Unblooded Sword (Action Comics #1040 Comic Review)

Unblooded Sword (Action Comics #1040 Comic Review)Score 100%Score 100%

Action Comics #1040

Writer: Phillip Kennedy Johnson

Artist: Riccardo Federci

Colorist: Lee Loughridge

Letterer: Dave Sharpe

Action Comics has been laser focused on WarWorld, and Superman’s mission to free the people there. He initially went there after discovering a group of Kryptonian refugees that landed on Earth. Their ship was powered by a mysterious Genesis force, which almost caused a war between Atlantis and the USA for control of the power source. With WarWorld holding the key to some important mysteries in Phillip Kennedy Johnson’s arc, Clark Kent took The Authority to the planet to get the answers they needed. Immediately after landing, everyone was imprisoned as they met a quick defeat from Mongul. Each issue has been handling a series of plot threads from all the heroes on their separate missions on WarWorld. However, this issue solely focuses on Superman.

This is the most straightforward issue of the arc so far. The comic focuses on how Superman is dealing with being an imprisoned warrior of WarWorld, which requires its citizens to murder, in order to find glory and power. Superman has to teach everyone his philosophy that protecting others shows more strength than overpowering the weak. He is even called “Unblooded Sword” as an insult (but Superman takes it as a badge of honor). He encounters Mongul directly in this issue, saving siblings from having to murder each other to prove their worth as Warzoons. He breaks out of prison with the Phaelsosian he shares a cell with (a Kryptonian whose history is still a mystery) and discovers a vein of Genesis power. This issue brings together threads from earlier arcs in Johnson’s run and starts to give the WarWorld arc some grander meaning in the scheme of the DC Universe.

Tim’s Thoughts
I am a real sucker for any Superman comic that looks into his philosophy as a hero. Superman is an archetype of the genre and the thesis he holds as a meaningful character is a cornerstone of basically every superhero comic, whether they agree with the thesis or not. I have found Phillip Kennedy Johnson’s examination of the character both thrilling and new, and respectful of the history. This is Superman in a very new dark and gritty setting, but he shines like a beacon of hope and light in the darkness. He is literally trying to uplift and teach those around him, rather than take on the conflict head on. This is a situation where the easiest path forward is to kill and fight, yet Superman still choses peace and understanding. These Warzoons have been taught nothing but hate and violence and Clark can still reach out to them and make them believe in themselves. It is an inspiring comic that shows how clear Johnson understands what makes Superman so great. Just as important, Johnson understands what makes a great story. A lot of writers have had a deep understanding of Clark’s character (looking at the previous writer) but failed to place Superman in situations that make him interesting. Here the team is able to marry the philosophy with action and intrigue. Every cylinder of this arc is firing. I care about Superman, I care about the mystery of WarWorld, and I want to know how this story ends. I say this every review, but Superman books have not been this great in a long time.

Riccardo Federci’s art is amazing. I gush about it every issue, but there is not enough I can say about how incredible this book looks. It brings Superman into a world that looks like it was airbrushed on the side of a van, and the juxtaposition of this grim and gritty “Heavy Metal” look with Superman is brilliant. WarWorld seems violent and unforgiving, but Superman stands as an icon to believe in on every single panel. Johnson may write in a way that makes Superman sound great, but Federci’s art is what really sells the philosophy here. There is no other artist that could pull off this exact look, that works so perfectly with this story. 

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Summary The WarWorld arc has made for some very exciting Action Comics. This issue focuses on Superman, and ties in some mysteries from previous arcs in the series. Overall, it makes for an essential and compelling read.


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