Action Comics #1020
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller: John Romita Jr
Inker: Klaus Janson
Colors: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Action Comics has been focused on the teaming of Lex Luthor, The Legion of Doom, and Leviathan. Leviathan has used all the allies it could find in order to take down Superman, and with the non-chronological nature of the story we know Superman is “defeated.” There are some things that are still holding over from Scott Snyder’s Justice League run here. Lex Luthor is an apex Martian hybrid, and the Legion of Doom still wields powers from The Totality. With these forces and the full might of Leviathan it is hard to see anyone overcoming this, let alone our title hero. This issue finally catches back up with how this arc started and explains how Superman loses.
Out of every issue of this arc so far, this one is the most straightforward. The Legion of Doom is taking on Superman in a fairly action heavy issue. The scales are balanced with the addition of Young Justice. This is the first, in current continuity, meeting of Superboy (Conner) and Superman. Superboy’s addition to the universe is still relatively unknown, and therefore it takes The Legion by surprise. The other members of Young Justice have their moments as well, but Superboy is the one who takes center stage here. Of course, this all leads to the conclusion that was foreshadowed in part one of the storyline. Superman loses, but we now can see how Leviathan was pulling the strings behind the scenes.
I have not been the biggest fan of this arc, but this issue is an uptick in the quality of storytelling. I appreciate the inclusion of Young Justice, and Superboy has needed to be introduced to the larger Superman line for a while now. Bendis has always done better when handling character moments, and the way he gives a diverse cast here voice is fun to read. The team up of Superboy and Superman is bittersweet. It brings back memories of Superboy’s heyday and when he was a big selling point of the Superman line. A 90s attitude character that actually grew and matured with the times and was far more than “one note.” Since the New 52 his place in the timeline has been all over. So even though it was fun to see them finally work together it was upsetting to see their dynamic lose all the history they once had. But at least this is a step in the right direction. Everything that was not Young Justice was a bit of a drag. Bendis clearly has a love for those characters and has not found a reason to make me care about the others. Leviathan is still boring, and uninspired. The Legion of Doom is still confusing and I cannot place how they fit in the overall DC timeline as they stand in this title. The antagonist side of the equation is just a mess. Thankfully they play second fiddle to the more interesting plot in this issue. This comic is more of a commercial for Bendis’ Young Justice than it is for Action Comics.
John Romita Jr is getting sloppy. Every issue seems a bit looser than the last, and his character designs are not standing up amongst his possible work. You don’t have to go far back, and simply read his short run on Tom King’s Batman, or even Superman Year One (don’t read it just look at the art) and see how capable he can be. Thankfully, Gorilla Grodd stays in the background here and it looks like he has learned he should be drawing Gorillas. I know JRJR is infamous for his inability in drawing children and his Young Justice take is evident of this fact. Everyone just looks slightly off. It isn’t just the children this time around, characters like Superman (who he has shown the ability to draw) just look like he doesn’t care about the content. If you pick up a random JRJR issue of Spider-Man from the Clone Saga (again look don’t read) you will see he can be much better than this. I am a fan of John Romita Jr, and I am extremely disappointed in the way this issue looks.