THIS WEEK: The lives of the Supermen are shaken upside down in Action Comics #1050.  

Note: the review below contains spoilers.  If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdicts.

Action Comics #1050 cover Superman flying into cloudsAction Comics #1050

Writers: Philip Kennedy Johnson, Tom Taylor, Joshua Williamson
Artists: Mike Perkins, Clayton Henry, Nick Dragotta
Colorist: Frank Martin
Letterers: Dave Sharpe
Cover: Steve Beach

This one’s been hyped for a bit as the new launching point for the next set of Superman stories, and I have to say that it delivered on that perfectly. This issue paid off a lot of what Tom Taylor and Philip Kennedy Johnson had been doing on their respective titles, and also laid out clear paths on what is coming next. 

The biggest thing this issue does is formally put a cap on the Bendis era of Superman, by putting the genie back in the bottle. It was announced a few weeks back that Superman’s secret identity was going to be restored for this next era of stories, just not how. Three years ago (god, has it already been three years?) I wrote about Superman #18, and how it was a powerful story that resonated as a coming-out story. And while that issue meant (and still does mean) a lot to me, I still don’t think Superman’s secret identity being public knowledge is a good thing for the stories it can tell. It did allow for stories where his family was threatened, where the Kent farmhouse was destroyed by super-villains, but really, how many of those can you tell before you run out of gas? The other option is to start actually killing supporting cast, and frankly, I think that would be a waste of story potential to remove anyone from Superman’s family or friends permanently. Killing a supporting character allows you to tell one good story while leaving them alive offers several other possibilities. 

Action Comics #1050 page 1

So how, did they do it? Well with Lex Luthor of course. He hooks Manchester Black up to a psychic energy booster and murders him to unleash a psychic backlash that not only eliminates the knowledge of Clark Kent’s secret from the minds of everyone on the planet as well as planting a powerful sub-hypnotic cue to just not be able to see that information if presented to them. It’s comic book nonsense at it’s finest, and has a ton of holes big enough to drive trucks through, but sometimes that kind of comic book nonsense is fine. Why didn’t it affect Ma and Pa and Jay and Lois? While they were protected by the psychic shielding the JLA put around the Kent farmhouse of course! (Though Luthor does mention that he selectively didn’t target Lois? However that works? Again comic nonsense). What about the JLA and Titans? Well they’re fine because of psychic training from J’onn. So we’re back to a select few knowing that Clark is Superman, and that’s fine. Anyone else that is told is in danger of dying because Lex is a bastard, and that also works for the story. 

Action Comics #1050 page 2

As to the art in this issue, the art styles of Perkins, Henry, and Dragotta are all very distinct, but work well together to tell this story. Perkins works really well for the creepy moments when Lex is killing Manchester Black, and for the more emotional moments near the end. Perkins excels at face acting and that made him a perfect option for all the emotions going through Superman’s head. Henry and Dragotta are a bit more similar to each other, and both excelled at drawing the actual action of Action Comics #1050. In particular, I want to call out the extremely dynamic scene where Luthor throws a car, Superman catches it, sets it down nicely, and punches Luthor to next Tuesday. Dragotta’s work on those two pages is unparalleled, and man was it satisfying to see Superman deliver that uppercut. 

Action Comics #1050 page 3

The last part of the main story I want to touch on is the juxtaposition of Clark worrying about what Jon has lost with the secret being back in the bottle with the reality that Jon’s actually happy with this outcome. It’s not easy to have a famous parent, and not being able to live a normal life would be hard on any young adult. I don’t fault Jon for being happy that this is back to the norm. 

Action Comics #1050 page 4

The last few pages of the book set up teases for the three series of the new era. More Lex Luthor-related fun in the new Superman series. Some multiversal shenanigans in Adventures of Superman, and the return of Metallo in Action Comics. It’s nice to have three Superman books again, and I’m really looking forward to the semi-anthology format they’re going to for Action Comics in the next issues. I’m especially excited for Leah Williams on Power Girl stories. That’s going to be a blast. 

Verdict: BUY 


  • Nice House on the Lake #12 hits this week, and as per the last page, these 12 issues just constitute Book One, meaning this story is only ending for now. That said, I think these 12 chapters are a really satisfying read on their own. Written by James Tynion IV, drawn by Álvaro Martínez Bueno, colored by Jordie Bellaire, and lettered by Andworld Design, this series has been among my favorite monthly comics in recent memory, and it’s still continuing to build intrigue and layers. This twelth chapter doles out just enough answers to questions that have been present from the start, yet never becomes so heavy with reveals that it sacrifices narrative, theme or ambiance. I also think it’s a great achievement that 12 issues in this book is still finding interesting ways to build character depth and heighten the tension of the shared situation at the story’s core. So yeah, to sum it up (for now), Nice House on the Lake is a fantastic and satisfying 12 issue ride, and all indications are that it will pick up again at some point down the road. I for one am ready for more oblivion. (Zack Quaintance)
  • I want to write about Wonder Woman: Historia: The Amazons: Book Three but really don’t want to do that book the injustice of reading it before I have a full-size physical copy in my hands. I skimmed through though, and god it looks gorgeous. 

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  1. In a way, Bendis’ “Superman/Action” run was like Grant Morrison’s time on “X-Men.” Both writers made interesting and massive changes to the characters that subsequent creative teams didn’t seem sure what to do with/or didn’t want to deal with. It’s never been really clear whether Bendis voluntarily left or was pushed off of the Super books. I do think he started to mine the “everyone knows Superman and Clark Kent are the same” concept but wasn’t around long enough to do anything interesting with it. Had he been allowed to, it could have resulted in some really interesting stories beyond those you cited, Cori. I think it’s a missed opportunity, frankly, and unfortunately reflects one of the negative things about comics – the lack of follow through when someone new takes over a title. I’m not saying Bendis’ post “The Truth” stories would have been great, but maybe they would have been. We’ll never know.

  2. And no matter how they dress it up, it’s hard not to read the latest Superman as an editorially-mandated “put the genie back in the bottle/clean it all up” issue. It even kinda regurgitates a Joe Kelly storyline from the early 2000s in which Manchester Black discovers Superman’s secret ID and has a bunch of villains attack Clark and his friends/family, only for Black to then kill himself at the end.

  3. I couldn’t disagree more about the art. It was truly one of those issues for me where the art started bad and got worse with each new person. It’s bad enough these three are writing the books, but to combine that with lousy art really pushes things.

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