Last month's "Action Comics" was the debut of Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder working together on the title, but it was also a "Zero Year" tie-in with the current "Batman" storyline. With "Action Comics" #26, Pak and Kuder are anchored firmly in the present day, and guess what? It's another great issue.
I like that Pak is using Lana Lang. Not only is she a generally underutilized character (especially in the New 52), but I enjoy when Superman has that extra little link to humanity in his stories. As someone who knows his background and secret identity, she's got one foot in both of his worlds, and I see the value in having her as part of the supporting cast. And if that means that she's used as a gateway to draw him into stories? Well, I'm just fine with that.
More importantly, Superman's dealing with both the monstrous beast in Venezuela alongside his new attacker is a nice mix of two different threats. The monster is the obvious one, of course, but in many ways I feel like the Ghost Soldier is the one that everyone should really be worrying about. It's definitely the tip of an iceberg to a larger story with a military force aligning itself against Superman, and while we've seen that type of plot in the past, there's still a lot of potential in it.
And of course, then there's the monster itself. Superman's way of stopping the threat is one that's so perfectly in-character for him that you almost have to applaud Pak's writing here. It's a moment where you get to the conclusion and think, "Well yes, of course that's what he would do." It's smart and at the same time it sadly isolates Superman just a little more from the rest of the world. Just like the Ghost Soldier, this issue is clearly just the beginning of a whole lot more.
Kuder's art, teamed up with June Chung's colors, is just fantastic. His Superman is lean without being skinny; he's got a professional swimmer's build, full of muscle but not at bodybuilder levels. The rest of the cast looks great, too. Lana and her co-worker sprinting from the monster on the first page are energetic and in a perfect half-run/half-crouch. And as for the monster, I love its segmented scales, and that perfect blue-white electrical glow that Chung and Kuder have crackling around it. The first two pages are so full of madcap energy and scrambling that when everything suddenly pauses at the end of the second page, I love that Kuder can instantly negate the chaos with a sudden sense of relief crossing Lana's face.
"Action Comics" #26 is only Pak and Kuder's second issue, but this book has already shifted into "must read" status for me. It's a real joy to sit down with a copy, and I appreciate that they've turned in a nice cliffhanger to make me want to find out what happens next. Here's hoping the duo continues to work together for a while, because they're off to a great start.