By: Andrew Fontana
Action Comics #988 is an intriguing, if not altogether successful, meditation on the nature of hope in the Superman mythos. What if Superman’s formative first contact with humanity was not the warmth and kindness of the Kent’s, but a wartorn city that encompasses all of mankind’s evils? Such is the lot of Clark Kent’s Dad, and his take on Superman’s mission is far different than what readers would expect.
Most of the issue focuses on the transformation of Jor-El into Mr. Oz. Jurgens makes sure this transition from hopeful scientist into cynical manipulator feels organic. The narrative subjects Jor-El to a litany of horror that shapes his disdain for mankind in a way that is both believable and hard to read. Unfortunately, the interventions of a possible member of the Watchmen undermines whatever agency Jor-El gains as Mr. Oz. He’s not written as a character that submits easily to another’s manipulations, and seeing him completely turn over his independence here feels like a narrative misstep. Regardless, Jurgens succeeds in making Jor-El’s turn as Mr. Oz feel like the monumental challenge to Superman’s worldview that it should be.
Ryan Sook and Hi-Fi bring a clean, bright style that fits well with a Superman book. Sook’s pencils do an excellent job of capturing the various facial expressions the characters employ. Sook concentrates on how their respective experiences on Earth distinguish Jor-El from his son. Their faces are nearly identical, yet the tragedies Jor-El suffered mark him in ways that Sook’s pencils brilliantly emphasize.
Rating : 8.0