“Action Comics” #19 is the first — and final — Andy Diggle-scripted issue of this series, which is a crying shame as Diggle not only presents a believably entertaining Superman, but also finds the right voices for all of the other characters in this comic book. Diggle’s Lois Lane is energetic and audacious, a mix between Margot Kidder’s take on the character and Karen Allen’s Marion Ravenwood, but like Diggle’s work on this series, our time with Lois is cut short. Diggle shows enough of a plan for his time with Superman that I found myself thinking this could be good, but the pieces shown here are just pieces.
Tony S. Daniel’s work is decent, good on focal points and heavy with larger page-filling images, but haphazard in details beyond the Big Blue Boy Scout. Even though most of his panels featuring Superman are good, there are some oddities throughout “Action Comics” #19, such as Superman’s confrontation with “Jimmy Olsen,” that lack finesse. The battle mechs Superman fights are oddball patchwork machines that don’t particularly inspire fear or amazement. While Daniel does some nice work with Superman himself, one of the strongest pieces is a nice homage to the 1939 first issue cover of “Superman.” While mostly brilliant, in both hue and application, Tomeu Morey’s coloring is off in some spots, making it appear as though Clark Kent’s life is filled with people who are either alien or suffering from Kryptonite poisoning. That makes the poisoning that Superman endures a little less impressive as it builds to the cliffhanger that close out this issue.
Adding to the disappointing experience of “Action Comics” #19, the digital format from DC doesn’t allow the formerly-WTF-certified cover to wow the reader before beginning the story. As a matter of fact, while Daniel’s cover is nice, detailed and action-packed, it’s hardly jaw-dropping. That is further compounded by the lack of backup story in this issue in favor of a twenty-five page lead paired with a couple of full page drawings. Sholly Fisch’s previous efforts were enjoyable and they’re certainly missed as an encore to a mundane adventure.
In the end, with all of the hoopla surrounding Diggle coming on as Grant Morrison’s replacement and flaming out after one issue, “Action Comics” #19 is just another Superman story. It’s no “What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice and the American Way” and it’s not even “Man of Steel.” “Action Comics” #19 is enjoyable, but tragic in its incompletion. While Diggle’s work will continue to shade the remainder of this story, it’s not going to be his story and given Daniel’s track record with the New 52, I’m not racing back for the next issue.