Thursday, April 2, 2020

Review: Action Comics #1021

Action Comics #1021 came out this week, the ending of the Metropolis Doom arc and the end of the Apex Lex/Scott Snyder Legion of Doom/Perpetua storyline as well. For me, that is a good thing. And thankfully, we finally get a line where the timeline of all the events in the Superman lines are settled a little.

Writer Brian Michael Bendis stuffs this issue with a lot of plot amid the major super-powered brawl in Shuster Park. There is the mystery of the original Young Justice and Conner Kent. There is the enigma of the Red Cloud and her loyalties. And there is that Legion of Doom/Perpetua plot hanging over everyone's head. (I will admit that I was on board for the Snyder story until that ending.)

But I don't want to bury the lede. For me, the biggest thing Bendis did in this issue is, again, show how complex and interesting Leviathan is as a villain. There is a populist feeling to his rhetoric. He is calling out to the common person in the DCU to join him. And while he initially said he wanted what Superman wanted, my guess is Leviathan is growing tired of Superman's reluctance to join the future. I might have been wrong about who Leviathan was but I love the character.

As usual, my biggest complaint is the Romita Jr. art. I know he has his fans but his work doesn't work for me. As a result, the issue which could be a big win falls just a little flat.

On to the details.

Instead of the Planet's Chirper feed to open the book, we get the Metropolis Alerts feed.

As usual this is a nice recap of the issue before but includes some funny stuff.

I love that Grodd is initially called 'Gorilla Man' but then the chirp is deleted. Too late! Screen capped!

While no #LeviathanTheory is trending, I did see #SupergirlBreakingBad trend. So sad that Kara is in the weeds. But is she infected at this point? I don't know with so many overlapping major plots happening just when that happened.

One thing I do have to commend Romita on is this Kirbyesque Hela good design for the upgraded Red Cloud.

As a mist, she shouldn't be limited to 2 arms or even a humanoid form. So this tendril-laden shape with the Asgardian helmet is a solid look. Really love it.

The brawl continues. Superman is pretty much incapacitated by the Red Cloud.

Superboy arrives. Wonder Woman and Batman revive. But the Legion of Doom continues to have their way.

So a couple of things here.

For one, these panel layouts of people being blasted from the side just don't convey much action to me. Seeing half of Superboy as he is blasted from people off screen just doesn't really work for me.

And then Batman is tackled in a similar fashion. Moreover it took me a while to figure out that it was Grodd tackling him. It looks like Black Adam's costume. I had to flip back to see if Adam was there. Romita just can't draw gorillas!

Remember, the bulk of this issue is the big fight. I just couldn't dive in the way I want to in massive donnybrooks.

And then a turning point.

It looks like Superman is dead and Conner is dead and the heroes are dead.

And then Superman makes a plea to Red Cloud.

She should save Conner. And save the innocent kids in the school bus that's on fire.

Superman does what Superman is supposed to do. He inspires.

Just like that, Red Cloud releases her grip, saves the kid, and joins the good guys.

Too quick? Maybe she is working all angles here? Or maybe Superman is that good? This bears watching.

Suddenly the tide has turned.

Two things I like here.

One, Superman immediately wants to bring the fight outside of the city limits. Remember, the LoD's kill box stratagem was to keep the battle inside the city where Superman would be reluctant to go all out. So I like that Superman wants to help the people and go all out.

And Wonder Woman, the warrior, seeing a crack in Luthor's armor. A weakness to be exploited.

It looks like the lines are drawn and a No Man's Land rush is about to happen when ...

My man Leviathan, floating overhead in his city, makes his play.

He simply teleports the Legion of Doom away. He now has their headquarters, more tech to pillage and refit.

But he gives what is a pretty good villain speech. Or hero speech depending on your view.

While Superman was all 'punchy punchy', Leviathan showed everyone the world of tomorrow.

I love his line. He took care of the Legion of Doom 'without throwing a building. Not even one.'

His world vision is different. He wants peace. And if he needs to do things that some people won't, he'll do it.

It is a very grass roots sort of view. He's mad as Hell and he isn't going to take it anymore.

He teleported Luthor. He didn't kill Lex. Because Lex has a bunch of 'if I die ...' things in place.

That is so Lex. So I love it.

And that is why I like Leviathan. What is the lesser of two evils here? Not killing Lex. Why invite catastrophe?

