“Action Comics” #28 is the third part in Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder’s first big storyline, and it continues to hit all the right notes. Lost underground civilizations, treacherous secret agents, strange monsters, weird science, and Queen Lana Lang? Yeah, this is a lot of fun.
In many ways, fun sums up most of “Action Comics” #28. Pak is clearly having a blast introducing readers to all the bizarre life forms that are living in this newly discovered underground world, and I like that right from the start there’s a strong hook to keep interest. Between new energy sources, bizarre cuddly creatures and a whole society that’s been formed down there, the subterranean world feels much more realized than most do in such a short time period.
At the same time, though, Pak mixes the above ground with down below, and that’s smart. With the Ghost Soldier and Lana Lang still in the mix, there are both pre-established allies and enemies around for whom we can latch onto. We know what side each of them are on, if nothing else, and when they start upsetting the balance it helps pull us in and making us care as readers. But best of all in terms of the writing is how Pak treats Lana Lang. The modern Lana has often been a throwaway character, little more than a Lois Lane substitute. Here, Lana’s someone interesting in her own right; her comfort level with Superman (since she’s known him for ages) gives them a jovial friendship, but at the same time there’s still a small amount of hero worship going on too. It’s not quite like any other friendship that Superman has right now, and having Lana stick around in “Action Comics” can only be a good thing.
And as for Kuder’s art, it’s still as gorgeous as ever. So much attention to detail is put onto every page, from intricate armor to careful stone arches and walkways amid the massive cave system. The strange “eep” creatures look familiar yet bizarre at the same time, and the floating crosses between sea turtles and jellyfish are amazingly cool, too; that real-yet-not-real feeling brings about a good sense of wonder. Superman and Lana fare well, too. I like that Superman is muscular and strongly built without being ridiculously so; he’s the boy next door who worked out a great deal, but he’s not a musclebound freak. Lana’s good looking but not a fashion model; someone who’s tough but also not too far in that direction. Even the cover looks great here, with Superman blasting past a rocky, iconic “Action Comics” logo.
“Action Comics” #28 has quickly cemented this title as my favorite Superman title right now; I feel like Pak and Kuder have found a strong voice that also fits the character. With “Superman Unchained” set to wrap up later this year and Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr. taking over “Superman,” there are some changes coming to the Superman creative stable. Here’s hoping “Action Comics” remains untouched, because this is a creative team that works, and then some.