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This issue spins right out of Suicide Squad #19 so if you want to know how the characters got here read that issue. It also further complicates the power of Cyborg Superman’s team, or should we now say Zod’s!

Action Comics #981
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Jack Herbert
Publisher: DC Comics


So what’s it about?

The official summary reads:

“REVENGE” part three! Superman races to save the Suicide Squad from General Zod, Cyborg Superman and Eradicator. Can the Man of Steel escape the Black Vault and stop the carnage before Harley, Deadshot and the rest of Task Force X are forced to make a final stand?

Why does this book matter?

Directly tying into Superman’s storyline, this is a key chapter as it involves Zod’s (probable) involvement with the villains who plot to kill Superman. Writer Rob Williams has also raised the stakes so high it’s exciting to see how these heroes get out of this one.

Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?


This issue opens with a shocking page.

Opening after Suicide Squad #19, this issue thrusts Superman into a battle for his life between Zod, Cyborg Superman and Eradicator. The odds might seem impossible, but Superman doesn’t hold back (though he is weakened) and kicks some major butt. In a clever bit of writing, Dan Jurgens has a news helicopter nearby so as to broadcast the battle to all of Superman’s closest friends. This gives Jurgens the ability to show their reactions and connect Superman’s battle to their emotions.

There’s also an interesting power struggle going on, although it’s more a power takeover than everything else. After so many issues of Cyborg Superman dominating as the leader, it’s clear Zod is an outlier Cyborg Superman didn’t see coming. He’s not only disgusted by what Cyborg Superman is, but would never take orders from him. There’s a battle of sorts between them that will assuredly amount to one winning down the road.

Jack Herbert draws this issue, continuing to use a darker tone that suits the Vault’s nightmarescape. The scenes opening in the Vault do well to capture the horrific imagery Superman encounters and sell the fear Superman is going through well. These scenes are important, as Superman’s time here is assuredly going to affect him later.


How embarrassing.

It can’t be perfect can it?

If you read Suicide Squad #19 you’ll note some things just don’t add up. When Zod shows up, he claims he wants Amanda Waller dead, but in Suicide Squad he let her go. That doesn’t make sense and might be an editorial mistake. Either way, it seems odd Zod wouldn’t just kill her in the first place and makes him seem weak.

It’s also surprising Dan Jurgens is characterizing Cyborg Superman and Eradicator as he is, because after so many issues of setting them up as major villains to fear, Zod is making them look weak. At best they’re playing Zod, but considering how overpowered they are by him how can we ever think they’ll kill Superman. It reduces the threat for sure.

Is It Good?

Superman must fight for his life after being weakened by the Vault! Overall this is a good issue that increases the threat to Superman as he has something he can’t explain reducing his abilities as the threat of the villains grows.

Action Comics #981
Is it good?
A good fight comic that complicates Cyborg Superman's plan, changes Superman (maybe forever?) and ties well into the emotional side of Superman's friends.
Some great Supes vs. battling!
Interesting power struggle going on with Cyborg Superman and Zod
Superman is severely reduced in power and he doesn't know why!
Shocking Cyborg Superman and Eradicator are reduced in threat level with Zod's power
Zod says something about Waller that just doesn't add up
8
Good