If I was pressed to pick a single title at DC Comics that was not getting the attention it deserves, it would probably be Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder’s current run on “Action Comics.” Now that the “Doomed” crossover is over and it’s been doing its own thing for a few months, this is as good a time as any to check out a fun, inventive take on one of the company’s flagship characters.
After their first storyline focused on larger-than-life adventure concepts (underground lands, big crazy monsters, strange abilities), Pak and Kuder are showing us that they’re not one-trick-ponies by dishing up a healthy amount of horror. What started out as a simple zombie story has mutated and twisted into something much larger, and in doing so continues to become more intriguing with each new installment. The monsters continue to get intricate and fascinating with each glimpse, but at the same time, Kuder doesn’t lose sight of the important need to make them horrific.
Pak is also not losing sight of the bigger picture here; three issues in a row of zombies might have proven to be a bit much, so instead, with each new comic he’s expanded the scope of the story and made it increasingly dangerous and wide-reaching. This is a story that plays the “not what you think it is” card, but does so in a way that builds on other events and ideas from the title, as well as introducing its own concepts. It’s a smart, solid method to put everything together.
The best part about “Action Comics” #38, though? It’s how well Pak and Kuder use the supporting cast. Lana Lang, Steel, and the Toyman are hardly three A-list characters that everyone’s fighting to use, but I bet creators are now wishing they had done so. All of them are compelling here. Lana’s childhood friend status makes her a good emotional connection to Superman, for example, but at the same time this storyline has shown her as capable and multi-layered. John Henry Irons gets to be in the boyfriend role, but at the same time he’s still a tough character in his own right, one who does more than just worry about Lana and helps get things done. Hiro is the most surprising addition, though; the Toyman brings exuberance and excitement to the story, in many ways the everyman who also has his inventions to add into the mix. It’s a fun trio of supporting characters, and it’s refreshing to see them being built up into an integral part of the title so quickly.
There’s a lot to love about “Action Comics” #38, from the creepy art (Kuder’s tentacle-drawing skills are dynamite) to the nature of the creatures that they’re fighting. If you haven’t checked out Pak and Kuder’s take on Superman, this is as great a time as any to start.