Action Comics #1026
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller: John Romita Jr
Inker: Klaus Janson
Colors: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Superman and his extended family (plus Brainiac 5) were last in a battle against an alternate universe version of Parasite. It seemed that Parasite had killed Conner Kent, and was basically an unstoppable force. On top of all of this, Clark Kent and Lois Lane’s lives at The Daily Planet has been in turmoil. Since there is now a connection between The Daily Planet and The Invisible Mafia, The FBI is investigating the paper. There is not an aspect of Superman’s life that has not been turned upside down
This issue mostly deals with the battle between Superman’s family and Parasite. The FBI investigation is still in the background and it seems like everything there is waiting to be focused on in a later issue. The Red Cloud also shows up, reminding the reader that she has always been the main threat behind the scenes. While the comic does end on a cliffhanger again, there is not much else to the comic other than the big battle.
Brain Michael Bendis continues to write aggressively mediocre comics. The idea of the new Parasite, and alternate universes, is interesting but it is all squandered in this issue. The threat comes and goes without much fanfare. To make matters worse the book opens with way too much exposition from Brainiac 5. The first page is just him standing there explaining what has been happening in the series so far, like a the world’s dullest recap. Worse yet it is not like this comic has too much going on that warrants an introduction like this. Superman is fighting Parasite, end of story. It gets worse as Brainiac 5 then just provides narration to the battle scene, as if the art itself isn’t clear enough (and it kind of isn’t but I will get to issues with JRJR later). Normally I have far more to say about a comic, but in this case the writing on the page has far more to say about itself than it is worth talking about. The Daily Planet FBI investigation is also started to drag and is giving my Leviathan flashbacks.
John Romita Jr is a fantastic artist, but you would never know it. Look at his work in the 90s and you will see some amazing work and pages that just jump out to the reader. His Spider-Man and Daredevil work is among the best either title has seen. But JRJR is now clearly rushing through his work. Deadlines are more important than quality and it shows. His style works when he gets to play with Spidey’s rogues and take his time, on Superman it looks and feels like he needs a paycheck. Parasite might be the worst possible mess of a character to give him. It is just a mess of lines with no real way to read what is going on. Superman is effectively fighting a scribble. It just isn’t a well drawn book and this arc is not in JRJR’s wheelhouse.