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 #973 led the way on a busy Wednesday for DC Comics’ line of Superbooks. Mild Mannered — Part One began a new story arc, which was penned by Dan Jurgens and pencilled by Patch Zircher and Stephen Segovia. ComiConverse’s Man of Steel reviewer, T. Kyle King, is here to share his thoughts on the new issue.
Action Comics #973 Review:
As the tale’s title implies, the mysterious Clark Kent figures prominently in Mild Mannered — Part One. However, the bespectacled reporter’s Daily Planet colleague, Lois Lane, likewise headlines an issue filled with surprises… including unexpected appearances by several notable names!
(Warning: Spoilers follow!)
Action Comics #973 Synopsis:
In Metropolis, Lois goes undercover to expose a corrupt city councilman and a crooked police detective in league with a mob boss. Clark, fearful for her safety, calls in Captain Maggie Sawyer of the Special Crimes Unit, and, despite Kent’s panicked meddling, Sawyer makes the bust and Lane gets the scoop. Troubled by her inscrutable co-worker, Lois tails Clark, only to have the mystery surrounding him deepen. When he stuns her by asking her for a date, Lane quickly recovers from her initial shock and accepts Kent’s invitation in the hope of learning the truth.
In the meantime, Superman is summoned from his family’s Hamilton County farm by the intruder alarm of his Himalayan hideout. The Man of Tomorrow arrives to find Blanque tossing out telepathic taunts from his prison cell and John Henry Irons, who came seeking the Action Ace’s aid in curing the dying Superwoman Lana Lang. Although Kal-El and Kelex initially are stumped, Superman soon arrives at a realization and flies off with Lana, telling Steel to follow. The slower superhero has trouble keeping pace, enabling distant observers led by Hank Henshaw to track the path of the Big Blue Boy Scout.
Action Comics #973 Analysis:
The artwork of Mild Mannered — Part One is a bit of a stylistic mix, combining Zircher’s and Segovia’s pencils with Zircher’s and Art Thibert’s inks. Zircher tends to produce more subtle imagery, while Segovia generates graphics that generally are larger than life, but colorist Arif Prianto vividly puts the high shine on both illustrators’ work, helping the pictures to coexist, even if they do not invariably mesh.
Although Action Comics #973 was advertised as an issue focused first and foremost on Clark Kent, Jurgens’s story is anything but narrow in scope. The writer double-dips into the dual wells of Phil Jimenez’s Superwoman (with John Henry and Lana) and of his own Superman: Lois and Clark (with Blanque and Hank), and Kal-El’s cryptic epiphany about a place where he can restore the superpowered Lang to health most likely foreshadows a trip to the Arctic to use the Kryptonian medical technology most recently seen in the pages of Peter J. Tomasi’s and Patrick Gleason’s Superman. Similar hints dropped by Blanque and inexplicable oddities uncovered by Lois inevitably leave the reader with the feeling that Mild Mannered — Part One brought us no nearer to understanding everything than Jurgens left the audience at the end of the prior installment.
Along the way, Action Comics #973 offers some classic callbacks — from a novel twist on a familiar line that opens the issue to a famous street address to a favorite food item — but it would be a major mistake to conflate Kent’s pursuit of a date with Lane in this issue with the only superficially similar courtship by Clark of Lois in Action Comics #1. While Mild Mannered — Part One presents a Clark Kent every bit as awkward and anxious as the one from that initial appearance nearly eight decades ago, the women in this issue are no damsels in distress: Lane continuously keeps her cool and ably acts in self-defense, and both she and Sawyer make it clear to Kent that they — not he — are “in complete control” and “in charge”, respectively. Action Comics #973 offers homages, but there is nothing antiquated about an issue in which Steve Lombard hilariously has his hoverboard burst into flame.
Most readers likely embarked on this arc expecting at least some persistent enigmas to begin being wound down, but what Mild Mannered — Part One delivered was a steady ramping up of the intrigue and a tightening of the intertwined plot threads from this and other Superbooks. Jurgens makes methodical tempo, complex storytelling, and convincing characterization in adventures starring Superman, Lois Lane, and Clark Kent look easy, but the author’s seeming effortlessness should not blind the audience to how strong issues like Action Comics #973 truly are.
Are you on the edge of your seat in anticipation, or does the new arc leave you drawing a Blanque?
This is no time to be mild mannered! Join us in the comments and ComiConverse about Action Comics #973.
T. Kyle King is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing.
Source: DC Comics