Friday, August 28, 2020

Review: Action Comics #1024


After what felt like an eternity of no new material to cover on this site, I was delighted to see a glut of books in my folder this week - Legion, Amethyst, Batman/Superman, and today's review Action Comics #1024

This issue marks the third chapter in the House of El story arc where the Superman family is brought together to finally (I think) bring an end to the Invisible Mafia plot thread which started writer Brian Michael Bendis' run here. I have heard rumors everywhere that Bendis' run on the Superman books is coming to an end sometime in the near future so closing out this Mafia arc makes sense.

But for me, the biggest thing of this issue is the return of Supergirl to the forefront and the beginning of the Superman Family (notice the capital letters).  After months of Supergirl in space, axe-wielding Kara, evil Kara, and goth clown Kara, we actually have a true Supergirl sighting here. It made me smile. Thankfully. I needed this as a Supergirl fan.

Things are also brought to a boiling point as we round the corner of this arc. Often times middle chapters can plod along a bit without true progression. Not true here. I do wonder if we have a 'fridging' here but certainly that isn't the only motivation our heroes have to take down the Mafia.

The art by John Romita Jr is in his style although there are a couple of high points in the issue I will point out later. And I like the cover more for the 'meet the new boss' trade dress. It's Superman ... same as the old boss!

On to the book.

The issue starts with a member of the Invisible Mafia ... Whisper ... keeping track of Superman, as he has for the Mafia since the beginning. This is the person who tells the Mafia when Superman is away, out of Metropolis, thus making it safe for them to work.

But he sees that Superman isn't alone. And interestingly enough he has no files on the Connor Superboy or Brainiac 5. Maybe it is time for the Mafia to go into lockdown and have the trail go dark. Superman doesn't have the other major issues which were distracting from him.

It is interesting how all of these other universe/other dimension/other timeline stuff has bubbled into the DCU these days. It feels like the company is trying to bring back in some characters who have gone by the wayside. All this at a time  when perhaps Metal is going to possibly reboot the whole thing all over again.

But it seems like the Mafia isn't going to go quietly into that good night. 

Melody Moore, a character Bendis introduced as a fire fighter and possible progressive Mayor, is killed by the Red Cloud.

I have to mourn this a bit. In recent history, many new characters have been tried to be rolled into the Superman books and none of them have stuck. I like Moore as a strong woman who was trying to fight the system. She even said she thought Superman shouldn't support a political candidate but was glad he chose her.

So it is sad that she is killed here. And while Superman has plenty of reasons to fight the Mafia, this seems like a useless death done to spur Superman into action. 

And certainly this makes a redemption for Robinson Goode an impossibility.

What do you all think?

Superman, Superboy, Superboy, and Brainiac 5 head to the Planet where Agent Chase and the FBI are trying to gut the Planet. They know Ms. Leone own the Planet and they want all the files. In fact, the FBI seems irate that they weren't notified about this before the Planet ran their own damning story.

But I have to love the responses of all the Planet Staff in 'The Pit' when Chase makes her demands. Stacy Q is live streaming and wants out. Jimmy (who I guess hasn't bought the Planet yet) points out the Perry that the Planet's lawyers are Leone's lawyers and thus might not be the right folks to bring in. Perry is staunch in defending his paper.

And I love that Brainy is overwhelmed with fanboy nerdiness over things like keyboards and the Planet globe. Nice character touch.

Before the conversation can go further, Superman picks up something with his senses and takes off, his team following.

He comes upon the body of Melody.

There is a lot I like about this scene. One, we don't see the body at all, not even a vague outline. So it is left to my imagination ... which is often worse than actually seeing. Next, I like how Superman tries to hide the the sight from the 'kids' so they don't see the horror.

Lastly, I don't always compliment Romita. But this panel is fascinating to me. You can tell how slumped Superman is here, almost deflated. Next, the way the panel is constructed feels almost like a Kirby panel. And that hand held backwards as a stop sign is brilliant.

And just when Superman is at his lowest, look who shows up!

A smiling, non-Goth, welcoming Supergirl!

This panel is pure Romita Jr.

But hurray! A Supergirl sighting! And she is normal! And Superman is happy to see her!

When he tells her his friend has been killed, she immediately hugs him.

And not just a hug ... a HUG. You can see how she is clutching him tight, almost trying to hold him together as he is falling apart. She is the source of strength here. Amazing to see this. Superman is crumpled and Kara is supporting him. 

