Friday, August 24, 2018

Review: Action Comics #1002

Action Comics #1002 came out this week and it seems in this new Bendis-driven era of Superman, this is going to be the title I enjoy most. This is Bendis exploring Metropolis so it leads to more character driven stories. This is where we'll see the Planet staff. This is were we'll see the day-to-day crime that occurs in a city protected by Superman. It is where we see the Guardian, a street level hero operating there. So this is where Bendis skills with dialogue can shine a bit more.

The main thrust of this issue is Superman still investigating the wave of arson plaguing the city. It starts with the death of one of the arsonists, a crime initially pinned on Superman. It ends with a Lois reveal that most of us have been waiting for. Regarding both of those plots, it is Clark who gets to shine. I am a fan of character driven issues and this one certainly counts.

The art on the book is done by Patrick Gleason and he does a great job conveying action and emotion throughout. I'll point out a couple of pages where the art does the hefty lifting, informing the reader on the emotion of the scene.

I am enjoying Action Comics, far more than Rogol Zaar and the Phantom Zone and Batman's bowels as seen in Superman.

On to the book!

 In Man of Steel, Bendis opened each issue (and even closed one) with an image of a globe. It was a thematic hook that opened that mini-series.  In Action Comics, it looks like we'll be opening on one of the Planet worker's desks, a peek into their personality. I like this for both a steadying opening page as well as a way to round out a character's personality.

Last issue, we opened Action Comics #1001 with a look at Jimmy Olsen's desk.

Here we open with Clark's. As someone with post-it notes stuck all over the shelves above my desk, I can relate to the chaos we see here.

And each little note is worth looking at as either a small plot piece or a joke. 'Call Byrne - what does he know?' 'Jim Lee called.' 'Tetsuo?' Those and others are funny. One that simply says '12:10 PM' struck home. I also have some mysterious post-its which are now meaningless and yet still stuck there.

Interesting that Melody Moore's number is there as well. Sure she is a source. But does this mean she is something more?

 The next scene is a low-level street thug named 'Yogurt' falling from the skies to his death, hitting a main street in downtown Metropolis. Bendis uses this to riff a joke on the old 'look up in the sky' mantra.

Robinson Goode decides to mock-up a story saying Superman dropped Yogurt. You might recall that Goode also was the one pushing the 'Superman started the fires' story. We know she is working for the mob so maybe this is tipping her hand a bit too early.

What I like is Perry isn't going to stand there and let sensational, barely researched stories hit the front page. Superman was on the other side of the country with the JLA when Yogurt was dropped. He demands Goode do her job ... as a reporter. Of all the supporting cast, Bendis seems to have the best handle on Perry.

 Yogurt's death isn't just being looked into by the Planet. The Guardian assumes Boss Moxie (the mob boss who paid off the kid to blame Superman for the fires) must be behind Yogurt's murder.

I love this page in the scene. The angled, vertical panels, Moxie in and out of center, ending with the sight of his limo crushed and on its side is brilliant. It gives the reader the sense of an out of control, 'which way is up', chaotic feel of a car rolling over with an occupant. It is Gleason on art who gives us that energy.

Before the Guardian can beat any information out of Moxie, the Red Cloud shows up. Moxie ends up dead. Guardian ends up in the hospital.

I said above that I have liked how Bendis is writing Perry.

After Goode tries to ramrod the story about Superman killing Yogurt onto the front page, Perry asks Clark to also get on the story. At first Clark balks at the idea but Perry divulges that he used to have Lois also working on stories Clark was on to double check and get a fresh angle. That's pretty cool.

Looking shabby, Clark heads to Yogurt's old watering hole where he learns that the dead man was the arsonist, setting fires in the city to distract Superman while bigger crimes were being committed.

I like how we see Clark ingratiate himself with this crew. And I like how shocked he is to learn that there is this crime wave happening, smart crooks planning ways to keep Superman away.

That's interesting.

