Nightwing and Flamebird had Az-Rel and Nadira nearly at their mercy last issue, but when Codename: Assassin shows up with his small army of green hued creatures, the “Bonnie and Clyde” of Ursa and Zod’s sleeper agents take advantage of the distraction in order to escape. Nightwing manages to mount a pursuit of the two Kryptonian criminals, but Flamebird is overwhelmed. When Codename: Assassin begins to probe her mind though, the biggest psionically manifested, and visually striking psi-generated flaming bird appears since Jean Grey’s Phoenix Effect first manifested. It appears that Flamebird is more than just a name taken on by Thara after her mystical experiences chronicled in Action Comics Annual #12. While all the battling is going on, Lois pays a visit to her father’s grave and, with the help of Mon El’s X-ray vision, discovers the truth about her father, something that we, as readers, have been privy to for some time.
Nightwing and Flamebird continue to become more and more interesting as the issues of Action Comics tick by. With their background stories expanded, and made even more interesting in the pages of Action Comics Annual #12, now might not be the time to limit their starring pages in Action Comics. This issue marks the beginning of a “Second Feature” starring Captain Atom. It’s an odd opening feature which shows Captain Atom battling medieval Lord of The Rings-like knights and orcs, passing out at either the JLA’s or JSA’s roundtable, then flipping back to “Middle Earth.” Hopefully, this Second Feature will get better, or just go away. Nightwing, Flamebird, Codename: Assassin, General Lane, and his mysterious female mystery agent, with the odd facial markings, are too interesting right now to be limited by a reduced page count.
The one real positive to the Captain Atom feature is the artwork. Artist Cafu’s depiction of Captain Atom is visually striking. From his silver, semi-reflective skin, to his power manifestation bursts, he’s definitely a character worth seeing more of in the hands of Cafu, just not here in Action Comics. His faux-Middle Earth characters, weapons, and castle are well drawn as well. Olmos’ art has been praised so much in these regular Action Comics reviews, that we’ll let him come back to Earth for a while by not gushing over his artwork again here. I will say that, while comics are definitely more adult in nature these days, and that’s not a bad thing, it was nice to not see a bloodbath in this issue. The lack of blood flying out of someone, through the air, and landing all over the place this issue didn’t detract from the action.
Overall, Action Comics is still a part of the pinnacle of books, comprised of the Superman Family and Green Lantern titles, which sit atop of the DC superhero line. If it’s this good now, wait until Superman comes back!