Rucka’s run on Action Comics began with a simple premise – with the Kryptonians leaving Earth for their own planet, what if Zod installed a series of Kryptonian ‘sleepers’ on Earth, meant to stir up anti-Kryptonian sentiment and start the war Zod badly wants. It was an idea that offered both action and espionage, that would allow us to see the new Nightwing and Flamebird as both clever and powerful. Unfortunately, after a great first issue, the arc has almost completely forgotten its premise, instead becoming muddled down in the pasts of Christ Kent and Thara Ak-Var.
Even more unfortunately is the vehicle Rucka chose to reintroduce these angsts – Ursa, a companion of Zod. Ursa is written here as a complete psycho, which is almost always comics shorthand for ‘bad villain’. The conflict between Ursa and the Kryptonian duo may one day become compelling once it is given room to breathe and grow, but right now it feels forced into the middle of a more interesting story. Three issues into the ‘Sleeper’ arc, and we’ve had precisely one issue dealing with the ‘Sleeper’ arc.
New artist Sidney Teles replaces Barrows, though the change is barely noticeable, having a similarly bland-but-efficient style, and so while Teles does fine work, he does little to save the issue itself. Once again, Action Comics does little to speak to the positives of a book without Superman, something the Superman title seems to be having little issue with. Though the issue isn’t necessarily bad, offering plenty of setup for the conclusion of this arc and for future threats, there are more missteps than I’ve come to expect from Rucka in this purely mediocre offering.