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.
MORE NEWS FROM THE WEB
Action Comics #970 brought readers the final Superman story of 2016 and the fourth installment in the Men of Steel story arc. As promised on the cover, writer Dan Jurgens and artist Patch Zircher presented the trial of Lex Luthor. ComiConverse’s Man of Steel reviewer, T. Kyle King, offers his thoughts on the tale.
(Warning: Spoilers Follow!)
Action Comics #970 Review:
Nideesi! L’Call! Zade! Ch’aar! Darkseid! Parademons! Mother Box! In the face of such powerful and persuasive adversaries, can the Big Blue Boy Scout stay strong in his conviction that even his archenemy cannot be punished for his future crimes?
Action Comics #970 Synopsis:
Using the Godslayer’s transporter, Kal-El follows L’Call to Nideesi, where he finds his intergalactic opponent prepared to face him. Superman’s attempt to free Luthor from his imprisonment is met with resistance, and the Godslayer shows the Last Son of Krypton the horror that befell L’Call and his family when Nideesi was invaded by the forces of Apokolips.
Neither caped defender of Metropolis is convinced, so Ch’aar and Zade show Superman the Mother Box Lex had kept hidden in his cell. This shakes the Action Ace’s faith in his position and forces him to wonder why Darkseid’s minions would give Luthor such a source of limitless power. The Remnants — last survivors of worlds victimized by evil interstellar conquerors — serve as the jury, which votes unanimously to convict the Earth villain. The Man of Tomorrow wavers in his conviction, finally concluding: “It’s true. You’re guilty!”
Action Comics #970 Analysis:
Men of Steel — Part 4 is as clean in its look as it is clear in its storytelling. Zircher’s pencils and inks, embossed by Rob Leigh’s letters and augmented by Ulises Arreola’s colors, give Action Comics #970 a classic style befitting Zircher’s and Arif Prianto’s throwback cover boasting an old school collage and bold characters blaring: “The Trial of Lex Luthor”. Every aspect of this issue is direct and in the service of the story, and the graphics reflect this.
The forthrightness that typifies Action Comics #970 — the bad guys arrive with a wall-shattering, hero-toppling “THOOOM” that would have made Jack Kirby smile — extends also to Jurgens’s pointedly punchy writing. Although the utterances of the actors in the drama express their personalities in individual ways, each character states his or her case economically and laconically. Likewise, while Superman changes his tune over the course of the issue, he remains obedient to Emerson’s dictum that a man should speak what he thinks today in words as hard as cannon balls… and not, in the Action Ace’s case, simply hit with fists having equal impact.
As often is the case, however, Jurgens manages to embed much subtlety into the interstices of a seemingly unvarnished tale. A two-page interlude showing a phone call from Hamilton County to the Daily Planet introduces potential plot points for Lois Lane, Superboy, and the new Clark Kent. Superman’s short yet stirring defense of “our laws” offers a nod to truth, justice, and the American way. The Remnants’ pronouncement of their verdict on Luthor plainly recalls the trial of Reed Richards, both in form and in theme.
That isn’t the only allusion to John Byrne’s work in Action Comics #970, either. The Rebirth Superman, after all, is the Metropolis Marvel from Byrne’s post-Crisis reboot, so, when Kal-El thinks to himself how he first met the Luthor he knew in Smallville — which isn’t true; the Silver Age Superboy met Lex in his childhood home town, but the Action Ace introduced in 1986 first faced his nemesis on Luthor’s luxury liner in The Man of Steel #4 — we cannot help but wonder whether this is more post-New 52 continuity bleed-through caused by the fallout from Watchmen. By the same token, how Lex’s Mother Box ties in with his sister’s similar technology remains an open question (I’m assuming The Coming of the Supermen doesn’t line up with anything, including itself)… which leaves us with Men of Steel — Part 4 being a straightforward adventure with a pulse-pounding cliffhanger and lots of lurking backstory that is apt to reach fruition later. That’s not a bad day’s work for Action Comics #970.
After the trial of Lex Luthor, did you think Men of Steel — Part 4 had appeal?
Transport yourself into the comments, where you can share your verdict on Action Comics #970!
T. Kyle King is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing.
Source: DC Comics
Superman ends 2016 with a story that is straightforward on the surface, exciting in the execution, and layered in its implications.