This issue concludes the 4-part crossover with the other Superman series. The first issue (Superman 18) started off with Superman and Lois Lane spending a night together with their son, Jon. Everything got weird when their house, and Jon, started disappearing in a strange blue flame. Action Comics 975 revealed MXYZPTLK as the culprit – a Superman character I know almost nothing about.
Action Comics 976, written by Dan Jurgens, concludes the story. In the previous issue, Superman bashed his way to Jon’s location within MXYZPTLK’s strange world, only to completely lose all memory of his son (something that happened to Lois in Action Comics 975). MXY’s intention is to reset Superman and Lois’s life, although his motivations aren’t entirely clear, but Jon will be taken away to whatever universe he resides in. Jon won’t have any of that. This issue is weird just like the rest of the story, but it’s also dramatic. You can feel Jon’s panic when neither of his parents remember him, but he also refuses to give up on them, showing some of his own heroic potential.
Without spoiling how the issue ends too much, of course Superman and Lois remember their son again, and they return to Earth. The issue isn’t entirely clear on what else has changed, but it seems that pre-New 52 Superman and New 52 Superman have at least partially merged into one being. Through solicitations for upcoming issues, it also seems like Jon has acquired new powers of some sort, one of which he might be demonstrating on the last page of this issue. In the end, this crossover is really weird, but also fun with a touch of family drama.
Doug Mahnke’s art is really good. The opening page shows MXYZPTLK’s face in a close-up, with a look that’s somewhere between a grin and a look of anger. The visible vein lines in his eyes is a nice touch. The background showcases a bizarre world constructed by a powerful reality warper, with energy flying around MXY, letters forming in the sky and various types of candy scattered on the ground. Facial expressions do a great job at conveying emotion, like Lois Lane’s confusion when Jon calls her mother, Jon’s look of despair when his parents don’t recognize him, complete with tears, and the smiles on all three of them when their memories return. Also, the merging of New 52 Superman and Rebirth Superman’s uniform takes the best elements from both. Wil Quintana’s colouring is mostly great. MXY’s world is bright and dominated in blue, with several panels full of orange, and the montage showing Superman’s various memories s full of colour. That said, there’s one panel where New 52 Superman’s boots aren’t coloured red, and on the page after Jon even says “I like the red boots”. It’s impossible not to dwell on that oversight once you notice it.
As a whole, this is a weird yet fun little crossover that seems like it’ll change some background aspects of Superman’s life, but not change the family drama aspect of the series. That’s a good way to go about it. Not everything is entirely clear, but I’ve been enjoying the Superman series more than enough to stick around and find out the more specific details. I do hope that the supporting cast, most notably the farmer neighbors, stick around though. In any case, this crossover is worth checking out for people reading either Superman or Action Comics.