coming from the bottom of its boots. The fight scene flows well, with good use of motion blurs, lighting effects and plenty of bullet casings flying around when Lex opens fire on Superman. Tomeu Morey’s colouring is also great. Everything is bright and colourful, except for the reddened opening scene that adds to the intensity.
I don’t know much about writer Dan Jurgens so I don’t know if this series will improve or not, but Action Comics 957 feels like a lot of wasted potential. What could have been a great confrontation ends up being repetitive and predictable. Neither Lois nor her and Superman’s son seem the least bit interesting in this issue, and as good as the art is, it doesn’t make up for the boring writing. Read this before you buy it; that’s definitely what I’ll do with the next issue, unless Superman 1 impresses me (then I’ll just stick with that series and drop this one).
Meanwhile, this week’s Wonder Woman Rebirth issue is really good.