Monday, July 30, 2018

Super Reading: Action Comics #1001

Script:  Brian Michael Bendis
Art:  Patrick Gleason
Colors:  Alejandro Sanchez
Letters:  Josh Reed
Cover:  Gleason & Brad Anderson/ (variant) Francis Manapul
Associate Editor:  Jessica Chen
Editor:  Michael Coen
Group Editor:  Brian Cunningham

You know, I liked this issue.  Quite a bit.

Sure, it doesn't hurt that I'm in the bag for Patrick Gleason on art, which - I'm the first to admit isn't as detailed or illustrative as, say, Ivan Reis or others who participated in the Man of Steel mini-series.  But Gleason catches mood extremely well, is no slouch when it comes to action and kinetic energy, and, frankly, I think folks should study his perspective choices and page design.  There's some great stuff in here.

Colorist Alejandro Sanchez is working with a far more subdued palette than Sinclair over in Superman - and I'll note that Action is not printed on the same pulpy paper as Superman #1 (I think I liked that paper a lot).  But it does fit the Metropolis/ city-based story, cast of characters, and lets Superman's outfit pop against the naturalistic environments.  And, when a certain character appears in the back-half of the comic (a new one, no spoilers), there's some really interesting color work going on here.

Bendis had said that Superman would be the comic that was wider in scope, maybe more cosmic, and Action would focus a bit more on Superman's life in Metropolis, and here we pick up the thread that started in Man of Steel with a series of fires across Metropolis, and a kid saying Superman himself set those fires.  Fortunately, this misdirection is shown to be just that in just a few pages, and we're spared evil clones, mind control or any of a dozen other possible threadbare comics plots, and, instead, find it's something else entirely.

To get to this point, Bendis includes some key elements.  By blaming Superman, the perpetrator was able to force distrust between Superman and the new Deputy Chief of the fire department, Melody Moore - who, even though she wants to believe Superman, isn't in love with his somewhat extra-legal methods.  Superman's dealings with Moore and the kid in question are really, very spot on for how I think of a modern take on the Man of Steel - kindness and compassion seep in even as the kid might think he's in deep yogurt.  Superman's practice as a dad in the comics seems to have paid off with a very dad-like way the kid can balance his karma (and you know Superman will check up on him).

Another bit I dug - and they call it out in the blurb on the cover - Clark Kent is key to Superman starting to crack the case.  It's great for a writer to embrace how these roles work with each other, especially at The Daily Planet itself.

The fires are traced back to a small group of what seem to be criminals of the Intergang variety, though one suspects that Bendis will not call them that or we'd have seen the name come up in this first issue.  This group has found profitable criminal work by staying completely off Superman's radar in a city that can still accommodate vice, but where drawing the attention of Superman in any way is a pretty bad idea (and Bendis did lay the groundwork for how criminals think of Metropolis earlier on in Man of Steel).

Meanwhile, back at the Daily Planet, gossip writer Trish goes for the jugular with Clark, trying to make Lois' disappearance a clickable story.  And, someone in a very super-villain-y layer watches Superman zip about on a pack of monitors.

All in all, a good start!  I am actually looking forward to seeing where this is all headed.  It wasn't mind-blowing, but as far as taking the previously arranged pieces and getting them in order to get the story rolling, I'll take it.

Some may not love the mysterious cliffhanger of an ending.  I am treating it as such and we'll see what comes.  It's far too premature to guess how any of this will pan out.  Heck, by *not* turning the fires into some half-baked "Superman is being mind-controlled" story we saw so often a decade ago, just having an arsonist setting fires feels positively novel.

I continue to be impressed with Bendis walking in and "getting" Superman more or less out of the gate, and I deeply appreciate the grounding in The Daily Planet cast (new and old), and trying to re-establish Metropolis at long last.

All in all, it's also a fun read and a good point to jump in there, I think.

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