I am called upon to fight (Action Comics #1039 comic review)

I am called upon to fight (Action Comics #1039 comic review)Score 100%Score 100%

Action Comics #1039

Writer: Phillip Kennedy Johnson

Artist: Riccardo Federci

Colorist: Lee Loughridge

Letterer: Dave Sharpe



Superman is on Warworld and he is not looking too great. With the twist that Warworld is powered by a red sun, one of the few physical weaknesses that Superman has, he is having to rely more and more on his abilities and training. He is effectively a prisoner but the rest of his team (The Authority) have had different levels of success on the planet. Notably, Natasha has got her way into the forge, working with more freedom than others. Midnighter has eluded capture and has been working behind the scenes trying to regain the upper hand on Mongul and his Warzoons. This issue continues to explore their factors and adds a bit more to the Warworld mythos.

Story
This comic flips between a few stories happening on Warworld. First, there is Natasha Irons, who is starting to work in the forge. This allows Natasha to gain the trust of the Warzoons along with being able to create pieces that will help her allies. Superman is dealing with being weak currently, and his lack of understanding of how to fight in a vulnerable body is harming him. There is a Phaelosian captive that is willing to help him train. Nothing more is given about the mystery of this Kryptonian offshoot but the promise is there. There is also a history of Warworld in this book that goes through the myths surrounding the planet, showing how it has always been a place of turmoil and infamy. Finally, Midnighter continues his quest to work in the shadows. This is part 4 of the arc, but the protagonists here seem to still be behind on gaining any meaningful upper hand.

Tim’s Thoughts
Phillip Kennedy Johnson packs content into a comic, like no other in the mainstream. So much is happening in this book but at no point is the reader bogged down with exposition. Every panel is meaningful and every piece of dialogue is revealing. Natasha Irons, Midnighter, and Superman all get intriguing additions to their respective stories here. Natasha is horribly underused in the DC in general, and the mythos surrounding Steel has been dropped since the 90s. But those characters were always meaningful. I am happy to see Natasha emulating her father as she forges a new path when faced with absolutely impossible odds (John Henry Irons became Steel to fill the void Superman left after his death). She is an important aspect of this arc, and I am happy Johnson is giving her the attention she deserves. Superman is at a real low point here and Johnson has solved the issue of making the character vulnerable but still full of hope. He is fighting with every last part of himself but is somewhat ineffective. He needs to lean on his allies for help. It is a great way to develop this character and highlight what makes him so inspirational. Every single part of this book made me want to read more and has made Action Comics a must read title. Between this and Superman: Son of Kal El, the Superman line has not been this great in a long long time.

Riccardo Federci (along with colorist  Lee Loughridge) keeps the “heavy metal” vibe going. Superman is the light and soul of this book, but everything surrounding it looks dark and oppressive. The tone of this book is sold through the art and carries the reader’s mood effectively throughout. Action Comics looks and feels like a cross between Superman, and sci-fi pulp. I don’t think I can name another time Action Comics looked this way, but the drastic change in art direction still works.

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Summary Action Comics is a must read book. Superman's adventures on Warworld are unlike anything the Superman line has seen before.

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