Mild Mannered Reviews – Action Comics #999

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Action Comics #999

Scheduled to arrive in stores: March 14, 2018

Cover date: May 2018

“What Would Superman Do?”

Writer: Dan Jurgens
Penciller: Will Conrad
Inker: Will Conrad
Cover: Brett Booth, Norm Rapmund and Andrew Dalhouse
Variant Cover: Kaare Andrews

Reviewed by: Mario Bennese

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Action Comics #999

Sam Lane arrives at the Kent apartment. Jon is excited to spend time with his grandfather, but before long, Lois and Sam get into an argument. It all begins with the exposé Lois had written about one of Sam’s operations years ago. Meanwhile in space, Superman is on a mission from STAR Labs to take care of an asteroid a mile wide heading directly for Earth. Using his heat vision, he cuts the asteroid in two and sends the two halves in opposite directions, but not before securing some of the minerals housed in its core.

Sam and Lois continue arguing with the subject shifting to Sam’s distrust of Superman. Jon attempts to convince his grandfather that Superman is a purely good figure and would never become a tyrant or a dictator.

In the Fortress of Solitude, Superman frees Cyborg Superman from the Phantom Zone as he’s come to the conclusion that while the Zone is an effective prison, the negative effects it has on the minds of its prisoners is cruel and unjust. Upon being freed, Cyborg Superman attacks the Man of Steel, but he is quickly subdued. Superman places Henshaw in a specially crafted prison cell in the Fortress and gives him a shard of the mineral he extracted from the asteroid. The mineral has the ability to take a person’s most precious memories and make them come to life when inserted into the Fortress’s computer terminal (much like the ones in the Christopher Reeve Superman films). Henshaw is shown a memory of him and his friends enjoying a meal at Christmas time.

At the Kent apartment, Sam Lane prepares to leave until Clark arrives. After some rationalizing and communication, Sam and Lois begin the process of mending the rift between them. The family then enjoys a meal.

5Story – 5: This is what I’m looking for in a Superman book. Here we have character progression, action, and some good old fashioned Superman morality. Based on the cover alone, I was expecting some sort of one issue action packed story centered around Sam Lane’s crusade against the Man of Steel. Instead, we’re treated to a little mythos altering and potentially a change of heart for Sam. Superman coming to the realization that the Phantom Zone is a cruel prison is a rather huge development. It used to always be that whenever a massive threat came around, one of the options was to nonchalantly throw the villain in the Phantom Zone. It’s even been used to save lives such as when Mon-El needed a place to exist to prevent his death at the hands of lead poisoning. The Phantom Zone was always just this easy out for tough situations. Now it seems Superman is making moves to avoid the use of the Phantom Zone and to enact new methods of rehabilitation. Whether he decides to house his villains in the Fortress or not is yet to be seen. I doubt that would happen, especially since they’ve already done a similar thing with Batman imprisoning his rogues in Wayne Manor, but it’s an interesting thought.

There isn’t too much more to say about the issue. My main takeaway was the Phantom Zone bit, and I feel like that’s been one of the focuses in Jurgens’ run. A large portion of his Rebirth work on Action has dealt with the Kryptonian side of Superman and its bearing on him as a citizen of Earth as well as how it affects those around him. The Lois and Sam subplot was fine, especially since we hadn’t seen Sam in a number of years, but it never felt like it was intended to be the main draw of the past few issues.

At the end of the day, Jurgens’ run has been one of the most exciting runs in recent years. Not only have the stories been consistently interesting, but they’ve also progressed the mythos and pushed it in directions that are both new and still distinctly Superman. As much as I’m going to miss Jurgens on Action, I’m excited to see what the future holds. Next up, #1,000!

4Art – 4: I was pleasantly surprised to see Will Conrad’s work for the interior art. In all honesty, I was expecting to see Brett Booth’s work and I just wasn’t prepared to deal with that. Conrad does well here, with action shots and the asteroid sequence taking centerstage. The bits at the Kent apartment are just fine; I have no complaints. It’s probably rather difficult to make panels of people standing around talking look visually interesting. Every now and then, a face looks a little odd. It isn’t too terribly distracting, but odd faces do exist in the book.

3Cover Art – 3: I’m not a huge fan of this cover. It feels a bit derivative and doesn’t come close to representing the book’s content.

4Variant Cover Art – 4: I love this cover! The color pallet is gorgeous and there’s great beauty in the image’s simplicity. Superman’s face looks a little weird, but the character is still recognizable. Kaare Andrews is shaping up to be one of my new favorite artists.

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