Friday, August 30, 2019

Review: Action Comics #1014

Action Comics #1014 came out this week and was another great chapter in this title's run. This book has always been the more street level, Daily Planet, 'what's happening in Metropolis' of the Superman books and this issue showcased all that. From the scenes in the Daily Planet about the paper's mission and finanaces, to Superman/Clark breaking a story, to the Invisible Mafia having a very visible confrontation, this book bleeds Metropolis and I love it.

I will also add that the mystery of Leviathan has seeped into the book as well. And there is one big clue drop which bolsters my #LeviathanTheory. But remember, this is the review post. Clue posts drop next week.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis shows his gift of dialogue here. In particular, I love the scenes between Perry White and new Planet Owner/Capo of the Invisible Mafia Ms. Leone. Here Leone comes off like the guardian angel of journalism and truth. But we know her more nefarious leanings. So is she playing White to guide the stories in the paper, putting her spin on them. Or does she know that the Planet can be used as a weapon against other of her foes? Or does she truly believe in truth? Hmmm ...

Szymon Kudranski's art is solid as usual. His style runs from loose to tight at times which I find a little disorienting now and then. But overall, his style has a bit of a 'noir' edge which works for this book. His character scenes seem to flow better than, for example, this issue's big alien fight.

On to the book and particulars.

Once again we open with the Planet's Chirper page.

I like how this can work as a simple recap page, not only for this book but ancillaries like Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, and Wonder Twins. I like seeing what is trending in the DCU, although I keep hoping #LeviathanTheory will make it to the big board. But my biggest thrill is seeing the Planet 'house ads' for Trish Q's column and Jimmy's #YourPal contest.

Fun stuff.

In Jimmy Olsen #2, we saw Ms. Leone walking the Planet as if she had been formally introduced as the new owner.

Here, we finally get that scene. Perry meets her in his office.

Almost immediately he likes her. And why not, she says the right things. She wants to paper to survive. That means selling stories and increasing clicks.

But she also wants truth and hard journalism. No more gossip columns (although Trish is too good a reporter to simply let go). She wants Lois Lane in the building and writing stories. And she is willing to dole out the money to get that done.

To Perry, so worried that the new owner would change the whole tenor of the paper, this must sound like the song of angels.

But from a mafia leader, why would Leone want all this?

Meanwhile, Superman is out in the city proper, slugging it out with a giant alien kaiju near S.T.A.R. Labs. And frankly he has had enough of the lab's experiments. There hasn't been much good coming from them recently.

Before he can delve too deep, a lab technician arrives with a tablet so Superman can face time with Dr. Glory, a higher up. She tells Superman that Leviathan is using temporal energy to rip through time/space to teleport. S.T.A.R. is hoping to help Superman get to the bottom of it.

Hmmm ... Dr. Glory seems a little on the nose. Is this a villain?

But here is a great turn. Rather than simply be happy with this offer of aid, Superman scans the S.T.A.R. building with his x-ray vision (great page by Kudranski) which shows any number of illegal or inappropriate experiments happening.

Just like that, Superman has broken some big news and Clark Kent has an exclusive.

I actually liked this splash page of Planet text. We hear that Clark is a great reporter and writer. But it is rare that we actually get to read his stuff. I especially like how it is shown over the blurred out Chirper page, meaning this is someone reading it off a link.

And S.T.A.R. labs being an evil organization, like A.I.M.? That is a new wrinkle. Makes me wonder how much Leviathan is embedded there.

With the story submitted, Perry asks Clark to meet Leone. And Perry wants Clark on his best behavior. Leone is a benefactor.

For me, the best thing in this scene was the 'Where is Supergirl?' story being worked on in the background. I also like that the picture is the last page of the Steve Orlando run with the smiling Kara proclaiming herself a hero on Earth?

Yes DC Comics, many Supergirl fans are wondering where that Supergirl is! Instead we get to see her 'infected' by evil yes again!

I hope the Planet finds that Supergirl and shows the powers that be that we want to read that Kara!

And once again, Leone says all the right things when she meets Clark.

First, she seems to have a nose for news, wondering why a follow-up investigation after S.T.A.R. mucked around with Phantom Zone tech didn't happen.

But once again, she wants to recognize hard work. She asks Clark if he is being paid enough and how she can help with that.

Is she hoping to buy off the reporters? Control which stories get looked into ... and which stories don't? Does she hope money will buy complacency? Or loyalty?

On face value, I can see why this all sounds wonderful to Perry, reminding Leone that Clark's work was good journalism. That work deserves its own reward.

Meanwhile, Thorn continues to slash her way through the Metropolis underground trying to find Leviathan. In one of the Invisible Mafia's clubs, she attacks Mr. Strong (one of Leone's lieutenants) thinking he might be the big bad.

Who should rush to Strong's defense, Leone's superhuman agent, the Red Cloud.

But whoa ... Red Cloud sure looks different. She definitely looks more demonic, with 'Blaze' horns and 4 arms! Is she mutating? Reaching her final form? Did she accept Luthor's gift?

I feel for Robinson Goode who I think has gone down a dark path she might not have known she was on.

And suddenly the 'invisible' nature of the Mafia is shattered. No ignoring a loud metahuman bar fight.

Lastly, Clark meets up Lois and tells her about Leone.

It is clear that as an 'importer/exporter', Leone is probably mobbed up. She definitely is a new mystery person in their lives and should be looked at carefully. But there is also all the good that Leone said in the Planet.

But that conversation is truncated by the haphazard arrival of next month's guest star.

I love this title. I love this issue. Continued Leviathan clues, the Planet politics, and the 'Metropolis' feel of this book is what really tickles me! And boy, the Superman books just really feel like they have got the momentum of a runaway train! I'm a happy fan.

Overall grade: A


Martin Gray said...

Fab review of a fantastic issue. I wonder if the new four-armed Cloudy is due to Robinson Goode struggling against possession by Blaze, trying to force herself out.

And I think we just saw Thorn get her immortality power!

I've no qualms about the Kudranski art, I love it all.

Pay rises that are this public won't persuade the Kents to follow Marisol Leone's tune, and she apparently knows them well enough to know they're incorruptible. I am surprised that after last issue she isn't trying to unleash them on Lex and all his works.

Anj said...

Great pick up on Thorn's immortality turn!

Thanks for comment!

Anonymous said...

@Martin you give a good suggestion here about what Red Cloud meant when she says "People like you WANT this" - maybe she's giving Thorn power for some reason. Maybe it's accidental, maybe intentional, but something may be up with this, and it may be we now have our immortal guide to the future. (Who I think we already do know will be a "she.")

If she's already immortal but didn't know it, Red Cloud can't kill her; or maybe this interaction is what makes her immortal.

That makes me happy, cause I like Rose and Thorn. Think of all the cool woodsy-bordered panels we'd lose too quickly. What would be the point of developing such elegant and meticulous artwork for a throwaway character?

When I saw the "Where is Supergirl" poster, I thought this is one time the red skirt isn't a coloring error. That's how she looked last time anyone saw her on earth.

Really enjoyed this issue.