Action Comics #1021
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller: John Romita Jr
Inker: Klaus Janson
Colors: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
This arc has been a meeting of antagonists. From The Legion of Doom, to Leviathan, to The Red Cloud they all have worked together to take out Superman. However, in the previous issue Young Justice came in to aid Superman. Superboy (Connor Kent) and Superman even had their first in-continuity meeting. Where the last issue left off the combined forces of evil seemed to have an upper hand.
This is the final issue in the storyline and therefore it is mostly a wrap up rather than an extension. This issue earns the title “Action Comics” as it features a fairly large battle between everyone. Red Cloud does let Superman live (not much of a surprise) and seems to be the thread leading to a future arc. Leviathan and Legion of Doom move onto their respective titles. The strange continuity with Lex Luthor and his Legion is corrected by explaining that this all takes place before Justice/Doom War (strange that they tell readers to follow them there, since that comic ended a bit ago). Effectively, if you want to read a Superman and Young Justice team up this is what the story offers. It is an action packed conclusion that doesn’t really end with any major revelations.
I actually read this issue with my son, to see if it connected a bit more to him than it did to me. Because this issue was a bit more straightforward and action oriented, he did really seem to enjoy it. It was fun seeing his face while Superboy and Superman teamed up, and he was excited that there were so many cool super villains in one issue. It is, by far, the best issue of the arc yet, but it seems to come too little too late. While the issue is exciting it amounts to nothing; a Legion of Doom tie-in that is months behind, Red Cloud needs to have some forward momentum, and Leviathan continues to be a drag. Bendis does a great job again at writing and understanding the characters, but the story they are in is just uninteresting and shallow. I would have preferred a more focused Superboy and Superman arc to this, as their moments together carry the book. Overall, this is a decent read and has some great moments, they are just in service of something that means very little. Hopefully Action Comics can get out of this slump soon.
The art continues to be a drag on this book. I mentioned that I read this with my kid, and one of his favorite characters in the world is Gorilla Grodd. He pointed at Grodd and asked who it was. When I explained it was Grodd he said, “That doesn’t look like him at all.” He was right, and John Romita Jr should either study what a Gorilla looks like, or never be asked to draw a book featuring the character again. Grodd’s presence here is not as pronounced as it was on earlier titles, but it still stuck out like a sore thumb. In general his art here is not up to his caliber of talent. JRJR can draw some amazing comics, this arc was just not designed with his ability in mind. It would be like giving Alex Ross a Loony Toons book (ok…. now I want to see that, maybe a poor example but you get my point). I don’t want to hammer my critique any further here, as I have already gone in depth every review so far. I am still a Romita Jr. fan, and hope to see him on something better soon.