ACTION COMICS #1002 / Writer: Brian Michael Bendis / Artist: Patrick Gleason / Colorist: Alejandro Sanchez / Letterer: Josh Reed / Cover Artist: Gleason with Sanchez / Publisher: DC Comics / August 22, 2018
I’ve been itching to review an issue of Bendis’s Superman for the site, having kept up with his take on the character since his short story at the end of Action Comics #1000. Thankfully my fellow Do You Even Comic Book wordsmith Collier Jennings has been giving top-notch reviews of the run; if you haven’t seen those, check them out here. Now it is my turn to take a jab at one of my favorite DC Characters latest series, and boy have Brian Michael Bendis (New Avengers and Alias) and Patrick Gleason (Superman and Robin: Son of Batman) brought their “A” game.
Meanwhile in Metropolis
If you’ve been keeping up with Brian Michael Bendis’s Superman series as well as this Action Comics run you know that he’s expertly doing both sides of the character. In Superman, he’s focusing on the superhero and space adventure side of the character while in Action Comics he’s focusing on the Clark Kent and Metropolis side. Thus in this series he’s focusing on the more relatable side of the Superman mythology: the city, the people, the other heroes in the city, etc.
The story Invisible Mafia part 2, where Superman is fighting against a group of villains he doesn’t even know about yet, starts out with a page that practically screams the essence of Clark Kent. It’s a display of his Daily Planet computer covered in sticky notes with clever jokes and hints of things to come– which is also very Bendis.
Superman has a vast and colorful array of supporting characters, other heroes, and villains. Granted, this story is interesting in the sense that Bendis is using a new villain, but he does a stupendous job of using classic supporting cast characters like Perry White and Cat Grant, even remembering lesser known Metropolis heroes like the Guardian. I love the Guardian, I’ve loved him for a long time, but no one remembers him. He was even in the popular Young Justice cartoon, but I kid you not, while pointing out the character to my friend while reading this very issue, a friend who is the biggest Young Justice nerd you’ll ever meet, he had no idea. Granted he’s a forgettable character, but Bendis remembered him and maybe he’ll bring him into the spotlight like he did with Luke Cage for Marvel. I say all that to say Bendis knows the Superman mythos, and he’s building on it.
He’s created new supporting characters such as Melody Moor and Trish Q as well as the villainous characters Mafia, Red Cloud, Miss Goode, and Rogol Czar who currently faces Superman in the Superman title. This is a sign of a great run: tell a good story, use the mythos, and build on the mythos.
I’ve been a fan of Gleason’s Superman since he and Peter J. Tomasi’s stellar run on the character at the beginning of DC Rebirth back in 2016, but I find myself putting him up there with the great Superman artists like Quietly, Byrne, Swan, and Shuster himself. I find that when I think up an image of Superman almost seventy percent of the time it’s Gleason. So, I’m blessed to see around 22 pages of his work once a month in this book. He catches the feel of Superman in each page, and– I think this is harder– he catches Clark Kent. There are scenes of Clark at the planet and in a bar and during all of those scenes, except for an emotional glance here and there, he is Clark, not Superman. Reporter, not Superhero. Human, not Alien. Which, despite what a popular monologue in part two of a Tarantino movie would have you believe, is who he really is.
Mr. Strong and Red Cloud are really interesting additions to the Superman rogues gallery because Superman has never heard of them. Bendis must have asked himself, “what kind of mafia could operate in Metropolis?” The answer: one Superman doesn’t know about. We know little to nothing about them except they resent Superman and are a mafia. They kind of remind me of Intergang, an old Superman foe, but I’m glad they’re not. Red Cloud, in particular, interests me because I’m certain she and Superman will eventually face off, but we have no idea what her powers are other than being able to transform into a Red Cloud. Does she even have a human form where she looks normal? Maybe we’ve already met her. The mystery is so exciting. I also like that their reason for not liking Superman is because he’s not from Metropolis, not because he stops their crimes. Also, I didn’t forget about our Daily Planet spy Ms. Goode, but she seems like an extension of the Mafia so I’m not as keen to know what her plans are right now.
I had to do a double take to last month’s issue. Because I thought the woman typing at the end was Trish Q who was writing about the secret of Lois Lane, but it was Lois! She’s supposed to be in space! Why is she back? I don’t know! I want to know! That’s enough exclamation marks, but man does that get me excited for the next issue.
Superman Has A Lot of Emotion
Superman is frustrated. His wife and son are in space. The city he loves thinks he’s been starting fires and killing gangsters. We even see him get angry and take it out on a helpless bunch of meteorites. This shows how human Superman is, how deep his feelings go. In conclusion, Bendis is an amazing writer and I’m excited to see where this goes.
If you follow comics, this comic in particular, or Bendis or the SyFy website you’ll see that Bendis has decided to do what he can to take the word autistic out of this issue. Because it is used as a derogatory term. This is a word that should never be used in such a way and I understand and respect Bendis’s decision, but a villain said it. A villain who was immediately beaten up by the Guardian after saying it. Does this not show readers that they shouldn’t want to be this person?
Here’s the page in question.
As an adult autistic person going about every day of my life living with a condition that society makes me feel ashamed of, I have to say no to this. Autistic people should learn that they aren’t bad, that they exist, and bad people, like the villain in this comic, will use what they are to insult them, but they shouldn’t be insulted. They should be proud. Because we aren’t the sick, deformed, idiots or savants society thinks we are. We aren’t Mr. Data’s and Good Doctors, we’re people. People whose brains work differently, not worse or better.
If you’re a parent of an autistic child and you read this issue of Action Comics and are questioning how to break this to your child because you think they’ll like this issue. You tell them that the person is a bad guy, not the writer, the villain. You won’t love them any less and they won’t love you any less even though it’s hard for them to show that period.
Also, while you’re here, we aren’t a disease, there’s no cure for us. Some of us get better socially as we get older because we learn how to act and behave just like everyone else. Comic Books, especially superhero ones, are great role models for that, they teach us right from wrong with almost every issue. Listen, you aren’t just like everyone else, but that does not mean you are worse. You belong, and comic books are for everybody. Don’t let people bad or well-meaning tell you otherwise.
Verdict: 5 out of 5