Superman Brought Low On Warworld: ‘Action Comics’ #1039 Reviewed

by Tony Thornley

The Warworld Saga continues to build a Superman epic unlike any we’ve seen. In Action Comics #1039, we get a guided tour of this horrifying planet, and its culture, leading Kal-El to make choices he never dreamed he’d make…

Cover by Daniel Sampere & Alex Sanchez

Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Ricardo Federici, Lee Loughridge, and Dave Sharpe slow down the story of the Authority on Warworld to do some important world- and character-building work. Frankly, it makes all the difference.

Superman, Steel and OMAC are now prisoners of the arena, forced to fight for the amusement of Warworld’s most brutal citizens and do the dirty world of the planet’s rulers. If they’re going to survive, they are going to have to change, and in ways they may not like. Meanwhile, Midnighter is hatching plans of his own…

Johnson’s epic goes further down the rabbit hole each issue, and in this one he does a deep dive into Warworld culture. On the surface that might sound boring, but he does two things really well to draw readers in. 

The first is narrating it through Clark’s journal (which is lettered incredibly well as always by Sharpe), which makes the whole story incredibly relatable and human. It does make it slightly removed from what we see happening to Superman, but it still works. The second is showing how much more there is to Warworld than just the arena, and how it tears apart everything unique about the cultures it kidnaps and enslaves. It’s the most emotionally resonant part of the issue, especially enabled by Clark’s words as he grapples with what he sees.

While Johnson is giving readers a deep and emotionally resonant story, Federici and Loughridge depict a Frazetta and Bell inspired warscape. Warworld looks like a hellish place to be, and everything looks dreary. The arena is dynamic and vibrant, filled with reds and browns that make it feel bloody, even if the conflicts themselves aren’t. Their depiction of Warworld makes it clear it’s a place we don’t want to visit, but are absolutely captivated by what we see of it.

This all comes together to continue one of the most interesting and unique Superman stories in a very long time. By the issue I’m drawn in more and more and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Action Comics #1039 is available now from DC Comics.


Superman continues to learn about this wildly different version of Warworld. The creative team combines their efforts to weave a tapestry, making this a captivating read and an engrossing Superman epic.

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