Action Comics #1017
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller: John Romita Jr
Inker: Klaus Janson
Colors: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Event Leviathan ended, yet the lasting impacts of it are still felt on Action Comics (which the event itself spun out of). Mark Shaw, a former manhunter, is the true leader of Leviathan. The reveal was about as anticlimactic as an event comic could get. But Bendis really wants us to care about Leviathan as a new antagonistic force going forward. Mesh that with the meandering and unfocused “Year of the Villain” and you have this week’s Action Comics.
The book opens up with Luthor and The Legion of Doom defeating The Justice League (please ignore that Justice League last week makes this part make almost no sense). After a quick dust up, the book flashes back to Superman investigating a giant fireball moving through the city, that lands him in Gorilla city. Turns out that this was a diversion for Leviathan to get Superman out of the city, in time for a planned attack in Metropolis. In circular fashion, the comic loops back to the start and attempts to tie all these events together.
I know the book says Action Comics on the cover, but it was one boring issue. Sure there was “Action” in the book but it all seemed slapped together. Like a Frankenstein monster of Even Leviathan, Year of the Villain, and Bendis’s long form storytelling, this book was a wretch to behold. It feels like Bendis was given a mandate to shoehorn in Lex Luthor as part of “The Year of the Villain” without having any real reason to do so. Especially when his path, and The Legion more importantly, are incongruous with what has been happening in Justice League. This isn’t a story as much as Bendis simply moving pieces around on a board for no other reason than someone told him he had to play the game. Everything is disjointed and slapped together with no real weight to it. I don’t know how I can put it another way, this comic was just “there” to exist without purpose. Add in that “Year of the Villain” has gone on too damn long and has no point, and that Even Leviathan was one of the most disappointing events in recent memory (at least Heroes in Crisis attempted something…) and you don’t even have a backbone to get someone to care the slightest amount. All the attention right now is on Superman, and how that title is going to reveal Clark Kent to the world, Action Comics is a side story that you don’t have to read or care about. You actually might be better off skipping it.
The art is a different animal. John Romita Jr has been working on Superman Year One, and just finished two issues of Batman. Looking at all his recent work, this is by far the best of the bunch. Characters looks great and I found myself admiring the art, even if I could not care any less about the story. JRJR has had issue just drawing people in mundane situations (he works best illustrating rogues) but none of those problems are evident here. There are some rough spots (JRJR would get the award for worst Wonder Woman I’ve EVER seen in one panel) but overall they are minor problems in an overall stellar issue. I’ve been a fan of Romita’s work in the past, and reading this reminded me why I still want to at least check out any comic he is working on.