Actions Comics #977 is a flashback-heavy perfect jumping-on point for new readers…
As great as they have been, Superman comics have been a might confusing of late. What with two Clark Kents running around and all that reality-warping business with Mr Mxyzptlk. Thankfully, continuity has fallen into place once again, with Clark leading his double life as Daily Planet reporter and superhero, as well as being married to Lois and raising their son Jon. Given that, now is the perfect time to try and bring in a new audience, then, which is exactly what this issue aims to do.
Suitably titled ‘The New World’, the issues sees Supes sensing a “disturbance in the Force”, if you like, something that is not quite right with this rewritten world that he can’t put his finger on. To figure it out, he journeys to the Fortress of Solitude and uses Kryptonian tech to relive his life in order to find if any irregularities have appeared after the universe was rebooted.
Basically, then, #977 recaps Superman’s backstory – the destruction of Krypton, his arrival on Earth, his adolescence in Smallville and, finally, his emergence as Superman in Metropolis. For diehard readers, it helpful to know which bits and bobs of continuity still count – for instance, the time young Clark saved Lana from a twister is mentioned so we know 2010’s Secret Origin is basically still canon.
Meanwhile, writer Dan Jurgens is also looking to the future as he sows the seeds of a new threat for the Man of Steel. A mysterious foe, who only appears in the form of a hologram comprised of binary code, seems to be recruiting his own Legion of Doom of disgruntled Superman villains, like Blanque and Metallo. Who could this be? Brainiac? Mr Oz? Doctor Manhattan?! Answers on a postcard, please…
From this issue, Ian Churchill takes over the reigns of the art from Doug Mankhe and thankfully provides some equally gorgeous artwork. His style is a little sketchier and more heavily-lined but several pages are just jaw-droppingly beautiful for any Superman fan. The strong visuals really lift the experience of reading through the familiar origins recap.
Long-term Superman fans might find themselves nodding along with the events of this issue (yeah, Krypton’s dying, alien pod lands in Smallville, yeah yeah) but it has to be appreciated that the issue had the necessary task of making sense of the rebooted continuity. At least it did so with some forward-thinking storytelling and awesome artwork.