action comics #1039 opens with the first entry in Clark Kent’s diary. It begins with an explanation of his identity and his “history,” both past and present. As a journalist, he says, he feels compelled to record his experiences in Warworld.
In the following pages, that experience, his life in the gladiatorial pits and arena of Warworld, is unfolded in brutal detail. He starts out in the ring as part of a group effort against a giant alien of some sort, continues through the devious methods used to subdue him after the fight, and continues with the “life” of him inside a hanging cell at night. . Regardless, he is the only one present who fights without a weapon. Even now, he refuses to kill… and when he is confronted with the apparent stupidity of his principled position by Phaelosian’s fellow inmate Kryl-Ux, he simply says that he didn’t come to Warworld to kill. maim people.
Even now, in some of the most difficult circumstances of his life, Clark’s principles refuse to budge. That is, after all, what makes him Superman.
…that’s also, presumably, why it’s there to begin with. By putting Clark in a colosseum, Mongul forces him to make a daily choice between life and death, both for himself and his opponents, knowing that sometimes those choices are totally incompatible with each other. If he goes ahead like this, he will eventually die, but more than that, he will die in a way that other prisoners will see as unnecessarily idiotic, which will lessen his potential as a martyr. If he ultimately violates his ideals and takes his own life, he will have effectively broken his potential as a martyr as well as a leader.
In short, Mongul’s physical battle against Superman is, at least for the time being (forever in his mind), won. The battle that rages now is with Superman the symbol.
…not that his weight as a potential savior figure is doing him much good right now, but of course, that’s not Clark’s concern anyway. He is too busy working on observing him, gathering information, learning about the history and physical structure of Warworld. analyzing
It’s great. Generally, writers will tend to focus on Superman’s physical prowess, a natural route to take considering he’s, well, Superman. But here, stripped of his superhuman abilities, he and we are left with no choice but to focus on his other, often underrated weapon: his mind. Clark’s intellect is often lost in the rush to portray his small-town charm and straightforward moral code, but not so here. Clark is as active intellectually as he is physically, putting the pieces together until he can come up with a plan of action…or at least the beginning of how to start one.
It is, therefore, through him that we, the readers, come to understand the true nature of Warworld. This new origin builds on the previously established (and sometimes contradictory) origins presented in the past, while also revealing the true extent of the horror inflicted on the universe by the long reign of the Mongols as what amounts to warlords. on a global scale.
As for how the other members of the Authority are doing, well, that depends on the member. OMAC continues to deal with her anger over the recent death of Lia “Lightray” Nelson, while Natasha Irons is quickly racking up arena victories, allowing him to capitalize on her newfound respect in a role as a blacksmith. As for why he would want to do that… well, let history tell its story.
While the fate of other members remains in question, we will ultimately learn the location of two more members…and the beginning of what could be a way to turn the tide.
Phillip Kennedy Johnson has been to action comics for just under a year, and I can’t decide if I can’t believe it’s been that long or I can’t believe it hasn’t been longer. In that time, he has taken the world of Superman and made it his own, but without discarding or abusing any of the classic elements that make Superman so enduring as a character. He is inspirational and aspirational, all while remaining human. It’s as if the best parts of each version of Superman are combined into a combination of Superman’s best traits that somehow manages to produce a cohesive, internally consistent character.
His view of the world itself is no different. It’s been a few months since I’ve gotten excited about worldbuilding here, but I think it’s obvious at this point that building fictional worlds until they’re real is one of its true gifts.
The addition of absolutely brilliant artist Riccardo Federici only adds to the effect. In his hands, Warworld comes to life as an alien landscape populated by flora and fauna right next to the recognizable: grounded and fantastical at the same time. It’s not surprising that the two work so well together, that’s been the case ever since. the last god in 2019, and shorter projects like the recent Ra’s al Ghul story, “The Demons Game” in the Gotham Anniversary Special it has just made the compatibility of their approaches more evident. I have had a true and deep appreciation for the artists who have honored action comics during this run, but for this story, Warworld Saga in particular, I can’t think of a better option than Federici. And while I’ve long been a huge fan of previous (regular? Not sure if he’ll be back!) color artist Adriano Lucas, Lee Loughridge’s use of near-monochrome color schemes complements Federici’s fine and detailed work. seamlessly and gives Warworld an otherworldly feel. which is well suited.
Bottom line, if you’re not reading action comics ya, you’re missing out and you should start doing it right away. This goes for whether you’re into superheroes, fantasy epics, or things like gladiator movies. Or, really, any story at all.
Thus speaks the critic!
Moving on to part three of “A Face in the Crowd,” we pick up Martian Manhunter in a restaurant with Zoey, a thirteen-year-old girl who approached him at the end of the last issue…and who happens to be a huge fan of the crowd. Manhunter feats. Other than that, the good news is that he seems to be aware of recent events in the city, specifically a crime spree involving people wearing gold masks. The bad news is that it’s a school night, so any responsible superhero needs to make sure he goes home and gets some sleep.
That said, the information provided is invaluable, ultimately leading to a crossover between the two previously disparate threads: the missing children being investigated by the Metropolis Police Department, and the strange knockoffs of old Martian Manhunter villains.
I appreciate Shawn Aldridge’s focus on isolation and J’onn’s sense of freedom; I mentioned it before, but it bears repeating. That theme, his desire to find a place to belong and connect with his new home world, is not only a great way to explore J’onn J’onnz himself, but it’s also a theme that resonates with the plot of the series. abduction, as each kidnapped child was apparently targeted by their own similar feelings of loneliness and lack of direction.
I’d like to see what this team could do with a longer page count because in my experience with these backups, it can be difficult to track a more complicated plot in 8-page monthly installments. I had the same problem with previous Midnighter backups. this year. And of course, like Midnighter, this is a story I’d like to continue. However, that is just a limitation in the form and is not reflected in the equipment. Ultimately, I end up rereading the story to date every two months or so, which isn’t much of a burden considering it’s only eight pages long.
As for the identity of the culprits here… I’m not going to spoil artist Adriana Melo’s spectacularly creepy work, but I will say this: if there isn’t a connection between this antagonist and a similarly themed Batman antagonist. I’ll be quite surprised.