Since the launch of the New 52, many have bemoaned the characterization of Superman. He has been portrayed as abrasive, impulsive, and too willing to kill. Essentially, he’s been anything but Superman, or at least that was the case until the current creative team on Action Comics took hold of the character. He still lacks his red trunks, but the version that has starred in the pages of Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder’s ongoing series is, for all intents and purposes, vintage Superman. He’s powerful, but kind. He looks for the best solution rather than the easiest one. Punching his way through a problem is a last resort. This has been present throughout Pak and Kuder’s run (even during the polarizing “Doomed” crossover) and continues in Action Comics #38.
Much of this current Action Comics run has heavily involved superhero feats and elements of science fiction, which is fairly standard for the character. However, this issue sees Big Blue entrenched in a genre which he rarely ventures into: horror. Just to be clear, Pak and Kuder don’t venture into the “slasher” or “torture-porn” sub-genres. Instead, the creative team set the majority of the issue within the Kent farmhouse for a ghoulish, haunted house adventure. The result is an attack on Clark’s psyche – something which he cannot simply punch his way out of – which in turn forces the hero to face his own, personal demons.
Aaron Kuder’s art continues to amaze. I was admittedly leery in seeing his style applied to the horror genre, but his expressive, exaggerated style works surprisingly well in giving the issue a spooky aesthetic. This is particularly true when the corpses of several individuals are reanimated in Clark’s presence. Though it may not get much attention, Kuder packs a deceptively large amount into each page that may be missed on the first read through. Jae Lee also contributes with a stunning flashback sequence to the issue’s opening pages. Normally, multiple artists tend to cause a jarring experience, but using Lee’s art in this manner works very well.
Action Comics under the guidance of Pak and Kuder continues to be one of the strongest superhero titles available today, and issue #38 is no exception. Buy it.