Friday, July 26, 2019

Review: Action Comics #1013

Action Comics #1013 came out this week and was a very good 'middle chapter' in a mystery like Event Leviathan. We got some new clues, a couple of which I think are big. We got some new information, but just a snippet to whet the appetite. And it spurred a new theory. (As a reminder, this is a review post. Clues get reviewed in a separate post.)

Just as important as that, writer Brian Michael Bendis continued to push forward the other, non-Leviathan plot lines the book has been percolating. Action Comics is as much a Daily Planet book as it is a Superman book and so seeing the story play out as a conversation between Perry White and Robinson Goode fit the tone of the book very well. So we got as much Red Cloud and Invisible Mafia as we did Leviathan.

On top of that, Bendis has a good ear for the characters here. Perry pushing Goode, asking about her stories and her sources while trying to nurture a good young reporter was solid. Goode asking if White treats all his reporters that way was also pitch perfect.

Szymon Kudranski continues to grab my attention on art. His use of different borders to connote the tone of a panel complements the art. At times his pencils seem a little rough but overall I have no complaints. And colorist Brad Anderson continues to impress me, especially in the Rose/Thorn scenes.

On to the book.

 Our opening page is once again the Daily Planet Chirper page. This one is more of a recap page bringing us quick hits on the events of Event Leviathan, Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, and the Year of the Villain.

My dream? For their to be another Chirp recap page and my own Twitter hashtag of #LeviathanTheory to be in the right hand column.

 The tablet is being held by Mama Leone, head of the Invisible Mafia in her home townhouse.

Inside, she gets a visit from the ghastly new Lex Luthor hoping to give her a parting gift as he has done to many characters in the DCU this month.

I guess Leone believes in 'no honor among thieves' as she flatly refuses, calls in her armed guards, and activates a 'full house' protocol. Just like that, the townhouse is gone. Poof! Like the Order of the Phoenix safe house in Harry Potter!

Did she escape and the house disintegrate? Did it teleport away? I assume based on her words, the house is gone.

But I love that Leone is her own woman here. She didn't care what Lex's gift was or how it could help her. She won't be beholden to anyone else. She is pretty fearless. And scary.

 Meanwhile, Robinson Goode explains her Rose and Thorn/Leviathan story to Perry.

White can't believe that Goode, as young as she is, keeps bringing him winner after winner, headline after headline. He knows that this sort of material doesn't happen this quickly. I like that Perry's instincts are right here.

But Robinson says that the Rose call was meant for Lois. And despite the fact that part of that story is the police allowing Thorn to brutalize criminals, the real story is Leviathan.

I don't quite know how the word Leviathan has become such common knowledge here. Leviathan hasn't sent out any messages. I guess the Kent kidnapping and buzz on the street about the attacks have catapulted it to news.

 Last issue ended with Leviathan themselves asking Rose to join the cause and help Metropolis. Thorn isn't much of a joiner, strikes Leviathan and runs off.

It is Rose who awakens in her apartment to find two Leviathan troopers nosing around her stuff. They are in the standard helmet and spiked armor. But despite training (I assume), Thorn is able to dispatch them efficiently and fiercely.

I don't know enough about this incarnation of Rose and Thorn. Does Thorn have any powers? Or just extremely well trained a la Batgirl?

And it is interesting that the two people we have seen Leviathan actively recruit are Barbara and Rose. Hmmm ...

 Goode explains what this turn of events means. Leviathan offered Rose a place in the organization. When that was turned down, Leviathan sent soldiers to Rose's home to eliminate her. Those two things seem a little at odds with each other, especially since Leviathan keeps saying that heroes will willingly join and that they won't fight.

It is almost as if Leviathan, who uses the 'we' pronoun, might be more than one person. Hmmm ...

Meanwhile, Goode's powers as Red Cloud continue to activate without her control.

 That night, Superman is on patrol when he sees Thorn shooting up more Leviathan soldiers.

Here is where we get the meatiest information about Leviathan.

This soldier seems confused about what is happening. He doesn't remember putting on the armor. He doesn't know how it works. He doesn't know if it is booby-trapped. He doesn't know why it Superman's x-ray vision won't work on it.

That close up of his frantic eye tells me all the information I need. This guy can speak the Leviathan party line. But he seems partially amnestic.

 And when Superman tries to use his xray vision, all he sees is the outline of the uniform.

As I said, this soldier may not know how he got the armor or how it works, but he knows Leviathan rhetoric. They won't fight Superman. He'll join them.

And then the guy explodes in blue energy and Superman finds himself in New Delhi.

I always assumed the 'Enforcer' power was innate. But I guess it is tech. Hmmm ...

 So now the idea that the attacks weren't destructive but more 'shifting' will hit the public news.

Maybe Leviathan is sending people somewhere. That is where the indoctrination happens.

I guess even Clark Kent has a #LeviathanTheory

Now all that Leviathan stuff was right up my alley. As you all know, I am trying to solve this mystery.

