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What is this all about?

In this issue, Superman and Lex Luthor continue their battle with the Machinist. Lex demonstrates the full power of his suit and reveals his true feelings toward Superman. Superman overcomes a seemingly impossible situation, and by doing so, demonstrates that he is superior to his competition. And, Lex has an encounter with a mysterious hooded-being. This story is about Superman trusting himself, his ally, and rising above the competition as the courageous superhero that he is.

The Review

Action Comics #986

The story begins with a compromised Superman fighting an overzealous Lex, who is possessed by one of Machinist’s mind-ticks. Lex lands several blows that seem to have a significant impact on Superman. The fight turns when Superman blasts Lex into outer space. The Machinists watches with enjoyment at the impact his creation is having on Lex and the outcome it’s having as Lex is defeating Superman. He states that his mind tick was created to reveal the unconscious drives of its victims and therefore allowing them to be who they really are. This is a significant revelation because Lex is expressing his vitriol toward Superman while pounding away at him with the weaponry in his suit.

Action Comics #986Lex claims that Superman cannot possibly know what it’s like to feel powerless – to be, only human. Furthermore, he postulates that only a human can be the protector of humanity. Lex’s dialogue parallels statements he made to Superman in the previous issue. The topic, man versus God, resonates because it’s both a problem Lex has with Superman and a problem people, in general, have with superheroes. Lex hits Superman with kryptonite particles while claiming “Now I’m the God here”! While cartoony and dramatic it felt true to the character. The art also depicts Lex with ahead the size of Mongul’s which enhanced the emotional impact for the reader. 

A major twist in the plot occurs while Lex is diving towards the earth with an unconscious Superman in his grips. Lex utilizes all the powers in his suit at once, including the mother box energies that he possesses. This results in Lex breaking free from the controls of the mind tick simultaneously as Superman awakes. Superman rights himself and reveals to the Machinists the error in his thinking. Action Comics #986Superman states that he can see through people with his special vision which allows him to know what they are thinking. This twist is an ironic reversal. Both the Machinist and Lex thought that they could outsmart a god, but it was Superman who had the last laugh in the end.

Final Words

It was difficult to gauge the seriousness of the encounter between Lex and Superman. Did Lex mean what he was saying? Was the mind tick in control and telling him to destroy Superman? Was Lex truly jealous of Superman’s status, as God, and not human? An encounter between Lex and the mysterious hooded-figure at the end of the issues tells us that Lex’s encounter with Superman was an accurate reflection of his true beliefs. Oz confronts Lex with “iniquity” stating that he is like every other human being, flawed. He also tells Lex that time is almost up for humans. The encounter between Oz and Lex ends with the promise that Oz’s true identity will be revealed in the next issue. I am excited to learn how Oz relates to Superman given his contempt with the human being, Lex Luthor.

More Info

Reviewed by Tom Zimm
Action #986 Only Human Part 2, The Truth
Written by Rob Williams; 

Art by Guillem March; Colors by, Hi Fi; Letters by Rob Leigh
Published by DC
Release Date: 08/23/2017