This Week’s Finest: Action Comics #49

ActionComics49

By Greg Pak, Aaron Kuder, Adriam Syaf, Johnathan Glapion, Sandra hope, Scott Hanna, Tomeu Morey, Wil Quintana, Steve Wands.

This Week’s Finest is Action Comics #49, living up to its title and proud tradition as the premier book for the Last Son of Krypton…

For the last couple of months (since Geoff Johns ended his short run on Superman), the Man of Tomorrow has been reliving his past in a way. On one hand, he’s returned to his t-shirt and jeans look from the beginning of the New 52 and this current iteration of Action Comics. On another hand, Superman has lost many of his iconic abilities bringing him down to his 1939 power levels. Aside from some super-strength, Kal El was grounded for the most part.

Attempts to depower Superman have largely been that, attempts. They don’t stick because they stemmed from a fundamental lack of understanding of the character. Greg Pak gets Superman, whether its the Man of Tomorrow, the boy from Smallville or the teenage farm-boy giving it all he’s got to save the day. Losing the cape and powers hasn’t derailed Pak for the most part because at the end of the day he understands that Superman is still Superman.

What made this issue so appealing to me is how much it reminded me of a classic Superman story. Faced with an impossible problem, Superman found the one solution that would work which was so obvious we never would’ve guessed ourselves. Superman gets his powers back, along with some new ones (another aspect that has had varied success), but the battle isn’t over yet. His return to form will most likely come at a cost and play into the final confrontation teased in the next issue of Superman/Wonder Woman. The second biggest flaw of the issue, but one which would’ve been present anyway suggesting that I look to next month’s Action Comics to see the end of the story.

The main flaw of the issue is unfortunately the art. “Does a good story trump bad art?” is a question I struggle with. My answer is “sometimes”. Sometimes the art is so bad that it completely takes away from any merits the story has. Sometimes the art is so good that a bland story is forgivable because the visual enjoyment overpowers the part of my brain following the words.

Aaron Kuder, Pak’s main art collaborator for his run, draws the layouts for the pages while Ardian Syaf does the pencils. Syaf at one point could’ve been a major name for DC despite falling in the house style sensibility, but unlike Jason Fabok who has grown immensely in his work, Syaf seems to have fallen some. Part of this may be because there are three inkers credited in this book, an unfortunate reminder of pre-New 52 DC.

The art, while muddy at times and overly dark, carries enough bonkers shift in tones that it has a throwback feel to it. The visuals on the page are one half the crazy proceedings of this issue, but together sell the idea that Superman’s back.

Despite leading into some kind of crossover I was neither aware of or interested in, Action Comics #49 has that old-school feeling of endless possibility in a Superman comic. He could lose his powers, get them back, fight a disfigured giant monster and grow a second head before the middle of the issue. While only some of those things actually happen, they’re an example for how a Superman story should play out, as though anything and everything can happen.

With the news that Pak is leaving after issue #50, that only interests me more in knowing how he will end his take on Superman and if Superman will be back to his spandex and caped self.

As this issue showed, the crazy could happen and it would make total sense in a Superman kind of way…

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