Gotham is mentioned maybe a handful of times, but other than that Action Comics #25 has little to do with Zero Year. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. While it doesn’t add anything important to the Zero Year story in Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo’s Batman, it’s still a really awesome glimpse at Clark Kent’s younger days when he was arguably a lot more interesting.

Issue #25 marks the first of an all new run by Batman/Superman author Greg Pak, who is taking over for Scott Lobdell. I personally lost interest in the New 52 Action Comics title after Grant Morrison brought time travel into the mix. As someone who was relatively new to the Superman mythology, I instantly felt out of my depth during that arc and never came back. Over the past couple of years I’ve never heard any sort of buzz to even tempt me to try the book out again, but Greg Pak and artist Aaron Kuder make a strong case for Superman fans to hope again.

In this Zero Year tie-in we see a young Clark whose overconfidence leads to him attempting to stop the very hurricane that endangers the blacked-out Gotham (depicted in impressive fashion by Kuder) and the comic also comes with a really lovely backup (yes, the backup stories have returned) with great art by Scott McDaniel that sets up a future storyline.

I like Pak’s take on the arrogant, rambunctious, t-shirt & jeans Superman. It’s not just because this version of Clark is more emotive or that he’s more vulnerable because he has fewer powers and therefore must actually struggle to succeed (that always makes a character more interesting) but for one HUGE reason: Greg Pak’s Superman actually makes being a hero look like fun! That says a lot about modern comics right there and it feels extra relevant to me after reading Mike Allred’s short Batman story from the amazing SOLO Deluxe Edition. It feels so rare to read a superhero comic and witness some excitement and passion for adventure on the face of the protagonist. To see him recognize a challenge (the storm approaching Gotham) and be eager to tackle such an obstacle and prove himself a hero. The villains are the only ones who ever seem to be happy anymore and that’s a shame. Here in the Action Comics Zero Year tie-in, you may not find much about Batman, but you will find a quality book with energy and heart.

Other points will be placed in spoiler tags:

Spoiler

  • Some of Kuder’s faces looked too similar, particularly in the nose. Lana Lang looked quite plain
  • I love the cover of this comic
  • The pages are thoughtfully laid out and the story moves along at a terrific pace. A whole lot happens in this book. We have an everyday adventure against a group of super villains, a brief look at Clark’s everyday life with a funny scene involving a laptop, the underwater ship rescue, Lana’s drama, a flashback to Smallville, and a modern day short about Clark’s casual use of his superpowers paralleled with a major catastrophe that teases an upcoming storyline. This comic is jam-packed!
  • T-shirt & jeans Superman looks better without the cape
  • Watching Superman try and stop a hurricane was cool
  • The comic is filled with a lot of great laughs. I chuckled really hard at a scene where the cocky Clark Kent laughed at a goon who was crying. I don’t know how, but somehow Pak made a Superman who is very brash, but still likeable
  • The double coincidence of having Lana Lang being a passenger on the boat he saves AND a victim on the site of the closing page’s mining/oil rig operation (or whatever that was) in the backup was too convenient for my taste

Recommended If…

  • T-shirt & jeans Superman from Grant Morrison’s Action Comics and Greg Pak’s Batman/Superman is a favorite of yours
  • You want to see some big action
  • Lana Lang is one of  your most beloved supporting characters
  • You desire to see some good dialogue and narration, really get inside Superman’s head
  • You’ve been looking for a great jumping-on point for this series (it does set up a new storyline in the final pages

Overall

You won’t see Batman or Gotham or much of anything Zero Year related, but the new creative team gives readers a top-notch jumping on point and a hero who is dynamic and fun. Does it add much to the Zero Year story? No. Is it impressive in all other areas? Yes. Superman fans can rejoice.

SCORE: 9.5/10