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Exclusive DC preview: Smallville becomes “Horrorville” in Action Comics #36

Following the events of the surprisingly solid Doomed crossover event, Superman’s world has seen some considerable changes: Smallville is recovering from a biochemical attack that took the lives of many of its citizens, Lana Lang is dealing with the loss of her parents and the start of a new relationship with John Henry Irons (a.k.a. Steel), and Clark Kent has grown a beard to show that he’s not the same clean-cut hero anymore. The aftershocks of Doomed are still being felt, and this week’s Action Comics #36 explores the psychological impact of the past few months’ events by pushing the comic into a new genre: horror.

The first Action Comics storyline by writer Greg Pak, artist Aaron Kuder, and colorist Wil Quintana did exceptional work taking Superman in a direction influenced by pulpy fantasy adventure, and using the character to explore different genres is a wise move that makes the series feel less like a conventional superhero comic. The best thing about the Pak/Kuder/Quintana run is the emphasis on Lana Lang, making her a character whose bad-assery is matched only by her intellect, and the spotlight continues to shine on Lana in this preview of Action Comics #36.

Suffering from nightmares where her dead parents come back as zombies, Lana finds comfort in her connection with John, who is also helping her with the Smallville relief efforts. Her troubled emotional state reads clearly in Kuder’s artwork, and the brief glimpse of Kuder in horror mode for this issue’s title page suggests that the “Horrorville” arc will feature some very creepy visuals balancing the artist’s meticulous linework with a more haunting atmosphere. (DC has also provided The A.V. Club with an exclusive first look at Dustin Nguyen’s variant cover for Action Comics #37, pitting Superman against a slimy tentacled monster.)

Lego variant cover
Action Comics #37 variant cover by Dustin Nguyen

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