Neck-deep in the “Doomed” story, “Action Comics” #34 written by Greg Pak with art from Aaron Kuder and an art assist by Scott Kolins presents the first chapter of the “Last Sun” stanza. From the introductory page, designed to look like the “Daily Planet,” doesn’t start things off on the right foot with a typo — “enemies” instead of the correct “enemy’s.” Unfortunately, it’s not the last time an error makes its way into the issue as later, Steel has a conversation with “Cybrog.” The story itself is splintered across the pages of this issue like stream of consciousness from a hyperactive dog.
Luckily, Pak has a firm grasp on the cast and their assignments, but he holds his story so close there are instances where readers can’t be sure of what is happening or supposed to happen. Nowhere does Pak share the plan Superman and his allies are working on, nor does the writer bother to clutter “Action Comics” #34 with unnecessary detail. Instead, Pak invites readers to jump into the deep end alongside Red Hood, Arsenal and Starfire as Earth learns the true nature of the threat raining down from above. Despite the sprawling cast and massive world-threatening opponent, Pak keeps the story lean and sharp, but Superman and his allies are fighting a sprawling enemy on multiple fronts and attacking from just as many directions.
All of this completely opens up “Action Comics” #34 for regular artist Aaron Kuder to draw some splendid panels and pages. His clean lines, diverse characters and detailed scenery spring to life through the story as Superman and crew contend with Brainiac in the wake of Doomsday. Unfortunately for Kuder, the story muddies up some otherwise glorious opportunities: Martian Manhunter resists Brainiac’s initial attack, but that isn’t quite clear from the story itself; the result of the satellite being destroyed leaves an uncertain amount of destruction; and it isn’t quite clear how Superman and Martian Manhunter are able to contend with the mothership. Scott Kolins jumps in for a pair of pages in the middle of the story, but his style is different enough from Kuder’s to be instantly recognizable and surprisingly distracting. As a collection of images, “Action Comics” #34 is beautiful. As a story, it begs for more room to stretch. Kuder and Kolins are two artists who do a lovely job filling pages, but need the page space to be able to fill it. When compressed into tighter areas, their work suffers, seemingly trapped in inappropriate containers.
“Doomed,” like Doomsday himself, has taken a course all its own, seemingly unstoppable and certainly overwhelming. Pak, Kuder, Kolins and crew do a fine job of giving readers a dynamic, packed story to read, but it feels rushed and ill-fit for the space and time allotted. Credit given to a pair of writers certainly adds credence to the supposition that this comic book may have needed some help hurrying along to match deadlines or adjust accordingly. The scope of Doomsday blending into an attack from Brainiac (and more!) is ambitious, but it needs to be controlled just a bit to become a more enjoyable “Superman against all odds” story. I love the connectivity Pak and Kuder have built with appearances and cameos across the DC Universe, but I’d like to see Superman given more space to soar.