Friday, June 5, 2020

Review: Action Comics #1022

Action Comics #1022 came out this week and was a pure joy. In a time where I need something uplifting and something to fill me with joy, this issue hit the mark.

This issue tries to answer a thorny continuity question. Who is Conner Kent Superboy? How can he exist. In the end, writer Brian Michael Bendis seems to say 'who cares as long as it makes you happy?' There is a lot of talk of reboots, crisis changes, timelines, multiple Earths or multiple versions of one Earth. All the jargon is tossed in. But in the end, what we get is a happy reunion and an great addition to the DC universe. (Maybe it would be better to say two additions to the DC Universe!)

Put aside the Conner Kent storyline and Bendis continues to stir the pot about the Invisible Mafia and the revelation that they have run the Daily Planet. I have always loved the Planet-centric nature of this comic and seeing the best supporting cast in comics commanding some pages makes me very happy.

John Romita Jr is on art and I'm not the biggest fan. His work here is solid enough. But many of the panels are close up profiles of Jon/Clark/Conner. And, maybe to highlight a point, all those faces look similar. I sometimes had to pause the read to figure out who was saying what.

But there is no denying. I loved this issue. On to the details.

We start out in the Fortress.

Superman is trying to figure out who Conner is.

Conner knows who he is, a clone of Lex and Superman. But the bigger question is how is he there.

He talks about being from some Earth, either a different one or a different version of this one. But I love this comment from him wondering if he is a real live boy. It is sort of a Pinocchio question, apt when you don't know if you belong.

The Q&A is interrupted by Superboy and Brainiac 5 on a temporal sight seeing trip.

Hmmm ... who are they joking about? Maybe Colossal Boy is named that for some thing other than his power? I'm sorry ... sometimes the 'high school sophomore' Anj is in charge of my mind.

But even Jon wonders who Conner is?

Here is a good example of the profile problem. Hairstyles and colors help. But it did make me pause a bit.

I do love that Jon thinks the leather jacket look is cool.

Meanwhile at the Planet, the staff begins to deal with the ramifications of the paper's self-reveal that the mob owns them.

Lois has lawyered up, bringing Kate Spencer with her.

But people like Steve Lombard aren't happy. Perry made the decision to reveal mafia connection without warning the staff. Some might have left before being tainted with that mafia stain.

I love Perry in this book the way Bendis writes him. He is such a leader. He runs the Planet and he runs things above board. So everyone working under him will be above board too.

Ironically, the Planet is selling better than ever. The recent big stories, including Superman's identity reveal, has made the paper intriguing. Chaos sells papers!

I love the Gotham Gazette jab by Lois. Perfect.

Such a great scene inside the Planet, something we have seen since Bendis took over.

How is Mob Boss Leone dealing with the reveal.

Well she and Red Cloud are trying to figure out the response. Interestingly enough, the Robison Goode is impressed with how Lois got the story through and how it is impacted things. Goode is a journalist. She knows quality when she sees it. Perhaps it is time for Leone to control the narrative.

A couple of things here. Romita does shine in here. His depiction of Goode changing forms from gas to human back to gas is solid. And the coloring by Brad Anderson is fantastic varying the shades of red and even being creative in the text boxes.

I also love Cloud's confidence as she says she could kill Superman but didn't want to because of a Luthor order. So much for Superman inspiring her to be less evil.

Back at the Fortress, Superman calls in the best and the brightest to analyze Conner to try and figure out where/when/how he exists. Will Magnus, both Atoms, Ted Kord, Batman, Brainiac 5 ... all thinking.

Again, we get more buzzwords. "Crisis effects on our reality." "Multiverse." "Universal reboot." Bendis is throwing all the sloppiness onto the wall.

But no one here can figure out how Conner is here.

Then Conner drops a simple fact. He was cared for by the Ma and Pa Kent.

And, shockingly, the Kents remember Conner.

Even Superman is surprised by this.

