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Review: Action Comics #978

Kyle King Kyle King
Expert Contributor
April 29th, 2017

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.

Review: Action Comics #978
Comics
1 Comment
Price:
Perfect

Reviewed by:
Rating:
5
On April 29, 2017
Last modified:April 29, 2017

Summary:

At the end of the long, careful climb up the mountain, this issue achieves the summit.

Price:
Perfect

Reviewed by:
Rating:

5
On April 29, 2017
Last modified:April 29, 2017

Summary:

At the end of the long, careful climb up the mountain, this issue achieves the summit.

MORE NEWS FROM THE WEB

Action Comics #978 continued Kal-El’s journey through his own past in the wake of Superman: Reborn. Writer Dan Jurgens teamed up with artist Ian Churchill for The New World — Part 2. Expert contributor T. Kyle King, who covers all things Kryptonian for ComiConverse, is here to review the latest issue.

Action Comics #978 Review:

Clark Kent retraces the steps of his life, beginning with his initial encounter with Lois Lane. Will reliving his history help him to piece together what is missing? While the Man of Steel revisits yesteryear, what sinister forces are gathering against him in the here and now?

(Some spoilers follow!)

Action Comics #978 Synopsis:

In the Fortress of Solitude, Kelex is guiding Kal-El through his own memory archives. Superman experiences anew the day he met Lane, the start of his career as a reporter for the Daily Planet, and his growing closeness to Lois. Epochal events like his fatal clash with Doomsday and his marriage to Lois are repeated, together with such more recent developments as the moment he learned he would be a father and the day Jonathan Samuel Kent was born. The Man of Tomorrow reaches the present without detecting anything amiss.

In the midst of this trip down memory lane, Clark continues to hear voices Kelex cannot discern. One of them seems to say something about “the long game.” On the moon, a mysterious figure exhumes and reactivates the Eradicator before commandeering Batman’s lunar base. He brings Blanque and Metallo to the high-tech hideout, where he reveals his true identity and dubs the quartet the Superman Revenge Squad. Mr. Oz appears to the Metropolis Marvel in the Fortress to offer a cryptic warning and remind him why he has been enlisting the aid of his fellow heroes with “S”s on their chests.

Credit: DC Comics

Action Comics #978 Analysis:

Churchill made his Rebirth debut on the Superbooks with a standout backup feature, and he brings an appropriately classic look to the extended flashback sequences that make up the bulk of The New World — Part 2. The sharply defined figures, brought brightly to life by Hi-Fi’s colors, carry overtones of Jim Lee’s highly lined and granite-chiseled style. The underlying archetypes, though, come straight from John Byrne, the artist responsible for the post-Crisis reboot that forms the foundation for 30+ years of what now is an unbroken continuity. In tandem with Andy Kubert’s and Brad Anderson’s cover, the artwork of Action Comics #978 is particularly well suited to the story it portrays.

Story continues below

Jurgens masterfully merges the fresh with the familiar to weave a unified narrative that plausibly traces the course that always ought to have been and now, majestically, is. No one has been more intimately, intricately, or imaginatively involved in the painstaking process of walking back the New 52 and implementing credible course corrections than Jurgens, who began playing the long game of restoration with Superman: Lois and Clark. Action Comics #978 represents the culmination of that meticulous effort, and The New World — Part 2 demonstrates the virtue of the author’s patience. Rather than settle for an easy one-shot retcon that lazily waved away the inconvenient Truth, Jurgens took the Superman Family (and the audience) on a journey, earning back the fan base’s trust, giving readers a revived sense of investment in the characters, and bringing to the finale a genuine feeling of fulfillment.

Jurgens’s script and Churchill’s graphics overtly brought back into the canon The Death of Superman, the proposal, the wedding, Manchester Black, and, yes, even Electric Blue Superman. The New World — Part 2 augmented what was with such subtle additions as the helicopter crash from the 1978 Superman film, Lois calling Clark “Smallville” from the moment they met, Lane sticking up for Kent against Steve Lombard’s bullying, and Kal-El confiding to Kelex that he knows “Lois was too smart not to know” his secret identity. Finally, events we saw in Convergence have been folded into the combined timeline, producing perfect moments like Lois letting Clark know they are expecting and Jonathan being born in the Fortress while Wonder Woman serves as birth coach and Batman stands guard outside. The key to such scenes is simple: Jurgens and Churchill do nothing that does not do complete justice to every character. DC Comics, take note: Action Comics #978 is how you win back an audience and welcome new readers aboard.

This issue is more than just a greatest hits compilation, however. While the comic books’ continuity is being brought current in the Fortress, events are unfolding in the present day, culminating in a cliffhanger reveal that brings together elements either introduced or revived in wrapping up the New 52 and ushering in Rebirth. This delightful twist on the story’s “everything old is new again” theme combines characters who have appeared fairly recently in order to form a modern update on a Silver Age concept that was revived in the ‘90s, providing a neat précis summarizing succinctly the way in which Action Comics #978 melds the known with the novel to forge a more durable alloy. The past thus having been honored, the future of the Superman Family begins now.

Are you ready to brave The New World?

We invite you to ComiConverse with us in the comments about Action Comics #978!

T. Kyle King is an Expert Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing.

Action Comics #978

  • 5

Perfect

At the end of the long, careful climb up the mountain, this issue achieves the summit.

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One Comment

  1. Amazing review!
    I think this was a great issue for a lot of reasons. Not only we got back the most relevant Superman’s stories from 80s and 90s but Jurgens managed to fuse them incredibly well done with few of the New52 era. Now we see a Superman totally “reinvented” without erasing his core elements that have kept Superman as one of the most iconic and prominent characters in Pop Culture for almost a century.
    Secondly I want to point out that this issue was DC’s final statement that Lois Lane can certainly and rightfully could conceive, carry on and give birth to Superman’s child in main continuity and under the yellow sun! People have been speculating that Jon was conceived only because Clark and Lois were trapped in Convergence without Superman’s powers. I have always disagreed with that. But now thanks to Action Comics, Convergence has been erased and we saw that our fave couple, conceived Jon with Clark having all his kryptonian powers.
    I am happy that the things that didn’t work out in the New52 apparently have been erased, like the SiperWonder horrible relationship. I’m happy that now we have Batman behaving more like a true friend than a true enemy with Clark and Lois. Their long time friendship is now canon again. Happy to see Wonder Woman as Clark’s and Lois friend, helping both in one of the most important moments of their lives. The birth of their child! Lovely to see Diana holding Lois’s hand while she was giving birth instead of Diana putting her Lasso on Lois’s body like we saw on Truth.
    I know I have said this a lot of times, but I can’t thank enough Dan Jurgen for being part of the current Superman’s team, his commitment and love not only for Superman,BUT for Lois and Jon, is honest and we can feel it through each one of the issues of Action Comics.

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