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Review Brew: Action Comics #991

Emotions are spiraling out of control and Superman can’t keep up.

Published By: DC Comics
Written By: Dan Jurgens
Art By: Viktor Bogdanovic, Trevor Scott, Scott Hanna, and Mike Spicer

Kal-El has his hands full and the urgency of the moment is offering no respite to peaceably figure out how to most effectively handle it all. His instinct is to punch Mr. Oz into anti-matter oblivion for even daring to speak to his son with him there–especially considering the violent atrocities Mr. Oz has unleashed on Kal-El’s beloved Earth. But his own noble, fathering instincts prevent him from flattening the face of this Kryptonian dishonoring the very name of Jor-El by claiming to be him.

Mostly.

He does swing on him once.

Yet even as he does so, he realizes that he can’t have the fight that he wants to have, because his son believes this man. Even Lois has some inner conflict; could this deranged psychopath really be Superman’s long-though-dead father? It’s a terrible thing to consider.

And this is where I believe the issue lost some of the magic and luster of its forward momentum. Through each unveiled installment of this episodic Mr. Oz saga, the entire underlying point has been: how could such a terrible man truly be the stately and sagacious Jor-El that Superman knows and loves? So to spend roughly half an issue regurgitating this rhetoric wasn’t the most exciting experience to have. The careful dance in comics, or any writing, is to maintain the volatile balance between delivering the reader new information and keeping the reader aware of what they already know. The key to successful execution in this department, no matter how in depth or clever your plot and writing, is this:

Assume the intelligence of the reader. 

Of course, every writer will have to work out how and to what extent that applies to their own body of work, but it is an impeccable starting point. Every issue up until now has followed that very mantra, and it was a bit disconcerting. Not bad by any means, just not as fulfilling as issues previous.

That being said, the beauty of comics is their multi-dimensionality. The artwork was as riveting as it ever has been. All of the brilliant color themes from prior issues collided with poignantly rendered detail, in accordance with interactive clashing of Kal-El and Mr. Oz. The ethereal backgrounds, the streams of kryptonite energy blasts, the distraught expressions–I felt each and every one of them. And then, when everything melted away into the pallid blue of Kal-El’s dawning understanding, I felt a tremor deep in my chest. Something dangerously exciting is coming.

Remember, I said that only the first half was a bit droll. The second half picked up with a whirlwind of revelation; of desperation and heartbreak. I would’ve preferred to have more time to wade through the maelstrom of emotional upticks, but being forced to experience them at the same speed as Superman only made me feel for his plight even more. For better or worse, whether he enjoys it or not, in spite of the blazing symbol of hope brazenly emblazoned across his chest…

Being Superman is a tough job.

And the fact that it doesn’t break him shines an inspiration out of the pages that makes it impossible to regret reading.

4 Power Staffs out of 5

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