I confess, I haven’t been a fan of DC’s New 52 reboot. But for all its disappointments, I’ve found some gems along the way. And one of my favorites is Greg Pak’s excellent run on Action Comics, and its MVP isn’t Superman…it’s Lana Lang.
Recent depictions of Superman (the Zack Snyder movies in particular) have portrayed him as far too god-like and terrifying, which really misses the point. But Pak found the perfect way to humanize the New 52 Superman—have him reconnect with a childhood friend.
This storyline shows the correct way to reboot a character. By making her an electrical engineer, Pak gives Lana a professional life and useful skills she had always lacked. But he retains the essence that made the character work previously—Lana is one of very few people who sees right through the big red S because she knew him when. If he’s in costume but no one else is around, she’ll call him “Clark,” because why wouldn’t she? And on top of all that, she’s downright likeable.
Pak also succeeds with Superman’s characterization, presenting him as a guy who befriends monsters because he takes the time to figure out which ones aren’t actually monsters. That’s a very Superman thing to do.
All in all, this is an enjoyable tale of two old friends reconnecting…in an exotic subterranean landscape filled with dangerous creatures.
Definitely a standout among recent Superman stories.
Writer: Greg Pak
Penciler: Aaron Kuder
Publisher: DC Comics
How to Read It: back issues; Comixology; included in Action Comics vol. 5: What Lies Beneath (TPB)
Appropriate For: ages 10 and up