Ricky Church reviews Superman: Action Comics – The Rebirth Deluxe Collection Book 1…
In these stories from ACTION COMICS #957-966 and JUSTICE LEAGUE #52, collected for the first time in hardcover, Superman returns to Metropolis just in time to meet the city’s newest protector: Lex Luthor. But the dueling titans soon meet someone unexpected: Clark Kent! Can these enemies put aside their differences and face the common threat of Doomsday, as Jimmy Olsen tries to uncover the truth of Clark Kent’s identity.
When DC rebooted their comic line last year, they made a bold choice to kill off The New 52 Superman and bring back the original Superman from before The New 52, complete with his marriage to Lois Lane and even their 10 year old son, Jonathan. The New 52’s Superman and Action Comics weren’t always well received by fans, so DC went to veteran Superman writer Dan Jurgens to usher in this new era of the Man of Steel.
Jurgens’ return to Superman in Action Comics is a cause for much celebration. Throughout Superman: Action Comics – The Rebirth Deluxe Collection Book 1, which collects the first two trade paperback volumes in one (issues #957 – 966, as well as the final issue of New 52’s Justice League), Jurgens shows an incredible understanding of Superman, his supporting characters and the world he inhabits. His Superman is compassionate and intelligent, but not afraid to enter a fight if lives are on the line and uses his intellect to outsmart his opponents and which powers work best.
Superman is a well rounded character in this book, but Jurgens adds a new layer to the superhero with the addition of his son. Jon may not get as much time in the story as he does in the Superman title, but Jurgens uses him to great effect in examining how Lois and Clark adjust to parenting and pass on their wisdom. Lois in particular gets some pretty stellar moments with Jon gets the best depiction she’s had in a long time.
Book 1 collects three stories that build nicely off each other. ‘Path of Doom’ is the main story that sees Superman fight Doomsday in Metropolis, and not the New 52 version, but somehow the original version of the monster. Its funny to see Jurgens writing yet another big fight between the two titans, given that he wrote the original Death of Superman and Return of Superman (he even includes some fun nods to the original stories), but he still makes it seem fresh by adding several new wrinkles to the conflict. Its got some great action beats as several heroes go up against Doomsday and introduces the mysterious new Clark Kent as well as touching on the larger mystery surrounding DC Rebirth.
The other two stories see Superman investigating the Clark Kent doppelganger and Lois trying to figure out what happened to The New 52 version of herself. ‘Lois Lane, Back at the Planet’ actually comes pretty close to topping ‘Path of Doom’ with its spotlight on Lois. Its great to see her back in action working at the Planet and Jurgens captures her voice very well. Her relationships with Clark, Jon and the other characters are a highlight of the book and her feisty attitude brings back something that was sorely missing from Superman stories. For those who bemoaned the loss of their marriage in The New 52, you should be very happy with how significant their relationship is played up.
The artwork is pretty great all round. Patch Zircher, Tyler Kirkham and Stephen Segovia contributed to the artwork and each created some very impressive imagery, particularly during ‘Path of Doom’. The action is well choreographed and easy to follow, but they also do quite well at the quieter emotional moments in the stories. The facial expressions are detailed and evocative and the colours from Tomeu Morey, Ulises Arreola, Arif Prianto and Gabe Eltaeb are vibrant and pop off the page. Superman – Action Comics has a lot of great imagery from start to finish. Included is a collection of variant covers and a few sketches. While it’s a nice addition, there probably could have been some more sketches, especially on Superman and Lex Luthor’s redesigns.
Superman fans will rejoice at seeing the Man of Steel return to his former glory. Jurgens places a lot of emphasis on the characters and their development just as much as he does on the action while the art is one of the books best aspects. Fans will not be disappointed in getting this nice DC Rebirth collection.