By Andy Frisk
April 15, 2009 - 14:21
Every time I read and then review a Superman Family title I remark that I was skeptical about Superman not being in his books and worried that I wouldn’t enjoy them since I pick up titles like ACTION COMICS and SUPERMAN to read about, well…Superman. I’m not mentioning this again since I’m embarrassed now to have felt such. ACTION COMICS is great and Nightwing and Flamebird are growing on me more and more, especially since the revelation of who they are.
Chris Kent/Lor Zod aka Nightwing and Thara Ak Var aka Flamebird face down Ursa, Lor Zod’s mother, although he prefers Christopher Kent, the name bequeathed him by Lois and Clark after taking him in at the end of the Last Son storyline. Lois and Clark took on the task of raising him and instilling in him the values he now is displaying as Nightwing. If he looks a little older than he did just recently it’s because of a side effect of being born and raised for the first few years of his life in the Phantom Zone. It’s a pretty convenient plot device which absolves Lois and Clark of having to raise a child and provides us with an interesting new hero. During the battle with Ursa, Thara is seriously wounded by a Kryptonite knife but when Chris gets the upper hand on his mother, he refuses to kill her with said knife, wrested from her, because “Superman wouldn’t.” He instead leaves her buried in the rubble of part of Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. At the end of the issue, Chris, with the severely wounded Thara in his arms goes to Lois, his “Mom,” for help.
We’ve seen Superman inspire other young heroes before, namely the Legion of Superheroes, but inspiring his foster son to pick up the mantle of a legendary Kryptonian hero is much more personal an inspiration for Superman. We can see that during the short time Lois and Clark spent raising Chris, they did a spectacular job. Chris is totally committed to keeping Zod from completing his plans for domination. Remember, all this action started last issue with Nightwing and Flamebird drawing out one of Zod’s sleeper Kryptonian agents.
The action in this issue is virtually nonstop. Nearly every page contains large shots of Chris, Thara and Ursa engaged in hand to hand combat. There are a great deal of punches landed and bodies contorted beneath their blows. There is also perhaps the most amount of blood, literally, I’ve seen spilt in an issue of ACTION COMICS in memory. Ursa and Chris bloody each other up pretty well with their punches, but it is Thara who, again literally, bleeds all over the place. I’m all for realism and the art is definitely realistic and detailed as far as the characters uniforms, facial expressions and backgrounds are concerned but if Thara bleed out as much as she appears to after getting knifed and stabbed by Ursa, I doubt Chris would be holding her barley clinging to life body at the end of the issue.
Overall, ACTION COMICS is holding up pretty well with Superman away, mostly because his presence is definitely felt through the actions of Chris/Nightwing, particularly in this issue. I’ll still look forward to Superman’s eventual return to his long standing title but Nightwing and Flamebird’s tales will definitely keep me hooked until he returns.
Rating: 9 /10