Action Comics #1020 review

‘Forty minutes ago.’ Young Justice arrive at the Hall of Justice, with Conner Kent nervously hoping to meet Superman. He knows he’s living in a version of earth that’s not the one he knew. Superman arrives, but there’s no time for chat.

‘Eight and a half minutes ago…’ Actually, I’m not that sure. In the pictures, Superman is fighting Lex Luthor and his Legion of Doom in Metropolis, while his updating of YJ continues in narrative boxes over the top. We see the Man of Steel teleported into space by Leviathan technology, and are told that when he returned to Earth under his own steam, he went to the Hall of Justice to get help from the Justice League. That’s when he came across YJ and as the League weren’t around, they became his back-up.

Best as I can work it out, ‘Eight and a half minutes ago…’ refers to his return with YJ, while the initial fight with Lex and co happens more than ‘Forty minutes ago’. Parsing a story shouldn’t be this tricky, especially for a regular reader, and it’s so unnecessary; for some reason, though, writer Brian Michael Bendis has spent the last few issues flipping the timelines back and forth. Maybe it makes for a super-terrific experience while reading the inevitable collected version, but on a monthly basis the non-linear structure makes for confusion and frustration. I hope Bendis returns to the regular style once this Year of the Villain hangover closes.

The constituent parts of Metropolis Doom! Part 4 were pretty good. I enjoyed seeing that Superman knows that if Tim, Cassie and Naomi trust the unfamiliar heroes accompanying them, he should too.

I liked that Tim doesn’t bother telling Superman he’s going by ‘Drake’ now (he’s probably embarrassed). Superman immediately feeling comfortable with Conner makes sense given their closeness in the Post-Crisis continuity in which current Superman originally lived. I appreciate that Superman recognised that his foes were making a particular kind of trap (even if his definition of ‘kill box’ is the opposite of the one I found online). I was tickled by Brainiac mistaking Conner for Super-Son Jon. And I beamed at Superman’s advice on crowd clearance.

Best of all was the showcase this issue gave Conner in terms of his planning and his power.

The art by penciller John Romita Jr and inker Klaus Janson suits big moments like this, with their facial work being less pleasing to me. Then there are the instances, such as Zan, Jayna and Conner in that last-but-one panel, in which it looks as if someone let their grandkids have a crack… this is professionally level work, people.

This issue ends with a revelation about the relationship between Leviathan and Lex that will surprise no one, yet I liked it, and a double page spread that’s not worth the space in terms of what it brings to the story. Still, as Bendis books give us two pages more for the money than other DC titles, I won’t complain overmuch.

Brad Anderson, as ever, does a cracking job with the colour, his touch being especially evident in a scene which has Superman straining to break the Legion’s force shield. Letterer Dave Sharpe, meanwhile, transfers the script to the page with clarity.

Lex and Leviathan look like slugs on the cover, but the energy is good in Romita and colourist Alex Sinclair’s image, and white and green logos never fail to thrill this old Silver Ager.

The good aspects of this issue outweighed the bad, but I look forward to the Legion of Doom storyline moving out of Action Comics, leaving room for Bendis to get back to Red Cloud and the Invisible Mafia, and for Superman and Conner to have a long overdue chat.

5 thoughts on “Action Comics #1020 review

  1. I really just cannot pick up this book as long as Romita is doing the art. I hate it. :/ But this looks like the story makes up for it.

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    1. I wish I had your strength. I firmly believe Romita’s sales are an illusion because he’s usually put on books that would sell well with Liefeld layouts. That said, I would read a Bendis story if drawn in stick figures so I’m stuck looking at Romita art as it continues to slide into amateur level…

      Liked by 1 person

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