Action Comics #1001/ Writer: Brian Michael Bendis/ Artist: Patrick Gleason/ Colorist: Alejandro Sanchez/ Letterer: Josh Reed/ Publisher: DC Comics/ Release Date: July 25th, 2018
“How do you commit crimes in Metropolis?” That is the question Brian Michael Bendis asks as he begins the second half of his Superman run in Action Comics #1001. Teaming up with veteran Superman artist Patrick Gleason, Bendis shows us the darker side of Metropolis. Gangsters meet in secret under the Man of Steel’s nose, following a strict code so they don’t get caught. However, events in The Man of Steel miniseries threaten to bring their activities to life.
When Bendis first discussed his plans for Action Comics, he stated that he wanted the main Superman title to be big and bombastic, and for Action Comics to focus more on Clark Kent’s life as a reporter. This raised a few eyebrows-mine included. Wouldn’t you want the massive, world saving exploits in a title that’s literally called Action Comics? Yet Bendis and Gleason make it work, against the odds.
Bendis seems to have gotten his second creative wind, so to speak, ever since he started working on Superman. His Kent still feels human, yet heroic-whether it’s confronting armed robbers and persuading them to give up peacefully, or talking to a young boy who says he’s been starting a rash of fires in Metropolis. Better yet, we get to see Kent using his investigative skills both in and out of the cape. I’ve long stated as a Superman fan that Supes is far more intelligent than some folks will give him credit for, and it’s nice to see that in action.
Gleason returns to drawing Superman, and it’s a welcome treat. The sole action sequence in the book-which features Superman stopping the aforementioned armed robbery at LexCorp-is immediately eye catching (and features one of the coolest uses of super speed I’ve ever seen.) Most importantly, though, Gleason makes his characters visually distinct. Superman is tall, confident, and-most importantly-heroic. Clark Kent hunches and deflects confrontation, Perry White looks every bit his age but is still doggedly determined, and so on. Coupled with Alejandro Sanchez’s colors, the art has an earthy, “realistic” vibe that I personally dig.
If there’s one problem with the book, it’s that it feels too short. We are introduced to a new villain-the mysterious Red Cloud-and while I really love her design, as well as the menace she exudes, I wish she had been introduced earlier. The same goes for the titular “Invisible Mafia.” (I get that Bendis and Gleason were trying to lead up to the admittedly stunning last page, but still.)
Overall, Bendis and Gleason have delivered a promising start to their Action Comics run. I hope that future issues can pick up the pace.
Verdict: 4 out of 5 Daily Planets.