Action Comics #1041 continues with ‘Midnighter’s Tale’ as Phillip Kennedy Johnson brings us one of the best Superman stories ever written. This installment of The Warworld Saga centralises around Midnighter and brings us up to date on his movements since issue #1036.
We’re treated with two great covers by some amazing artists, so let’s feast our eyes on those first.
Daniel Sampere and Alejandro Sanchez gives us a simple yet highly metaphorical cover. Superman’s symbol of hope, fashioned from Warworld chains, is broken and bloodied as it lies atop a rusty sword. The cover title “Broken Bonds” plays well with the broken chain image as well as a theme for what’s in store for us inside. Sampere really made an impression with his run on Action Comics in 2021 and it’s nice to still have him connected to the series through his cover art.
Julian Totino Tedesco continues his masterful run of variant covers with a great throwback rendition of The Reign of The Supermen. Seeing these four together from a time before Henshaw’s reveal/betrayal hits all the right nostalgic buttons. Realising they debuted nearly 30 years ago hits an entirely different set altogether. There is also a small cameo in this issue which helps tie this variant into the story a little. If that feels like a bit of a stretch then just appreciate another gorgeous piece by a great artist.
Interior artists Dale Eaglesham and Will Conrad lean into Midnighter’s more brutal tendencies while effortlessly changing styles when focused on Byla’s story sequences. Colorist Lee Loughridge’s unique use of lighting and muted colors give Warworld a truly alien atmosphere and his use of palette easily sets the mood of each page. Together, these three marry the ambiance of a sword and sorcery environment with nuances of an action/spy adventure quite expertly.
Phillip Kennedy Johnson shifts the focus in Action Comics #1041 to Midnighter for this issue, suspending the cliffhanger moment from last issue a few more pages. Although impatient with Superman’s methods and driven more by personal motivations, we get to see how Midnighter has fostered the rebellion in his own way. We also get reintroduced to Byla-Esh, the mysterious storyteller from last year’s Action Comics Annual, who helps narrate the issue with a few more Superman tales. Hopefully we’ll get an explanation on how he knows these stories while trapped on Warworld in future books, but for now he’s helping people understand Superman’s message of hope.
There still feels like a long road awaits us until the liberation of Warworld, but PKJ’s pacing has been one of the things making this story so epic. It seems like it’s been awhile since a Superman story has been this exciting and I look forward to where this Saga continues to take us.