Superman #43

I really, really don’t enjoy Superman.

But I LOVE Superman. Or at least I have over the last three months.

The storyline we’ve been following thus far in Action Comics has been called Truth, and it’s been dealing with the fallout that a mostly depowered Superman has to experience after Lois Lane revealed his secret to the world. This was a major point of contention for a lot of people – no way would Lois Lane ever reveal the truth about Clark Kent! Why, Lois was never one to chase a story and publish something, damn the torpedoes and screw whoever got caught in the flotsam and jetsam!

This was a particularly fun argument to follow on Twitter, as people – before they’d read a panel of story – had jumped to several thousand conclusions about how this was going to ruin Superman and how they had well and truly broken the already fractured relationship between Lois and Clark.

I’m included in this, bee-tee-dubs. I went to the wild opposite end of the spectrum – screw the relationship, this was Lois Freakin’ Lane we’re talking about here! Intrepid investigative reporter – the woman who never let her feelings or emotions get in the way of the story! By God, if Lois Lane found out that Clark Kent was Superman (and they weren’t in a relationship), then hell yes she’d release the story! Burn it to the ground, Lois is awesome and she’s going to Expose. The. Truth.

It’s funny, because the storyline is called Truth – and the truth of the matter is, the truth actually falls somewhere in the middle of those two divergent beliefs.

While Action Comics has been dealing with the fallout of the big reveal, Superman has conversely been dealing with the lead-up to the reveal. We’ve met a new villain who has discovered Clark’s secret – Hordr_Root, and have seen Clark slowly start to lose his powers. Through this, though, we’ve seen the tightknit bond that Lois and Clark share – when she found out that Clark was Superman, she was rightfully angry – he’d been lying to her, after all, and she’d almost fallen in love with him. But, with time and space, she realized that Clark and Superman – no matter who was in front of her – were the same person. That even if he was born on another planet, he was at his core a Kansas farm boy raised by loving parents to make the right choice, even when it’s the hard choice.

Which Lois has to do in issue #43.

There’s some great character moments in this particular issue, and you can really sense the depths that the connections between Lois and Clark go. And, in the end, when Lois has to make that hard choice, there’s some great splintering of that relationship – with Lois delivering the ultimate verbal haymaker to Clark. In all honesty, this is as close to a classic Lois and Clark story as you’re to get in the New 52, and it’s a really strong take on the two characters. Dialogue wise, there’s no real misfires for the main players of Lois and Clark, though I’m not the biggest fan of the villain’s speech pattern, or the way Jimmy and supporting cast member Condesa interact. It feels a bit forced, but it’s most likely because it’s lined up against the verbal juggernaut that is the Lois and Clark issue.

From an art perspective, the Superman comics have been some of John Romita Jr’s strongest, and while I’m not usually the biggest fan of his work, I’m pleased to say that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the last three issues. The inks are sharp and crisp, but where the book really triumphs from an artistic perspective is the coloring process – a lot of the colors feel almost water colored, with a lot of deep hues present to show shading and folds. It’s a small thing, but it adds so much depth to the page that the weight of each character, despite being flat paper, is felt and experienced.

Is this issue perfect? No. But when taken at with the rest of the Before Truth storyline running through Superman, it’s a strong placesetting issue that has a hell of a final act to set up where we go from here. This was a logical, well paced comic that really brings things into focus for the next arc – and, for the first time in decades, I can’t wait to read a Superman comic.

Up, up and away!

-Jay

Guest Review: Action comics #43 by Girl-on-comicbook-world

Today we have a special guest review from Girl-On-Comicbook-World. She consistently puts out great material, from comicbook reviews to movie reviews to Opinion pieces. I strongly recommend you go check out her blog. I made her name clickable and you can also click hereor here. Seriously, check out her blog, it’s in my weekly rounds. With out any further delay here we go:

Action Comics #43 Review
Writer: Greg Pak and Artist: Aaron Kuder

Action Comics #43 continues the adventures of the newly depowered, with a now public identity, Superman. Greg Pak continues to prove that he understands the heart of this character through this street-level story, which involves Clark teaming up with his neighbours in Metropolis…whilst they fight Shadow Monsters!!!

Now I know not everyone has been loving this new status quo that has fallen on Superman, and would prefer to be seeing the traditional Superman stories. But here’s the thing, sometimes you need to throw your character into new and different situations in order to deconstruct the character and find out who they really are at heart. And that is exactly what the “Truth” story arc has been doing so far across the Superman books.

The one thing that is imperative to understand about Superman’s character is how he see himself. He doesn’t view himself as a god, or somebody who has the answers to all of life’s problems. He views himself as a guy who grew up on a farm, one day found out he was an alien, and then suddenly had to deal with all the responsibility and expectations that came with that. And because Clark is inherently a good person, he was more than willing to accept his situation and embrace becoming Superman. But at the end of the day he is farm-boy Clark Kent, who would prefer to be hanging out with people, not hovering over them like some arrogant god.

The “Truth” story arc has stripped away what made him seem like a god, his powers, secret identity and costume, and forced the world and audience to see him for who he really is, Clark Kent. And Action Comics #43 explores that, as we see Clark face-to-face with the people of Metropolis, working alongside them.

The issue opens up with Clark punching a cop. Yupp, he punched a cop! But to be fair the cop is actually a Shadow Monster, so all good! But before realising that the cop was in fact a monster, Clark had a moment of struggle, he’s Superman, he shouldn’t be punching cops. But because the cop, Binghamton, was using extreme force on a peaceful neighbourhood, Clark snapped. And that’s the thing about Clark, at his core he will always strike to protect people, and with him being less powerful than he was before, he feels like he needs to overcompensate a little.

After his battle with Binghamton we see a beautiful moment with the people of Metropolis. Clark gives one of his classic inspiring speeches, telling everyone that together they can protect each other, because they’re all Superman now.
There are a bunch of twist and turns in the book, including a shocking revelation about what’s going down in City Hall. All in all Action Comics #43 is very much a character driven story that is deconstructing who Superman is at his core. Even if you aren’t a fan of the Superman character, I would definitely recommend picking up Pak’s Action Comics “Truth” run because it really has been a fascinating story, showing how both Clark and the world reacts when Superman has a public identity.
Kuder’s art as always is great and expressive (although sometimes Clark looks weirdly wide but ehh). The splash page featuring the neighbourhood really gave us a great sense of humanity and diverse community through the character designs and body language.

Overall Action Comics #43 was another great issue by Pak and Kuder, diving deeper into the humanity of Clark. Rating: 8/10.