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 #969 was one of several Superbooks to reach readers’ hands this week. The latest issue provided the next installment in writer Dan Jurgens’s and artist Patrick Zircher’s Men of Steel story arc. ComiConverse’s Kal-El chronicler, T. Kyle King, reviews the Metropolis Marvel’s most recent adventure.
Action Comics #969 Review:
L’Call the Godslayer has taken Lex Luthor for sentencing. Clark Kent is convinced that justice will be served by punishing the evil genius to prevent his future acts of genocide… but is Superman willing to stand aside and allow even his archenemy to be executed for crimes he has yet to commit?
(Spoilers — if you could call them that — follow!)
Action Comics #969 Synopsis:
The Man of Tomorrow searches Metropolis for L’Call’s and Luthor’s whereabouts. Recognizing the energy signature from the Godslayer’s transporter, Superman rushes off following a sudden revelation. On the distant world Nideesi, L’Call and Zade weaken Luthor in both mind and body, but Lex retains enough of his intellect to argue against the injustice of holding him accountable for wrongdoing of which he is not yet guilty.
L’Call reflects back on his recent meeting with the seer Ch’arr, whose reading of the prophetic spheres foretold Luthor’s forthcoming ascension to claim Darkseid’s vacant throne. L’Call had abdicated his role as judge, jury, and executioner, but Zade later persuaded the Godslayer to undertake the final mission in pursuit of Luthor. Lex continues to insist upon his innocence as Superman arrives at the Geneticron headquarters in the Amazon to activate the pods and open the portal that will allow him to rescue Lex.
Action Comics #969 Analysis:
Although Men of Steel — Part 3 focuses more on backstory than on adventure, Zircher delivers engrossing imagery from start to finish, bracketed by full-sized splashes on the first and last pages that show Superman embodying potential and kinetic energy, respectively. Arif Prianto’s color palette is often subdued, maintaining minimal variations within a single page, but the muted tones suit the slower pacing of Action Comics #969. Rob Leigh’s inventive lettering gives such alien voices as Ch’arr’s and Zade’s a distinct texture. Visually, this issue is simple yet compelling.
The lone blemish marring the otherwise solid artwork is the cover of Action Comics #969, on which Tyler Kirkham goes full Liefeld. L’Call — with his headgear, pouch belts, and multiple ponytails and swords sticking over his shoulders — already looked like a character who stepped straight off the page of a 1990s Image Comic bearing a name like “Bloodscar” or “Bladeclaw”, but his huge head, glowing eyes, and open mouth on the front of this issue evoke some of the worst tropes of both the era and The Rob. Fortunately, Jurgens’s script for Men of Steel — Part 3 is a good deal more subtle than the jarring graphic that initially greets the reader.
The dialogue in Action Comics #969 is fairly spartan, but the author makes effective use of the issue’s economical verbiage. A short opening exchange between Clark Kent and Lois Lane briefly recaps the previous action and neatly sets the scene before the Last Son of Krypton soars across the sky and the story carries us to a distant world. Superboy’s one-panel cameo is a bit odd — Superman essentially leaves Jonathan alone on a rooftop, since Lois can’t very well lay claim to a kid in a cape with Clark milling about — but Jurgens presents the story’s moral dilemmas, central mysteries, and historical details with a style that is lean, clean, and convincing.
Although Action Comics #969 engages more in weighty debate than in fantastic fisticuffs, the nuanced characterization and plotting keep the adventure lively despite its seeming simplicity. This in many ways was a transitional issue, but Men of Steel — Part 3 advanced and enriched the plot while offering a nice change of pace set in a more minor key. The tale’s final line and closing image combined to summarize the fundamentals of Superman, ending a somber story on an upbeat note. Jurgens and Zircher turned in another superb effort, which was no less welcome for being expected.
Are you prepared to follow Rebirth from Earth and fly with DC to Nideesi?
Let us know your thoughts on Action Comics #969 and join us in the comments to ComiConverse with your fellow fans!
T. Kyle King is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing.
Source: DC Comics
While this story was subdued, the direct approach was clear and forthright without lacking subtlety.