DC Comics continued their line-wide relaunch last week with the second batch of Rebirth one-shots. These issues set the status quo for the company’s characters before they’re launched in new series. While most of the issues were numbered #1, the company’s oldest title Action Comics returned to its original numbering with #957. With the return of the classic number comes a familiar face as classic Superman writer Dan Jurgens returns as writer with art from Patrick Zircher..
Action Comics #957 begins with a group of terrorists taking over a building in Metropolis. They’re quickly defeated by Justice League member Lex Luther decked out in armor adorned with Superman’s symbol (stemming from plot developments seen in the Justice League: Darkseid War storyline), who goes on to announce to the world that Superman is dead. The scene shifts to the Pre-New 52 version of Clark Kent watching on television with his wife Lois Lane and son Jonatahn. Although he’d decided to retire to the country, Luthor’s actions draw him out and he dawns his familiar costume and heads off to Lois’ chagrin.
Superman arrives in Metropolis and confronts Luthor, accusing him of having an agenda. Luthor retaliates by accusing Superman of being an imposter since the Man of Steel recently died (in Superman Rebirth #1). The situation only gets stranger thanks to the seeming arrival of two characters, one good and one evil, who are supposed to be dead.
In a departure from most of the other Rebirth issues, Action Comics #957 doesn’t really feel like a new beginning. In fact, it’s just the opposite. To really understand the issue, a reader has to have more than a passing knowledge of numerous recent stories, including the New 52 Superman’s death, Lex Luthor’s actions on Apokolips and the status of Pre-New 52 Clark and his family.
Speaking of Pre-New 52 Superman, the issue makes no immediate explanation of how he exists, since his being from an alternate universe no longer makes sense thanks to the changes that spun out of DC Universe Rebirth #1. While I’m sure an explanation will come in time, not having it even alluded to here was a bit surprising.
Zircher’s artwork was nice, if a bit underwhelming. There’s nothing wrong with it as the characters all look good, the panels are sensibly laid out and easy to follow, and everything stays on model. However, there’s nothing about it that’s memorable either. Instead it comes off a bit generic, looking like numerous Superman books we’ve seen before.
Action Comics #957 is a solid entry from DC’s oldest title, however, it’s not the mostly clean-slate introduction that readers of the other Rebirth titles will be used to. Instead it’s heavily reliant on recent Superman continuity, and I would only recommend it to fans of those books.