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 #971 continued the Men of Steel storyline in last Wednesday’s installment. Writer Dan Jurgens and penciller Stephen Segovia teamed up to bring readers the much less harmonious pairing of Superman and Lex Luthor. ComiConverse contributor T. Kyle King is here to review the new chapter.
(Warning: Spoilers Follow!)
Action Comics #971 Review:
In the shocking conclusion of the preceding issue, Superman stated that he had been persuaded of Luthor’s guilt. Is the Last Son of Krypton truly prepared to let the Remnants of Nideesi carry out the death sentence their verdict has imposed?
Action Comics #971 Synopsis:
When Kal-El announces his belief that Lex will become Darkseid’s genocidal heir, L’Call presents the Kryptonian with the sword for use in executing the convicted villain. Armed with the Godslayer’s weapon, Superman reveals that it was all a ruse. The Action Ace reaffirms his prior stance, shatters the blade, tosses Luthor away from Zade’s debilitating influence, and gives the brilliant businessman his Mother Box.
With it, Lex opens a Boom Tube so they can make their escape. L’Call disrupts the gateway to their getaway while they are in transit, stranding the twosome on a planet with a red sun. The Godslayer and Zade pursue their quarry, and Luthor now must defend the weakened Man of Tomorrow. Meanwhile, in Metropolis, the pre-Flashpoint Lois Lane takes her son, Jonathan, to her New 52 counterpart’s apartment in an effort to unravel a mystery. While they are there, they receive a surprise visit from the wholly human Clark Kent.
Action Comics #971 Analysis:
Men of Steel — Part 5 is another solid entry in the lengthy arc, due in large part to Jurgens’s mastery of his craft generally and of these characters specifically. While the writer holds the focus in the foreground, he continues to keep all the plates spinning and leaves no story strand abandoned. In the midst of their interstellar adventure, Superman and Luthor continue to snipe at one another, and Jurgens allows Lex to score his share of points in their debate. Lois, who knows from experience the risks of taking Jon with her on a potentially risky mission, brings the boy along for a good reason rooted in a previous plot point, and the continuously looming mystery of the powerless Clark took a giant leap in its gradual progression.
That’s a lot of steady story development for one issue, but Action Comics #971 is neither merely nor even primarily a hodgepodge of random plot advancements. Men of Steel — Part 5 concentrates on the aftermath of Luthor’s trial, and Jurgens keeps matters moving forward at a brisk clip. Lex delivers a quick half-dozen panels or so of narrative exposition in much the same sanctimonious tone he haughtily employed the last time he went on trial, then the story gets straight to the sword-snapping, heat-visioning, Boom-Tubing, and dropping unceremoniously out of the frying pan and into the fire. The callbacks and character quirks continue to ring true but do not distract from the central storyline.
Segovia’s pencils, Art Thibert’s inks, and Arif Prianto’s colors aid the audience in keeping its collective eye on the ball. The graphics eschew extraneous excesses, enabling the artwork to employ a spotlight instead of floodlights. Although Superman appears somewhat blocky in the full-page spreads of Action Comics #971, there is a more refined composition and flow to the fight and flight sequences that are spread out over several panels. Shifting perspectives keep the action lively, and even dialogue-heavy sequences contain such meaningful movements as shirt grabs, finger jabs, and battle preparations. One missing detail I wish hadn’t been omitted, though, concerned the New 52 Lois’s bookshelf, on which it is too bad an Author X volume was not visible.
While Men of Steel runs the risk of going on too long with the sixth installment still to come, Action Comics #971 barreled along at a rapid pace and ended with every character who possesses either Kryptonian chromosomes or double-L initials confronted with changed circumstances in a fresh setting. The protagonists certainly exercised their mental muscles, but — because it isn’t called Thought Comics — their deeds and derring-do were plentiful. This issue took a balanced approach but never lost focus, presenting a tense yet tight tale that maintained the high level the series has occupied since Rebirth.
Is Men of Steel — Part 6 going to be on your pull list, or are you looking for the nearest Boom Tube out of this arc?
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T. Kyle King is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing.
Source: DC Comics
Fast-paced yet character-driven and wide-ranging yet sharply focused, this issue satisfied all the criteria for another solid story.