Two weeks ago, I criticized the first post-Rebirth issue of Action Comics for being too gimmicky. That’s true of this issue as well, but the real problem here is how stupid it thinks readers are.
It all starts with a recap page that does its job, but also accidentally emphasizes how slight the previous issue was considering it can all be summed up on a single, 7-panel page. Not long after that, Jimmy Olsen points out how crazy it is that Clark Kent and Superman are in the same place at once, in case we didn’t realize. Then, the nameless villain who seems to be orchestrating everything says, “rarely do the pieces fall into place so quickly,” which just points out how rushed the whole Superman/Lex Luthor/Doomsday fight feels. And finally, to top it all off, Lois conveniently tells her and Clark’s son Jon that, “it all feels wrong,” as if readers are actually braindead. It’s a frustrating wast of an issue where almost nothing happens. It’s only saving grace is the art.
There’s a panel where Superman gets punched and goes flying through the air backwards (good luck guessing which panel I’m even talking about considering how many times it happens) where he’s sort of in a pieta-style position of repose. It’s a really striking image and one of many admittedly lovely artistic moments throughout. Artist Patrick Zircher (whose work on pre-Rebirth Green Arrow was largely unimpressive) does a wonderful job with all the action and Ulises Arreola’s colors are very textured, with a sort of dull quality that’s reminiscent of the way comics look in a newspaper. It gives the book a classic feel and maybe that’s fitting.
There is something classically comic book-y about what’s going on here. The big fights, the multiple supermen shenanigans, even the scary villain who sees all in the background. It’s all larger than life and slightly absurd. The difference, though, is that comics back in the day were actually trying to have a fun. This is just a bunch of brooding dudes beating each other up for no discernible reason.
Before Jon flies off to Metropolis to become a plot device or whatever, he asks Lois if his father will be OK as they watch Doomsday beat him up on TV. Though we don’t get to hear her answer, I already know it. No, Jon, it’s not going to be OK. This is the confusing nightmare world we’re stuck with: a bunch of explosions punctuated by nonsense dialogue. Good luck trying to care about it.