Writer: Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Artist: Rafa Sandoval
Colorist: Matt Herms
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Cover Artist: Steve Beach
Publisher: DC Comics
Superman is back and making waves in Metropolis, and while his opposition in the Blue Earth movement barely registered as real threats, now he faces one. A bodyguard of Blue Earth’s young founder and leader, Norah Stone, used a mysterious device to not only take some of Clark Kent’s powers but his appearance as well, and he’s ready to deal some damage and pin the blame on Superman. Read Action Comics #1058 to see how Clark overcomes a foe who looks like him and punches just as hard, too.
Fair warning, there will be some SPOILERS in this review, not too many but just enough to cover the points I bring up. The comic directly picks up from the last issue with one of Norah Stone’s bodyguards absorbing some of Superman’s powers and then his body transforms to resemble Superman in virtually every way possible. You might think that Clark has no chance especially when they’re out in the open, but this comic surprises you.
The comic starts with the evil doppleganger giving some enigmatic comments hinting to his true motive for doing this, but he doesn’t let it linger and just goes straight to trying to wreck Metropolis in the form of Superman. The worst part is that this evil double really does have Supes’ powers and is going all out, and Clark is taking a beating. But don’t worry, Clark isn’t fully drained and he’s far from out of options. Later in the comic we discover that there’s more to Norah Stone then her public persona and she clearly has bigger, more destructive plans than anyone would’ve imagined. Despite that Superman is still on the case and he gets a sweet upgrade to help him while his powers fully recover.
Let’s start with the good and transition to the cons. The good: the art and writing. I’ll start with the art, Rafa Sandoval’s art is impeccable especially with Superman. This is an opinion I’ve had for a while, but this comic shows that he’s also a great action comic book artist because he really nails the dynamic and aggressive tone that comes with illustrating fights between superpowered beings’ whose might truly could topple buildings with ease. Each hit feels hard, every punch that connects between Superman and the evil shapeshifter are portrayed with heavy impact. And of course, Phillip Kennedy Johnson continues to do an excellent job in writing Superman, this time highlighting his quick thinking and ability to adapt and react in the middle of a fight. Even while he’s getting decked by someone using his powers, Superman doesn’t lose his head, realizes the guy may have his powers but he doesn’t really know how to control and exploits that to his full advantage. And it’s just so satisfying seeing Superman deliver that knockout punch to the doppleganger.
Now, the cons. Well, the action in the comic was really the big highlight. Other than that, there’s not much else other than more development with Norah Stone but nothing’s explicitly clear about what exactly she’s got planned. It does feels like PK Johnson is revealing more of his hand concerning the Blue Earth storyline, showing that while previous issues tried to build up this movement as a big deal for the Super Family, in truth it’s not. It becomes clear that Blue Earth is just a convenient mook factory for the real super villains to harvest their minions to throw at Superman and his allies. Any big social issues or themes that were brought up in the Blue Earth storyline amount to nothing as it’s all being exchanged for a basic “frame Superman to exploit the public” plot. Hopefully, PK Johnson can deliver with Norah Stone.
Action Comics #1058 picks back up with Clark Kent fighting Norah Stone’s bodyguard who now looks Superman and has his powers too. But as the comic shows, Clark is far from depowered nor is he out of the fight and comes up with a practical and crafty way to defeat this foe. While the fight with these two is the highlight of the comic, we only get a snippet of what Norah Stone’s true goals are and it’s both disappointing and intriguing so readers mileage will vary on that. The ending does set up a cool new look for Superman that we’ll get to see in action in the next issue.