Action Comics is a relatively recent addition to my monthly reading list. Prior to this, the lack of a Superman-centric title in my regular rotation was not due to a dislike for the Man of Steel but rather a severe disinterest in his villains. Real threats like Luthor or Zod are few and far between it seems, and the majority of Superman’s fights revolve around him punching some brute with a similar invulnerability–it’s the immovable object meeting the immovable object. Greg Pak’s Action Comics #26 brought me in with the simple notion of Superman facing down a hulking creature and instead of fighting it, relating to it. That so simple-it’s-brilliant idea is carried forward in issue #27, though it’s not without its regressions back to Superman punching something big in the face. Pak’s character-building is still in tact, however, and although the issue isn’t as groundbreaking as his previous, it’s still got its hooks in me.
Pak’s success in writing Superman lies in his ability to channel the past of the character to influence his present decisions. There’s a genuine significance to how Superman treats his newfound ward, a shape-shifting creature nicknamed Baka, which culls from Clark’s childhood discovering the secret of his arrival on Earth. He can relate to this being’s sense of alienation and fright, and it’s making Superman a much more interesting character to read about each month. Lana Lang, too, is making waves in this title, toting a high-powered rifle and donning her best Lara Croft costume to explore the hole from which Baka emerged. What’s discovered below Metropolis is not altogether invigorating, and the idea that the Ghost Soldier is still lurking around somewhere isn’t cause for much elation either. I understand that the Superman-fighting-giant-monsters quota needs to be filled but I’d rather have the character exploration.
Although his name appears on the cover, Aaron Kuder’s art is disappointingly relegated to the latter half of this issue. Sure, it’s still a good amount of Kuder’s gorgeous work to pore over, but splitting the book between three separate artists leads to some noticeable shifts. Starting the issue with a flashback is a wise decision, and as a result, R.B. Silva’s pencils are the least obtrusive during these first few pages. Mike Hawthorne’s art is a bit too simplistic and cartoonish when placed against Kuder, who comes in strong with a stunningly detailed splash page of monsters descending on our heroes. If I have to watch Superman punching big creatures in the face, at least I have something great to look at while it happens.
It’s not as good as last month, but Action Comics #27 is certainly not a reason to jump off the title, not while Pak is writing great Superman character moments and Aaron Kuder is still on art in some capacity, anyway.
GNN Comics Grade: VERY GOOD (7/10)