Monday, September 28, 2020

Review: Action Comics #1025

Action Comics #1025 came out last week, the next chapter in The House of Kent story arc. 

This may be a bit of a scattered review for a number of reasons. 

First off, I have enjoyed this overall arc and continue to do so. I like the Invisible Mafia antagonist. I like how some hints from early on in the Bendis run are being paid off here. I like how the super-family is together, supporting each other. And I have always liked the Daily Planet part of Bendis' Action Comics run. It remains strong here.

But there are two things that stick out that somewhat detract.

One, in this issue we are again introduced to a mega-powered new bad guy to brawl with Superman. Between Rogol Zaar, Synmar Utopica, Apex Lex, and now this new bad guy it seems like I have had a belly full of 'the next big threat'. 

And two, the art of John Romita Jr has never clicked with me but this certainly issue seems even more sloppy and ugly. 

So how do you reconcile the overall excellent story with (for me) an overused plot device and shoddy visuals?

We start out with two somewhat familiar characters talking in a shabby diner about escaping the reality they are in.

It turns out that this is Earth-3 (we see a Crime Syndicate brawl occurring outside). 

Now after all the contextual clues, it became apparent to me that this is Dr. Glory talking to Marisol Leone. But it took me a while to get there. One quick 'I'm here Ms. Leone' 'Thank you Dr. Glory' at the beginning of the discussion would have oriented me.

It doesn't help as they look different than they do now, a nod of course to time having passed and their current looks those of a new life. 

Somewhere along the way early on, maybe in a discussion with Leviathan, Leone said she liked this Earth or something like that. So it was nice to see that hint materialize.

Cut to present day.

Clark is sending a story to Lois to print about Leone, the Red Cloud, the murder of Melody Moore, and the Invisible Mafia. He has his whole family out looking for them.

While the art itself isn't stunning, I do like seeing the unified Super-Family (with upside silly Brainy) trying to find the criminals. I think most Superman fans like this too.

I do have to quibble with the Supergirl panel. Bendis says she has 'returned to Earth' just in time to help out. Where was she? Superman interacted with her when she was infected by The Batman Who Laughs during that debacle. She was cured and said she chose Earth (like the umpteenth time she has 'chosen Earth' in the last 10 years). So did she take off again? Or is this an editorial glitch?

Arriving at the headquarters of the Invisible Mafia, the crew breaks in but finds the place abandoned.

They do see the busted car (like the Action Comics #1 vehicle) which makes me wonder now that we know Leone could universe jump if that car is from some other more Golden Age Earth.

I also liked how the whole family is supportive. They know Superman is reeling at the death of Melody and is probably blaming himself for not saving her. So I like how Jon and Kara remind him he can't be everywhere and he isn't to blame. I am very happy about that.

Meanwhile, Dr. Glory and Red Cloud are working towards evening the odds in this fight against the super-family. They head to a portal where Glory asks Robinson to power down.

I like how Glory is pretty frazzled about going up against Superman. That small line felt powerful. People shouldn't be thrilled to fight him, let alone everyone else.

She opens up the portal and out steps a purple blob of a humanoid. In his dimension, he was the Parasite but one who was successful. He absorbed all of that dimension's Superman's powers and then absorbed lots of other powers.

Now on our world, he'll want to absorb our Superman's powers.

At least now we know why Glory had Red Cloud power down. She didn't want this thing to absorb the Red Cloud too.

But this is just another over-powered ultra-villain in a parade of ultra-villains. He feels like such a copy of other recent big shots. It doesn't help that Romita draws him like a purple hefty bag with eyes. He seems like a blurry copy of a copy.

This thing makes a beeline for Superman who tells the others to hang back.

I do like how none of them listen to him.

It's one thing for him to inspire and lead when the time is right. But telling his family to sit back and watch him go one on one against this thing? That makes no sense. They should balk at that.

Look! The Superman Family!

I also like that it is Conner who tries to sneak in the first attack before anything gets strategized.

He always was the brash one.

But again, this highlights my problems with the art. That top panel just doesn't work for me.

Back at the Daily Planet, Lois tries to get Perry to print the story Clark beamed in at the beginning.

Lois, as we saw in the Rucka run, knows the law and so she can try to get it out there while the FBI is investigating. 

But we finally start to get some convergence of the timelines. Jimmy bought the Planet in the last issue of his mini-series a couple of months ago. Here we finally see him nudging up to the purchase.

And then a decent cliffhanger.

Leone shows up at the Planet saying she has been libeled. She says Lois is out to ruin her. And then ... cue the DUN-DUN-DUN ... she can also prove that Lois is from another universe!

Now this Lois, I think, is an amalgam of the New 52 Lois and the Convergence Earth Lois. But it is hard to keep the actual facts of Rebirth straight. Remember, the New 52 Lois got powers and was the title character of Superwoman for a hot second. I can't believe she is 'only' the Convergence Earth Lois because she would be about a decade older.

Regardless, this is a nice ploy by Leone. I am eager to see where this goes.

So if you removed the hefty bag threat and had  crisper art, this would be an A.

And I'll say again, for the most part I have really liked what Bendis has brought to these titles. I'll miss him when he is gone from these books.

Overall grade: B



Anonymous said...

I have a theory.

Bendis has said he plans to leave things the way he found them.

If he can really do that, it means an intact secret identity for Clark, and a de-aged Jon.

My theory is that none of this story has been happening on our earth! Consider that Bendis has been playing with alt universes since the day he got to DC. Everything in Young Justice. Naomi was born in an alt universe (that crossed-over from her book briefly, into Superman or Action).

That could explain some odd glitches, like how the Legion of Doom events in Superman (or Action, I get them mixed up) didn't sync up at all with what was happening in Justice League.

If all of this happened somewhere else, then some other important things might change back:

1) Rogol Zaar had nothing to do with the destruction of our Krypton! Here, it happened the way it always happened. You know, it was the first bizarre thing Bendis wrote, tampering with the iconic tale of the end of Krypton. The feeling was almost "How dare he?" And yet he always talks about being respectful of the work of others. Changing the iconic origin story is hardly respectful.

2) Supergirl might or might not have been Infected, but she never became an outlaw at odds with the military and still has an intact reputation. (I'd like to speculate that one Supergirl has a blue skirt and the other a red skirt not because of coloring errors, but because it's two different versions of Supergirl.)

3) And this would explain lesser things like how the stories with Luthor and the Legion of Doom didn't sync exactly with what was happening in other books.

Maybe "our" Supergirl was also infected but didn't get into the quarrels with the military and still has an intact reputation.

There are countless ramifications. One more time where the Legion is based on a specific Superboy who would no longer exist. Well that doesn't break anything at all - it merely echoes it.

Now that I invented all of that, the chances I'm really on to something are not good.

Martin Gray said...

Ah Anon, is this the Doom Patrol quiz theory, because you’ve put it out here, it”s not going to happen? Well, I would be happy if if did. I hadn’t heard Bendis was going to put the toys back in the box.

Nice review Anj, extra points for working out why Robinson was advised to power down, I never got that in my review!

I wonder how much we’d be enjoying this book wot just better art. This is shocking stuff. What did you think of the cover?

Anonymous said...

I was accidentally double-anon there - I'm T.N.

The Heisenberg pricipal probably means we having this conversation.


Anonymous said...

Romita Jr isn't a very good artist, Lois Lane has never looked more masculine...I can't believe this guy is the toast of the comic book artists...
As for Supergirl being off Earth just be glad she wasn't being jobbed out for the tenth time in two years to the needs of some bankrupt creative's "vision".