Action Comics #41 promised to shake things up, and it did, kind of. The last time I read a Superman title was Superman #32. I wanted to see what artist John Romita Jr. and writer Geoff Johns (two comic book powerhouses) could do with the Big Blue. Sadly, after reading their debut issue, I was underwhelmed. Romita’s art didn’t resonate with me, and plot points like Superman punching out a robotic ape seemed too cheesy.
A good Superman comic is hard to come by especially since I grew up reading Death of Superman, Funeral for a Friend, and the Reign of the Supermen – all very well crafted Superman stories. They were light on the cheesy and beautifully rendered. Any other Superman comics I read seem to pale in comparison to the aforementioned storylines.
Greg Pak and artist Aaron Kuder (who has a style similar to Frank Quitely) put together something unique in the first half of issue #41. Following Romita’s story of Superman being depowered (see Superman #40), We see a weakened Superman trekking across Alaska faster than a…snail. Supes ends up coming upon a rest stop and buying a burrito, a 70% discounted Superman t-shirt, and a motorcycle from some unruly youths that end up challenging Superman to a fight. Although this sounds like an odd beginning to a Superman comic (and somewhat reminiscent of Superman II) it worked. Pak did a great job of letting us know what Superman was thinking and feeling which humanized him greatly and made him more relatable. Superman gets cold when he isn’t wearing a shirt in Alaska (just like me), he gets hungry and likes to eat disgusting burritos (just like me), etc., etc.
The story begins to fall apart when Superman returns to Metropolis after being pinged by a scarf wearing hipster named, you guessed it, Jimmy Olsen. Olsen asks Superman to return to Metropolis in order to surprise the red undies off of the big guy with a block party. Turns out Superman’s neighbors, who now know that Clark Kent is Superman after Superman was outed by Lois Lane on national TV, wanted to thank Superman for keeping them safe. At this point, I was starting to lose interest…but what put me over the edge is what followed.
Superman finds out there is a disturbance at the docks and races off to assist. When Superman arrives at he discovers that the big bad is a giant shadow monster. Um, I thought this was an all new direction? And here we are, with Superman battling giant monsters, yet again. Yawn. Unfortunately, the retooling of Superman which is part of the DC YOU campaign feels like every other Superman stories I’ve read.
I was more interested in the depowered Superman trying to make it, and dealing with what life handed him. Instead, we got another cheesy issue. Consume. Review. Repeat. gives Action Comics #41 a 5 out of 10 yawns.