Since the "New Krypton" crossover wrapped up all of the Super-titles have really found their own voice in the wake of Superman moving to his native planet, leaving Earth behind. With each title having their own distinct setting, characters, and ongoing plot tied into the greater whole, the writers tackling the Superman books have created quite the sweeping epic that I never thought possible without Superman front and center in all of the titles. Probably the most successful writer being Greg Rucka whose work on Action Comics has been exactly what the title promises while working within the confines of the current Super-verse, focusing it's plot on two supporting characters most Superman fanatics knew nothing about prior to heading to New Krypton.
To say Rucka has succeeded after his first two issues would be a vast understatement as he has turned Nightwing and Flamebird into two very engaging characters. Characters I love to read about every month. Last month we found out that Nightwing was none other than Lor-Zod (aka Chris Kent) which makes the confrontation with Ursa (his mother) this issue all the more personal and intense. Even Flamebird's showdown in the heart of the Fortress of Solitude with Ursa is satisfying--not only for the gorgeous art, but also for the head games Ursa uses as a tactic to get inside Thara's head. It just shows Greg Rucka knows how to write these characters so their conflicts hit on not only a superhero level, good vs. bad, but on a personal level as well.
Now I already made a super quick reference to the fantastic artwork throughout issue #876 but I feel I need to throw a little more praise at the art duo of Eddy Barrows and Sidney Teles. These guys are great storytellers. There are multiple splash pages used throughout issue #876 to depict the raw power of these super-beings fighting, but Barrows and Teles also use the blank space of these splashes to zoom in on specific details or move the story forward. They also always give the reader a visual cue, like an overlap, that signals where the reader's eyes should move across the page. I loved that. There are so many artists out there that try this technique but forget to guide the reader along their art that they are left lost midway through a page, wondering which panel happens next. And when that happens, you have lost the momentum of the story on the reader. Luckily, Barrows and Teles don't fall into this trap.
I'm really loving this whole "World Without Superman." Sure it's been done before, but this time it really feels like the writers have a master plan which will make the overall story much more rewarding once we've seen the big picture. The "New Krypton" crossover was a big letdown but I'm willing to accept its purpose in hindsight--give readers some amazingly original, and creative books in its wake. Action Comics being the prime example.
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