While “Action Comics” #29 doesn’t completely close the books on Superman’s adventures in Subterranea, it does showcase a complete, Superman-centric tale from writer Greg Pak and artist Aaron Kuder. This comic also takes a sharper look at the dynamic between Superman and Lana Lang, referencing an incident from their shared childhood in Smallville.
The strongest Superman stories bind the “man” tightly to the “Super,” and this is no exception. Superman experiences loss, which is magnified by the frustration that comes along with senseless loss. Recognizing the posture of her longtime friend, Lana Lang realizes Superman’s reactions to the fate of the subterranean creatures are exactly the same as though Clark Kent displayed when a friend’s puppy was harshly abused. Pak uses Lang’s thoughts, filtered through Dezi Sienty’s caption boxes, to describe the noticeable signs: the stiffened back, the cracking knuckles, raising his voice. Superman nearly forgets his place and gets so angry at his situation readers cannot help but relate. Superman fights for the little guy and reminds readers as much when he lashes out at Ghost Soldier and his controllers. At this point Pak brings in the “Super.”
Pak innovates the use of Superman’s powers in response to an attack from the fairly thin Ghost Soldier, or at least makes the use of the powers feel and look like innovation. Despite Ghost Soldier’s uninspiring name, the character has, to this point, proven to be more than a match for Superman, which is what inspires the innovation. Pak takes the use of Superman’s powers a hair deeper, though, and shows their effect on the surroundings. In the span of twenty-two pages, Pak exhibits everything from heat vision and super hearing to super-strength and cold breath. After this one issue, there is no doubt about the Kryptonian’s abilities, including his ingenuity to combine his talents as he locates Tower Command, the group that put Ghost Solider on his trail.
The magnificent display of powers and abilities beyond mortal men affords Kuder the chance to shine throughout “Action Comics” #29. At one point in his career with DC, Kuder seemed as though he was trying to emulate the style of Frank Quitely, but it is crystal clear now that Kuder has his own distinct style, with a wide array of elements and influences. The artist also does a nice job to keep the story flowing and exciting, frequently popping figures and action out of the panels and even uses the panels themselves to direct story action and flow. Wil Quintana is given a wide range of subject matter and events to color, from the aforementioned heat vision and cold breath to giant monsters and transparent foes. The artist and colorist come together nicely to make this a very pretty book without being a comic full of pin-ups and splash pages.
“Action Comics” #29 is a good comic with a solid Superman story that presents Superman as a hero of the underdog and someone for us underdogs to look up to. I’m eager for more from this team, especially if they’re going to continue to contribute positive, fun stories to the legacy of the Man of Steel. Pak and Kuder make Superman a character I can cheer for and sympathize with once again.