Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Review: Action Comics #1006

Action Comics #1006 came out this week and was another solid issue in the Brian Michael Bendis run of this book. It has action. It has character moments. It has big plot progression. It has subtle visual storytelling and gorgeous art by Ryan Sook. It has a huge nod to the past. It has just about everything ... except Lois Lane.

All along Action Comics has been my favorite book for the Bendis era. Much of that arises from the main plot that organized crime has quietly been running Metropolis, a fascinating idea for a Superman book. It also has a ton of Daily Planet time and that always works for me. And this issue is sort of a template for those high points.

Add to that Sook's work. Ryan Sook just sings off the page. You really need to linger on the page and take it all in. From expressive work to page construction, Sook is just a genius. I know his time on the book is done. I hope he comes back in some form at some point. I miss his work already.

On to the book.

 The theme of peeking at a Planet staffers desk continues here as we get a gander at Trish Q's workspace. It is a brilliant look into her personality. Her desktop background are pictures of herself. She has two phones and a tablet. She has a penchant for animal skin patterns. She wants a title more important-sounding than gossip columnist. She has trashy magazines for context. And she digs for dirt. I wondered if Superman kissing Lois a couple of issues ago would be noted. It is! Trish has a Lois-Superman/Clark/Lex quadrangle titillating story queued up.

And how great that Cat Grant loved the Lois piece. Cat thinks Trish is a worthy successor!

Add the usual little meta-hints (things like Rucka writing a Lois book, Young Justice returning, Kamandi being around) and you have a fun opening splash.

 While Superman has been all about mega-space battles and super-villains, Action Comics has been more about the seedier aspects of organized crime and politics.

Last issue we met Mayor Hopkins, the oily head of the city. We saw him tell Melody Moore to be careful who she associates with and to not let super-heroes invade her work. That showed his colors.

Here we get to see how reprehensible he is. He is at a photo shoot with kids dressed as heroes (including a little Supergirl!). But right after, he complains about having to do such things with children.

 And then the slime factor increases.

When Clark tries to worm his way into an impromptu interview, specifically about his comments to Moore, the Mayor shines him on. First he says that Superman needs to keep his nose clean of everyday stuff. (I guess you can throw organized crime into that mix?) And then throws in a jab about Lois being 'missing'. Yeesh ...

But I love the art here. First off, look at how phony and staged that first panel looks. It just feels fake, like you know that isn't how he is feeling. And check out Clark. That is about as Quitely 'All Star Superman' Clark I have seen!

Clark listens in as the Mayor drives away. First Clark has a wry smile as he listens to the Mayor somewhat panicked about the line of questioning. How could Clark know about that 'private' conversation with Moore? It could be Moore leaked it. Or it could be that someone overheard it. Hold on to that ...

But that smug little grin fades when once again the perception of Lois' infidelity is raised.

Regardless, Hopkins wants Moore to be left untouched. It would look too suspicious if she was hurt.

 Back at the Planet, Robinson Goode is writing a story about how Superman almost lost to the Red Cloud. She should know ... she is the Red Cloud. But there are no pictures which these days means no one was probably watching.

Still the story is impressive enough to grab Perry's attention.

But just as Hopkins wondered how Clark could know about his conversation, Clark wonders how Goode could know about that battle. I think this is where Clark figures out that Cloud and Goode are the same person.

 It is enough to have him scan her with xray vision and track her with superhearing. He is so caught up in this that he fails to hear Jimmy say he slept with Talia Al Ghul! Okay, I guess he is Mr. Action!

I have to say that I loved this 2 page spread.

One, we get this odd sense of Superman's xray vision, cutting through multiple floors of the Planet, peeking in on all of it.

But the 'icons' were the seller. We have learned that Superman's super-hearing is always attuned to hear specific words - Kryptonite, Lois Lane, etc. So he probably lets boring conversations wash over him like white noise. So these icons probably represent a visual shorthand for the banal discussions people are having about stocks, video games, crime, etc. Nothing stands out enough to grab his attention. So as a reader, we don't need to read any dialogue.

That is brilliant comic story-telling.

 I guess it shows that perhaps Mayor Hopkins isn't 100% in cahoots with the mob when we see the Red Cloud attack Melody Moore. He said don't attack her. Maybe he is just a corrupt politician.

Over several pages we get a great standoff battle between Red Cloud and Superman. He uses super breath, superspeed vortexes, and heat vision to temporarily dissipate her and keep her at bay. She keeps reforming. No one is a victor.

Then we get this great character moment. He extends his hand, in almost friendship. He has faced other villains like this. She can turn her life around. She can stop. Because his empathy isn't weakness. And other folks are behind him who won't be so forgiving.

That is Superman! He wants the best in people. He is willing to give a second chance. And he knows that other heroes like Green Lantern could probably capture her pretty quickly and then just incarcerate her.

One more thing, this is all the more meaty if he knows she is Robinson Goode.

 Realizing she can't win, Cloud just slips away.

And then we see Goode back in the safe room of the mob. It is time for Goode to meet the mysterious woman we have heard is running things at the top. I assumed, given the Leviathan tag, it would be Talia Al Ghul.


