Greg Pak, Aaron Kuder, David Messina, Javi Fernandez, Bruno Redondo, Vicente Cifuentes, Gaetano Carlucci and Juan Albarran kick off the beginning of the end of the war against Vandal Savage in “Action Comics” #50. While the long-awaited climax is the moment most fans are going to remember, it’s worth noting there are a lot of great moments scattered throughout this issue.
After almost a year’s worth of Superman being vastly depowered (which was recently revealed as the workings of Vandal Savage), we finally see Superman’s plan to kill all of the mutated cells in his body using Kryptonite result in success. It’s a wonderfully dramatic moment, with Clark having given everything up to try and help others in a selfless series of actions. With a perfect sense of timing, Pak and Kuder give us a sequence where Vandal’s villainy pushes Superman over the edge during his last attempt to save one of Vandal’s misguided children. It’s about as Superman-esque as one could ever hope for, really.
More importantly, Pak and Kuder understand the drama in this moment. Superman’s rebirth includes a flashback to the big events over this year-long saga as well as a reversion to his old outfit. Pak’s script has just the right level of narration here; it sums up all of the major points — including a rather definitive absolution of Lois’ decision to unmask Superman — and makes them feel thematically connected rather than scattered. Add in Vandal’s own two-page spread about his schemes, and this transforms the past year’s worth of Superman comics into something that feels like a big deal. Even for those who have been feeling a little underwhelmed by the series will find something to like here.
Kuder heads up the art for “Action Comics” #50, providing layouts for the title as well as some of the art. His contributions continue to look great thanks to his ability to bring a soft edge to the characters and a real sense of joy to the pages. His montages in “Action Comics” #50 show all sides of Superman and company, and it’s to his credit that they’re all clearly identifiable as his even though there’s a wide range of emotions present: exhilaration, anger, wariness, defiance — they’re all there and coming to life. Messina, Fernandez, Redondo and Cifuentes each pick up some of the pencils as well, and — while some artists bring more detail to the page than others — the transitions never felt jarring or out of place; all-in-all, a good effort from the entire artistic team.
“Action Comics” #50 is a strong issue — probably one of the best Superman chapters post-“Convergence” — and it feels like this comic is going to make a lot of readers feel much better about Superman’s year-long depowered story arc. With two final chapters to go, we’ve gotten a great setup for those remaining pieces. Nice job.