Review: Action Comics #990

Fathers and sons, amirite?

Let’s face it, the relationship between a parent and child is one of the most complicated ones that humans face. In many ways, the way you deal with this relationship defines who you are, in all stages of your life. You don’t have to have the best relationship with them or even a good one. But you do have to deal with it.

But in the world of superheroes, like everything else this is ramped up even more. Jon, while always having a good connection to his parents, has difficulties as well. He has to live up to his dad being Superman, literally. He isn’t perfect. Clark and Lois are patient with him learning how to use and control his abilities, but mistakes often weigh on him.

Clark, also has a complex relationship with his parents. Raised by the Kents and learning that he was adopted. He never really knew Jor-El, but only knowing his legacy as an honest and upright leader of Krypton. It was an ideal he always struggled to live up to. It was a legacy, ultimately, created by Jor-El to inspire his son. And now, he is confronted by his actual father. He has to deal with the fact that his flesh and blood father is imperfect and possibly crazed. And his father is disappointed in him.

Disappointed in Superman as a son.

If Superman can’t live up to his father’s expectations, how can anybody?

But even worse, Jor-El has abandoned his son and is working to turn his grandson against Superman. Much like he has promised everyone else, Jor-El or Oz is promising Jon a paradise where everyone is accepted for whatever gifts they have. But we have seen him make these false promises before. We have seen him abandon his followers to die horrible deaths.

Is Oz truly Jor-El? If his is Jor-El, is he still the same person who defied law and broke with custom to save his son from the destruction of Krypton? Can Superman reconcile the perfect Jor-El of legend with the flawed person in front of him? Can Superman reach his son when his “grandfather” promises things that Kal-El/Clark Kent could never deliver?

Dan Jurgens keeps winding this plot tighter. He keeps raising the stakes both personally and morally. He has crafted a tense story that thrums like a violin string vibrating so hard it threatens to snap any instant. It really does pay to re-read past issues and see how he threaded this needle. You’ll be amazed at all the clues you’ll find.

Viktor Bogdanovic’s art is left to do a lot of heavy lifting in this issue. He has to move the action along, while conveying all the various emotions of the characters: the determination of Jor-El to complete his mission, the wonder of Jon at the promise of a perfect world, the fear and worry of Lois for her son and the frustration and actual anxiety of Superman for accomplishing so much and knowing it is not nearly enough. Bogdanovic does this with incredible grace and style.

I also want to point out Rob Leigh’s excellent lettering work. It is a job that often gets overlooked when done well and here it is done excellently. He conveys a lot of information in a way that doesn’t impact the flow of emotions in the story.

I really want to see where this goes. Jurgens and Bogdanovic are well-practiced in comics and especially Superman stories. They have told some of the best and this is shaping up to join them.

Writer: Dan Jurgens
Pencils: Viktor Bogdanovic
Inks: Viktor Bogdanovic, Trevor Scott, & Scott Hanna
Color: Mike Spicer
Letters: Rob Leigh

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