Review: Action Comics #987
Action Comics #987 begins as yet another issue of Dan Jurgens’ early 90s throwback, yet incredibly fun on Action Comics even though it hints at the final reveal of Mr. Oz’s identity. Superman saves the day, is heroic and moral, and there are scenes at the Daily Planet with his supporting cast. He and Lois even spend time glancing at each other when blowhard sports reporter Steve Lombard tries to impress their son Jon aka Superboy with tales of his football glory days. However, it all takes a turn for the darker as artists Viktor Bogdanovic, Jonathan Glapion, and Jay Leisten twist and flips their panel layouts to show Mr. Oz manipulating the entire world and feeding humanity’s worst impulses against the pall of a dark and depressing color palette from Mike Spicer.
The driving force behind Action Comics #987 is that humans don’t deserve someone like Superman to save them. This is Mr. Oz’s motivation for all his activities since he first popped up in Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr’s Superman run in 2014. He wants to show Superman that humans aren’t worth giving hope too and will always choose darkness through a tapestry of depravity featuring everything from human trafficking and racially motivated violence. Adorable seals even die in an oil spill because LexOil employees work long hours and decided to get drunk while operating their rig. Superman is too slow to save/stop everything, and Bogdanovic, Glapion, and Leisten show the pain in his eyes and his actions as he lashes out in anger against a guerillas in the country of Logamba, who killed people he delivered a vaccine to. Perhaps the world is too complex and far gone for the Big Blue Scout to save.
All these events happen rapidly and simultaneously while Clark is enjoying civilian life with his wife, son, and co-workers, and this means he can’t save everyone. The inability to save everyone with his great powers has always been one of Superman’s biggest vulnerabilities (And a big smack in the face to those who say he has none.), especially the modern Superman, who is haunted by the death of his adopted parents. Jurgens explored this in the fantastic “Revenge” arc when Superman came into contact with and was blinded by the Black Vault in Belle Reve and brings it to a crescendo of a more universal nature in Action Comics #987. He can write Superman as a person, hero, and idea, and all three elements crash together in “The Oz Effect” arc.
Towards the end of Action Comics #987, Mr. Oz tells Superman that he gave the humans connected to him a choice between light and darkness. This is also a hint of how this comic is structured. It starts out with lots of red, yellow, and blues from Mike Spicer, and full page heroic poses from Viktor Bogdanovic as Superman stops the robbery of a medical vaccine without throwing a single punch. Jurgens’ narrative captions are bright and heroic as Superman/Clark is genuinely enjoying moving back to Metropolis from upstate.
But, when Oz begins his coordinated “attacks” , the usual sunny Metropolis skyline turns grey, and Viktor Bogdanovic draws Superman as a blur to his square until he takes a barrage of bullets for immigrant workers and goes back to classic roots of protecting the marginalized for a split second before returning to the plot. Inkers Jonathan Glapion and Jay Leisten, who worked on comics like Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman and Death of Wolverine, add a more foreboding edge and plenty of black space to Bogdanovic’s square jawed figure and open posing, especially when Mr. Oz is working his “magic”. This plus a blinding burst of white from Spicer when they arrive at the Fortress of Solitude, which is basically Mr. Oz’s Air BnB at this point, gives the second half of the comic an unsettling feel.
By digging into the heart of Superman’s ability to bring hope and also his inability to save everyone, Dan Jurgens, Viktor Bogdanovic, Jonathan Glapion, Jay Leisten, and Mike Spicer give Action Comics #987 a solid ideological foundation before the big reveal. The final page definitely surprised me and is a real shock to who Superman is as a character with Action Comics #988 providing some much needed context.
Story: Dan Jurgens Pencils: Viktor Bogdanovic
Inks: Jonathan Glapion, Jay Leisten, Viktor Bogdanovic Colors: Mike Spicer
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 8.0 Recommendation: Buy
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review