Saturday, October 15, 2016
New Book Review: DC Rebirth: Action Comics # 965
Action Comics # 965
Dan Jurgens and Stephen Segovia
For me, Dan Jurgens is one of the most trusted writers when it comes to sustaining Superman's longevity--not that Supes is in any danger of extinction. If anything, the congenial, spot-on introduction of Tyler Hoechlin for Season 2 of Supergirl says The Man of Steel is in snug hands. Even Henry Cavill, despite coming off as a mopey Robert Smith version of Superman in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, still captures the imaginations of today's youth with his rugged physique and snarling fisticuffs.
Jurgens, however, gets the Superman mythos better than anyone, even Grant Morrison, who turned it all upside down in glorious fashion with All-Star Superman and J. Michael Straczysnki, who delivered a rollicking revamp with Superman: Earth One. Jurgens first started his long-running affair with the legend of Kal-El as a penciller on The Adventures of Superman Annual # 1. As a DC Comics mainstay (and chronicler for Marvel's Thor, Spiderman, Daredevil and Captain America), it spoke loudly when the imprint gave Jurgens the ball for the pivotal "Death of Superman" arc. It was equivalent to the Pittsburgh Steelers on third and goal, calling a running play everyone knows is coming, but in the hands of Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis, you know that pigskin is breaking the goal line.
For me, it was a gimme when I saw Dan Jurgens was returning to Action Comics on the Rebirth launch. With the botched Doomsday scrum in Batman v. Superman, it's appropriate Jurgens was given the reins to unleash what we're to assume is a doppelganger Doomsday (who had also appeared in the New 52) in a massive, bi-weekly brawl with a cross-dimensional Superman slowly making his way in place of the died-twice Superman of our world. "Path of Doom" was nearly the spectacle of Doomsday's original rampage, and yet there's a maturity to Jurgens' storytelling here as a new Supes acknowledges possible mortality, having once barely beaten the Doomsday which trashed his world. Add to the dilemma a Lex Luthor usurping the House of El seal for his own as would-be savior of Metropolis (thus becoming a mistrustful, forced hand ally) and a powerless Clark Kent, whom everyone has presumed to be the real McCoy...what a spiraling ball of confusion, cue The Temptations.
This means completely dicking with readers' heads as to what the hell is up with this other Clark Kent, physically ordinary as you or I, but still an aggressive journalist finding himself in a serious pickle. Ironically, this Kent needs the new Superman's help as things take a tumble while he attempts to uncover shady goings-on with Geneticron. Double-jeopardy, the Geneticron building's somehow vanished!
Jurgens has a firm grasp on the rules of Superman, which have been veritably amended in Rebirth. Alter-Earth's Superman is in full wedlock with Lois Lane and they have a son, this lad's inevitable path aligned to become a next-gen Superboy. As our new Superman is compelled to forgo his anonymity on this planet in light of the recent events in Justice League and now unraveling in Trinity, this world has become Jurgens' to tinker with. Lord, has he tinkered with it, and what a refreshment! How rich is it this Clark Kent is given a Superman signal watch like the original did so many years ago with Jimmy Olson? In lesser hands, it would've rang of schlock. Jurgens, on the other hand, completely sells this as if he and Jerry Siegel were scripting it in the same room.
Though Action Comics # 965 is the first breath-catcher of Jurgens' rambunctious Rebirth run, it's still set to be a game-changer. "Lois Lane, Back at the Planet, Part 1" trails behind the recently-established Lois as she attempts to gain a piece of her old journalism life in a new world. Like the Superman of this world, its Lois has vanished, allowing our current, motherly Lois Lane to re-enter society in an official context on the rails of Lex Luthor's bullet train to Metropolis and The Daily Planet.
Why Dan Jurgens is such an excellent writer is how well he probes the psyches of his characters. "Lois Lane, Back at the Planet, Part 1" is naturally told from her perspective and it's a treat watching Jurgens thread Lois amidst people she knows, intimately or by acquaintance, and yet everything is different. Jimmy Olson, ecstatic upon Lois' return, offers to bring her "favorite" dish of lemon trout almondine. Of course, this is his Lois' favorite, not our Lois'. Lex Luthor, now owner of The Daily Planet, is not what our Lois has come to expect (much less us veteran Superman readers) and then of course, there comes that moment, the awkward path-crossing with a Clark Kent who is not her own.
As Jurgens switches back-and-forth between Lois' familial life in upstate New York and her risky picking-up of someone else's pieces in Metropolis, the intimacy between Lois and her Superman, along with her silent stumble-bumming at The Daily Planet offices is beautifully orchestrated. So too is the organic friendship between little Jon and his new friend Kathy, whom we've already established via the Rebirth Superman title, is holding the secret of Jon's still-developing superpowers. Every Superdude needs his own Lana Lang, of course.
For her bravado (equal to her counterpart in this world), our Lois is bound to stumble upon a major surprise, revealed upon the splash of the final page of this issue. If you're reading the crossover Superman books (i.e. New Super-Man and Superwoman), this will come as no surprise to you.
The second part of "Lois Lane, Back at the Planet, Part 1" is bound to be a doozie, but already skipping to November, Action Comics looks to peel away once again with Lex and the new Superman crossing wits in "Men of Steel" and then in Superman, Supes and Jon are slated to have a fateful first meeting as a foursome with Batman and Damian Wayne. Hold onto your capes, kiddos.