I am so sick of hearing what Superman would do! (Action Comics #1041 Comic Review)
Action Comics #1041
Writer: Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Artist: Dale Eaglesham and Will Conrad
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Last issue focused mostly on Superman and his time on WarWorld. Superman’s overall positive attitude and hope was put to the test in the most brutal way possible throughout this arc. His exploration of WarWorld also filled in some of the lore and backstory of the planet itself, which seemed to be home to ongoing turmoil and destruction. However, Superman did not go to this planet by himself and brought The Authority with him on the mission. Midnighter has been the only member to completely evade capture and has been working in the shadows, trying to find and rescue the love of his life, Apollo. This issue shifts focus to Midnighter, and this mission, and highlights how different he deals with the Warzoons than Superman before him.
While this issue is called Action Comics, it could have been an issue of Midnighter (if that still existed). Superman is kept to the sidelines and is only heard through narration, and the end of the book (tying together the two storylines of this issue and last issue). The previous issue had Superman keep to his pacifist ways through WarWorld, and this one shows Midnighter literally murdering everyone in his way. Both heroes are trying to “break the chains” of the Warzoon slaves (the citizens have literal chains on them that represent every life they have taken), Midnighter is a bit more direct in this action. He calls out Mongul directly to someone who is proud of their chains, highlighting that it is just a way to keep those that are strong binded in submission. Many people even think Midnighter is Superman, since he is saving them, but he quickly dismisses this. His philosophy is at odds with Superman’s and they do not see eye to eye on how to deal with violence. Basically in this comic, Midnighter is a force tearing through WarWorld on his way to rescue Apollo. This act might even destroy the planet itself but he does not care.
I really enjoyed this issue and was happy to see Midnighter get a moment to shine. When the comic is not on Midnighter there are some small instances filled in for the reader. Phillip Kennedy Johnson does a great job using Midnighter as a foil to Superman’s philosophy. His brutality stands in stark contrast with how we’ve seen Clark deal with his time on WaWorld. It is great character building all around. When the comic is not on Midnighter we learn a bit more about the Phaelsosian’s beliefs. The Phaelsosian’s seem to have knowledge of Superman’s exploits on Earth, and they tell these tales as if they are tied to religion. Superman’s battle with Doomsday and his resurrection are treated like sacred stories. It is an interesting take that treats Superman comics like an actual “Bible” within this Universe. It shows the power of stories and myths and how these superheroes would create a kind of faith surrounding them. Johnson has been building the world in the background as he maintains, and balances, the action focus of the series. There are never any exposition dumps that do not feel organic and essential to the overall story. This arc has been wonderfully crafted so far and I am intrigued to see where it goes next from here.
Dale Eaglesham and Will Conrad have art duties on this book, and I do think it is the one downfall. Don’t get me wrong, they are great artists and this book looks fantastic. But, Riccardo Federici has set a real “Heavy Metal” tone,in previous issues, that is impossible to match. The change in style does not quite capture the way this book has felt to read. Lee Loughridge’s colors have kept some consistency but it still is a shift that does not always work. Overall it is not a fault of the artists in the slightest, and more a fault in the overall art direction (or lack of) in the overall arc.
Summary Action Comics focuses on Midnighter this week, with his quest to save Apollo from the chains of WarWorld. This issue highlights the differences between his methodology and Superman's., creating a stark contrast between the two, and a brutally violent comic.