Writer: Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Artist: Rafa Sandoval
Color Artist: Matt Herms
Cover Artist: Steve Beach
Publisher: DC Comics
Superman is back and the Super Family is trying to make big changes. But first, they have to deal with Metallo who’s back in action. After his first attack, the Super Family have been on their toes for wherever he’ll strike next. What they didn’t suspect is Metallo would make more cyborgs to aid him. See how Superman and his Super Family take on the Necrohive of Metallo in Action Comics #1053!
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One thing this comic run has going for it is the mixture of themes, morals, family drama, and cool action. This comic is lacking some of the action but makes up for it in the rest of the other elements. In this issue, Superman and his allies are confronted by Metallo’s new cybernetic drone soldiers called the Necrohive. Sounds like something out of Warhammer 40,000, and that’s a compliment. Fair warning, there will be some SPOILERS here and there in this review.
The comic first starts out calm as John Henry Irons, aka Steel, is walking home late from overnight work, thinking on the future, the new big idea he has for not only his company Steelworks but also Metropolis. That is until he is attacked by horrific zombie-like cyborgs controlled by Metallo. Steel gears up for action and not too soon, so do his allies Superman and the rest of the Super Family. From there, the comic delves a little deeper into the state of Metallo while taking some time for a little wholesome family drama with a few members of the Super Family.
Honestly, the comic could’ve used a little more action in the beginning, especially with how easily Supergirl is taken out of the fight and this comic. Personally I wanted to see more of Kara since she barely got a sentence in the past issues. But that doesn’t kill the comic for this reviewer, because Phillip Kennedy Johnson does what any good Superman writer does, show Superman’s morals in action even while they’re questioned. What’s more is that Johnson approaches it in a mature way where those questioning Superman’s methods aren’t acting like jerks or anything and it makes sense why they’re responding how they do. While at the same time he has Superman be adamant about what they’re doing and why they do things in a way that’s not belittling or sanctimonious.
Continuing from there, more good points include the character dialogue by Phillip Kennedy Johnson. Once again, he nails the personalities and voices of each major character in this comic from Superman to Steel to Kenan, even Lex Luthor for however brief an appearance he makes. This extends to the little family drama I mentioned earlier. At one point near the end of the comic, Osul, one of Superman’s adopted phaelosian kids, asks if Jon hates him and his sister Otho. Of course, Jon doesn’t but the question is coming from a sad place as Osul feels he and his sister are intruding upon Jon and his parents. But Jon’s response is written in a way that speaks to the heart of the character and the readers about how he was aged up (thanks Bendis). But even this is handled in a respetful and wholesome way without throwing anyone under the bus.
And none of that could be possible if not for the art by Rafa Sandoval and the colors provided by Matt Herms. Sandoval’s art makes everything in this comic work from the dynamic action in the beginning fight to Superman’s casual use of his powers when around others. Or the depiction of Metallo and his monstrous new cybernetic form and the new Necrohive that just scream Metallo drones with the cool silver metal and the green glow thanks to Matt Herms’ colors. And of course to the serious and emotional moments like with the discussion between Jon and Osul. It all works thanks this art team.
Of course, not everything in this comic is golden. There are some flaws in the comic that deal with the main story more than anything. While the comic does a good job showing how Metallo’s body is warping into a new shape and the art does a great job in displaying his emotions with both the human and mechanical halves of his face. The part that doesn’t exactly work is the piece of his backstory that was introduced before and is explored again here. Some parts work and some don’t, like the idea of his first fascination with guns and the value he drew from it, but not how it was worded. Then there’s the whole Blue Earth movement which is the most boring part of this entire storyline. It’s painstakingly clear what Johnson is going for here with the Blue Earth movement and the Warworld refugees, which doesn’t make sense why Superman would bring them to Earth anyway. But they’re all in service to a clearly bigger threat on the horizon.
Action Comics #1053 shows Superman and his Super Family under attack by Metallo’s new Necrohive. Aside from their cool cybernetic forms thanks to the art team, there’s not much to Metallo’s new drones other than their numbers and that they’re powered by kryptonite. While not everything about the main story is that engaging this issue, the character interactions throughout the comic were the best parts especially the family affair with a few members of the Super Family.