We’ve all just come off the history Action Comics #1000 event and some of us are probably still a bit hung over from it all. From the excellent 80 year anniversary book to the comic store events to the intense supersized 1,000th issue, there’s a lot to unpack. Sometimes it takes the hair of the dog to recoup though, and DC Comics appears to know that as they’re unleashing the Action Comics Special #1 today.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
“THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF LEX LUTHOR!” When Superman’s world was reborn, his greatest enemy became his most unexpected ally. But does that truly reflect Lex Luthor–or was it all a sham? Now, as Lex Luthor’s path toward righteousness reaches its apex, he finds himself involved in an adventure in which Superman stands to be destroyed. What choice will Luthor make? Will he save Superman or watch him die at the hands of a foe he could not possibly imagine? This oversized special also features stories from the acclaimed teams of Max Landis and Francis Manapul (in a story previously slated to appear in the DC UNIVERSE HOLIDAY SPECIAL 2017 #1) and Mark Russell and Jill Thompson!
Why does this matter?
Containing four stories, this special has some all-star talent like Max Landis, Ryan Sook, Dan Jurgens, Steve Orlando, and Jill Thompson (to name a few) joining in on the fun. Lex Luthor fans should definitely pick this up as he gets featured in two of these stories.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue reads almost like DC had commissioned folks to write too many stories for Action Comics #1000 and made a second book out of the stories that didn’t fit. It’s an anthology of stories that range from a Lex focused time travel story, a tale that suggests Superman influenced Lex’s run for president, to a wholesome Superman tale and a story bringing Firebrand back into the DCU. Overall it’s a nice grab bag, but the curation is a bit all over the place. If you’re jonesing for a Superman fix you can’t do wrong with this collection, but it’s skippable for the purists who are focused on where we go next.
The opening story by Jurgens and artist Will Conrad is a highlight story featuring a mysterious figure who knows Lois Lane is married to Superman. This story has a classic Lex vs. Superman vibe and features a twist that you may see coming, but the time travel element makes you question if this is a possible future or just another timeline interjecting into the DCU. Conrad does a good job with some of the splashes and the technological elements of the villain.
The second story by Mark Russell and Jill Thompson has a comical twist showing us how Clark Kent roasting Lex Luthor at the White House correspondents dinner may have influenced Lex’s decisions moving forward. It’s a unique look at how Lex may be as evil as we think because of bullying throughout his life. Way to go Clark! There are some good barbs at the JLA and it has a funny take on the high drama Lex is usually reserved for.
The third story by Landis and Francis Manapul has a whimsical watercolor look that suits the story. This one is all about how Superman treats everyone with respect even if they’re criminals and gets at the heart of Superman’s wholesome nature.
The last story by Ryan Sook and Steve Orlando brings Firebrand into the new DCU. A character originally created in 1941 it’s a quick and efficient origin for the character. Of all the stories in this collection, this one has the most lasting power as I’m sure this character will pop up soon elsewhere.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The hodgepodge nature of all these stories don’t do the overall package justice giving it a randomness that hurts the overall reading experience. Really only one of the stories has a Superman centricity that suits the title of the book, making the rest of the stories seem unbalanced or belonging somewhere else. Basically each story feels like a good backup to another comic book.
Is it good?
This is a good reading experience, but definitely a strange one with four stories that don’t connect or hit at any one vein. They’re each good in their own right though, and especially worth a look if you dig Lex Luthor, who is the focus of two of the four.