Action Comics #957
Written by Dan Jurgens
Art by Patrick Zircher and Tomeu Morey
Lettering by Rob Leigh
Published by DC Comics
Review by Oscar Maltby
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Action Comics makes its triumphant rebirth with a cataclysmic clash of the Supermen in Action Comics #957, a high-octane showdown between two fatal foes for the right to be called “Superman," not to mention the long-awaited return to original numbering for one of DC's oldest titles. Writer Dan Jurgens and artist Patrick Zircher waste no time pitting Super-Luthor up against a returning post-Crisis Superman, resulting in an enjoyable clash of the titans that satisfies the simplest of every cape aficionado's needs.
Dan Jurgens tells a solid start to a classic Superman tale here. His Luthor is face-punchingly smug and his Clark Kent is exactly as self-righteous as he should be. Jurgens sticks to the basics, setting up a straightforward battle for the name Superman that relies on confusion about the new status quo as its hook. Is this really the classic Superman we all know and love? Is "New 52" Superman really dead? How on earth did Lex Luthor think he could get away with appropriating Supes' costume design, in any universe?! By the time a second Clark Kent walks into the middle of a brawl between pretender Superman Luthor and who seems to be the post-Crisis real deal, you can't help but mentally make a note to pick up the next issue.
"Rebirth"'s return to the concept of "Clark Kent: family man" is a welcome one, and Jurgens comfortably focuses on Clark and Lois as they attempt to teach their son Jon how to use his powers responsibly; that is to say, hardly ever and only to help others. There's a few fun character moments at home with the Kents, including a mirror-aided heat vision shave sure to elicit a chuckle or two. Lois is present in the background as an ever-supportive wife, whilst other supporting players are relegated to standing, slack-jawed on the sidelines as Supes and Luthor face off. This is a single-minded issue whose sole focus is on Superman and Luthor, in less of a ideological war and more of a testosterone-laced battle for dominance.
Penciller Patrick Zircher is at his best when illustrating the gleaming gods that are Superman and Lex Luthor, even if his realistic style seems a little static and lacking in motion. In attempting to capture a more realistic look for his character's portraits, Zircher sacrifices expression. Faultless faces stare out of the panel with dead eyes; the actual depiction of a human face on-point but lacking soul. What Zircher lacks in his ability to display human emotion is made up for by his immersive environments. Phone screens gleam in the sunlight, capes billow and crinkle convincingly and "S" symbols shine proudly. Luckily, Jurgens' script requires little more than stoic, determined faces or expressions of wide-eyed shock.
Tomeu Morey's on coloring duties here, matching Zircher's realism with a naturalistic daytime tone that emphasizes the gleaming sun. Morey's approach adds color and texture to sun-baked sidewalks and glinting skyscrapers. He's big on shiny things, adding a glowing hue to Luthor's power-suit and copious amounts of lens flare reflecting from every big ol' "S.". It's a competent finishing touch on an overall quality comic book.
Although it might seem unimportant to the issue's actual content, a cursory glance at the left corner of this issue of Action Comics confirms the wonderful return to its original numbering – the "957" displayed on this issue's cover is a proud symbol of all that DC Comics have achieved. It's amazing how such a simple gesture evokes exactly the response DC have been hoping for with "Rebirth," the ineffable feeling that every issue is a part of a greater whole, and all before they've even begun telling a story.
Of course, between the final page of Captain America: Steve Rogers and that final sequence of the DC Universe: Rebirth one-shot, shock cliffhangers are very much en vogue right now. Zircher and Jurgens try their best with the final page of Action Comics #957, but it doesn't quite live up to the big two's most recent twists. Still, if there's one thing that Action Comics #957 promises, it's that Action Comics #958 is going to feature the mother of all super-powered fights. And after all, what else are we here for but a good ol' brawl?