We’re only 12 issues away from Action Comics 1000. Since this is a twice a month series, that makes it only 6 months away. I’m kind of excited to see the industry’s first true 1000th issue. Unfortunately if I want a complete collection, I’ve got more than 900 issues to catch up on, and some of them are a little pricy if you don’t want to resort to trades and digital collections. Anyway, I’m going to handle this review differently than normal. Usually I avoid spoiling too much of what happens in a comic. Because of the nature of last issue’s big reveal and your own personal tastes could very strongly effect how you’ll feel about this comic, I’m not doing that. If you don’t want Oz’s identity spoiled, skip to the last paragraph in this review now.
In the previous issue of Action Comics, Oz, a figure who’s been watching Superman since the beginning of Rebirth and has also been affecting Detective Comics to a lesser extent, revealed himself in full. He is in fact Superman’s Kryptonian father, Jor-el. Action Comics 988, written by Dan Jurgens, begins moments after Jor-el revealed himself. Most of this issue focuses on how he survived Krypton, and sums up what he’s been up to since. The long and short is someone that even Jor-el doesn’t even know much about saved him from the destruction of Krypton at the last possible moment. He was frozen in time, watching as his wife and his planet exploded around him.
He was then sent to the worst parts of Earth to witness how evil humanity could be, before being imprisoned in a small room full of TVs and footage of humanity’s atrocities past and present for years. It’s a very dark story, but one that’s effective in setting up Jor-el’s motivations. Despite all this he’s still got some of his son’s kindness. In this week’s Detective Comics it’s implied that he’s trying to help Tim Drake somehow, even if his methods are very questionable. Here, he seems to just want to take Superman away from Earth, thinking that they don’t deserve him. Although I’m not sure how I feel about this reveal, and we don’t know what Jor-el’s full plan is yet, this comic is well-written and it’s an intriguing story.
The art by Ryan Sook is really good. Superman’s Fortress of Solitude is well detailed with its decorative ice sculptures, monitors in the background and a couple of destroyed statues in the foreground. The scars on Jor-el’s face are consistent throughout the comic. The environmental detail is at its most impressive during the destruction of Krypton, with fires building all over the place, debris flying throughout Jor-el’s home and the strange force field that surrounds him while his wife is blown away. Facial expressions expertly portray character emotions, like the shock in Jor-el’s eyes as he’s watching everything get destroyed, and the clear pain in his eyes as he’s showing Superman what he’s been through. Superman starts off the comic clearly doubting that it’s truly his father, but that slowly turns to sympathy. Hi-fi’s colouring is also great. The comic is bright and colourful in the fortress and during Krypton’s destruction, while Jor-el’s early days on earth are generally dark with great use of shadows.
While I’m not sure how I feel about Oz’s identity and what’s going on, the writing and art behind it are very well done. Superman is clearly conflicted about what he’s seeing, and despite all the pain Oz has been through, there is still a touch of kindness in him. And despite everything that’s been revealed, there is still mystery yet to be solved. If you’ve heard what the reveal is, try not to make up your mind without at least reading this comic first. If you haven’t heard, then you should probably start with Action Comics 987 where the reveal happens. Whatever the case, this seems to be an important story for the Superman mythos, whether you’re into Oz’s identity or not.