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 #977 headlined a number of DC Comics releases this week that tracked the aftermath of the recent Superman: Reborn story arc. Writer Dan Jurgens was joined by artist Ian Churchill for the start of the next chapter in the lives of the Man of Steel and those closest to him. ComiConverse contributor T. Kyle King provides this review of The New World â Part I.
Action Comics #977 Review:
What had been rent asunder now has been restored: Clark Kent, Lois Lane, and Superman have been reunited in every sense, yet the memory of Mr. Mxyzptlkâs machinations is fading. What will Kal-El learn by searching his own past, and what forthcoming threats are nearing fruition?
Action Comics #977 Synopsis:
At the end of their workday at the Daily Planet, Lois and Clark depart from the office as Perry White asks the happy couple to send his regards to their son, and the editorâs godson, Jonathan. Lane heads home to Jon, but Kent takes off for the Fortress of Solitude. There, with Kelexâs aid, he uses the crystals to revisit his history, beginning with Krypton in its last days and continuing through his early life in Smallville.
While Superman explores his personal experience, a mysterious figure pays clandestine visits to old foes of the Action Ace. The malevolent interloper makes promises to induce Metallo and Blanque to join his cause. At the Fortress, the Man of Tomorrow thinks he hears something. Kelex assures Kal-El that they are alone â but are they?
Action Comics #977 Analysis:
Churchill, who beautifully drew the backup feature for Action Comics #975, again is in his element in The New World â Part I. Providing the pencils and inks to which Hi-Fi added a vibrant variety of bold colors, Churchill succeeds in creating a look that is classic without being archaic. The graphics manage to be at once minutely detailed yet completely uncluttered; Churchillâs images appear clean and clear at passing glance before becoming rich and textured upon closer inspection. Visually, Action Comics #977 is a spectacular issue.
This fine filigree placed upon each page by Churchill provides the perfect adornment to Jurgensâs story. The writer, like Thomas Paine, has it in his power to begin the world over again â at least as far as the Superman Family is concerned â and he uses his special talent for steady pacing to great effect in this tale. Sometimes, when recounting the iconic origin of the Last Son of Krypton, brevity is best; in Action Comics #977, however, the better method was to eschew concision in favor of precision. Accordingly â and appropriately for Holy Week â this issue is littered with Easter eggs, from Kryptonite Nevermore! on the cover to a Kryptonian street scene that combines John Byrneâs redesigned antiseptic aesthetic side by side with Silver Age-style headbands. Into this majestic milieu, Jurgens interjects the curious Kal-El as a ghostly presence in his personal past, reacting but not interacting in emotionally stirring encounters with both sets of parents.
This combination of Churchillâs intricate artwork with Jurgensâs meticulous writing in The New World â Part I gives a fresh resonance to familiar sequences, bringing home through Supermanâs inability to reshape his own story how fully these events have shaped him. The graphics are rich with background details to reflect a script that shares the same definitive characteristic. After the devastating deconstruction of the Man of Steel during Truth, Action Comics #977 is another solid step in the preferable direction of painstakingly reconstructing what had become a tarnished legend. In a tale that offers nods to the 1978 Superman film and the 21st-century Smallville series, the creators reclaim their characters with exquisite care.
Special credit must go to letterer Rob Leigh. In an issue brimming with subtle touches, he works into the interstices perhaps the most understated nuance of all, in the form of the litany of Latin phrases hidden amid an ostensible descending cascade of binary code streaming down the unknown instigatorâs face. The significance of this currently is unclear, but its presence highlights the fact that the defining attribute of Action Comics #977 is an attentiveness to detail that serves not to distract from, but instead to enhance, the strong and straightforward story unfolding in the foreground.
Are you excited about embarking on an adventure to The New World?
Have Kelex insert you into the archives so you can ComiConverse about Action Comics #977 in the comments!
Everyone involved focused on the fine details without ever losing sight of the big picture in this masterfully crafted issue.