Action Comics #1002 review

The issue opens with a recap page similar to last month’s.

On the streets of Metropolis, it’s not business as usual.

Daily Planet chief Perry White isn’t impressed by new reporter Robinson Goode’s apparently uncritical acceptance of the idea that the Man of Steel is murdering criminals. After tearing a strip off her, Perry lets Clark into a little secret.

On the streets, another Metropolis hero reckons he knows who’s behind the falling felon.

Guy walks into a bar. It’s Clark Kent, undercover.

Later, Clark briefs Perry on what he’s learned.

Then shoots off before finishing.

Back at the Planet, a visiting Cat Grant has surprising news for Clark.

Clark isn’t the only undercover reporter, but Robinson Goode is undercover as a reporter, feeding information to a Mr Big we learn is called Mr Strong.

And Superman tracks down his wife…

Well, lots going on this issue. I like that the gangster storyline is developing apace, introducing such intriguing questions as why Goode wants green K – simply to protect herself from Superman, or to place near Clark, does she has suspicions? – and who is the ‘She’ whom Goode and Strong work for? The Lois business is the most interesting mystery, but writer Brian Bendis is in full drip-tease mode with this one… he could drag this out for months. I do like that Lois’s name appears to be one of the key words criminals in Metropolis avoid saying for fear of making a certain pair of Super-ears prick up.

Clark in a dive bar is fun, and it’s terrific to see Bendis give Perry some respect – mind, that bit about having Lois check Clark’s work is rubbish; a reporter so dodgy that their work needs regularly looked at by another simply would not keep their job. Plus, Perry is obsessively hands-on, that ‘Superman drops gangster…’ story would not have made it into print.

My other big quibble is that opening page. On the one hand, it’s recap, so perhaps not literal in terms of all those Post-It notes full of story hints, and in-jokes (Bendis/Byrne/Black Label/Jess Chen). Then again, we see the desk in the body of the story, which implies the notes relating to Clark’s work as Superman are right there for everyone – reporters, remember, not actual idiots – to see. It’s all too cute, distracting and raises questions as to Clark’s judgment.

Never mind the rudeness of running out on Perry mid-briefing, did anyone understand why Clark goes off and sits among some meteor showers after beating them up? Is he having another sad moment? Get a grip, man!

Whatever that’s all about, the final image of Superman floating, a halo of colour beside him, is gorgeous as presented by artist Patrick Gleason and colourist Alejandro Sanchez. Sanchez has more fun with light sources, to great effect, in a couple of other spots – the reveal of Guardian and the arrival of Maggie Sawyer and friends in the hospital ward. Gleason’s work is strong throughout – good emotions, clever compositions – but I do prefer him with an inker, such as Superman’s pals Doug Mahnke or Mick Gray – as I like the more definite finish they provide.

Remember my suspicions that DC, like Marvel, is editing Bendis with the lightest of touches? An outstandingly off moment this issue has Moxie Mannheim using autism as an insult, complete with starred-out profanities – the editorial team of Michael Cotton and Jessica Chen should not have let that one through.

The cover by Gleason and Sanchez is fun, complete with the old school melodramatic tagline… see also this week’s Justice League Dark!

This wasn’t a bad read, but after a couple of years of fortnightly Action Comics and Superman series, I’m missing having an issue of one or the other every week… I wish Bendis were writing just one book, fortnightly, and we could get someone else on the other, same schedule. As it is, we have two Bendis Superman series in different time frames, telling their own, vaguely linked, stories, and it’s a bit confusing. In the Superman story, Lois and Jon have just left to explore space with >spit< Not My Jor-El, while in this one we’re apparently several months down the line and Lois is back. It’s far from ideal… does anyone prefer this set-up?

8 thoughts on “Action Comics #1002 review

  1. I’m enjoying both books — Action more than Superman — but I’d be much happier with 4 issues a month than just two. I’ve been spoiled. (Actually, considering how tightly Supergirl is fitting into this storyline, maybe we’re getting three books a month.)

    I liked the post-it note opening page, and am happy enough not to take it literally. And I really love the conceit that there are just some words you don’t say if you don’t want to draw Superman’s attention.

    I also liked the return of Cat Grant. She’s become more than who she was introduced as over the decades, but I’m glad to see the continuity there, and also the nod to it in taking Trish Q out to lunch. Some characters do manage to grow and change over time!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d like to see Cat back in this book full time, since there’s likely no place for her in new Supergirl. I do wish she looked more like her regular DC self, though.


  2. Considering my utter dislike for Bend It Like Bendis during his time at Marvel, his two Superman books are near-the-top reads each month (of my admittedly small new comics reading habit); but then this is the first time I’ve read Superman since early New 52. So far, Action has just edged out Superman.
    Why does Clark excuse himself, and fly into space to smash some asteroids? Because he was frustrated/pissed-off, and Superman/ Clark can’t show that kind of anger in public. Superman is the ideal. He is not going to post some shit on Twitter to relieve the stress. Like he has to contain his immense power, he also bottles up his emotions. He refuses help ( see Hal Jordan’s offer), sits in an empty apartment missing his wife and son, and there will be consequences.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Terence, you have to try some of the Rebirth Superman – the Gleason/Tomasi stuff is generally a real treat.

      I buy your explanation for Superman’s tantrum, but if things really are so bad that he has to run out on his boss – the godfather of his son, since Rebirth – he should take a sabbatical and find his wife and child. I simply do not buy that he hasn’t got the super friends to track them down.


  3. As usual, we agree on much, including the art and the engaging mysteries.

    I figure this has to be a low point for Superman. His family is gone. He doesn’t even know if they are alive. He is probably at a breaking point anyways. When he learns that a criminal element has been in Metropolis and have been using arson to distract him, he probably felt even worse. Hence, the asteroid punch-out followed by sad floating. I don’t think I want to see this a lot. And maybe one thought balloon or caption to tell us what is happening would have been helpful.

    Like you, I thought criminals avoiding ‘Lois Lane’ as a word was brilliant.

    Liked by 1 person

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