Review: Action Comics #1008

by Matthew Lloyd
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[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Steve Epting
Colors: Brad Anderson
Letters: Josh Reed


Brian Michael Bendis’s run on Action Comics so far has had few highs and some real low lows.  Part two of “Leviathan Rising” is easily the best issue of his run, barely edging out last issue that featured a real heart-to-heart with Lois and her Dad, Sam Lane.

Adam Strange shows up at the D.E.O. at the behest of Director Bones.  He’s about to offer Strange a gig when what appears to be Rogal Zaar (maybe?) appears on the scene and destroys the place.  Bones appears to be in bad shape.  Meanwhile, Amanda Waller and Sam Lane get together to discuss last issue’s events, Lane even alludes to Lois’s reveal, though it’s not clear exactly what Lane thinks- does he know Clark is Superman?  Their conversation is interrupted when they realize they’ve been set up and someone destroys the building they are in.  Another D.E.O. office down!

Back in Metropolis, Lois and Clark stroll into the Planet to help with Jimmy who’s been hiding out in Lois’s old office.  Lois sees the new staff, Robinson Goode, Trish Q etc…..  Jimmy relates the story of the Kobra Cult from last issue, feeling unsure if he can trust that it’s really Lois and Clark there with him.  He claims they’ve been after him since he broke in on their secret meeting.  Jimmy’s comment about Lois echoes what’s been bothering me since Lois’s return back in issue #1004, is this really Lois?  Her behavior was so bizarre and out of character that it has continued to cast a pall on the depiction of the Super-couple since.  Her evasiveness and inability to be honest with Clark has yet to be fully explored, never mind the fact that Clark accepted it hook, line and sinker.

After getting Jimmy into a spare bed at their apartment, Lois and Clark learn what’s gone down with Sam Lane, Waller and the D.E.O., ending with Waller barging into their apartment and Waller addressing Clark as Superman!  It’s unclear if Waller knew already or if she gleaned it from Sam Lane’s confession to her.

Steve Epting has some real breathtaking moments in this issue, giving a classic looking Superman while at the same time doing what he does best with his facial expressions and body postures to communicate something deeper in the story.  Additionally, he’s at home with the spy genre having done outstanding work on Captain America and Velvet, both with writer Ed Brubaker.  Finally, his depiction of Adam Strange comes across as an audition piece for a series on the character.  I’m ready for that!

Bendis seems to also feel comfortable in this genre.  He’s set up a plot with some mystery and some less than trustworthy individuals, Waller and Sam Lane who are going to have to rely on the Man of Steel to save their bacon.  After seven issues on this series, Bendis finally gets Lois and Clark acting like a team.  It feels right, despite there being a huge elephant in the room.  Bringing Jimmy to the forefront is a fun move that seems like it will pay off for some great interaction.

So, about that elephant…it really doesn’t make any sense why Lois is suddenly back at the Planet with Clark.  What’s happened that has taken her away from her “important work” at the Drake Hotel in Chicago?  Perhaps, it’s simply that Perry called her in to help with Jimmy.  However, this significant move should get some actual page time instead of being written as if nothing weird is going on with Lois.  If you just picked up this issue without any previous knowledge of Bendis’s run, it wouldn’t even be an issue, but if you’ve been following along, this is a huge plot element that has yet to be addressed.  As such, in the entire run Lois’ return is just as out of place to the reader as it is to the Planet’s staff.  Furthermore, since this storyline takes place before Jon’s return from space, it doesn’t make sense that she’d still be there when he was shown returning in Superman #7 last month.

Robinson Goode’s appearance also reminds that reader that the previous story arc hasn’t been concluded.  While these things are negatives to the bigger picture, as a single issue they matter little as they aren’t addressed in the story.  It feels like subplots and storylines have been forgotten about.

As Bendis leans into the ground level espionage aspects of this tale, it’s clear these are the types of stories he’s better at writing. It’s another improvement on his run this month, as Epting again delivers a great turn at the drawing board again.  Adam Strange’s appearance is a treat as is Jimmy, Lois and Clark acting like the people they are supposed to be.  It’s still not clear why Lois is back at the Planet acting like herself and not some weird alien in disguise- although that may still be a possibility, eh, Jimmy?

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