Ricky Church reviews Action Comics #976…
“SUPERMAN REBORN” finale! As this epic tale wraps up, Superman’s life is drastically changed…and that’s all we are saying for now—except that you won’t want to miss it!
“I’m back. We’re back. And everything is going to be fine”
Reading those words brought a large smile to my face. ‘Superman Reborn’ was an exciting read that reminded readers not only what makes Superman so special, but also what makes Lois Lane and their connection so significant to the DC universe. The irony that this was shown through the presence of The New 52 versions of Superman and Lois emphasized the importance of their relationship while making the Super-family stronger than ever.
Throughout most of ‘Superman Reborn’, Jon’s been kept to the sidelines as the fifth dimensional imp Mxyzptlk used him as a hostage, but Action Comic #976 really put Jon in the spotlight as he tried to save his parents. After everything he’s been through, it was tough to see him despair over the realization his parents didn’t know who he was now. Jon managed to step up to the plate mostly on his own to bring back his parents and defeat Mxyzptlk, furthering his character growth.
While many may bemoan the brief return of New 52 Superman, his appearance provided a stark contrast to the regular Superman’s personality. Jurgens also gave New 52 Superman and Lois a bit more closure, especially when it came to their rocky relationship. Jurgens captured the voice of New 52 Superman pretty well, highlighting the differences in how he and the regular Superman approach their problems.
With the merger of both version of Superman and Lois, again a clever callback to the red/blue Superman in the 90s, history has now been changed. Doug Manhke’s double page of the new history solidifying was one of the best pieces not just in this issue, but in all of ‘Superman Reborn’. Manhke even put his own spin on classic interpretations and moments of Superman from other artists, continuing his homages from the anniversary issue.
However, this latest twist opens up several questions that Action Comics #976 doesn’t answer. Obviously future issues will probably delve further into it, but we’re left wondering what the merging or re-alignment of Superman’s history means not just to any Super titles, but to the larger DC Universe as a whole. What was changed? Who will remember what? Will Superman’s relationships with Lex Luthor or Batman be any different? Has his relationship with Wonder Woman been retconned? For as much answers as Jurgens’ gives about the nature of New 52 Superman, and who exactly split his personality and powers in two, it leaves dozens of more questions.
Undoubtedly this ties into the greater mystery of DC Rebirth. Even Mxyzptlk was afraid of getting ‘his’ attention (sidenote: I’m very glad Mxy is back and left to bug Superman another day. Might he still retain his vendetta whenever he returns?) As ominous as Dr. Manhattan and Mr. Oz’s involvement is, though, it’s also great to see they’ve done the one thing no one in the DC Universe should ever do: underestimate Superman and his determined spirit.
With Jurgen’s writing and Manhke’s art, Action Comics #976 was a satisfying closure to ‘Superman Reborn’, even if it did leave a fair amount of questions in its wake. Jon’s development, Manhke’s facial work and the simple fact that the Superman we knew and loved is completely back make ‘Superman Reborn’ one of Rebirth’s best stories thus far.