Review: Action Comics #979

Kyle King Kyle King
Expert Contributor
May 13th, 2017

T. Kyle King is a lawyer, a former sports blogger, a panelist on the "Twin Peaks"-centric "Wrapped in Podcast", and a Superman guy.

Review: Action Comics #979
Comics
0
Price:
Wonderful

Reviewed by:
Rating:
5
On May 13, 2017
Last modified:May 13, 2017

Summary:

Everything that is right with DC Comics' Rebirth is embodied in this issue, which features another virtuoso performance by writer Dan Jurgens.

Price:
Wonderful

Reviewed by:
Rating:

5
On May 13, 2017
Last modified:May 13, 2017

Summary:

Everything that is right with DC Comics' Rebirth is embodied in this issue, which features another virtuoso performance by writer Dan Jurgens.

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Action Comics #979 shifted gears for the Man of Steel, moving past the aftermath of Superman: Reborn and getting the new Revenge story arc underway with an issue written by Dan Jurgens and drawn by Patch Zircher. ComiConverse contributor T. Kyle King offers his review of this past Wednesday’s edition.

Action Comics #979 Review:

Clark Kent and Lois Lane are preparing to relocate from a farm in Hamilton County to an apartment in Metropolis. They are not the only ones setting big plans into motion, though. What is the Superman Revenge Squad doing to get ready to take down the Last Son of Krypton?

(Warning: Major spoilers follow!)

Action Comics #979 Synopsis:

Lois and Clark locate an appropriate apartment for their family to occupy upon their upcoming move to Metropolis. Elsewhere, the Eradicator frees Mongul from the Black Mercy, then the interstellar evildoers accompany Blanque to the Himalayas. They arrive at Superman’s obliterated hideout in search of the Oblivion Stone, which they retrieve before slaying Kal-El’s protected guests, Dratania and Klon.

Clark hears the intruder alarm at his Himalayan fortress and rushes to respond to the alert. Superman finds the bodies of Dratania and Klon, the broken Kelex II, and the empty case in which the Oblivion Stone had been stored. Blanque, the Eradicator, and Mongul materialize at the moon base commandeered by Hank Henshaw and Metallo. Henshaw uses the Oblivion Stone to transform himself back into Cyborg Superman before revealing the final puzzle piece needed to complete his scheme — the Revenge Squad will be completed by freeing General Zod.

Story continues below

Action Comics #979 Analysis:

After an issue in which the interior masthead’s conflict with the cover credits created confusion regarding the artist, Zircher left no doubt in Revenge — Part I that he was back on the job as both penciller and inker. This issue is replete with big images, distinguishing the pristine lines of the clean vacant apartment in Metropolis from the ragged rawness of ripped costumes, wrecked hideaways, and superpowered showdowns in a showcase of contrasts that makes use of the whole canvas. Colorist Hi-Fi adds to the vitality of Action Comics #979 with a palette full of hot reds and cool blues, while letterer Rob Leigh deserves special credit for the consistency of multiple characters’ individual stylistic speech signatures. The new arc is off to a visually vivid start.

In an issue filled with the haughty proclamations and absolutist ultimata of inflexible alpha antagonists, Jurgens makes room for a startling amount of subtle touches. Every line of Clark’s conversation with Lois sparkles, offering authentic insights into their touching family dynamic and doing complete justice to these caring yet strong-willed characters. There likely has never been a writer who had a better or more respectful grasp of the Lane/Kent relationship than Jurgens, and Action Comics #979 is another persuasive exhibit serving as proof of that proposition. Likewise, the seamlessness of the transition from Superman: Reborn to the restored Man of Tomorrow is encapsulated neatly by the convincing new family-focused explanation for the Himalayan facility originally introduced to accommodate a second Superman.

The copious callbacks of Revenge — Part I are not limited to those centered on the Action Ace’s nuclear family, although a number of the plot threads of Action Comics #979 were spun from Jurgens’s Superman: Lois and Clark. Blanque, the Oblivion Stone, and Dratania and Klon all emerged into Rebirth from that seminal series, while the Eradicator arrived by way of Peter J. Tomasi’s and Patrick Gleason’s Superman and the Black Mercy-ensnared Mongul appears here as we last encountered him in Francis Manapul’s Trinity. Of course, a number of these elements have a provenance that antedates the New 52, as the Oblivion Stone was being pursued by the very same Hyathis who first appeared in a Silver Age Gardner Fox story, the Trinity storyline tied back into Alan Moore’s For the Man Who Has Everything, and the narrative intersection of Cyborg Superman, the Eradicator, and Mongul (as well as some of the artwork of Action Comics #979) hearkens back to Jurgens’s own Superman #80.

Issues like this one embody the most encouraging promises — not the most discouraging fears — inherent in Geoff Johns’s articulation of the objectives of Rebirth. The chess pieces Jurgens and Zircher array about the board in Action Comics #979 were carved by craftsmen a generation or more ago; even the tale’s title alludes to a venerable recurring concept, the Superman Revenge Squad. Nevertheless, these nods to DC Comics’ lengthy history invoke the appreciation of longtime fans without alienating newer readers, as established elements are put to novel uses that reward, but do not require, a deep familiarity with the rich sediment of these heroes’ heritage. When done well, this interweaving of the canonical with the contemporary can create the same smooth rhythms as a new song that elegantly samples another artist’s earlier material as an homage. In Revenge — Part I, though, Jurgens — who was one of the original architects of the classic tales being given fresh life — is revisiting and reworking his own oeuvre like Eric Clapton slowing down the hard-driving Layla that became a hit when he recorded it with Derek and the Dominos, thereby creating an acoustic version that was wholly new. What Jurgens is doing in Action Comics — think of it as “DC Unplugged” — is Rebirth at its finest.

ComiConverse with us in the comments about the latest installment in Jurgens’s and Zircher’s ongoing Superman saga!

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

Action Comics #979

  • 5

Wonderful

Everything that is right with DC Comics' Rebirth is embodied in this issue, which features another virtuoso performance by writer Dan Jurgens.

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