While the Superman family of titles as a whole has improved greatly over the past year, there was one that stood out to me above the rest: "Action Comics," thanks to Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder. Their run was inventive and fun, mixing weird science with down-to-earth emotion. With that in mind, it's a delight to see their run continue post-"Convergence." It may be tied into the overall "Truth" storyline, but Pak and Kuder continue to bring their own voice to the title.
One of the great things about "Action Comics" #41 is that, right off the bat, Pak and Kuder show us that a book about a mostly-depowered Superman doesn't have to be boring or bound to a small area. This is a book that kicks off in Alaska and quickly plunges Superman into a bad situation, before showing him to be a capable person who can still win against overwhelming odds. By the time he's back in Metropolis, Pak and Kuder have established Superman as a tough person in his own right.
That said, it's the Metropolis sequence that really knocks the story into high gear. With a world turned against Superman, it's nice for Pak and Kuder to have created a refuge of sorts, a place where Superman still has support from the people who aren't afraid of him. The location of this neighborhood within Metropolis makes perfect sense, and the government's reaction to it is also (somewhat sadly) logical. Pak and Kuder have thought through the human element of "Action Comics" #41, giving us characters who aren't just there to advance the plot but rather have emotions and feelings. It's a pleasure to see that Pak (and now co-author Kuder) haven't lost this, even while they're continuing to throw crazy creations like the shadow creatures at us.
Speaking of which, the shadow creatures wouldn't be half as effective if it wasn't for Kuder's art. Just look at how the creature has skin that ripples and shudders as it's hit; it's almost like a sea of oil come to life, forming into grotesque faces and forms as it rages against Superman and everyone else. It's a simple enough concept turned into something visually striking; Kuder's textures are amazing, and Tomeu Morey's colors are the proverbial icing on the cake.
Kuder doesn't lose sight of the simpler moments, though. The kids swinging on Superman's arms is a moment of pure joy, for example, and watching Superman leap through the air to attack the shadow creature actually looks exhilarating under Kuder's watch. Who needs to fly when an amazing leap can be just as effective on the page, right? With tight control on the inks to create detail coupled with an overall understanding of how to bring the big picture to life, "Action Comics" #41 is another gorgeous book thanks to Kuder.
"Action Comics" #41 knocks it out of the park, and it's a joy to see Pak and Kuder returning in a sea of new creative teams on other titles. This is a book that has its own voice while working well with others; that's a creative team to celebrate. If you haven't read the Pak and Kuder's run on "Action Comics" yet, this is a fantastic place to begin.