This first Wednesday of June is an important day of comic book releases for DC Comics fans. Gone are the days of The New 52. Welcome to the new age of DC YOU. Are You Ready?
One of the titles I’ve read since the start of The New 52 is Superman Action Comics. It’s one of the series I’ve always been most excited for; it not only features my favorite super hero, but also bears the name of the first series that gave the Man of Steel his introduction to the world, was the catalyst in bringing out all the other heroes, and whom a majority still knows and loves today.
While Grant Morrison started his run on Action with an exciting, forward moving story that turned the Superman mythos on its head, while still maintaining respect towards the 73 year history (at the time of its start), the lack of cohesion with other comic book arcs eventually brought Superman to a place of limbo, a phantom zone of sorts for readers of his adventures. For a true red and blue fan of the Man of Tomorrow, it was hard to remain optimistic over his future as creative teams came and went. That all changed once Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder took over Action Comics with issue 25. Taking him from Doomed days to a Horror in Smallville – Pak and Kuder have created a series for Superman that consistently challenges old and new readers to redefine who the grandfather of all superheroes is to them and the world. With Action Comics issue 41, we face the “Hard Truth” about being a hero in the DCU. Are you ready?
Action Comics issue 41 is another revamp of sorts for Clark Kent/Superman. That is worth mentioning before we even begin. There’s been so much fan commentary on DC and Marvel’s latest universe changing events (Convergence and Secret Wars) and both seem to have a polarizing effect that has, yet again, created a divide in fans. We get the one side of fans that feel the canon changing is their final straw and the other side that remains positive as their outlook on the slate of comics remain uncertain. For myself, having Action Comics issue 41 in my hands (and eventually in my long box) marks a significant moment. I have read DC Comics since the start of The New 52 (nearly four years) and with that brand no longer on covers, I can confidently say I’ve been indoctrinated into the DCU.
I believe the mark of a true fan is one that will stick with a creative team, series, or hero because of their love, their commitment, and because of their interest in moving forward. For those that are ready to abandon Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman just because Bruce Wayne is no longer wearing the cape and cowl? Silly. As a Batman fan, wouldn’t your love of the icon and what it means to be Batman (Anyone can wear the mask) be a driving force in your continual patronage of DC’s flagship title? Especially knowing that Bruce is almost certainly going to make a comeback? As a Superman fan, I have stuck with the character since Action 1 and have read through Convergence and post. There are no plans to abandon ship. I love the character and the creative teams. In fact, I’ve appreciated the creators even more as I’ve continued reading; Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder being chief among that list. Not only have they given a fresh take on Clark Kent and his identity as Superman, but they’ve managed to keep the ship on course with a take that is original and completely authentic towards the spirit of what Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created!
Action Comics issue 41 opens with a Superman that “can’t fly, can’t leap over tall buildings, [and]can’t really even feel [his]damn fingers right now.” It’s a creative decision on Greg Pak’s part that is decidedly un-Super, right? When drawn by Aaron Kuder, we finally get the portrait of a man when things get to heavy for Superman. We find Superman in Alaska and we’re told he had “a crazy couple of weeks” referencing an as of yet unknown story in the June 24th release of Superman featuring the writing debut of Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese). We could surmise this has something to do with Clark Kent being outed as Superman through a Daily Planet front page story, and the FCBD special “Divergence.” He walks through the town, in a Bixby-ish way, and eventually comes to a head with a group of bullies. While Superman may not have all his powers, we know he’s not just going to stand by. The opening few pages, before we get to the chapter title “Hard Truth”, presents itself as a more word-traveling, on the road hero that we have yet to see on the pages (“Grounded” maybe?). It all works as a great setup for a story that presents the “Hard Truth” that Superman is still very much who he is, minus the cape and abilities. How’s that for a new start? Wearing jeans, boots, and a Superman tee that bears a more classic logo, Pak and Kuder give us a stripped back hero tying closer to Morrison’s first presentation in The New 52.
As Superman makes his way back to Metropolis, after being on a sabbatical of sorts, he eventually is brought back to Jimmy Olsen, a quarantined city, and a city block named… Kentville! In his absence and outing, the neighborhood that Clark Kent lived in during The New 52 has banded together to celebrate the man and hero. Kids cheer, girls flirt, people feed him, and we’re introduced to a new L.L. in Superman’s life! Pak and Kuder have created an African-American firefighter named Lee Lambert who seems like she’s just as tough and just as strong as Lana Lang! She also adds to the promised diversification of the DCU as the characters and world reflect us and our world. Lee Lambert doesn’t appear too much in Action Comics issue 41, but it looks like she could easily become possibly one of the most engaging of female characters (character in general) in the pages of Superman!
Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder’s Action Comics issue 41 takes us down a whole new road for Superman. While it took me a while to appreciate and understand why my favorite hero had to be taken into a horror story/ monster movie, I now feel it’s one of the better stories to come out of The New 52. (They brought back Ultra-Humanite!) As for the current storyline, “Truth”, I believe this is one of the most exciting times in the pages of Superman. Pak and Kuder have shown they’re the proper team to deliver a Superman story that takes us into new territory, and with a Superman that can only leap tall buildings in a single bound, is faster than a speeding bullet, and more powerful than a locomotive.
Action Comics issue 41 is a story that bends more towards classic Superman in theme. It not only adds a new and important character, Lee Lambert, but brings us into a whole new era of Super. Also, how could anyone not enjoy Aaron Kuder’s energetic and animated art style?
Issue 41 gets five stars and is available now at your local comic shop.
ACTION COMICS #41
Written by GREG PAK and AARON KUDER
Art and cover by AARON KUDER
THE JOKER Variant cover by DARWYN COOKE
On sale JUNE 3 • 32 pg, FC, $3.99 US • RATED T
Retailers: This issue will ship with two covers.
The epic new storyline “TRUTH” begins! For Superman, there’s no more holding back!