But even more, I like that Leviathan isn't even there. Why would he risk himself by being there physically?

And then the pitch that made me want to sign up.

The Justice League and The Legion of Doom are the same sort of entity to Leviathan. All of it is crazy. And you shouldn't empower or humor that. You need to eliminate it.

So, if you are huddled in your apartment, hoping you survive this latest brouhaha between super-powered beings who don't seem to care, Leviathan is there for you. Leviathan is you. So sign up. Or get ready to be contacted to join up.

That is a very populist motivation. That pitch is sure to be broadcast everywhere by the media covering this brawl. The word will spread. In this day when 'hope and change' are rallying cries, you probably want things to change. You probably are sick of devastation like this. So why not vote for the third party candidate?

But don't think about it too long. It means he could have teleported the villains away before they tore a hole into the world during this melee. He could have saved lives and property.

Hmmm,  but maybe that wouldn't get him as many converts.

Hmmm ...

I love this character.

So all we have is the wrap up.

For one, Superman is pretty impressed with this Superboy.

Time to figure out who he is.

I like Conner's respect for this Superman.

And then Robison Goode touches base with her boss.

A few things here. I was unsure if Goode could return to human form but here it seems she can. Interesting.

Second, was her turn to the good side because she wants to be a hero or because the League winning more aligns with the Invisible Mafia's mission?

And lastly, with that last sentence we know that this happened before the identity reveal. That explains why Lex can be not Apex Lex in those issues. The Snyder story is done before The Truth.
Hooray for getting back to the old Lex!

But it also makes me wonder if the best time for Superman to reveal his identity is the day after a huge part of Metropolis is a crater and a villain has told people things can be different. Maybe the decision to reveal your long standing secret is like the decision to have a kid. There is never really a perfect time.

So another very good issue, especially if you are a Leviathan fan. Solid ending to this arc.

Overall grade: B+


Martin Gray said...

Nothing much to say, I agree with everything you say about the good and the bad of this issue.

We saw Red Mist’s un-heel turn coming, I think she will go to the good side for, Er, good but if she wants to be allowed to continue being good she’ll need a solid stint with the Suicide Squad - that new series by Tom Taylor, Bruno Redondo and friends is just brilliant - to begin to make up for her crimes.

Anonymous said...

Timeline is still confusing.

Supergirl remains infected until just before old Lex is returned, so if this is post-Apex Lex, Supergirl would not be infected any longer.

But also, post-Apex Lex gets his human skin tone back (Hell Arisen). So I think this is gray-skinned Apex Lex.

Red Cloud has been augmented - and she got that way by accepting Apex Lex's upgrade offer. So this is not pre-Apex Lex.

(Her more defined form, with horns and tunic, was part of the upgrade. I liked her original mistier form better. But I believe she would not have had this kind of power to dominate Superman until her upgrade.)

And, if what you mean by "The Snyder story is done before The Truth" is that this happens after the Snyder story... well, the Justice League kind of faded into some undefined location, a limbo until Death Metal I suppose. They shouldn't be around in this story.

My interpretation is that the story happens while Lex is Apex, but before the rest of the Legion is turned by Perpetua into living batteries to further fuel him. I can't see them working with Lex again later.

Donnybrook - a word one just doesn't hear often enough. Well done!

Perhaps there is a meta conflict as Bendis has Leviathan effortlessly handle the Legion of Doom. So there, Snyderverse!


Anonymous said...

Hello from a french fan of supergirl,

Finally, we have a little consistency in the chronology. I fell like all the story will end at the same time, for the G5 ?

With the return of Conner, Kara have a new cousin. Question, how old is Conner ?

During my partial unemployment, i read Platic man 2018 and i saw several easter egg. A woman deguises in Bombshell supergirl, Platic man have a t-shirt with Supergirl, Batgirl and Wonder woman with written "brave, strong, girls"... i think i saw it for sale on the internet.

Scott said...

Hello all! I've been following the blog for about a year now and it's just wonderful!

I'm still confused on the timeline of this arc. There are things that happen two days ago, then forty minutes ago. A lot of it is very confusing!

Martin Gray said...

Hello Scott, great to have you here. And I feel your pain as regards the back-and-forth timeline nonsense; I’ve written whole blog posts bemoaning it. What’s wrong with linear storytelling?