But who better to remember some weird universal reboot limbo anomaly than a couple of weird universal reboot limbo anomalies like the Kents, just restored by Geoff Johns in Doomsday Clock.

I am usually a comic continuity cop. My mind was reeling a little bit even though I was happy. But I wondered if others would be irked.

Then Bendis gives us just a perfect response by Ma Kent.

No need to apologize for returning Conner or having the Kents return or have them know each other.

Let's have more hugs.

God knows comics need more hugs.

Just a wonderful way for Ma to frame this.

Again, solid colors by Brad Anderson here. Everything is dazzling and vivid, appropriate for the sun dappled Smallville locale.

Compare it the drab colors of the following scene.

Lois gets a tip of where Leone lives. When she enters, she sees the whole Invisible Mafia headquarters, including the famous lead pipe sitting room they group meets in.

It doesn't take long for Lois' spider-sense to kick in. She and Jimmy have been set up. They are going to get blamed for the (presumed) dead bodies in this place. And it doesn't help that Red Cloud is also there ...

Nice cliffhanger.

But that darkish ending only makes the earlier happiness that much brighter.

Hugs for everyone!

And thank you Brian Michael Bendis!!

Overall grade: A


Martin Gray said...

Wasn’t this a lovely change after the last few issues of fighty nonsense? I actually though the art looked a fair bit better, with Danny Miki’s finishes a lot softer than Klaus Janson’s... suddenly Clark and Conner don’t have those lines that make them look like hounds in the X-Men.

Any idea what Brainy’s head light is checking on?

I wondered for a sec of Jon’s ‘fabulous’ was Bendis setting up Jon as gay but decided that was far too lame a signifier, the writer is better than that.

I don’t think the bodies were there to set up Lois and Jimmy, they’d have no motive, simply to cause trouble as regards whatever the new plan is.

Top review, as ever!

Steve said...

What about Leone's comment on searching for a perfect world? Was that literal? Is she from another rebooted Earth? That could mean that IS the car from Action Comics #1!

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that Superman only remembers the Kents, while the Kents also remember Conner.

Apparently Leone is also from some alt earth?

Ted Kord is involved in some other book right now, so I'm not sure what he's doing here. (That other book was released so recently that I won't spoil it here.)

The last Young Justice ended with the Star Labs baddie about to tell the team how they all knew each other. And according to the solicitations, this issue of Action was originally going to feature Young Justice ("Now the city is in a state of shock—and Clark and Conner Kent need to figure out what’s next for them and the city they protect! Guest-starring Wonder Comics’ Young Justice in a unique crossover!") Seems we are getting closer to whatever explanations Bendis is going to provide.


Lord Mark said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anj said...

I thought Leone's comments simply meant she wasn't going to run. This was her perfect world and she was going to fight for it rather than retreat!

Thanks for comments!

Martin Gray said...

‘I’m done looking for the perfect Earth. if this isn’t it, it’s not to be found’ is very different, when you live in the DC Multiverse, from, say, ‘I’m done looking for the perfect world’ - she could well be a refugee from Earth 1938.

DanielT said...

I know DC continuity is super up in the air right now (no pun intended), but isn't this Superman the pre-Flashpoint one? Shouldn't he have remembered Conner the same way the Kents did? Why am I even asking a question that has no real answer?

Anonymous said...

Hello from a franch fan of supergirl,

Finally a comic with a nice family reunion without a fight.

Stringly that supergirl and krypto kick the ass of general for the full family reunion.

Oups, family, where are the danvers ? foster's parents of kara ?

Bostondreams said...

"I know DC continuity is super up in the air right now (no pun intended), but isn't this Superman the pre-Flashpoint one? Shouldn't he have remembered Conner the same way the Kents did? Why am I even asking a question that has no real answer?"

This version of Clark is actually a merger of pre-Flashpoint and new 52 ones. And when they went through his 'history' during Rebirth, I seem to recall that Reign of the Supermen snippet only showed Steel, Henshaw, and Eradicator...