Friday, October 30, 2020

Review: Action Comics #1026

Action Comics #1026 came out this week and was another extremely entertaining issue in the House of Kent storyline. This is the last story arc in Action Comics for writer Brian Michael Bendis. His time on Superman is coming to an end. I will be sad to see him go. His Superman has always been the shining inspiration that the Man of Steel should be. He is the friend, here to help, and  the moral and heroic star to guide our ship.

But also I am going to miss his take on Supergirl. While Kara has been mistreated and misrepresented and downgraded in her own title, Bendis understands her. She is a young woman, bright and optimistic, smart and strategic, and a natural leader. Who defeated Rogol Zaar in Man of Steel? Supergirl. Who figures out how to defeat the Parasite in this issue? Supergirl. I can only hope somewhere down the line Bendis gets to write Supergirl again.

John Romita Jr's art remains a blocky, scratchy tableau for my tastes. But one thing I love about this issue's art is the layout of the book. This is mostly a knock-down, drag-out fight between the Superman Family and this Uber-Parasite. And with such a tremendous fight, you need to feel that chaos, that action (apropos for the title). The book unfolds with pages tumbling, with vertical two page spreads that will literally have the reader flipping the book over in their hands. In my mind it was the equivalent of a frenetic hand held camera shot in a movie. You are part of the action.

There is more to this issue than just the fight as the Invisible Mafia arc is nudged forward with the Red Cloud and mob boss Leone still trying to get the upper hand.

Buckle up. Here we go!

Our splash page opening is Brainiac 5 giving us arecap of why he is here and what is happening. It's cute how he marvels at a toilet.

I have seen some gripes on this text heavy splash. But I think differently. So many comics give us this same information on a static text page. At least here I get the recap but also art and some bit of personality. Even the Interlac gives us a look into Brainiac. Here is the translation:

A space-time continuum permissions visa is not a real thing. Brainiac 5 created it to give himself permission to visit his ancient heroes. I mean, we get it, it's exciting but, let's be honest, he made it up. Time travel!

Last issue, Dr. Glory released an incredibly powerful Parasite from another universe to fight our super-team. Conner ran into battle and quickly got drained.

We see how this being isn't fazed by the presence of 4 Kryptonians and Coluan genius. Now that let's us know how powerful this thing is. Luckily, Conner isn't dead either due to his physiology or a temporary effect of the Parasite's powers.

I do like the askew word panels at the bottom of this vertical double page spread. It let's the reader know that the action is fast and furious and tees up the page flip.

Of course this is the Parasite. Getting in close and dusting knuckles plays into the villain's powers. Heat vision, punches, and close combat isn't going to work.

I love how it is Supergirl who realizes they need a different strategy. She tells them to stand down and regroup. And I like how Jon recognizes that she is right. They should listen to Aunt Kara. That is the Supergirl I need to read.

In the meantime, Ms. Leone continues to say that Lois is behind all the evidence implicating her in crime. At the Planet, she fires Perry and blames Lois. As crazy as the physical fight is outside, there is a verbal sparring match happening amongst the little people.

The battle slows down enough for a bit of a monologue by our villain. He is the original Parasite, Raymond Maxwell Jenson. And he killed all the Kryptonians on his world, permanently absorbing their powers. And now he is ready to eat the heroes of this world. 

The reveal he is from another world makes Clark peek at STAR Labs where it is evident our Hela-licious Red Cloud is standing pat.

If you want to read about Jenson, head here for my look at the Parasite's first appearance, head here:

Overwhelmed with anger, Superman flies off to confront the Red Cloud, leaving his family to face Jenson.

You want another great Supergirl moment? How about this one where she realizes that to fight the Parasite you need to keep your distance. She gets a girder and just slams the guy.


Supergirl to the rescue!

And she continues to use her smarts, using the girder to push this guy away from a distance. 

That is until he suddenly disappears.

Why can't we have had a smart, heroic, self-sacrificing Supergirl all along? Instead of the axe-wielding, blood thirsty, infected Goth villain we have had to read for the last 2 years.

Please Mr. Bendis, keep writing Kara or shepherd her care to someone who loves her as much as you do.

The Parasite 'disappeared' because Conner shrank him with Brainiac's shrinking ray. He's been 'Kandored'. 

I love Supergirl's response. From battle-ready general to 'he's so adorable' young woman in a heartbeat. She says she wants to keep the Parasite because he is so cute.

Thankfully, cooler heads prevail. Brainy realizes this thing is still a massive threat even if diminutive and puts him in a force field bubble.

Meanwhile, Superman engages the Red Cloud, still seething over the death of Melody Moore. 

As for the Cloud, she seems almost upset that no one thought she would have the guts to kill someone. It is almost like she feels disrespected. It takes only that sort of nudge to make someone cross the line.

Superman seems to be losing the fight. So in comes the cavalry.

Again, it is Supergirl leading the charge. She has a plan. She tells them to wait until she signals.

We have to wait for next issue to see the end.

But it is clear. Supergirl is the leader here!!!!


Can I have 2 moments from this book on my 'best of 2020 Supergirl' list? Because I don't know if I'll find much in her own book.

At the Planet, things get real. 

Leone brings up Lois' father as part of this conspiracy theory. And Lois wants no part of that. While I haven't commented on Romita's rough art in this issue, that top panel perfectly shows Lois' outrage at her father being brought into the fray. 

With accusations flying, the FBI starts slapping cuffs on people.

We are almost at the end.

Whew ...

I glossed over much of the Parasite battle but it is a thriller and deserves to be read in physical form so you have to flip the book all over and get that tilt-a-whirl effect. It was great to see the Family fighting together and Kara take such a prominent lead. And I liked all the Planet scenes as well.

We are approaching the finish line!

Overall grade: A


Martin Gray said...

Nice review. You’re so good at biting your tongue where the art is concerned!

I didn’t even realise this was a gimmicky art issue, having bought it digitally... if they’d mentioned it I could have locked the screen rotation for best effect. I liked the angled narrative boxes regardless. While this issue likely didn’t lose much where a digital read is concerned, I do think that physical-only gimmicks should be banned, eg a recent Terrifics ‘choose your own adventure’ tale that was a mess digitally.

Professor Feetlebaum said...

The book is called "Action" Comics, but I never expected that to mean physically READING the comic, turning it thisaway and thataway to follow along.

I couldn't help but notice that Supergirl followed social distancing guidelines in defeating the Parasite.

I agree on Bendis's take on Superman and Supergirl, and I think I will miss his Supergirl more than his Superman. I wonder if the company line on Kara has been that she is dark and angry (as seen in her own book), but that Bendis had enough autonomy not to follow along and write her the way that he saw her.

William Ashley Vaughan said...

If we're lucky, the Supergirl we're seeing in Action Comics is a preview of where she goes next. when Bendis said that she would be "front and center" in this story, he wasn't kidding. I have to wonder if Supergirl is his next project now that he's cleared the decks.

Anonymous said...

Hello from a french fan of supergirl,

This chapter is the best definition of action and family!
A real team worker and a naughty one who is to the end!

I would love to keep this version of aunt Kara for the next books : she is the best.