Written by Andrew Fontana
Things have changed in the world of Superman as of late. The shenanigans of Superman Reborn promised massive changes, and its up to long time Superman scribe Dan Jurgens and artist Ian Churchill to deliver. As such, Action Comics #977 fails to fully mine the possibilities of this new status quo, delivering an issue that retreads the history of Kal-El without offering anything substantive on what makes this newly constituted Superman different from the sum of his parts.
Jurgens’ script opens with Clark Kent sitting in his office at the Daily Planet, his secret identity restored and with the supporting characters fully aware of both his marriage to Lois and their son. These first few pages are the best in the issue, as they bring back elements that have been missing from the Superman books in the past several years. Most of the issue, however, is devoted to a retelling of Superman’s history that adds nothing of significance either to the plot or the Superman mythos at large. Perhaps having a slow issue is the best tack after an event, but the choice to fill most of an issue with a retread of Superman’s origins is a poor choice that undermines whatever narrative Jurgens is setting up for this arc.
Jurgens’ most egregious mistake is not focusing enough on the mysterious observer hinted at in Superman Reborn. Indeed, readers are given nothing new with the mystery figure besides a cryptic shutout in the issue’s final page. A secretive figure recruiting a team of Superman’s antagonists is also promising, but the lack of screentime deflates some of what Jurgens is trying to accomplish.
Churchill’s art this issue is detailed and occasionally cinematic, muted colors notwithstanding. His portrayal of Krypton makes the doomed planet exotic while keeping things relatable on a human scale. Its a tough balancing act, but he maintains the believability of his characters on both Earth and Krypton. His facial work conveys the emotional agony of Jor-El and the wonder of his son when seeing Krypton as an adult. It’s a genuine treat to see Superman’s origins come alive through Churchill’s however unnecessary the retelling may be.