For most of this year, “Action Comics” has starred Nightwing and Flamebird, as they try to hunt down escaped Kryptonian sleeper agents hiding on Earth. Reading this issue brought a simple fact home, though: I just don’t care about either of them. That’s a pity, because back when Nightwing was Christopher Kent running around in both “Superman” and “Action Comics” a few years ago, Geoff Johns, Richard Donner, and Kurt Busiek made him a fun character. Now, we’ve had ten issues co-starring him, and I feel like I know less about him now than I did then.
Meanwhile, Lois Lane’s subplot spills over into “Action Comics” this month, and the result? I found myself realizing that this was a story I actually cared about. Lois having to not only grapple with her father being alive and a villain, but how it affects her job? That’s much more interesting. I especially appreciated that Lois noted that her being targeted by General Lane’s forces at her workplace undermines her credibility and how she does her job; so often work turmoil in comics seems especially contrived, but this time it’s working. Greg Rucka and Eric Trautmann are trying hard to sell Nightwing and Flamebird, but I think it’s actually Lois Lane that they should be writing about every month.
Pere Perez’s art has a lot of the sameness with the artists working on “Superman” as of late (he even filled in there for an issue this summer); it’s a clean art style with a generally good sense of page layout and body composition. I actually feel a little bad for Perez, though, because he’s in a book where the backup feature is drawn by Cafu. James Robinson has taken over the script entirely here, although honestly there’s very little actual story in the backup. I found myself not particularly caring, though, because the way that Cafu draws Captain Atom and the Justice League? It’s just beautiful. The way that Cafu can draw Starfire as curvy and rounded but not sleazy is something he should teach to other artists, and the flashbacks to Captain Atom’s past look top notch. (Not even Cafu can make Mon-El’s new costume look good, though, which is a pity.)
At the end of the day, “Action Comics” #884 may be getting close to the end of the story of Nightwing and Flamebird, but I feel like it’s a slightly missed opportunity. Continually shifting artists and crossovers certainly didn’t help the title, and I feel like we’re going to leave them knowing little more than we did at the start. Ah well.