It is a woman named Leone (another word Goode shouldn't say), someone from Suicide Slum who raised herself from nothing. And in her position of power, Leone (I bet she is Mama Leone!) needs to surround herself with smart underlings. And she thinks Goode has the stuff.

And then this wild ending.

Leone says that she knows she'll never beat Superman. So she has to think of other ways to defeat him. So she bought the Daily Planet! Now that is a great hook. Will she try to change the feel of the Planet? Oust Perry? Make it anti-hero?

And then we see this sort of museum piece in Leone's safe room. That has to be Butch's car from Action Comics #1. Is she related to Butch? Does she keep it as a reminder of how Superman entered public consciousness?

This whole two page spread is a 'ka pow' moment. The Planet reveal *and* the car? Brill.

So this is a solid issue all around. There are a ton of small moments that sizzle. And then the battle with the Red Cloud, perfectly drawn elevated with impressive sound effects lettering from Josh Reed and colors by Brad Anderson, and ending with that extended hand; it is a wonderful sequence.

Good stuff all around.

Overall grade: A


Martin Gray said...

Thanks for the fine review! I didn’t know this was our last look at Sook, drat. I love his work, though as I’ve said elsewhere, I found the visual icons in the X-ray vision and super-hearing scene confusing. I am wondering if Bendis is simply ignoring that Johns and Donner story in #1000 that had that car repaired. We shall see.

But I really want to see some Lois, I hope Bendis isn’t going to keep her out of the story now she and Clark have whatever that arrangement is.

Oh boy, that New Year’s Eve cover from Francis Manapul. Utterly gorgeous. And it had Lois!

Anonymous said...

The misogynoir here is THICK and obvious, and that's on top of Bendis's mishandling of Lois. Yet you praise it?

But hey, I guess it's okay so long as it's not directed at barely-legal blondes. Only then is it unacceptible.

DC is being run by a bunch of Comicsgate supporters, and fanboys like you & Mart (who sees anyone who isn't a cis white dude existing in any narrative as "forcing an agenda") are okay with it. I hope you're happy to be supporting an actual hate movement and their professional allegiants.

Anonymous said...

I think Bendis is being wise to keep both books focused on different aspects of the legend. Clark Kent, the Daily Planet reporter who happens to be a superhero and is eager to put bullies of all kinds and stripes down... and Kal-El, the strange visitor from another planet who protects our world from threats beyond out understanding.

That panel featuring kids cosplaying superheroes is cute... even though I'm afraid that "Spider-Gwen" got her universes mixed.

Nice to see AC referencing Supergirl. No, she doesn't need to turn up in every story. But she must be a part of Clark's life.

"I have to say that I loved this 2 page spread."

In the beginning I thought Clark was merely scanning the lower level. Then I realized what I was looking at. Impressive panel.

I look forward to see what happens when Leone takes control of the Planet.

"And in her position of power, Leone (I bet she is Mama Leone!)"

Nah, I bet she is The Ugly. I mean, Superman is obviously The Good and Red Cloud The Bad, so Leone...

I'll see myself out.

Anj said...

I wondered about the repaired car in Action 1000 but that felt very 40s and so I thought was 'out of continuity'.

Anonymous said...

"I wondered about the repaired car in Action 1000 but that felt very 40s and so I thought was 'out of continuity'."

Or maybe it was repaired in Earth-Two but it remained broken in Prime Earth. I want my No-Prize.

More seriously, I think we mustn't look too deeply into what is clearly meant to be a callback.

Anj, have you heard the rumors regarding a LOSH title written by Bendis coming in the Spring?

Daxam1978 said...

Just had to say what a great site this is!😁
I've become more of a fan of the girl of steel in recent years,I love the tv
show (as does my daughter).
Really love the silver age Stuff!👍

Anonymous said...

That photo op though, such mixed emotions.

One part of me screams "YES!" with joy.

The other just wants to be honest and say:
"Kid, you're my hero, but that's as close to the Justice League as you are going to get. You could have Superman's powers, you could have his heart, you could work tirelessly every day to make the world better, and the odds of you getting to join the Justice League is still going to be close to 0%, because frankly the world isn't ready and the powers that be doesn't want a girl stealing light from the big boy in blue. Check the Supergirl comment sections on the web, and look at the vitriol she is getting for "maybe" getting a second movie when the boy could have had yet another one. Don't go up against that, it will eat your heart. Have you considered moving a thousand years into the future? I have heard that their main league would accept you with open arms."

Anonymous said...

"The misogynoir here is THICK and obvious, and that's on top of Bendis's mishandling of Lois. Yet you praise it?"

The "misogynoir" here is not thick or obvious. It is non-existent. And you are well aware of it.

You don't care for women and minority's rights. You are only a nameless troll who comes here looking for excuses to make trouble and insult people and doesn't care for whatever people are actually saying. Hence, your ridiculous claims that Anj is okay with misogyny as long as it isn't aimed at underage blondes, Mart hates minorities or a bunch of comic geeks complaining about their childhood's heroes being replaced are a hate movement.