Action Comics #1042
It’s not hard to imagine what Phillip Kennedy Johnson’s Action Comics run would have looked like if Superman was still on Earth. Johnson clearly would have crafted some thoughtful yet entertaining stories of Superman meeting a mix of classic and new foes.
And it would be impressively inspiring.
Johnson’s immense talent as a writer can’t be overstated as he’s taken a premise that doesn’t seem that thrilling — a powered down Superman fighting on Warworld — and made it one of DC’s most compelling ongoing story arcs.
With this issue, Superman and his allies begin their revolution against Mongul and his forces. This makes for an obvious display of the influence Superman has had on Mongul’s gladiator and slave labor force. They’re fighting for something now and even with a powered down Man of Steel, they truly believe they can win.
Johnson steps away from Warworld to devise a subplot for Lois Lane. This take on Lois is far more than the protective Momma Bear found in Superman Son of Kal-El. It also gives Johnson an opportunity to bring the spotlight on a sadly underutilized member of the Superman family.
Riccardo Federici’s artwork is such a natural fit for this title with the sci-fi John Carter of Mars feel. From the massive aliens to towering structures, Warworld looks like a place where hope comes to die. And on every panel, Federici positions Superman in the harshest heroic light.
This is gorgeous artwork further aided by the beautiful subtle color work from Lee Loughridge. Energy effects Pierce through the arid Warworld setting and there’s just enough glimpses of light to convey Superman’s impact.
While I’d love for Johnson to end this arc and get Superman back on Earth, he continues to make this a highly engaging storyline.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10