Action Comics #1008 review

The Department of Extranormal Oprations has drafted a new agent. Adam Strange, son of Earth, hero of Rann, reports to acting chief Mr Bones. Adam barely has time to start a conversation than a mystery figure shows up. And blows up.

Elsewhere, Amanda Waller of Task Force X shows up for a meeting with military high muck-a-muck Sam Lane.

And in Metropolis, Lois Lane returns to the Daily Planet after her sabbatical and finds Jimmy Olsen hiding in her office.

Back with the spooks, and Amanda and Sam realise they’ve been set up, causing Amanda to respond like the loose cannon she is.

Whaaaat? There’s nothing in the preceding pages to peg Sam as having betrayed Amanda, so why is she shooting him? To create a diversion? Is she banking on earlier-mentioned ARGUS tech to save him? Maybe it would, but it looks as if the shock has caused Sam to have a heart attack or something.

I really wish writer Brian Michael Bendis wouldn’t give us the dramatic beats without the motivations that would make them make sense. Another example is Lois’ return to the Daily Planet – just as we don’t really know the nature of her and Clark’s new marital arrangement, neither do we know what she’s told Perry White and co about her hiatus, making it tough to parse the scene.

And while it’s great to see Lois has mentoring instincts, this is Hamilton Goode she’s advising. Hamilton Goode, the murderer known as the Red Cloud, centre of the preceding story arc; she seems to be trying to take down the corrupt mayor, but if so that’s likely not her trying to turn her life around – as Superman suggested a few issues back – but Goode acting on behalf of her Mob mistress who just bought the Planet. Maybe Bendis plans to tie everything together, but I hate the idea that getting closure where the Red Cloud is concerned isn’t a priority for Superman.

What’s up with JImmy? I can accept that his entire Silver and Bronze Age history, when he had three mad adventures a month in his own comic, no longer applies, but he’s certainly seen enough in this continuity, living in Metropolis, that he’d not be a nervous wreck, worrying that his tale of lizard people would be disbelieved; I like Bendis’ surprising story beats when they make sense for the world of the comic – I don’t want characters flipped 180 degrees for the sake of melodrama.

(And while I don’t mind a cover image that’s a bit of a cheat, ‘The most dangerous man on Earth’ Jimmy Olsen is definitely not.)

Amanda Waller randomly shooting Sam Lane? Sadly, that’s totally in character for the lunatic monster she’s written as these days. I do hope Sam isn’t dead. I doubt Mr Bones is dead, he’s far too popular with DC creatives. How do you feel, Mr Bones?

Adam Strange, as drawn by Steve Epting, looks brilliant, if we can’t have his classic costume, this is neat enough. I like that he’s seen as a credible substitute for the offworld Supergirl, until recently Bone’s unwilling agent. And I adore that Adam is thinking of Earth’s place in the universe. I hope he gets an actual team-up with Superman soon.

There’s a moment when Superman is flying Lois to the Planet. I honestly don’t understand their conversation. Where does the exchange about Lois taking Clark for granted come from? Is he mad at her, as the art seems to indicate? Why does he suddenly cheer up? Answers on a postcard…

Any guesses as to whose desk space is featured on page one? Waller’s? Someone at Leviathan, the mystery organisation apparently out to destroy DC’s covert good guys? Johnny DC?

And is the ‘big blue jellyfish made of blue and white energy’ something to do with Dr Manhattan, as suggested by my chum Anj of Supergirl Comic Box Commentary?

That art, by Epting and colourist Brad Anderson, really is lovely, I particularly enjoy their super-serious Clark, and the page of Sam facing oblivion is masterful in its portrayal of emotion. I’m hoping to see Epting cut loose with a big fight scene before long.

One query as regards the art. Take a look at this.

Are we supposed to recognise Amanda’s disguise, or is the offscreen Sam Lane simply incredulous that’s she’s done a spot of race bending?

Frustrations and questions aside, I’m still enjoying this book a lot. There’s drama to spare in terms of Metropolis intrigue and character interaction. I just wish the mysteries were confined to the A-plots rather than such fundamentals as the Kent marriage and Jimmy’s mindset. As with many of his projects over the years, the wonderfully enthusiastic Mr Bendis needs stronger editing, someone to force him to focus on the detail.

That cover I mentioned earlier, niggle aside, is beautiful. I want to read the story that goes with it. The variant by Jeff Dekal, a new name to me, is also rather spiffy.

So, what did you think of this issue?

7 thoughts on “Action Comics #1008 review

  1. I’m enjoying this run immensely too. I’m just wondering how blowing up headquarters takes out an organization with tendrils everywhere. Feels like PR kills rather than accomplishing anything. Still, I’ll accept illogic if the way too many spy organizations are pared down for good…

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  2. When I first read the scene where Amanda shot Sam, I thought she suspected he wasn’t really him — perhaps wearing an cloaking device like Amanda wore. Regardless, I don’t think she expected her bullets to do much more than slow him down — when she shoots him, there’s the honeycomb force-field effect that you can also see around Amanda’s hand as she climbs out of the rubble.

    Upon rereading it, I don’t quite see the suspicion that I originally did that the Sam that came out of the rubble talking about a safe house was an impostor. But I can still see Amanda not trusting him, and shooting him to slow him down. If he gets caught (and hopefully not killed) by whatever’s chasing them, that will buy her some time to put her own plans in motion. That’s the kind of calculus I can see any Amanda Waller making, including Ostrander’s.

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    1. I always see Ostrander’s Waller as smarter than the current one – unless she has a reason to suspect Sam, she won’t shoot him, she’ll team up with him; there was no indicator here that he was less than kosher.

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      1. Oh, I think there’s definitely reason for Amanda to suspect him. After all, *we* know why he’s softened on his long-standing distrust of Superman, but Amanda doesn’t. I think that in itself is enough reason for Amanda to find him fishy.

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  3. You point out a lot of problems with the issue Mart. There are things that simply happen without much explanation. And while I made leaps in my own head to explain them, I am probably wrong given your different explanations and even more ideas within the comments.

    My thoughts … most likely wrong.

    1) Amanda Waller shoots Sam Lane as a delay tactic. She thinks the villain will stop to kill the fallen Lane rather than chase her. So she escapes. It is cold-hearted and self-serving. But that’s Waller these days.

    2) I suspect Perry would always just welcome Lois back first and ask questions later. I am sure she has dropped off the map in the past for a story. But like you I hope we get a flashback explaining it all.

    3) Goode is still a reporter so I thought this scene was just her playing out that role. She is still the Red Cloud and still dangerous. But she can be a hard-hitting journalist too.

    4) Jimmy just watched a whole cult get vaporized, I thought he was hiding because he was afraid that whoever erased Kobra would come after him next.

    5) I thought the ‘granted’ line was about her wanting him to type her story at super-speed. But this whole new open relationship bugs me.

    Those are 5 theories or rationalizations that I made in this issue. I know writers are supposed to ‘show not tell’ the reader what is happening. But it is clear that a lot was left up to the reader to figure out here. And when the answers aren’t clear, that can be troublesome.

    Fair review as always!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for addressing those points, Anj. On number 5, have they actually used the term ‘open relationship’? Ye gods, if that’s a definite I’m dropping the book – Superman and Lois, super-swingers? The Sixties story Mort Weisinger never commissioned… yeesh!

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