T. Kyle King’s published work ranges from newspaper columns to film reviews and from short stories to law review articles. Most notably, he served as a site manager and staff writer at DawgSports.com, a daily weblog devoted to University of Georgia athletics, from 2006 to 2013, and he is the author of a book about the history of the college football rivalry between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Clemson Tigers published by Clemson University Digital Press in 2013. Kyle is a lifelong comic book fan whose thoughts on comic books previously have appeared at ComicsVerse, Progressive Boink, and the Superman Homepage. Kyle is a Superman guy.
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Action Comics #967 introduced a new story arc for the Superman family, in which writer Dan Jurgens and artist Tyler Kirkham brought together multiple caped champions wearing the crest of the House of El for Men of Steel — Part 1. T. Kyle King, who covers Kryptonians for ComiConverse, brings you his review of the newest issue.
Action Comics #967 Review:
Lois Lane interviews Lex Luthor about the otherworldly technology at his disposal, Superman takes Superboy to the Amazon in search of Geneticron, and an attack is launched on Metropolis in an attempt to fight the future.
Action Comics #967 Synopsis:
While being questioned by his curious son about the logistics of his superheroics, Superman discovers the intact Geneticron building in the midst of the Amazon jungle. Searching the vacant structure with Superboy, he discovers the smashed cube that previously contained Doomsday alongside a pair of shattered pods. The two are summoned back to Metropolis by a call for help.
Lois arrives at Luthor’s office to interview the business mogul turned armored hero. When Lex demonstrates his battle suit’s ability to open Boom Tubes, Lane realizes the new Daily Planet owner is in possession of a Mother Box. L’Call the Godslayer, accompanied on his final mission by the alien Zade, foresees a future in which the Earth is laid waste, and, in order to prevent it, he hunts down the hero he holds responsible with the intention of killing him.
Action Comics #967 Analysis:
Men of Steel — Part 1 is drawn and inked by Kirkham in a style that represents a bit of a throwback to a specific period in superhero comics history. The issue’s first image of the Man of Tomorrow in action is all rough lines and ripped muscles, straight out of the Jim Lee sketchbook, complete with a crotch-emphasizing nod to Rob Liefeld. Every clean-shaven adult male jawline is shaped like a cinder block, while Lois appears notable mostly for her arched eyebrows and pouting pillowy lips. Of course, that’s only when she isn’t being endangered by the Godslayer — who, naturally, boasts hair braids, headgear, crossed blades upon his back, and belts of pouches bound around one thigh.
Action Comics #967 doesn’t go full ‘90s in its imagery, though, despite opening with full-page spreads of apocalyptic destruction piled high with desiccated corpses. Arif Prianto’s vibrant colors give the graphics a bright and textured look, complete with sunny settings and shiny skins. This vivid mixture of glowing pastels and primary colors heightens the dynamism of the action sequences and adds a degree of detail to artwork that is more focused on forthrightness than on being finely nuanced.
Although the drawings in Men of Steel — Part 1 are not masterpieces of minutiae, Kirkham depicts big images well, from the literally explosive splash page to the cliffhanger conclusion that shows, as well as tells, whom the villain has chosen as his victim, and why. There are some subtleties, such as those shown in Superboy’s smartphone photos. Letterer Rob Leigh does his usual solid work, not only in the interior of Action Comics #967, but also on Clay Mann’s, Brad Anderson’s, and Jurgens’s classically styled cover. Because word balloons on the front cover are something of a lost art, the issue sensibly renders an iconic line in a clever way, setting the stage both for the ensuing adventure and its subtle humor.
Jurgens continues to do exceptional work with the series’ central characters, crafting an opening exchange between father and son in which Superboy poses the readers’ cheeky questions in the audience’s stead and Superman answers as both the deadpan straight man and the inspirational cultural touchstone who tellingly gives his most heartfelt response when peering over his shoulder — ostensibly at his offspring, although actually at us.
The mysterious and powerless Clark Kent, on hand on account of Lex’s bossy whims, responds to Lois’s cry for help as Luthor suits up to confront L’Call. In the midst of the crisis, Lane — who, once again, provides the issue’s only internal monologue — wryly muses to herself: “Wrong Clark. Wrong Superman.” In Action Comics #967, as in Batman v. Superman, Lois is the key, as she starts tying the plot threads together in her outward inquiries and interior observations. Lane asks Lex about Lena in an allusion to Superwoman, and she reminds us of the signal watch that her Clark gave the new Clark as that datum regains significance.
Despite editor Mike Cotton’s asterisk-laden notations reminding us of earlier issues, however, Jurgens carefully hints at connections in Men of Steel — Part 1 that as yet are merely suggested instead of confirmed. (This makes Lois, freshly returned to the Daily Planet, the perfect narrator for Action Comics #967, as she raises questions and sifts evidence but draws no firm conclusions absent adequate authentication.) Superboy incredulously asks how the Geneticron building ended up in the jungle five pages prior to Lex Luthor’s demonstration that he possesses “something called a Boom Tube.” Superman’s speculation about the dangers of whatever broke free from the pair of pods flanking Doomsday’s empty cage is interrupted when the signal watch summons him home to Metropolis to combat the Godslayer’s and Zade’s attack.
The revelation with which the adventure concludes clarifies neither of these suppositions, and it poses more questions than it answers, but, as events begin spinning faster in an ever-tightening circle, Action Comics #967 points toward the ultimate endgame of certain storylines… all while leaving the inscrutable Mr. Oz and his machinations entirely offstage, out of sight but never quite out of mind.
The bottom line is that Dan Jurgens knows what he’s doing, combining a dash of character with a splash of action while mixing a pinch of mystery with a hint of epiphany. Tyler Kirkham’s tendency in this issue is toward a tad too many of the tropes of a thankfully bygone era, but the fight scenes are convincingly fluid and Arif Prianto’s colors save the artwork from its own excesses. Action Comics #967 may not be perfect, but it is powerful.
Did the creative team prove its mettle in Men of Steel — Part 1?
Leap into the fray in the comments and ComiConverse with us about Action Comics #967!
T. Kyle King is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing.
Source: DC Comics
Although the artwork contains a few too many ’90s homages, the plotting and characterization are solid.