By: Bob Marshall
Superman defeats Lex Luthor then goes to inspect his latest creation. When he does so, out steps Lois Lane who has traveled from an alternate Earth (along with a crispy looking Jimmy Olsen and Clark Kent – you’ll see what I mean when you read it). It then cuts to a two page origin of Earth 23’s Superman (basically the same as the normal Superman but with a few minor details changed).
At first Lois Lane doesn’t trust this Superman and that’s because she has met many fakes along her travels across the worlds. In her world Clark Kent is human and had an idea to create a Superman but unfortunately what they created was a Curse (pun intended). The curse itself is a machine and its been killing heroes of other worlds trying to get to Lois. When it gets to Earth 23 it meets its match in this Earth’s Superman. Superman, along with a little help from Lex Luthor, manages to defeat the robot. The story ends with a minor cameo (and I mean minor) of Earth 23’s JLA.
The main story, The Curse of Superman, is very well done and much better than I was expecting. When I first heard about this I was intrigued but I did think “why are they bothering to do this?!” After reading it, I do still feel a little of that but I really really enjoyed it.
For those in the know, this story features an African American Superman whose alter ego is named Calvin Ellis who also just happen to be President of the United States. This is a really interesting dynamic and they do explore it, albeit it briefly in Curse but more so in Executive Power (backup story). The way they characterized him was flawless. We see him juggling responsibilities of being the world’s greatest hero & the President of the United States, and its very well done. Also, on the note of his costume, I think I may prefer it to the current Superman one (which I do like) even though the S is a little over the top in size (especially on the cover art but more on that later).
Overview of the back up Story: Executive Power
The story starts with several politicians, including one Dr Henry Irons (Steel) talking about the Terrorism been caused by Qurac. Then we see the Presidnet of Qurac talking on the phone to President Ellis (Superman), who as Superman along with Wonder Woman are simultaneously destroying several underground labs. The story ends with Wonder Woman giving Superman some food for thought.
The back up story, Executive Power, unfortunately is kind of pointless. They really should just scrap these back stories. Infact, I think the only place it may work in is the issues of Justice League with the Shazam backup. A one-off story featuring an alternate worlds Superman did not need a back up story, why not use the space to flesh out the main story. The artwork in the backup story is below par compared to the main story as well. Not that there’s anything wrong with the way Cully Hamber draws, its just nowhere near the level of the main story. Only positive I took from this back up story was the appearance of Wonder Woman and her interaction with Superman, which is done well but if we’re not to see them again then we really didn’t need it.
One thing I did notice from the first issue also is how reckless this Superman is with his secret identity. As President he doesn’t appear to wear any sort of disguise and in the backup story he is simultaneously destroying the President of Quracs labs whilst on the phone with him. So I’m pretty sure he’d have heard the noise but this isn’t really addressed.
With the negatives out of the way, I want to end on a positive note and say that Gene Ha’s artwork is superb through the Curse of Superman and especially in the cover art. It features the Superman of Earth 23 doing the very traditional Superman shirt rip and as always it looks fantastic. This is some of the best artwork I have ever seen in a comic, its hard to explain but its dark looking yet vibrant at the same time.
All in all, a very good issue of Action Comics and by the end of it I found myself wanting to read more of this version of the Man of Steel. I’m not sure if there was much point to it but with the storyline involving travel between alternate worlds I can only assume they’re planning on bringing him back in the future for some world traveling storyline. If they aren’t however, then you have to ask what was the point?! But definitely a highly recommended read (except the back up story).
Main story: 9/10
Backup story: 5/10