Tony Black reviews Action Comics #963…
“WHO IS CLARK KENT?” part 1! Look—down there on the ground! It’s a guy, he’s kinda ordinary…it’s—Clark Kent?! As Metropolis recovers from the devastating attack of Doomsday, the mysterious figure claiming to be Clark Kent takes the spotlight to clear his name and prove once and for all that Clark Kent is not Superman!
Following the titanic battle against Doomsday over the previous six issues, Action Comics settles down for the first part of ‘Superman Meet Clark Kent’, a story which has been quite some time coming from Dan Jurgens. During the smackdown which destroyed half of Metropolis, we had the baffling mystery of why not only was Superman flying around saving the day, but we also had a Clark Kent seemingly without any powers in the heart of the melee. This is his story, and it adds some necessary context and revelation to what he’s been up to, even if the central enigma remains of quite how we can have a Clark without powers – at least if you’ve only been reading Rebirth onwards.
The aftermath of the battle is touched on here, channelled through the typical righteousness of Lex Luthor who, free of his own Superman garb, now in his role as owner of the Daily Planet leads the central questions as to who this new Superman—with everyone believing the hero dead—is, and quite why Clark exists separately. Quite appropriately, there’s an earnestness about Clark as he’s questioned by Perry White, aided in his curiosities by Jimmy Olsen, and discovers a few interesting connections to a new potentially villainous group called Geneticon and perhaps a mystery as to why Superman, who doesn’t appear much here, would not want him looking deeper into the case. By the time we reach a conclusion which sets up a conversation long overdue, Jurgens has managed to set us off on a new narrative course.
Even though the action may be scaled back for this issue of Action Comics, the storytelling and characterisation are all there, and it’s great that the mystery of the two Clark’s, essentially, is being confronted head on. It helps that Patrick Zirchler’s artwork is gorgeous, with panels that balance espionage and mystery with heroics as Jurgens’ flashback driven script guides Clark’s journey. Looking forward to seeing where this one goes.