This was a big week for the Superman: Doomed cross-title event, with three separate chapters coming out: Superman/Wonder Woman Annual #1, Action Comics Annual #3, and this issue of the regular monthly Action Comics. That’s a lot of Superman happening. Fortunately, as always, Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder are up to the task of taking Superman beyond just “a big strong guy who flies.”
While this issue represents the start of the final Doomed arc, called “Last Sun,” it picks up right where Chapter 4 of “Superdoom” from the Action Comics Annual #3 left off, with plenty of cameos from other heroes (and some villains), and Batman working with a very diverse group including Ghost Soldier, Harrow, Dr. Shay Veritas, and Lex Luthor to put together a plan to help stop Brainiac.
However, even with all the guest cameos, Pak and the creative team manage to bring the focus of this issue back to its main star, Superman. Pak has a definite grasp on Superman’s “voice,” and after so many issues of dealing with the “Superdoom” infected version of Superman, it’s nice to have the genuine article back.
Kuder’s art here is superb as well. It’s refreshing to see his work here after having to look at seven different artists in the Action Comics Annual. It’s fun to see Kuder’s take on so many other characters that normally don’t make an appearance in Action, including Red Hood and the Outlaws, Lex Luthor, and especially Martian Manhunter. Sharing art duties with Kuder this month for a few pages is Scott Kolins, who does some great work, but sadly it’s just not consistent with Kuder’s art. A lot of it really comes down to the inking, which varies between thick, dark lines for some panels, and more lighter, more subtle lines for others. The change is styles is enough that even Wil Quintana’s coloring, which is consistent throughout the book, actually looks different for both different artists.
One of the things I’ve enjoyed about Pak and Kuder’s run on Action Comics is that it doesn’t forget that, ultimately, it’s a comic book. It’s not afraid to have fun. While it’s not following the same path that Geoff Johns and John Romita, Jr. are walking on Superman, there are still some fun scenes here that aren’t all “doom and gloom,” such as a short one-panel scene with Superman and Krypto. It’s totally not essential to the plot, so it’s nice to see the creative team include this just to remind readers of Superman’s relationship with his pet dog.
Action Comics #34 is a good, solid addition to the Superman: Doomed event. While it’s not quite as good as Action Comics Annual #3 in terms of the story, it makes up for it with some really great art and a good re-focus on the title hero of the book.