After setting up the return of the “real” Superman last issue, Dan Jurgens and Patrick Zircher immediately put the character to work battling Doomsday (or perhaps his alternate universe counterpart) in “Action Comics” #958. Jurgens’ non-stop, rollercoaster pacing and Zircher’s preponderance of large panels make this somewhat evocative of Superman’s first and mildly fatal bout with the character nearly a quarter century ago. Jurgens unapologetically delivers a thrill ride and doesn’t try to make it anything more, and Zircher is up to the task of dynamically chronicling a violent battle alongside a mystery or two.
Thanks to Clark Kent and Superman both appearing on the same scene and Lex Luthor wearing the character’s iconic logo, readers might pick up on the issue’s modern day Mort Weisinger vibe in this issue. However, there are no gimmicks or tricks up Jurgens’ sleeve; while the mystery of this other Clark is yet to be revealed — not to mention that of Doomsday — the story builds momentum with both action and ambiguity. Jurgens makes his story fun, but he also takes it seriously, and — if Clark does eventually turn out to be a robot or Doomsday, a late April Fools’ joke — there’s no indication of it here.
Although Superman vs. Doomsday is the main attraction, Jurgens gives it some depth by surrounding it with mystery; namely, the question of just who this other Clark really is. Jurgens doesn’t add much else to this story element, though; if Clark’s a reporter, then he certainly doesn’t show it, as he doesn’t seem to be covering the battle as much as cowering from it. He’s not given a lot to do, nor is Lois, who really can’t do much more than watch it all unfold on television. Young Jon has other ideas, though, and isn’t content to watch his dad get pummeled, and his attempt to try and do something about it is another tense aspect of Jurgens’ story.
Combined with Ulises Arreola’s colors, Zircher’s pseudo-realistic line work gives the issue a lifelike look, while his layouts give it that larger-than-life punch, which is fitting for all of the punches being thrown around. Zircher’s transition from small panels to larger ones and back again punch up Jurgens’ pacing as well. These all give an almost cinematic, blockbuster vibe to the story; it moves quickly, slowing down only long enough to ponder the various mysteries, and is over quickly with a mild cliffhanger, albeit one that feels more like Jurgens and Zircher simply ran out of pages.
The latest issue of “Action Comics” is aptly-named and delivers a fun and exciting story; Jurgens’ return to the character is welcomed, and Zircher genuinely makes all elements of the story look super indeed.