Action Comics 2023 Annual #1
Scheduled to arrive in stores: December 26, 2023
“New Worlds” – Part Five: “The Conclusion”
Writer: Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Artist: Max Raynor
Cover: Rafa Sandoval and Matt Herms
Variant Covers: Lucio Parrillo, Dave Wilkins, Sweeney Boo, John Bogdanove, and Hi Fi
Reviewed by: Marc Lax
Superman, Etrigan and Bloodwynd arrive on planet Al Ghul to rescue Otho and put an end to Sister Shadow. After Bloodwynd and Superman try taking out some giant bats and a fleet of ships heading to Earth Zero, Superman arrives at the Al Ghul Citadel. Norah is training Otho to eventually use her as a vessel. Otho fights Superman when Norah makes her think he’s Mongul. Superman talks her down and names her Starchild. Norah using a demonic avatar heads to Earth Zero. Meanwhile back in Metropolis the Super Family fights the Blue Earthers trying to convince them that they’re being manipulated. Suddenly Norah and her fleet arrive attacking Metropolis. The Blue Earthers see the error of their way and help the Super Family try to defeat the enemy. Osul, having enough of Norah and wanting to save his sister, goes on the attack as the Red Son. Superman, with Otho in tow, finally arrives. The Super Twins have a reunion just as Norah makes her final assault. The whole team goes on the attack and, with help from Etrigan and Bloodwynd, defeat Norah once and for all. We meet up again with the ex con that we met at the beginning of this story having lunch with his son. He tells him because of Superman he’ll never miss his days as a criminal. He now feels he belongs in Metropolis. The city of Superman.
Story – 5: We’ve come to the end of one of the best runs on the Super books in many years. I was not familiar with PKJ when he first took over the books and I must say I was less than impressed with his first storyline. But as we headed towards the Warworld storyline I felt a spark. He finally grabbed me and hasn’t let go. The Super books have been on shaky ground for quite awhile. I’m not going to get into the whole Bendis debate but once PKJ took over Action Comics and we had Tom Taylor on Superman: Son of Kal-El I saw that DC was finally taking an interest with Superman. With Joshua Williamson on Superman and PKJ on Action these books have never been better.
While I might have been a bit hard on the Super Twins and certain aspects of this story they were just minor quibbles. PKJ reinvigorated this title. The stories, the characterization of the Super Family, the family dynamic as a whole has been the best we’ve had in a long time. This particular story had many twists I didn’t see coming. I know I balked a bit about the magic in the last issue of Action but I didn’t see where they were going to take this. I knew that the story of Red Son and Starchild were going to play into this and the end of this story set that up. We haven’t seen the end of Norah Stone that’s for sure but I wonder if she’ll pop up in the Bat books next?
To rap this all up, I hope we have not seen the end of Phillip Kennedy Johnson on the Super titles. He may have ended a great run but I think we’re all hoping he’ll return in some story or another. Thank you PKJ for keeping the legacy of Superman alive.
Art – 4: Beautifully illustrated. The characters are all on point and the action flows very well. My main complaint is it’s very heavy on the green. I get they’re trying to show the magic but can’t magic have different colors?
Cover Art – 3: Not a bad shot of the Super Family but it looks a little rough to me. Still it gives us a glimpse as to what we can expect in the issue.
Variant Cover Art – 4: Very nice portrait of Superman by Sweeney Boo, an artist I’m not very familiar with. Just wish it wasn’t shaded in red.
Variant Cover Art – 5: John Bogdanove drawing a Silver Age Superman!? I’m so there! Though his face is very Joe Shuster so we have a bit of the Golden Age as well. Wonderful!
Variant Cover Art – 2: Not a bad image by Parrillo but not only do we get the red eyes of anger but Superman is just too angry!
Variant Cover Art – 3: Again we have a nice image but Wilkins gives us a very jacked up Superman. Just way too muscular.
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