Superman has fought threats big and small over his storied career. Now a number of his greatest enemies have joined forces to take him down once and for all. Fortunately, he’s got back up with the extended Super Family. Unfortunately, he’s blind. You win some, you lose some.
Action Comics #983 from DC Comics illustrates the kind of larger-than-life action that only Superman is capable of. This is a blockbuster of a comic where the likes of General Zod, Cyborg Superman, and Metallo square off against Superman, Supergirl, and…Lex Luther. It’s a knock-down, drag-out fight that delivers with every single punch.
The action is well choreographed by artist Viktor Bogdanovic. This keeps the issue exciting with every page turn. The characters split up, each picking a different opponent, then mix things up a bit. The main event is Zod vs. Superman, but the undercard is definitely worthy of inclusion. My favorite is probably Steel vs. Metallo which pits man against machine, effectively neutralizing the villain’s abilities.
These fight scenes are awesome, however there’s not a lot of time dedicated to them. Each match-up gets maybe a page, sometimes less. The whole issue could have been dedicated to this six-on-six battle. It’s like the main event of a WWE Survivor Series pay-per-view, but it’s treated like a trailer for one instead. You have a character like Mongul who is an absolute powerhouse and he barely gets two panels in this fight.
Bogdanovic breaks up the panels themselves, showing them in increasingly erratic ways as the blow is felt. This builds up to a very serious final strike from the villains where the layout gets more traditional, as if focusing the reader’s eyes on each individual panel to hone in on the gravitas of the situation. Some of the wind is taken out of the sails of this move since it’s something we’ve seen before, as recently as the current issues of Supergirl. It’s unlikely to fully follow through with any lasting ramifications. I’m sure we’ll see the truth in the next issue. Of course, if I’m wrong and writer Dan Jurgens just pulled this move, it would be huge.
While Bogdanovic’s artwork certainly matches up to the level of action expected, it’s a little jarring as he’s jumping onto the book in the middle of an arc. His style is different enough from the previous artist, Jack Herbert that it’s very noticeable, especially in the designs for the villains. They’re fine on their own, but in flowing through a story arc like this, sticks out like a sore thumb. I can only imagine how this will look when collected in a trade paperback. I appreciate DC’s dedication to double-shipping some of their top titles, but when the artwork becomes inconsistent like this, it’s a detriment to the book, even with solid artists contributing to them.
The driving force behind Superman standing up against all these foes is not just his need to do the right thing and stop evil in its tracks. Lois and Jon are up at the Fortress with him. If he doesn’t stop the villains here, his family is in mortal danger. This gives Superman something more to fight for instead of just truth, justice, and the American way.
He’s powered by family, which one would argue is stronger than any of those things combined. It’s deeply personal. This is what the character stands for. The odds are stacked so high against him. I mean, he’s blind! He can’t even see his attackers, but he’s doing everything in his power to stop them because the lives of his wife and son are on the line, not just the fate of the entire planet.
This, right here, is what Superman is all about. This bombastic fight with some of the most powerful beings in the world is crazy and over-the-top. If this was a movie, you’d be inhaling popcorn. While the battle is riveting and will keep your eyes glued to the page, at its heart it’s got that personal touch that anyone can relate to. Superman may be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, and he may be faster than a locomotive, but at the end of the day, he’s a husband and a father and he wants to do right by his family.