Think Amanda Waller is the toughest civilian in the DC Universe? Think again, as Lois Lane gives her a piece of her mind.
While Waller speaks up for herself, by the end of the scene she’s putting the ‘cow’ into cowed.
Superman has brought Lois, Waller and Jimmy Olsen to his Fortress of Solitude fo protect them in the wake of attacks on the world’s biggest security and super-science organisations by the shadowy Leviathan. ARGUS, the DEO, Cadmus… no one seems safe from bombs with a signature blue explosion.
The good news is that Lois’s father, Sam, who looked like he might have died last issue after he and Waller were targeted, is alive and recovering in hospital, having suffered a heart attack. Superman flies to the States, where Sam, in a darkened hospital room, has a guardian angel.
Before Superman leaves, the Question raises a very interesting point. On the way back to the Fortress, Superman looks for Talia al-Ghul, who has been running a terror organisation named Leviathan for years…
… and Batman who, like Talia, is out. Trusty butler Alfred, though, is around.
In the remains of a DEO HQ, high muckamuck Mr Bones is extra-paranoid.
Back at the Fortress, Superman brainstorms with Lois, Jimmy and Waller.
Finally, Lois comes up with an idea…
But that’s for next month. For now, let’s concentrate on writer Brian Michael Bendis’ best issue of Action Comics to date. The Leviathan plotline is building nicely, with the massive scope of their plans evident. We don’t know the details, but we do know they want the big beasts out of the way, and they aren’t afraid to antagonise the superhero community… they’ve already stolen away Adam Strange from under the nose of Mr Bones.
Lois is a real hard-ass this issue, punching Waller when she learns her father has been hurt. Is it too much? I can live with it, she’s long been a tigress when it comes to defending others (it’s just a shame her instincts didn’t kick in when Jor-El asked to take her son Jon into space) and Waller is such a vile person these days that a punch on the nose is the least she deserves.
Jimmy confirms that he wasn’t duped when he went to a meeting of ‘lizard people’ – he was deliberately infiltrating Kobra. I like that Bendis writes Jimmy as young, but not stupid.
Superman’s mini-world tour is fun, it’s good to see him doing a bit of investigating. I do, though, wonder at the wisdom of calling the Wonder Twins in to guard Sam; sure, they’re ‘great kids’ and powerful but they’re naive in Earth ways and likely not up to taking on a group that has ‘The Wall’ nervous.
What I do love is the Alfred scene – we’ve seen a few moments between him and the Man of Steel down the years, and the respect is always there, but the chemistry Bendis conjures up in a few panels is off the scale… if they ever bring back DC Comics Presents, Alfred is my Because You Demanded It!
Jimmy doesn’t seem to notice Lois referring to Superman affectionately as ‘honey’ but I’d not be surprised were he to have a ‘duh’ moment later and ask why she and Superman are so close while husband Clark is ‘deep undercover’.
Complementing Bendis’s story is the artwork of illustrator Steve Epting and colourist Brad Anderson. It’s really rather glorious, with fantastic settings, fine set-pieces and, most importantly, terrific character acting – emotions are on display without ever being overplayed. Talia’s abandoned HQ looks amazing, like something out of Black Narcissus, while the razed DEO HQ has a haunting desolation. The two dinosaurs – Superman, like Batman, has one in his den – are magnificent, while the Fortress tech is splendid… Waller looks for all the world like she’s perched on a giant transistor radio.
The little moment with Alfred and the tongs is cute, the Question broods formidably, Lois burns with intensity. And Superman is the calm at the centre of the storm, majestic without lacking humanity.
Rob Leigh letters, meaning that as well as sharp fontwork we get an excellent title design and credits – the man is one of the unsung heroes of the Superman line.
That cover is straight out of the Silver Age, but drawn with modern slickness by Epting. It’s gorgeous, and I’d love to see what the great Kurt Schaffenberger would have made of the concept.
All in all, this is a superb issue and bodes well for the upcoming, awkwardly titled, Event Leviathan special. Recommended.