Like a body bleeding out on the floor, this series is coming to an end. Will it make sense? Will it have been worth the wait? Will it have been worth anything?
Story: Frank Miller & Brian Azzarello
Artist: Andy Kubert w/ Klaus Janson (inks)
Colourist: Brad Anderson
Where do I even begin? With the series over, I feel I can review it as a whole while also focussing on this issue. It sucks. It really sucks.
Considering DC of late, with Rebirth and the Young Animal stuff, they’ve been doing well. DK3 has been running so long I’m sure it predates Rebirth. It just wouldn’t end. It’s odd that Rebirth and Young Animal can be such hits and this can be such a miss, especially considering the names involved.
I remember reading an interview near issue one of the series. It was with Frank Miller, asking him basic stuff to hype the series. One question was along the lines of “what about this story compelled you to return to the Dark Knight” or something like that. His response was a humble sort of “well it was really Azzarello who convinced me to help with his story.” I can’t help but wonder if that was foreshadowing. Maybe Miller knew from the start and always wanted to distance himself from the project.
Reading this was like watching your grandad with dementia try to remember your name. It looked like TDKR, it sounded a bit like it in places, but it definitely wasn’t TDKR anymore.
First off, the plot is just awful. The entire series felt like Azzarello making up for Miller’s depiction of Superman in the original. By that I mean to emphasise this is an Azzarello fan fiction based on TDKR. Batman is barely in the series, instead Superman, Wonder Woman and their daughter feature prominently.
The battling philosophies of the original are gone. There is nothing to this other than awkwardly drawn hulking characters. The basic plot is: the Kandorians from Superman’s bottled city are grown to regular size by Ray Palmer, they’re evil and manipulate Superman’s daughter to help them enslave Earth because they’re stronger than humans therefore evil. Think Man of Steel but without Zod attempting to restore his planet.
This issue in particular just rushed through the conclusion to get it over with. I read it a few hours ago and I honestly can’t remember what happened other than the good guys win I think(spoilers).
Plot aside I need to bring up the art. It’s cool that they got people like Kubert and Janson but damn does it look ugly. Certain panels and certain angles clearly look good, reminding you of who your grandfather once was. Then other times it looks like someone spilled ink and they’ve drawn a face on it. It was a depressing experience.
Despite the negative tone I’ve adopted I want to point out that the smaller comic that comes with the issue was genuinely heart-warming. Pencilled by Miller, he showcases the best artwork all series. If you think Kubert’s line work is disappointing, some of Miller’s contributions will make you weep. But this specific Action Comics #1, while imperfect, highlights that Miller was a powerhouse and should be remembered as such. This small issue is greater than all nine issues of this series. It spotlights hope and sums up all the themes of the series better than the series managed to do. If you were to take anything away it should be to find this insert and read it in the store.
Overall it’s been a sad series. Unable to live up to any expectations, DC have seen their failure, delaying issues all over the place and bringing out new events to completely overshadow the series.
Recommendation: avoid this series.