Action Comics 1018 Hits Bottom and Starts Digging

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Action Comics 1018

It's been a while since I've poked my head inside the Superman universe of books, and with the news surrounding the impending release of Superman's self-reveal, I thought it might be a good idea to check in on the latest installment of the Man of Steel, by way of ACTION COMICS 1018.

To say the issue was a disappointment is to do a disservice to language.

Let's start with the cover. Advertising a guest appearance by the Justice League pretty much means that, in the background, you see their bodies strewn about as they have been clobbered. But that cover blurb is perhaps the best drawn part of the book's frontispiece. The rest of it is a sketchy mess, featuring Superman front and center and some hastily doodled Justice League members in the background -- plus what looks to be a frozen or electrocuted Starman in the lower left.

That should have been my first warning to back away, slowly, and put my wallet back in my pocket.

But the phrase You can't judge a book by its cover has never been more true than in the comic book industry (which is, ironically, exactly where you should be able to judge a book, but that hasn't been true since around 1993). So I plunked down $3.99 (because my comic shop ain't no library, kid) and took it home to review.

If anything, the artwork inside was even worse -- and it's the same artist, who has stolen the name and identity of John Romita, Jr and is cashing his checks, because this just isn't the JRJR with whom I'm familiar. Once you get past the Daily Planet blog page (easy enough to do, as the text is printed small enough to quickly make you realize it's not worth the effort), you open to a splash of the Justice League battling the Legion of Doom, and getting their asses handed to them, as some red Kali-esque giant stands over and watches. To fill us in on what's going on, writer Brian Michael Bendis uses narrative boxes containing tweets -- tweets, I say -- to provide outside perspective. Which wouldn't be an awful way of servicing the story, if they weren't simply so badly and unbelievably composed. We have messages from @daily.planet which are the most consistent in tone and content with what a newspaper might put out, even if they are a mixed bag. "Shuster Park on fire. Fire crews, EMTs en route. Cheetah sighted." Okay, what does the last line have to do with the former? And if the whole park is obviously overrun with the Legion of Doom, what is the importance of a single villain sighting? Is this Bad Guy TMZ? Then there are the @MTP.ALERTS that I thought at first were notices from the Metroplis police. I sincerly hope they're not, because they're very un-police-like.  And @jimmy.olsen let's us know "IT'S THE ENTIRE LEGION OF DOOM. Justice League is mostly down. Batman on the ropes. Wonder Twins were the glue." Batman on the ropes? Is Jimmy giving color commentary to a 1940s boxing match? And what is even meant by his comment about the Wonder Twins? It's nonsense.

We then step back a bit in time to explain the presence of the towering crimson goddess, only to find out that it's Star Sentinel reporter Robinson Goode, who has cornered a group of scientists to ask about a mysterious disappearance of one of their own. They conk her on the head, and when she awakens they throw her into their flaming experiment to get rid of the body -- which, surprise, turns her into a superbeing that has somehow merged multi-dimensional barrier-breaching powers into her. Fine, great, but what can she do other than stand around screaming, "What did you do to me?" Here's hoping all that interdimensionality means we have the leverage to reboot this mess in the next six months.

Right before the Legion of Doom melee breaks out, Clark Kent is having a private chat with the fire chief. She tells him that she is planning to run for mayor, to replace the current administration. Clark is all for it, and decides to give her the advance version of the speech he's preparing for two days down the road -- his identity reveal. He is trusting her to keep it to herself until he lets it out, and if she does... then Superman will publicly endorse her candidacy for mayor. Yes, Superman is going to take a political stance, something we've seldom seen in comics. Oh, he's stood for principles -- he's Superman, we expect that. But to stand behind a specific candidate? That's new. And unsettling.

It's a new era for Superman.

I take comfort in the age-old aphorism: This too shall pass.

0.5 / 5.0