Monday, July 8, 2013

Action Comics #22 Review

Action Comics #22 Review
By: Jay 

DC announced the new creative team for Action Comics: Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder, and that their run will begin with November’s Action Comics #25. Until then we have the transitional team of Scott Lobdell and Tyler Kirkham for the main story in the 3-issue arc “Atomic Knights,” while Frank Hannah picks up artist Tom Derenick and continues “The World of Krypton” back-up story arc. What do I think of this creative team and this issue? Find out below!

Hector Hammond is in space checking out H.I.V.E.’s newest weapon. We are introduced to Straith: The First Knight of the Pax Galactica. Meanwhile Clark and Kat are covering an event for their blog where he detects Infinitium. Superman is summoned by Hammond to take on Straith. In the back-up: Lara tells Jor-El about the military coup as the two formulate a plan.

Action Comics is finally caught up to the present time. Lobdell is weaving his current Superman arc “Mindstorm” into this without making it a direct continuation. This story takes place some time after Superman #21 and Hammond and H.I.V.E. have built a weapon that can split nations in half. Something like that doesn’t go unnoticed so we meet the new character Straith. By his first appearance he reminds me of Terrax from the Marvel Universe. Where Terrax is a Herald of Galactus, Straith claims to be a knight of something called the Pax Galatica. Is he a noble knight? We don’t know yet.

Lobdell tries to make Superman more “edgy” and less of the “Big Blue Boy Scout.” After Straith hits him Superman says, “Once, Clark. Just once. You're not going to give the big ugly alien the benefit of the doubt. You're going to... ...Hit first... ...And often!” The whole scene seems a bit cliché, and has a bit of a “been there, done that” vibe to it. I’m not a fan of how everyone wants to make Superman edgy, relevant, or whatever phrase they want to coin at the moment, but I think Lobdell walked the fine line and did it right with this. He didn’t just have Superman go in punching in a blind rage. He humanizes him, has him refer to himself as Clark, and you just feel that he is tired of aliens hitting him and taking advantage of his talk first approach, so he is going to send this guy a message.

In the middle of the battle the rest of the Pax Galactica arrives, ending the fight and informing Superman and Straith that “A threat greater than e'er known wings its here.” The rest of the Pax Galactica, like Straith, reminds me of Heralds of Galactus, with some space gladiator mixed in. We do get a hint at what is to come when their leader Lourdes names this threat as “the Lexus.”

I’m not really feeling Tyler Kirkham’s art. Perhaps it’s the fact that we just came off of Tony S. Daniel’s arc? I don’t know. He does a good job on the book: Hector Hammond, Straith, the Pax Galactica all look great. But this is a Superman book, and I don’t like how he drew him. There were moments at the party where Clark looked kind of bubble-like. The art during the party isn’t consistent with details fading in and out from panel to panel. His Superman looks a bit Asian to me, which doesn’t fit the character. At times I felt like I was reading a Manga version of Superman.

While the art needs improvement the story has me interested enough to overlook it and enjoy the issue. I want to know more about the Pax Galactica, its members, and what the Lexus is.

DC gives us more bang for our buck with another great 8-page back-up story in this issue, written by Frank Hannah with Tom Derenick on the art this time. Hannah picks up “Part: 3 Darkest Depths” where he left off in the last issue. The action is still pumping as the Colonel’s men hunt down Jor-El, who is saved by Lara. I know I have said this before, but I really love this new spin on Lara. I’m a big fan of strong female characters and Hannah has really developed Lara. We can see a spark of Lois Lane in her. It is a nice parallel to the Clark and Lois relationship. Like father like son, Jor-El and Clark have the same taste in women, and I think this can be extended to Jonathan and Martha also. I think that is one reason why I enjoy Superman’s cast so much: the women aren’t helpless damsels in distress waiting for a man super or other to save them, they are proactive, and like Lara in this story, can save the man. We also find out a bit more about the beings that live in the ancient underwater city on Krypton. They’re called the Teklons and look like humanoid dinosaurs, that when frightened are dangerous. When we first saw the lost hidden city I thought it was like Atlantis on Krypton, but now they seem a bit more primal.

Derenick does a great job on the art in this issue. We really get a feel for Krypton and a younger Jor-El and Lara. Derenick captures the intensity of the emotions in his facial expressions. Krypton looks beautiful, it’s no longer the cold ice planet many know from the Reeve’s movies. Krypton is a flourishing planet with beautiful oceans, and an intriguing underwater civilization.

I have to admit the back-up story has me more interested than the main story. I’m hoping that this is building up to something, perhaps it’s a prequel to an upcoming arc in one of the Superman titles. I really want to see where the Teklons story goes. Will we see them around after Krypton is destroyed?

Overall, I liked this issue a lot more than I thought I would. I say pick it up. The back-up stories in DC are hit or miss with a lot of them not really interesting enough to read, but both the main and back-up story here is well done.

That is what I think about this book. Let us know what you think about the book, and about this Action Comics arc, in the comments. Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter to know whenever we post more previews, reviews, news and interviews on Comic Frontline.

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