Superman and Lex Luthor come to blows – and Mr Oz teases his true identity – in Action Comics 985. Here’s our review…
Without any disrespect meant to writer Rob Williams, the last issue of Action Comics didn’t quite feel up to the high standard set by usual writer Dan Jurgens. Despite bringing Lex Luthor to the fore and exploring whether he truly is a hero, something just felt lacking about it. Thankfully, that has been fixed for this latest issue which has much to enjoy.
In Action Comics #986, ‘Only Human: Part 2’ follows on from the shocking cliffhanger from last time which saw Lex taken over by a mind-controlling chip, courtesy of the Machinist. What follows is a tense fight between Superman and Luthor, as their old rivalry and distrust of each other come to the surface. Can Supes save his old enemy’s soul?
A strength of this issue is how it deals with Lex’s on-going character arc, drawing together the different strands that have built up over DC Rebirth. Spoilers incoming: a highlight is the sight of Lex mutating into Darkseid – just as has been prophecised in earlier issues – due to the influence of his Apokoliptian-powered super-suit.
Guillem March’s art is bold and full-blooded and perfectly suits this action-oriented comic. The central fight between the two enemies needed to feel brutal and wince-inducing, as Supes and Lex let each other have it, and March’s art totally captures that. One moment when Supes admits that Lex’s change of heart has inspired him, in the middle of their tense fight is a beautiful scene, thanks to the brilliant visual of the pair floating above the Earth.
But we can’t go any further without discussing the massive reveal that occurs on the final few pages. As Lex is fixing up his suit, he is visited by Mr Oz, the mysterious being that has been skulking the DC universe for the past year. It turns out that he has the power to wipe Lex’s digital files with just a wave of his hand and – tellingly – has laser vision. It is this that has caused fans to think he might be Jor-El rather than Watchmen‘s Ozymandias, as has long been the theory. If he is Supes’ dad, though, then, why is he evil? Thankfully, we don’t have long to wait until he find out the truth. Next issue we WILL find out Mr Oz’ true identity!
In the meantime, though, this was a diverting two-part story from Williams that did a good job of focussing on Lex Luthor. While we are still none the wiser as to whether the villain can ever really be a hero, his current ambiguous status is a fascinating place for the character so it’s always interesting to explore.