In the midst of telling Perry what he discovered, Clark excuses himself.

He flies off into space into a band of asteroids and starts smashing. Is it that he is angry that crime has been happening in Metropolis and he has been oblivious? Is it that Lois and Jon are still gone? Is it that criminals endangered innocents as a diversionary tactic, making Superman why they are in harm's way?

I like my last reason.

But for whatever reason, you see just how angry Superman is. Those crazy panels with him sneering are fantastic. I haven't seen him let loose like this in frustration before. And that last panel, his body slumped as if he has given up a bit, exhausted, is haunting in many ways.

Kudos once more to Gleason.

Back at the Planet, who waltzes in but Cat Grant!

She comes in all glitz and charm, classic Cat. And she seems very much consistent with how she was portrayed in Steve Orlando's Supergirl. That makes me happy.

But in the midst of the scene, Cat says she has seen the galleys of Lois' latest book.

Understand ... Lois is back! And back long enough to have written a book and it is far enough along to have galleys. Hmmm ...

What I really like here is how Cat snaps back from the bubbly persona into someone who is more a friend to Clark. She sees he wasn't aware. And suddenly she puts on a more serious face. She offers support to Clark.

Then when she sees Perry, she snaps back into her TMZ persona. She runs and hugs him.

Now that is Cat. I am glad she wasn't lost in the reorganization of the Supergirl title.

In what is becoming almost a mandatory scene, we see Robinson Goode in that criminal bar. I love how these scenes play out. There are certain words which they don't say so as not to be accidentally overheard by our hero.

They don't say 'Superman'. They don't say 'Lois Lane'. They don't say 'Kryptonite'.

Goode says Perry has impressed her but she is getting in deep. She writes down she wants a piece of Kryptonite for insurance.

But here is what really grabs me. There is someone even higher on the mob family chart than this guy. Whoever she is, she is only reachable by com-link. She listens in. She can obtain Kryptonite.

Let the guesses start. Blaze? Maxima? Talia? Faora?

Now that is a mystery I can chew on and that would have been a fine ending to the issue.

But Bendis ups the ante. Knowing Lois is on Earth, Superman tracks her down. We see her in a blonde wig and a snappy outfit. Confronted by her husband, she doffs the wig.

Lois and Clark ... together again for the first time in the Bendis Era!

Let's face it. Most Lois fans have been waiting for her to return, hopefully with a good story to tell. We shall see.

Still, overall this was a very solid character issue. Great Perry. Great Clark. Great Superman. And the mob stuff was solid. Add to that great art, and this was a winner.

Overall grade: B+


Martin Gray said...

Ohhh, that is a mock-up of a front page from Robinson Badde? That explains why there are no columns, I just assumed someone in DC Production couldn't be bothered.

I disliked Superman buggering off in the middle of a meeting with Clark, it's rude! And Superman should never have the pot of emotion boiling so high. If things are THAT awful, take a sabbatical.

Stop worrying about Melody Moore, she's a source, no way is Bendis having Clark interested in her.

Not a bad issue. I also wonder if if desks are the new circles... but will Bendis forgot the theme as he goes along, as with Man of Steel?

Anonymous said...

Pretty good so far. Metropolis crooks looking for ways to run their "business" while avoiding Superman's detection is an unexplored angle, and still it looks so obvious. Right?

I agree with Martin. Miss Moore is a non-factor.

After all, her initials aren't L. L. She can't possibly be a love interest.

"I also have some mysterious post-its which are now meaningless and yet still stuck there."

Geez, tell me about it.

Miss Goode is as scummy as incompetent. If she's looking to sully Superman's reputation by infiltrating the Daily Planet, of all places, she should know she needs unsourced libel pieces will get her nowhere.

(Unless she's Cat Grant, of course. Boy, what she got away with during New Krypton...)

Anj said...

I have to assume that Perry has final say on the paper so I have to assume it’s a mock-up.

And yes, Ms. Goode is awful sure of herself. Too sure.