Revenge! Some of Superman’s fiercest foes have joined forces to finish the Man of Steel for good. But they’re missing a crucial partner, and in Action Comics #980, they’re coming for Zod. SOME SPOILERS AHEAD

Poorly-plotted

One of my favorite aspects of Rebirth’s rejiggering of Action has been the return of stories that look at various aspects of Clark’s life, instead of giving every page to the dilemma of the week. So before I go on, I’ll say that part of me is happy to see a scene with Lois, Clark and Jon in their new Metropolis apartment, the youngest Kent complaining about being uprooted from his home and friends in Hamilton.

Unfortunately, though, I think this scene’s inclusion forced Jurgens into ending the book at an unsatisfying point in the story. After a decent, moustache-twirling opening, everything moves well enough—including the apartment scene—but the final page feels like a premature conclusion. Caught in the Phantom Zone-esque world of the Black Vault, Clark faces some of his worst fears. As a hurdle in the middle of our tale, this would work fine. But that ending splash, and the teaser text at the bottom, imply that this is the large threat at the moment. But the real threat is clearly the band of baddies (especially if they get Zod), and being left in forced suspense (we all know Supes is getting out and facing his enemies) is a bit of a letdown.

So, how about that apartment scene? As much as I like how it functions, and as much as it flows well if you aren’t looking ahead to the abrupt ending, it seems that clipping it out could have given Jurgens the space needed to get Clark out of the vault at the end. Then, he could have let our suspense hinge on something related to the real threats, rather than on what might happen to Superman in “the abyss.”

Aside from that, some of the dialogue—particularly in a Watchtower scene with Batman—is really clunky. In my opinion, Jurgens frequently flirts with this sort of thing, but it feels more pronounced in this context. Maybe it’s my dissatisfaction with the ending, but some of these lines seem especially stinky.

Solid visual storytelling

Patch Zircher has become a regular on Action, and while his figure work isn’t always the most impressive, he’s an expert composer, and I absolutely love scanning this issue and watching his version of the story unfold. The scenes in the Vault are probably my favorites, with some downright creepy Ma and Pa avatars and some great emotional facial work—even on Henshaw’s largely robotic face. And speaking of Henshaw, I really like the throwback to DC’s “Fantastic Four” in Adventures of Superman #466.

If you want an education on comics art and a lot of the thought and decision-making involved, follow Zircher on Twitter. Even if you’re not an artist (I’m not either), it’s fascinating, and you’ll have a better appreciation of the subtler things that make comics art work.

Recommended if…

  • You want to see some of Superman’s worst enemies team up.
  • You enjoy good visual storytelling, even if the script leaves you a little unsatisfied at times.

Overall

An abrupt ending leaves a sour taste after an otherwise decent-enough issue. The artwork is great, but it’s not enough to excuse the poor plotting. Here’s hoping we see a quick rebound in three weeks.

SCORE: 6.5/10