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

Click to enlarge

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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MattComics
Member

I think it’s going to take more than a family meal to turn Sam Lane around. In short, he’s a paranoid and pompous ass who would probably have Clark dissected and use John as a weapon if he knew their secret.

John and Lois both deserve better.

Steve Eden
Member

He has certainly been portrayed that way often enough. It’s a bit of a stereotype of how military service people act. In truth, these are people doing what is needed to keep their country secure. And that is what Sam Lane was trying to convey to Lois. Don’t know what plans Bendis has for the character, but I hope he will follow the lead Jurgens has set. Otherwise, Thanksgiving dinner is gonna be awkward.

NeoRanger
Member

He has been overly paranoid to the point of being just terrible all around in the past, but he presented his case well in this issue. A little too well, in fact, when you realize that the all-powerful being that could decimate everything he loves has been sleeping with his daughter for years and has given her a child. Superman and Lois’ lie of omission here really doesn’t make them look good, since Sam’s biggest fear is literally part of his family without his knowledge.

In an unrelated note, this cover is wretched. It’s false advertising, through and through.

MattComics
Member
I don’t think it’s on Lois and Clark to coddle Sam Lane’s fear and bigotry. Lois understood why Clark kept his identity secret and she’s been completely justified in not sharing that with her father. Both for her husbands sake, her own, and for her child. Far as he knows Clark is just a human being and he can’t even muster enough basic respect his own daughter to not make cracks like “..that husband of yours.” Really? Because what? He’d rather have had his daughter be with somebody like John Corben that clearly would have been physically abusive to her… Read more »
NeoRanger
Member

I don’t disagree and I particularly hated Sam during his New52 appearances. I understand why they’ve kept Clark’s identity from him. I’m saying, however, that the longer this lie continues, the more ammunition they give him, because they themselves move to an ethically compromising place. If they’re going to be estranged and not really a family that’s one thing, but you can’t tout family in one breath and maintain it on SECRETS AND LIES in the next.

Steve Eden
Member
“…Such as when Mon-El needed a place to exist to prevent his death at the hands of lead poisoning.” Wow! I thought I was the only person that knew about that (well, not the only person, but it seems like fewer and fewer as the days go by)! That happened in a Superboy story of the silver age. So much cannon was added to the Superman lore through the original Superboy and Adventure comics, yet I have seen very little of these stories reprinted. The first Bizarro story and Superboy’s first meeting with the Legion of Superheroes are the rare… Read more »
andramus
Member

I think the Mon-El in the Phantom Zone because of lead poisoning storyline has been recycled a few times since that Superboy issue you refer to.

After the Crisis on Infinite Earths when Superboy was no longer canon I think it was Superman who put Mon-El in the Phantom Zone. Regardless of the exact circumstances I think there have been a few different versions of Mon-El ending up in the Phantom Zone to save him from lead poisoning since the original.

andramus
Member
The only real qualm I have about Lois and Clark keeping this secret from Sam is how it plays into Jon and Sam’s relationship. It looks like Jon is going to have a bifurcated relationship with his grandfather where as Jon his grandfather dotes on and adores him. Whereas if and when Jon interacts with Sam as Superboy he’s going to be met with hostility and contempt. It’s one thing for an adult like Superman to have to deal with this kind of thing especially with people he’s just met. For a child though, especially one who might want his… Read more »