Friday, September 28, 2018

Review: Action Comics #1003

 Action Comics #1003 came out this week and continued to be a tremendous read, my favorite of the Bendis Superman titles. Bristling with Metropolis activity and heavy on character interaction, it is this book which makes me think Bendis has a great handle on Superman and his supporting cast.

As is usual for this book, the Daily Planet pit and the staff play a big role in this issue. From Perry to Robinson Goode to Jimmy to Clark to the revelation that Lois is back, all the Planet scenes just sizzle. And knowing that Robinson Goode is a plant just revs up the suspense.

Not that the plot doesn't progress. The Red Cloud mystery continues with one suspect now eliminated. The Invisible Mafia mystery continues to swirl. And even the unknown origin of Goode gets a couple of hints added to the mix.

But the biggest joy was the interaction with guest star Batman. Two simple words made me smile!

The art on the book is done by one of my personal favorites, Yanick Paquette. One thing I love about Paquette's work is that the page layout and panels are a big a part of the story-telling as his expressive and detailed art. His pages in Wonder Woman Earth One sing in this manner. And here, we get that same strength. Just incredible.

All in all, this was a wonderful issue to start this somewhat troubling week of comic reading. On to the book.

We start out with our new opening theme of Daily Planet desks. Here we see Perry's.

It is a wonderful mix of old and new. Yes, there is a keyboard and mouse. But there are also old newspapers, a stapler, a highlighter. And those elements dwarf the tiny monitor. It is like he has one and a half feet in the physical nature of the past but knows that he need to be part of the present.

Just great.

And yes, I did blow up the email on the monitor and the highlighted memo. This is what Howard Chaykin would call being an anal-retentive fanboy.

The email is from Dan Didio rejecting Perry's Red Tornado pitch. It says that the name T.O.Morrow is too ridiculous.

The memo is about an upcoming DC story called Leviathan. You heard it here first!!

From there we go to Robinson Goode trying to get her hands on Kryptonite, a request she made last issue.

She enters a dive bar and meets a local strongarm named Candy. The rules here are the same as at the upscale mob club. You don't say certain words - Superman, Kryptonite, etc. They don't want the attention.

And Candy makes it clear, she'll gut Goode if Robinson breaks the rules.

Now I don't know if Candy is assuming that Goode is someone's niece or mistress or if that is a fact. But if she is one of those things that is an interesting wrinkle. And we again hear that the big boss is a she.

Still no guesses on my part unfortunately.

Armed with the splinter of Green K, Goode heads back to the Planet.

She accosts Perry wondering why her coverage of Boss Moxie's death didn't merit a headline. Despite Perry laying out the rules of journalism and his sense of story, Goode pesters him.

I suppose this is the young rookie thinking she knows the business more than the grizzled veteran. I like Perry being stern but explaining his reasoning. This isn't mansplaining. This is wisdom.

Ahhh ... the Planet Pit ... my favorite locale in this book.

Meanwhile, Clark catches up with Jimmy, including revealing that Lois is back. But before he can get much deeper, the Kryptonite effects him and he becomes quite ill.

There are a great couple of pages showing how Clark has to protect his secret identity by refusing to let them loosen his tie (revealing the big red S beneath) or calling an ambulance (no IV could be started!).

But my favorite bit is how Paquette shows how much Clark is queasy and reeling by making the panels all vertiginous and woozy. The page layout adds so much! It is just fantastic.

Even on the following page, once Goode has left, we see how the panels have one singular lilt to them before settling into straight borders. His senses and his strength have returned so the page normalizes. Just spot on perfect visual story-telling.

Clark had figured out that Goode had the Green K, so later that night who should visit her as she walks down the street but Batman. He grabs the K despite her protests that she needs it for a story.

He agrees it is a powerful weapon to stop a weapon of mass destruction (Superman) and leaves, essentially mugging her.

It adds to the concept that Batman doesn't trust Superman. I wonder if the public thinks they are rivals (as they liked to portray themselves in books like Darwyn Cooke's New Frontier).

But then he meets up with Superman and says the Green K is back in safe hands, his.

Look at the two buddies!

And there are those two words ... Batman saying 'World's Finest'.

Smiles and chills.

I like Batman and Superman being friends.

Of course, Goode is a reporter. She wonders how Batman could have known she had the K. She heads back to Candy's bar and accuses Candy of having a mole. Goode told no one so it had to be someone there.

And Goode loses her cool, saying the word Kryptonite.

Before Candy can kill Robinson, the Red Cloud comes and kills her.

And Goode isn't fazed. Look at the expression Paquette gives her here, almost curiosity. My guess is she's seen a thing or two.

How did Cloud get there though? And I guess this means we can cross Goode off as Cloud's secret identity.

Having said Kryptonite though, she caught Superman's attention. I'm glad we got to see that play out. It makes the threat of him listening for key words and phrases real now. Not just paranoia by the mob.

Goode doesn't miss a beat though. She is slimy and cunning.

Look at how she immediately ingratiates herself to Superman playing the 'emotional wreck' damsel in distress. But that middle panel with the knowing glance says it all. She's playing here. Paquette sells it.

Heck, she might even somehow recognize something here connecting Clark and Superman. After all, if the info to Batman didn't come from here, it had to come from the Planet.

Now that would be a great ending to the issue.

But we get more.

Lois, holed up in a hotel typing away gets a visitor.

Lex Luthor.

Now that is an even better ending.

I want to know more about Lois and what has transpired. Bendis keeping this on a simmer is both infuriating and compelling. And the rest of this issue sings.

Yanick Paquette is perfect for the book and I hope he sticks around for a bit. Just amazing.

Yep, I liked this one a lot.

Overall grade: A


Martin Gray said...

Indeed, this is a corker of an issue. I love all the intrigue, and it's greta to have regular Daily Planet fun for the first time since the Nineties.

I do have a theory about Robinson Goode, over at my blog. And I'm likely dead wrong!

Looks like the worries about Melody the fire chief were for naught, happily.

Anonymous said...

So far, good. Bendis has a good handle on the cast, and the story is engaging. I'm happily surprised.

And Batman's line was great.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments!

Love your Nasty idea Mart.

And the Batman interplay (outside of that weird ‘bowels’ line in Superman) has been great.