Friday, April 26, 2019

Review: Action Comics #1010

Action Comics #1010 came out this week and was an interesting middle chapter of the Leviathan Rising story arc which is leading into this summer's mega-crossover, Event Leviathan.

As a sort of middle chapter of a prologue, I wasn't expecting much plot progression here. And outside of a death (major or minor depending on your love of the character), a semi-reveal, and a solid cliffhanger, we didn't learn too much here.

What we did learn is that the presence of some unknown entity like Leviathan is going to make everyone antsy and jittery. Everyone is going to be suspicious of everyone else. And some bad decisions are bound to happen because of that. It reminds me a little bit of John Carpenter's The Thing. Anyone or anyones (plural) could have been the monster. Who do you trust? As such, having people wonder out loud if someone is Leviathan ... directly to their faces ... is interesting.

This might be my favorite issue for Steve Epting on this book so far. This is mostly a street level issue with spies confronting spies. That style of story works for him. The one truly super-moment is brought about in a very cinematic style and crackles. And kudos to colorist Brad Anderson for bring the shadows to this espionage tale.

I also have to say that I have had my thoughts about who Leviathan is. I have, all along, thought that ultimately Leviathan would be the Earth-0 version of a Watchmen character. Someone like Dan Dreiberg of Earth-0. But I have changed my mind. I have taken that Watchmen idea and looked at it through a mirror darkly. My latest guess revealed later.

On to the book.

 We start out with our usual splash page of character's work space and therefore their head space.

Here we see the fevered scratching of Mr. Bones. He has drawn the outline of the 'blue energy' beings who have been detonating and vaporizing various spy strongholds. All around this picture are names of espionage groups, characters who have shown up, major leaders of secret organizations. It is Bones trying to organize his thoughts about who could be behind all this.

Is it me or is there something almost regal about that armor, like something a Monarch would wear?

There is something sad that this is all being done on the back of a paper menu for Mr. Muk's restaurant.

 In waltzes Kate Spencer, asking Bones all sorts of questions about the DEO destruction. Who saved Bones? What did he see? Did he see that blue energy being? Who saved him?

Bones says something which will resonate throughout the issue. When something big happens, like the destruction of the DEO, whoever shows up next is a suspect.

He can tell, based on her arrival and her pumping him for information, that this isn't Kate Spencer. This is actually Leviathan come to handle something as important as him personally.

And he's right.

There is something wonderfully profound about those last two panels. His powers don't scare her. She has purpose.

And it seems, he was right. She does want to finish him off.

As Spencer, she runs out of the holding truck saying Bones seems to be having a heart attack. She drops her glamour revealing her true face.

Hmmm ... maybe she poisoned him? That would be ironic. Maybe something like Nightshade to bump him off?

Alas, poor Mr. Bones. We barely knew ye.

I actually like his character a lot and will miss him.

We switch to London where 'Chaz' and 'Andi' are going to Spyral to see what they can dig up there. Despite the dire situation, Lois is having some fun flying over Big Ben like Pan and Wendy.

When they land, Clark takes a peek in on General Lane, still alive and stable.

I love the next interaction. Lois wonders if she should be by her father's side. But Clark reminds her that Lois' place is where she is, using her skills as an investigator to stop Leviathan. That is the power of Lois.

 It does remind her of the first time they were Chaz and Andi, some adventure involving Nemesis. Some time when Supergirl had to show up so they didn't break their cover. I love how blase Lois is about being in fire, Nemesis unconscious at her feet. Just another day at the park for her I assume.

And look, Steve Epting drawing Supergirl! Cool!

 But then we see that all these actions have started to sow the seeds of doubt and mistrust.

Lois wonders if Spyral could be Leviathan.

 Jimmy wonders if Amanda Waller is Spyral. After all, it is weird for her to show up after an event and be so visible. And now she is in the Fortress ... perhaps right where she wants to be?

 When Chaz and Andi show up at Spyral, Tyger (a Spyral agent ... I freely admit I know nothing of this corner of the DCU) wonders if they are Leviathan. After all, they haven't been seen in a while and now they just show up.

Hmmm ... lots of people wondering who is Leviathan.

And then an interesting wrinkle.

Perhaps to justify their budget, it seems Spyral created Leviathan as an adversary. Now that would be ironic if they created something as a dummy sect only to have it organically becoming viable on its own and lead to their own destruction.

And whoever created Spyral also created Leviathan. Someone who has spy credentials no doubt ... maybe someone who has lived a double life with a deep cover history? Maybe someone with miltary background given who organized the attacks are?

 Before much more can be said, one of the blue energy beings shows up.

This time Superman just takes care of business, throwing the thing into orbit so it's Manhattan wave doesn't incinerate the Spyral stronghold.

That is some impressive explosion. Epting does a good job of panning back so we see the scope of the explosion, thus getting a sense of its prestigious power. The tilted panels help convey that this thing is still moving away from us, thrown by Superman.

