Greg Rucka and Eddy Barrows team up to bring us an Action Comics without Superman, a risky move that, last month, offered us an excellent issue of comics as we were introduced to the concept of deadly sleeper-Kryptonians spreading xenophobic sentiment amongst humanity in an effort to start a war. We also met Thara Ak-Var and Chris Kent, the new Flamebird and Nightwing pair who are protecting Earth from Kryptonian abuse in Superman’s absence.
Yes, last issue spoke volumes for a world without Superman, but this issue falls back on weak cliche and so-so action to fill its 22-pages. Ursa, mother of Chris and one of the masterminds behind the sleepers, comes to Earth to destroy Nightwing and Flamebird before they can cause any more damage than they already have. Ursa’s internal monologue is compelling, a tightly-wound madwoman with intelligence and skill, but the conflict of the issue – Ursa beating the tar out of Thara for her betrayal until Chris shows up to save her and defeat his mother – is trite and cliche. There is some genuine emotion there, especially in the tormented Thara Ak-Var, but not enough to save the lackluster action, and not enough to redeem the issue for abandoning an interesting arc so quickly.
Eddy Barrows continues to improve. His art in Teen Titans was fairly generic, and though he has yet to come truly into a style all his own, he is certainly getting better. He illustrates the action competently and offers a few particularly lovely panels, but ultimately, like the rest of the story, fails to distinguish in any meaningful way. I hardly noticed on first read-through that multiple artists worked on the book – the blend is well-handled and does not distract.