Monday, November 30, 2020

Review: Action Comics #1027

Action Comics #1027 came out last week, the penultimate issue of both the House of El story arc as well as the overall Action Comics run by writer Brian Michael Bendis. I will be sad to see him go. 

This issue pretty much wraps up the Invisible Mafia plot which has been running through this book since Bendis first took over. I have to say that things wrap up almost a little bit too quickly, a little bit too easily. Is this because of the whole Future State/5G/DC Bloodbath? Did Bendis need to clear the decks quickly and so the villains needed to get taken off the map rapidly? Or was this always the plan?

But I might be burying the lede a bit for the focus of this site. As always, Bendis treats Supergirl exceptionally well. She is clearly 'second in command' of this group and in prior issues might be looked on as the strategist. She clearly cares about her cousin and her extended family. And there is a moment that makes me optimistic of her future. I can't always say that. I can only hope that Bendis has something to do with a reinvigoration and reimagination of  Supergirl in the near future.

Also, there are two pages in this book which really made me smile. In the midst of the action there are two 9-panel grid pages. The story being told on those pages turns on the center panel, almost like that is the axle the sequence shifts on. That is clever.

John Romita Jr. is on art and his stuff is pretty rough for me. He has a lot to do here with shifting scenes of huge actions amid quiet interrogation scenes. I don't care too much for the stuff. But the layouts are actually quite nice.

On to the book.

I have been a fan of Bendis' opening pages as both recap and content. 

Here is Agent Chase sending an email to her boss that Lois Lane has assaulted Marisol Leone, the alleged head of the Invisible Mafia. 

But the notes and photos behind the email give us a nice look at Chase's investigation. Of course she doesn't know who Brainiac 5 or the Parasite are.

But the middle-aged bald man who is a witness to this? Has to be Bendis himself.

We start with Chase interrogating Lois about the claim that Lane is from another dimension.

Lois looks pretty haggard. I don't know if that is Romita or the show she has been at this for a while.

I do wonder how she would answer this. Remember, if Rebirth and Reborn are still in continuity, this Lois is an amalgam of her New 52 and Convergence forms.

But then we go 2 hours in the past when the hubbub at the Planet is still happening and the Super-family are battling the Red Cloud. 

I still don't know exactly what the Red Cloud's powers are. I still don't know how she can hurt Superman.

But our hero is pretty laid out here, falling to the ground and needing to be grabbed by Supergirl. Nice panels here of Lois and Kara both showing their concern and calling him by different names.

It is clear here that Superman is in tough shape.

What follows is the first 9 panel page. 

We see Marisol Leone slink out of the Planet. 

And then, with the super-family battle nearing a peak, we see this black panel in the middle.

Hmm ...

The next panel shows the entire Super-family, Brainiac Five, and Red Cloud in the Phantom Zone. Somehow, some way, Superman is miraculously back to his normal self.

He tells Red Cloud she can stay in this prison or head to Earth and be imprisoned there.

It all happens pretty quickly, that leap from battle to Zone. I thought some pages must be stuck together. The jump is too abrupt; Superman's return to action to jarring. Going back, it is clear now that black panel on the prior page is the time when Brainiac sent them there. That is the turning point of that page.

Now I will say that one thing that stands out here is how Superman never seems to be able to actually beat the big bads set in front of him by Bendis. Zaar was sent to the Zone in Man of Steel. Xanadoth is taken out by Zatanna. The uber-Parasite was shrunk. Here the Red Cloud is brought to heel by the threat of the Zone. 

Back to the present, we see Kate Spencer remove Lois from the interrogation. 

Chase is ticked still wondering if Lois is from another dimension. Lois knows Chase can figure out the truth.

We are back on a 9 panel grid.

This time that center panel is the ding of the elevator.

It is in this time that Chase realizes it isn't Lois that is from another world. It is Leone.

That ding is like the light bulb going off in Chase's mind. The page turns on that. 

Another nice little touch.

I thought this was a decent splash page of our House of El dropping of Red Cloud at Stryker's.I have to give Romita respect when he merits it.

In another sequence that took some time to unravel, we see a prison guard given a bribe to drop off a letter to Goode from Leone. 

Leone blames the Red Cloud gunning for Superman as the act that brought down the operation. The one rule of the mafia was to never engage Superman directly. The Cloud's insistence brought down ruin.

