Thursday, August 30, 2018

Super Reading: Action Comics #1002 (2018)

The Invisible Mafia - Part 2

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

Team, I am fully onboard with what Gleason and Bendis are doing here in Action Comics.

I'll try not to belabor my concerns with the book as were detailed in previous posts.  Instead, what I want to focus on with this post is what's working for me as a reader.

We can start with Gleason's art - something that was a huge selling point for me when he was drawing Green Lantern Corps, and while I've now seen him tackle Gotham and other places, it's fantastic to see him pencil and ink (or whatever you call it in this age of digital creation) the myriad characters of Metropolis.  And, yeah, I have a particular fondness for the Daily Planet scenes and his depiction of Jimmy and Perry.  But also all the business going on in the background - capturing the chaos and clutter of a room that never closes, where there's always tomorrow's issue.

And, speaking of that Daily Planet newsroom - I'd say that for... a decade? I've been wondering aloud what the problem was with comics writers avoiding The Planet.  Even Greg Rucka effectively removed Clark from The Planet and stuck him in an office at the Metropolis PD HQ.  It was just odd after 65 years of Clark at The Daily Planet or (shudder) anchoring the WGBS evening news* that it seemed like DC didn't really care about what had been the anchor for both Superman and Lois Lane, giving them both purpose and a supporting cast.  While I will never speak ill of the Tomasi and Jurgens run post Nu52, they never quite landed Lois and Clark back at the Planet before their runs were up.

But now we're back with a Perry White who is - as he's best written - smarter than both the newer characters and the readership may want to give him credit.  He is - after all - a former reporter who climbed the ranks to EiC of the New York Times of the DCU.  Heck, even John Hamilton's portrayal on The Adventures of Superman managed to capture the quiet strategist that lurked beneath the bluster.

And, of course, we also get Cat Grant blowing through the offices - remaining head of CatCo and retaining continuity established in the Rebirth Supergirl title.

In short - I'm thrilled to have Superman with a setting and a supporting cast.  And that something this obvious is a highlight - not just in Superman comics, but in comics in general - says something kinda rough about what goes on in story development at the Big 2.  But let me be happy about it - especially when the characters are both so in character and well designed.

Our plot moves ahead with the "Invisible Mafia" angling against Superman and Clark uncovering what Superman never could - Clark himself putting on a bit of an act to get some answers.  And - I'll stop here and say - writers worry a whole lot about how "powerful" Superman is and how they can't write to that, but that's an artifact of the "tactical superiority" problem with superhero comics.  If you're only writing video game stories that lead to a boss battle, then.. yeah.  But Bendis takes us back to some of Superman's roots and an almost latter-era Golden Age feel as Superman works to root out crime in Metropolis.  This is a good thing, narratively.  We can get our cosmic threats balancing the act over in Superman.

Other highlights include the return of The Guardian, Maggie Sawyer, and Superman working out some frustration on some asteroids.

I'm going to keep a couple lowlights and questionable things to myself for now.  But will say that I am enjoying how the mysteries are progressing and the trajectory it's setting for the book.  You could do worse than tuning in to what DC is doing here, and hats off to all involved.

Looking forward to #1003.

*look, every era has it's pluses and minuses.  As much as I like the Maggin era stories, Superman squeezing in his adventures around the 2-3 broadcasts per night he'd be working made almost zero sense.

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