Superman: Back in Action

Superman: Back in Action
Superman Back in Action review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: DC - 1-4012-1263-8
  • Release date: 2007
  • UPC: 9781401212636
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes
  • CATEGORIES: Superhero

In one sense Back in Action could be considered disappointing, as it only features three chapters of DC’s 2006 Superman continuity, however, this is a case where time has raised the quality level. The continuity is far enough in the past that no-one cares any longer, and the back-up material is three Superman team-up stories all drawn by José Luis García-López, a peerless artist whose work is only too rarely found in trades.

The 2006 material concerns a general lack of public belief that Superman has returned after a year without being seen, as readers know he did in Up, Up and Away. It’s Busiek and co-plotter Fabian Nicieza running the once bitten, twice shy scenario referencing Superman’s supposed death years previously. That coincides with alien robots arriving on Earth and removing desirable buildings. As this is happening across the USA plenty of guest stars are involved, but the US military are among those refusing to credit Superman is actually back.

As drawn in Pete Woods’ clear style it’s fun. There’s an impossible situation, some ridiculously obscure guest stars and Superman demonstrating yet again why he’s the hero he is. Everything ends with a mystery to be continued in Camelot Falls.

In his introductions to the 1980s team-ups with Metal Men, Firestorm and Deadman, Busiek enthuses, claiming for the first story it was the García-López artwork that made him want to write every character featured one day. He also highlights the personalities being brought out well by Len Wein, but it’s not anything greatly memorable beyond the art, in which García-López twists the Metal Men about and provides a gloppy Chemo. It’s better, however, than Gerry Conway’s run of the mill Firestorm teaming. One might have thought Conway would be a little more enthusiastic about returning to the prematurely cancelled feature he created.

García-López shines brightest on a moody Deadman story, in which it seems Wein is wasting the opportunity of a character able to possess the bodies of others by using him as a narrator. However, the story blossoms as he observes Superman, from midway Deadman performs his speciality, and it’s a shame the ending is rushed. García-López is sumptuous when a lot needs to be packed into seventeen pages, yet they never look crowded, and he finds room for a great montage page near the end (sample art). If preferred, all three stories are included in the first Adventures of Superman by José Luis García-López.