Writer: Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Artist: Rafa Sandoval
Color Artist: Matt Herms
Cover Artist: Sebastian Fiumara
Publisher: DC Comics
You’ve seen the cover – Hank Henshaw, aka Cyborg Superman has returned! Revealed as the true mastermind behind Metallo’s prior actions, and kidnapping his sister Tracey, Superman and his Super Family spring into action to stop Cyborg Superman’s mad plot. But this old enemy still has a few tricks up his sleeve on top of the Necrohive under his control. See what perils await Superman and his allies in Action Comics #1055.
Well, he’s back. Cyborg Superman is back in action (pun intended) and Phillip Kennedy Johnson doesn’t waste any time in establishing why he’s one of Superman’s more twisted, powerful, and dangerous enemies. And not only that, we also see the return of another major character who will be an ally to Superman against Cyborg Superman, that will be revealed in a short bit. There will be SPOILERS throughout the review here and there.
So, the comic starts with a random attack by the Necrohive, controlled by Cyborg Superman using Warworld tech, assaulting civilians and the national guard who are barely holding their ground, until members of the Super Family show up to even the odds. From here, readers get their first shot of Cyborg Superman’s brand of villainy as he plans to take away Superman’s family just as he lost his own, which he blames Supes for. Afterward, the Super Family reconvene with Metallo as they try to not only stop Henshaw but also rescue Metallo’s sister Tracey from him. To do this, Superman calls on a version of another old enemy, the android Eradicator, to aid them in location Cyborg Superman.
Let’s get something out of the way. It appears that Johnson is ignoring some bits of essential continuity when it comes to both Cyborg Superman and Eradicator, and it’s a little weird that he’s doing so and even DC Editorial overlooked this. For example, the comic ignores the fact that both Cyborg Superman and the original Eradicator already escaped from the Phantom Zone in prior titles, Cyborg Superman escaped at the end of the 2016 Green Lanterns series, and the original Eradicator just inexplicably escaped in the Justice League run following Scott Snyder’s run. Either way, it’s just a little weird that he’s ignoring this because he’s forcing himself to make more work for himself that he’ll already be doing to include Cyborg Superman into this story.
Back to the good stuff. So, the art, my goodness, Rafa Sandoval kills it with the art all over again when it comes to drawing Superman and the Super Family in action as well as the new and improved Metallo, Eradicator, and of course Cyborg Superman himself. Like the man says, it’s great to see most of the Supermen back together. Admittedly, Cyborg Superman’s look isn’t that much different except with an enlarged robotic arm, but it’s still cool. And of course, Johnson continues to nail writing multiple character voices and personalities with the entire Super Family and even his adversaries, and the pacing of the story feels solid as it builds up to the big finale between Superman and Cyborg Superman.
One last thing to note is Metallo’s little monologue/backstory dump near the end of the comic. See, the new Super Kids aren’t exactly thrilled with Metallo fighting with the Super Family, so to calm things down, Metallo tries to share a bit of his backstory relating to him and his younger sister Tracey. It’s meant to help bridge the gap between him and the kids and show how he’s just looking out for his sister right now as he’s always tried to in the past. Now, the backstory is clearly meant to be a tragic one, and Johnson is trying to tap into the horrors of kids getting their hands on a gun to show how it influenced Metallo growing up. The problem is some of it works and some of it feels forced, like how it puts intense emphasis on how handling the gun made Metallo feel when he was a kid, and as such it can feel like Johnson is trying to pull readers’ heartstrings a little too hard. Now, I don’t recall Metallo’s origins in the New 52 onward, so if this backstory is mainly on point with that, then okay, if not then oh well.
Action Comics #1055 reveals the mastermind who’s been manipulating Metallo and targeting the Super Family lately – Cyborg Superman is back, sort of. We don’t really get Cyborg Superman in action, but the comic does a good job in catching readers up to who he is and what his twisted brand of villainy is like. The creative team do a good job in balancing action with drama in this comic as Superman has to make uncomfortable allies with Metallo and a version of the Eradicator to pinpoint Cyborg Superman. All in all, the comic does a fine job in setting the stage for the big battle between the Super Family and Cyborg Superman in the next issue.