Leone has left this planet to go to another Earth. 

Okay, now this was a little tough for me as well. Superman lose Leone? She won't see justice here? And if she knew she was going to take off, why stage that scene at the Planet. Unless the Cloud fight made it impossible for her to stay.

I can only hope that in next issue, Leone gets caught.

There was a nice little scene where the team realizes that STAR Labs really has been behind all recent woes. We see this panel and then we see Superman demolish the building in a fit of rage.

But then we see this panel again. We realize that the destruction was all in Superman's mind. He wants to do that ... but he won't.

For me, it humanizes Superman. Of course he would want to cut loose and destroy this thing which has caused so many problems. But that isn't who he is. 

This would have been my favorite scene in the book. Would have been ...

But then we get this scene!!!!

I am a sucker for the Querl/Kara romance. I love the idea of Supergirl in the Legion. And I just want a heroic and happy and bright Kara ... something we haven't consistently seen since she came back in the early 2000's.

Supergirl asks Brainy for some good news. He says she will be invited to the future to join the Legion. And then something unsaid ...

I can only hope ... and pray ... and hope ... that Kara joins the Legion. That there is some future with Brainy. That she acts as heroic in future books as she has here.

Just achingly wonderful.

And finally the timelines converge. 

We have known Jimmy was going to buy the Planet since the end of his recent mini-series.

Now we reach that point.

'Superman's Boss, Jimmy Olsen'. Perfect.

From the beginning, I have applauded Bendis' take on the cast in the Superman universe. I have loved his character moments. I loved all of those scenes in this book as much as any other issue.

I do have to say that the Parasite and the Red Cloud being taken out with machines and not Superman is a little disappointing. And if Leone actually escapes I won't be happy. And Superman being unconscious on one page and awake and iconic the next was a bit shaky.

But between the 9 panel pages and the look inside Superman's head and that Brainy/Kara scene, I am very pleased.

Overall grade: B/B+


Anonymous said...

Hello from a french fan of supergirl,

The end is a bit rushed but supergirl can finally act like a leader.

I had the impression that wrtiters forget that kara worked in a team. To work together no hitting each other like dark metal and compagny.

The million dollars question : what does brainiac say ? Mme president of earth ? i am your futur husband ? your are great great grand mother ? new krypton exists ?or ...?

Martin Gray said...

‘You’re going to get a super-cat!’

I enjoyed this issue, though, I’d like it to have been clear what happened in between Superman asking Goode his question and her being trussed up.

Nice one on your reading of the nine-panel grids!

Anonymous said...

Couple of nice moments I'd mention:

In that first 9-panel sequence, Red Cloud's eyes, gradually transforming to Robinson Goode's.

The other thing is what Brainiac says as he fades away:

"My honor." (Regarding Kara's impending visit.) And then "Thank you for showing me why the age of heroes was so appropriately named. Thank you, Superman. Thank you, House of Kent."

Bendis gets it, and writes a positive vision for -- well, everything.

I think Bendis has always gotten Superman. People gripe that he puts interchangable quippy dialog into everyone's mouths, but that's no different from Joss Whedon having everyone talk "Buffyspeak." They did, but there was no deficit in characterization in the Buffyverse, and there is no lack of characterization in what Bendis writes either.

Is Kara part of the House of "Kent"? She was Kara Danvers, but that persona has been gone a very long time and it's hard to see her returning. Maybe she'll take on the identity of a "long-lost cousin" Kara or Linda Kent, eventually. In any event, House of Kent is a nice contrast to House of El, and it includes everyone, like Conner, and Lois.

This issue ends with the same "To be concluded..." that this month's Legion ends with, in a mostly similar font by Dave Sharpe. In this case we know that the next issue will conclude Bendis's time on the title. What it means for Legion remains to be seen.


Anonymous said...

Jimmy Olsen Editor-In-Chief? At last! At last the future briefly dreamt by Superman in Action Comics #270 has become a reality!

Otherwise, good issue, marred by John Romita's art, and good Supergirl's moments.

Martin Gray said...

I think he’s publisher, but great callback!

Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

Yes, the 'what did Brainy say' is the million dollar question. I suppose it is wide open for any other creator coming in.

Loved this issue!

The Wandering mind said...

I hope Bendis has nothing to do with super girls future he's the reason why Orlando was off the book and she ended up with that ax in space in the first place