Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Art and Cover by: Ryan Sook
Colors by: Brad Anderson
Letters by: Josh Reed
Last issue, we found out that Robinson Goode is secretly Red Cloud.
This issue, Clark is following up on a tip from Melody Moore that the Mayor of Metropolis tried to shut down the fire investigation. He presses the mayor in a way that would have made his wife, Lois Lane, proud while still keeping up his bumbling reporter schtick. Before getting into his limo, the mayor can’t resist making a dig at Clark for the supposed affair that Lois is having in her extended sabbatical from The Daily Planet.
Clark hears the mayor and his assistant discussing the leak to the press about the investigation shutdown, confirming that they know that Melody Moore talked. There’s a cute moment where Clark walks into an alleyway to change into his Superman costume, and a kid wearing a Green Lantern t-shirt sees him. The page has no words, but Clark puts a finger to his mouth as if asking him to keep his secret before soaring off, the kid watching in wonder.
Meanwhile, back at The Daily Planet, Perry is looking over a story Robinson has typed up about Red Cloud beating Superman, and Clark and Jimmy are comparing notes. As Robinson leaves, Clark X-rays her, which makes me wonder if he suspects who she really is. He abruptly excuses himself from Jimmy not long after she gets into the elevator.
Melody Moore is leaving the fire station and is ambushed by Red Cloud. She is nearly suffocated, but Clark zooms in in the nick of time with a burst of Arctic breath. The two fight for a while, with Clark making exclusive use of his breath in an attempt to dissipate the Cloud. There’s a funny line where Melody asks him if he can’t just blow her up into space, to which he replies, “Let’s teach her to do better by example.”
Incredulous, Melody replies, “Oh #$@#$ that. Sorry.”
Clark informs Red Cloud that she has a gift and that if she needs help then he is willing to give it to her, but she needs to help him fight the corruption in Metropolis. It’s a nice speech, very Superman, and as I have noted in previous reviews of Bendis’s work, he has a fair enough grasp on the character himself. The Red Cloud doesn’t respond, instead retreating into the sky. Melody was traumatized, and as a fire truck full of her colleagues rolls in, Clark gives her a hug.
Robinson is back at Mr. Strong’s hideout giving him a play by play of her fight with Superman. She asks to speak to her employer directly, a woman apparently named Leone. Leone expresses her frustration with Superman’s intervention in her dealings, lamenting that before then he had no idea that the mafia was running Metropolis. Robinson suggests taking a “back to basics approach” to send a message. I have my suspicions that she’s going to go after Lois, since I do think that she knows Clark is Superman.
Leone reveals that she bought The Daily Planet. Robinson asks if she can have Lois’s office, which Leone flippantly allows. The final page shows a wrecked green car.
The art was beautiful as always. I especially liked Francis Manapul’s variant cover of Lois and Clark on New Year’s Eve. This issue for the most part seemed like filler. Robinson’s attack on Melody seemed as if it was a precursor to her actual plan to take down Superman, which I suspect is to attack Lois. Lois’s absence is felt here as much as it has been for the length of Bendis’s run, which significantly hampers what could have been an otherwise good story. This new status quo at The Daily Planet doesn’t do the narrative any favors, and the characters he has chosen to effectively replace Lois (Robinson and Melody) aren’t exactly filling the void. I find the reasons for her absence to be paper thin, and the gossip that she has taken up with Luthor would have been reason enough to come back, but I’m not at all convinced that her reasons for leaving her work and her husband are character-driven, but rather plot-driven at the expense of Lois’s character. It’s disappointing, because I do think that Bendis has the potential to write a great Superman story. Unfortunately, I have yet to read it.