And then the whole lower half of the two page spread is Superman being buffeted by the energy wave.

Whatever this thing is, it is immensely destructive. For it to wash over Superman when that far away is crazy.

Flying back to gather Lois, Superman reveals that he just experienced an 'enormous clue'.

But Lois is gone! Dun-dun-dunnnn!

So the only thing I can surmise is that either he recognizes the energy type that enveloped him or that he peeked inside the armor and knows what that thing is.

Great issue ratcheting up the suspense and uncertainty.

And now the latest theory.

I still think just given the destructive power of the light blue energy that this has to tie into Dr. Manhattan or Watchmen in some way. I mean blue energy that looks like a tentacled ocean animal. Is there anything more Dr, Manhattan than that?

But now we see this woman kill Mr. Bones. Could she be the Earth 0 Silk Spectre?
That blue energy armor looks rather 90s in a way, all big shouldered and spiky, maybe borrowing from Armageddon 2001?

I think Leviathan is Captain Atom and Nightshade.

The blue energy has that Manhattan feel, who was based on Captain Atom.
The armor looks a little like Monarch's.
Nightshade has plenty of covert ops experience.
Silk Spectre was based on Nightshade.
There are plenty of Watchmen/Charlton overtones which can be mined.
And frankly, it makes sense.

Atom and Eve, charting a new world order. Brilliant.

A wonderful issue.

Overall grade: B+


Anonymous said...

I will not try to guess.

I liked the opening scene. I also think Bones was somehow poisoned. I wonder if his actions during Orlando's run are still in-continuity or they are being ignored?

I loved that page referencing some previous untold crazy adventure (I want to read it!). It reminds me of those old JLA/JSA team-up issues. And I'm happy that, unlike other Superman writers, Bendis remembers Supergirl exists and she is Superman's family.

Clark and Lois as undercover agents is funny. I want more of it.

This Leviathan story is pretty good so far.

Martin Gray said...

I don't think Mr Bones is dead - the woman says he's having a heart attack, not that he's brown bread.

Interesting theory on who Leviathan is. I can't imagine why Nightshade and Captain Atom would be doing this, it doesn't seem to fit with their MO as heroes, and Captain Atom has already gone bad once and surely DC wouldn't make such a massive misstep again but, well, look at what else they published this week...

Tyger was a pal of Digk Grayson's when he was Spyral's Agent 37, he's a fun character. I want his bag of cash!

Anonymous said...

Stunning artwork. Great blacks suitable to the story, and very well matched coloring. Everything about Eptis and Anderson is just great here. And those 2 pages of silent big action are gorgeous.

Love the way the police cars' red and blue flashing lights appear like bubbles of color. (At least that's what I thought I was looking at.)

I'm also generally enjoying Bendis's dialog. The alternative is usually ponderous narration boxes, or even worse, that 3rd person "tell don't show" narration I see too often with other DC writers.

Just to the left and partly hidden by the pen on page 1, I can make out "Bob Harras." I wonder, if we mail in a few bucks, can we get our names on one of these splash panels too?!

We don't know if Bones dies; interesting that Sam Lane also had a heart attack (and is surviving his).

Most reviewers of this issue have stated, virtually without question, that "Kate Spencer" morphs into Talia al Ghul. Are we supposed to recognize Talia no matter what artist draws her and no matter how she dresses and no matter what out-of-context situation we see her in? Or assume it's her because she left a note Superman found at her HQ? (But didn't Superman and Alfred agree last issue that it didn't sound like her? They might be wrong, though.) Have we actually seen this woman before?

Superman is still pervaded by that blue energy even on return to earth. Perhaps his eyes are glowing because he's looking for Lois and that's how Epting has been showing x-ray and/or telescopic vision, but Superman looks a little possessed and not making sense - it is unusual to "experience a clue." He seems to not be himself.

He flew off with the curly hair and beard of Chaz, but it looks to me like he's back in his regular face upon his return. Is it that easy to turn back?

It's one thing for Tiger to believe Chaz is Superman's secret identity, but isn't it risky for him to then call out to Lois when he can't find her on return to earth? That could blow her cover, and through logical deduction, his.

So many questions. And I don't believe all will be answered, but you never know.

Supergirl used to appear frequently in many titles in at least 1 or 2 panel cameos, sometimes silently, sometimes with a word or two of dialog. She was just always around, a part of the DC Universe. And now within a week we have a brief cameo right here and in Batman #68. She's important enough to Batman that he subconsciously included her in his dream. That's meaningful - it shows that she means something to him. And important enough for Bendis to include her in that Checkmate "Nemesis" page.


Martin Gray said...

I did a review of this issue too, TN, and Talia crossed my mind, but I wasn’t convinced so held off on the assertions. While her Eurasian features vary, the visual identifier that tends to stick around is Talia’s sleek brown hair and Brad Anderson gives our Kate impersonator black hair. So I don’t think it’s Talia.