Obviously I loved this.

This is Supergirl. Hope, help, and compassion for all!

But as she is doing this she spies the others there. 

She isn't sure about Connor, saying they aren't related. I can understand this a little. He's a clone. She doesn't know him. He's half Luthor. She has literally just met him. She'll get there.

And ... gasp ... a Brainy/Kara moment.

I like how he casually says she is a legend in the future. And I like how she was a little insulted not to be invited to the team.

Maybe that is not invited YET?

I can only hope. And I really hope we get some Brainy/Kara relationship ... or at least flirting ... at some point!

With so many Els around, they begin scanning for the Mafia. It is interesting to see the dots of lead lining in the city.

And, despite a true Superman Family (thank you Mr. Bendis for using the term!), Leone isn't slowing down. She thinks she is safely hidden and is planning a final counterpunch.

But we see how long the reach of the Mafia is. Dr. Glory, recent looter of STAR Labs, was under Leone's employ. The Mafia was everywhere.

Ah ha!

While Leone might be very hidden, Whisper isn't! Brainiac 5 can use his tech powers to track that part of the Mafia. 

And while overplayed, the 'red eyes of anger' here on 4 Supers is quite the sight. Chuck in a Brainiac and you can see why Whisper is probably scared.

Look, I loved this issue. We finally have a recognizable and relatable and heroic Supergirl! She loves Superman and is there to support and help him. She isn't in spiked leather.Huzzah!

I love that the Mafia truly doesn't seem scared of Superman. They are a real threat.

And I even tolerated the art more than usual here. 

The one downside is the killing of Melody Moore who I believe could have been a big player in these books in the future. Her death didn't add enough to the fire against this group to make it seem worth it. I suppose my missing her already shows how well she was written.

But let's not forget - Supergirl, a legend in the 31st century, is back and better!

 Overall grade: A


Daxam1978 said...

I'm awaiting this issue in the post,it sounds awesome!
Nice to see Brainy too.

Martin Gray said...

Great review as ever. I’m sad about Melody too, she had potential. I suppose it was a kind of fringing, not in that it gave the Superman Family motivation, but it did show how close Clark and Kara can be. More of this relationship, please. And while it wasn’t outright flirting, we do have perhaps the start of a Thin Man dynamic with Supergirl and Brainy.

Hopefully next issue Krypto will show up!

Steve said...

A comment in Martin's blog on this issue solidified how I see Bendis' take on Goode: She started out a good person and anger over what was done to her caused her to choose the life she was living as Red Cloud. Helping Clark against the Legion of Zoom was her true nature, one she decides to obliterate by killing Melody. She's not a natural at this evil stuff like Lex or Brainiac so she has to work at it. That said, I think her only redemption arc is dying to save lives. Honestly tho' I'd rather she stay a villain. She's the best Bendis has added to the mythos...

Anonymous said...

I'm struggling to reconcile Kara's history of hating Conner, because tubegrown with the depictions of Krypton suggesting that growing children in a machine was standard practice.

Rob S. said...

Great review! I loved this issue too -- it's one of the most emotional moments I can ever recall in a Superman stories for me. So affecting, and so well-handled in every respect.

And yet... part of me suspects it could be a fake-out. The emotion, the grief, etc., are all real -- but are directed at a different person than we're led to believe. (I lay out my case -- and then deflate it a bit with some counter-evidence -- over on Mart's review of the same issue. You're not the only one with #Theories, y'know!)

But no matter what the true nature of the events of this issue, Bendis, Romita Jr., Janson, and co. handled them superbly.

Looking forward to your Legion reactions!

Anonymous said...

Hello from a french fan of supergirl,

Finally a content to put in the top 10 of supergirl, super-hug.

Question, the president supergirl live at the same time of the Legion ? did brainiac 5 mett the "old" supergirl ? so the "youngest"cannot come in the future to avoird a paradox ?

Anonymous said...

Much to like in this issue - and sad, but with some likely falseIy hope that Melody is actually still alive.

I remember Stacey Q also ("Two of hearts, two hearts that beat as one") but you meant Trish Q :).


Anj said...

Thanks for great comments.

Love the idea of Melody being alive. Although I think it is a stretch.

I think I have written Stacy Q in every review only to catch myself before going to publish. Not surprised it sneaked though.

Great issue. Love the family dynamic. And don't think Kara was alive in the 31st century in Legion Millennium.

Martin Gray said...

Hey, at least you never wrote Stacy X...