Action Comics 26

action comics 26Today, Mikyzptlk and Scott are discussing Action Comics 26, originally released December 4th, 2013.

Mikyzptlk: I don’t know about you, but when I was a teenager, I didn’t exactly have a lot of self confidence. High school was especially rough, as it seemed that everything I did was strange or off-kilter in some way. In other words, I felt like a freak. This feeling got worse before it got better, but damn it, it did get better. Eventually, I came to realize that not only was I strange and off-kilter, but everyone else was too. When I realized that I was on the same playing field as everyone else, things got a whole lot easier. Greg Pak’s Action Comics features a Superman struggling with his own “freakishness,” but he may have just found someone to find consolation in. 

Lana Lang is an electrical engineer exploring a mysterious new geothermal power source. Turns out, there was a monster under them there rocks. Fortunately for her, Superman arrives to save the day. He quickly realizes that this monster has a lot more in common with Lassie than Godzilla. He tries to calm the monster down, but a mysterious agent by the name of Ghost Soldier appears and screws up Superman’s plans. He has no choice but to make it appear as if he destroyed to creature. Superman retreats to the Fortress of Solitude to lick his wounds, but it turns out that he was able to save the creature after all. Oh, and when the creature calms down, he looks like this:

HellboyBefore I say anything else, I just want to say that Greg Pak’s Superman is straight-up whimsical. I can’t tell you have much fun I had while reading this issue. There was a moment in last months issue (deftly covered in our Weekly Round-Up) where Superman gets blasted by some baddies. This could have been played off as just a simple action scene, but Pak infused the scene with whimsy by having Superman exclaim:

Ow Ow OwIt was at this point that I started to realize I may just be in for a fun ride with Pak’s interpretation with the Man of Steel. I’m excited to say that Pak is starting to confirm my suspicions in that he’s giving us a fun Superman.  There’s a moment in this issue that shows Superman as the regular joe he often longs to be, and it works so well in connecting us to the man in Superman.

DuckSuperman follows this scene up by admitting that it was “a little embarrassing.” Who among us can’t relate to making a fool of themselves in front of a special someone? Many writers struggle with figuring out how to make Superman relatable, but Pak makes the solution to that seem obvious and effortless. This issue presents us with more than just fun moments though, as there is a lot of action and drama going on as well.

Seriously, there is a ton of action in this thing, which is appropriate considering the title that we are dealing with. Not only does Superman have to deal with a rampaging monster, he has to deal with a surprise guest as well. I’m not sure who this “Ghost Soldier” is, but he certainly presented Superman with an interesting challenge.

Ice Fire Pain DeathThe dude can go intangible, and since he can’t stab Superman directly, he just phases the sword into Superman’s chest instead. This provides Superman with a an interesting challenge, and it makes the action more fun to watch, as it’s not just a couple of dudes throwing punches at one another.

There is some drama in the heart of this issue as well in the form of a flashback to young Clark’s life. It seems that Pak is really interested in exploring young Clark’s life, and you aren’t going to see me complaining about that any time soon. In this flashback, we see the initial manifestations of one of Clark’s deadliest powers.

BurnThe truly painful part comes when Clark feels his father hesitate at the sight of his abilities for the first time, and it’s potentially the first time he realizes just how different he is from the rest of humanity. Fortunately, his father, being who he is, doesn’t hesitate for long. Jonathan Kent was there for his son, and now Superman is intent on being there for whoever this blue “hell-boy” is.

Pak clearly illustrates that this young Superman still feels like a “monster,” as he has Superman specifically state that. This is a great way to explore this new and younger version of Superman. It’s interesting to see a Superman who is somehow much more confident and much less confident than more the traditional version of the character that I’m used to seeing. I’m curious to see how Pak will use Superman’s new relationship with “hell-boy” to explore these insecurities.

Hey Scott! How are you feeling about Pak’s Action? Are you as curious as I am to find out what’s going on with this mysterious new creature? Oh, and what do you make of the Ghost Soldier? Who the heck is he working for? Lastly, I just want to give a quick shoutout to Aaron Kuder. He is knocking it out of the park with his pencils!

Scott: You’re right, Mikyzptlk, Kuder is doing some great work. He and Pak make an excellent match for this title’s light tone. I love the complete left turn this issue takes where suddenly Supes is fighting the Ghost Soldier in the middle of trying to grapple with the “monster”. The Ghost Soldier, with his phasing abilities, is one of the most inspired Superman foes I can think of, even if he ultimately seems more like a minor annoyance to Superman than a real threat (though Supes does admit the sword phased through his chest “kind of hurts”). I appreciate that Kuder doesn’t get too fancy in trying to depict Ghost Soldier’s phasing, simply showing his fist disappear into Superman’s chest, as Mikyzptlk shows above.

Yes, this title is full of action and, yes, it is incredibly fun to read. But this is also a super sweet story. I mean, how adorable is the moment when Clark begins to see the softer side of the giant beast? It basically plays a game of fetch with the truck Clark throws at it, and suddenly Clark realizes it’s just a kind-hearted creature that feels scared and out of place. It reminds Clark of that moment in his childhood, which sets up my favorite part of the issue- and probably Clark’s last moment of childhood innocence.

Clark, higher than a kite

That’s great storytelling by Pak and Kuder. We know exactly what that reddening of Clark’s eyes means, even if he doesn’t yet. It’s heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. This is the happiest Clark has ever been, so happy is makes lasers shoot out of his eyes uncontrollably (but hey, that’s just part of growing up, right?)

Mikyzptlk, I’m left with the same questions as you; I don’t know what’s going on with that strange creature, and I have no clue what to make of the Ghost Soldier and whoever was giving him commands. Still, I find it impossible to complain about this issue. It’s irresistibly fun from beginning to end.  Fun and Superman really ought to go hand in hand, and this is a creative team that understands how to make a lighthearted approach to the Man of Steel work. They’re also able to humanize Superman without drawing too much attention to it, which is something many writers struggle with. I’m really loving this title right now- Action Comics 27 is probably the Superman issue I’m most looking forward to.

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page.  Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore.  If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there.  There’s no need to pirate, right?

7 comments on “Action Comics 26

  1. I’m shocked by how many great Superman books are on the shelf right now. Sure, two of them are team-up books, but that still leaves us with two great solo Supes books. For Superman fans, this is almost an embarrassment of riches.

    • And yet, his flagship title — and that which seems to direct the fates of the other Super-books — is straight-up Lobdell.

      Actually, that’s just me slinging shit: I haven’t read an issue of Superman in months. Anyone able to give me an update?

  2. This might be the best Superman story in all of the New 52. Pak has a nice, bright tone, which Kuder is a great match for — and there were no weird faces this issue! This is exactly the kind of Superman story I want to read.

    • Did you read Kuder’s Parasite issue during Villain’s month? While it’s Supes-free, it’s pretty close to this tone over all.

      We were talking on the last Bats/Supes about how the artist seems to have an appreciable effect on Pak’s priorities as a writer. If Kuder makes Pak more fun, then I am ALL FOR IT.

    • Told you it was good 😉

      Yes Pak is bring the F word to Superman….. Fun. He is noble, caring, and heroic and the story is absolutely wonderful for that. Hey and it only took a few years. I really hope this title sells now. I want the message sent to DC in the only way that matter$ that there is room for this superman.

      Also great to see a full story in an issue. I think Pak is a great fit for Superman since he tends to write characters with heart very well. I am already looking forward to the next issue.

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