But the best moment for me was the cliffhanger.

Lex bestows a gift on the Red Cloud, a hint at her origins. And it looks like somehow classic villain Blaze is involved. YES!

I love Blaze as a nemesis for Superman. And bringing her back as connected to Red Cloud is fantastic. This really made me want to read more right away!

So as I said, this was something of a middle chapter for both the Event Leviathan mini-series and the dealings here in Action. And this did just what a middle part should do. The plot progressed. We got key character moments. Momentum was built.

And all in a beautiful looking package.

Overall grade: A


Anonymous said...

Are you speaking of Blaze of the Blaze/Satanus War from 1992? It looks like Blaze had the ability to spawn red demons. Supergirl Matrix lent a hand with that conflict.

But apparently Blaze also was involved with Reign in Hell. (So maybe Linda Danvers is also around.)

I continue to really enjoy Bendis's work here.

And the Jamal Campbell cover is terrific.

The interior art was great and the coloring generally wonderful. But a few panels were confusing and lost me.

Is Leone wearing a night guard or retainer in one closeup? Some kind of silver band across her top teeth. It's not there later.

What happens when Leviathan knocks Rose out? Is that a hand on her elbow, somehow shocking her? I can't make it out. All I see is her face, and a hand.

On the next page, when Thorn strikes out with what I think is her fist, "WHACK"ing something - whacking what? It's barely outlined with light blue lines. Is that a Leviathan soldier semi-dematerializing?

There's no lack of blue panels and blue energies.


Martin Gray said...

Thank you TN, that was the very sequence that confused me. Maybe Anj can explain (over to you, kid!). Is the panel with the possible retainer the close-up on the second story page (third with recap?). I see a line but assumed it was the demarcation between top and bottom teeth.

Top review! I also saw a hint of magic in the disappearing house, I wonder if Mama Leone is a refugee from Gemworld.

I doubt the Leviathan thing is common knowledge in the DCU, I’m taking the recap page as nothing more than that, not canon - MS Leone is holding it as a way into the story, but she’s not seeing ads for Jimmy and Lois co,it’s and the like. Newspapers, though, often know a lot of stuff before the public.

So do we think Blaze is using Goode as a vassal, possessing her, and having been able to influence her decisions, she’s getting stronger and trying to manifest when SHE wants to. Could Goode, at base, be good?

Anonymous said...

Martin, yes, that's the panel. Page 3, Panel 3 "Guy like you? There ain't no such thing."

That could be the demarcation between her upper and lower teeth but looks a bit odd. I even see another faint line closer to her lower lip. What's that? Gum line? Tongue? In the other closeup in the orange panel on the right side of the double spread of page 4-5, her teeth look more normal to me.

Well at least I know it's her mouth, and lots of people wear night guards :). We never see her put down her tablet, or pick up her glass of wine, or put down the wine, or remove a nightguard. We do see her reach into her pockets a few panels before she presses her remote to summon her guards. But then if it was me, I'd press that button in my pocket. It's a DC House Style Extreme Closeup so we don't know where she's holding it when she presses it. Maybe the inside of her bathrobe is blue. We also don't see her discard the remote.

In one panel she's wearing a large necklace that then disappears. The shape of the part of the necklace we see reminds me of something. A symbol. A Naomi shape? That would be odd.

Usually if you look you'll see artists including at least some tiny bits of continuity addressing some such things, but Kudranski doesn't do that in this scene or the one in the dark with Rose and then Thorn which also gave me trouble.

These nitpicks don't lower my positive take on this. Mostly I prefer DC art, but the closeups sometimes bug me. Are they cinematic? Very much so. But you can pause and rewind or step forward by frame to figure out what a film closeup is. Marvel never does extreme closeups. And Marvel rarely uses experimental panel designs. Most artists overlap the companies, but stick to the house styles. So Marvel art, though usually simplistic often to the point of cartoon, and brightly colored, is at least impossible to misconstrue.

Confession: I didn't realize Leone blew up her house. It's obvious now that Anj observed that - the full house protocol. But I thought she was running because she thought Lex was going to blow her up. But then I thought: isn't that what Leviathan does? For my brain it's going to be a long, confused Year of the Villain!

Goode could be good. She's doing good work at the Planet, but maybe only because she wants to help expose Leviathan in service to the Invisible Mafia. It's Goode, not Red Cloud, that Leone made full partner. Unless she's undercover. So... give it another year and it will be clearer ;>.


Anj said...

Re: Blaze

My guess is Goode made some deal to obtain powers bit knowing the actual source. A dealmwith the with devil.

Now she knows where/who they came from.

We saw her in the Bedard Suoergirl run looking far more demonic and less luscious. This looks like the vampy Blaze from REign in Hell.

Anonymous said...

Are you thinking of Red Lantern Bleez? I love Bleez.

T . N.