Review: ACTION COMICS #1014
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Szymon Kudranski
Colors: Brad Anderson
Letters: Rob Leigh
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
This issue bounces around a lot with scenes of the numerous sub-plots running in the series. Leone finally meets Perry and Clark with an offer, Clark stops a berserk monster at S.T.A.R. Labs, Thorn attacks the mayor and is assaulted by Red Cloud; and finally, Superman comes face to face with Naomi.
The strongest element is the first part of Action Comics #1014 which depicts the first meeting between Perry White and Leone, the new owner of The Daily Planet and also unbeknownst to anyone the secret head of The Invisible Mafia as well. This sequence is quite intense as Perry seems to really be trying to get something out of her, as she is a mystery to him and most of Metropolis. She makes an offer to Perry and to Clark once he stumbles upon the meeting that neither of them can quite figure out. It’s about money, and she wants to make sure that the paper uncovers the identity of Leviathan.
Szymon Kudranski’s art really picks up this issue, no longer seeming rushed in as many places. The close ups on Perry and Leone particularly stand out, although some of the panels with Lois and Clark oddly enough are not as strong.
While the bits with Leone and S.T.A.R. Labs seem to push the larger arc forward some, Thorn attacking the mayor who’s buying some sort of new recreational drug just adds to the already large number of plot threads. It’s not enough that Thorn accuses him of being Leviathan, the Red Cloud’s presence is just a bit too much of a coincidence. It ties the two subplots together, but it doesn’t make sense at this point.
There are moments of Bendis’s dialogue that are written as if the reader is missing part of the conversation. A speaker will end a sentence the reader is clearly expected to fill it in oneself, knowing enough to do so. However, it doesn’t quite work that way.
Naomi’s appearance is depicted in a way that makes it seem to be significant and impactful, but because she’s a mostly unknown quantity her character would’ve benefited from a different introductory scene. Perhaps, something with more intrigue as opposed to a simple appearance out of nowhere with the assumption the reader knows enough about the character to care would’ve been more effective. As is, it begs the question, “why should I care?”
While Lois and Clark have moments of normalcy over the past few issues, their relationship has been depicted inconsistently. In this issue, Clark is clearly comfortable slipping into Lois’s hotel room even though they seem to disagree with the purpose of the arrangement. They’ve been shown over the past 9 issues since Action Comics #1007 in different modes of familiarity; it is inconsistent with the expectations set forth in Action Comics #1004. While it could be argued that it is simply the reality of the complexity of life, the initial status quo was quite specific and has not been explicitly explored. It is a clear example of a lack of a deeper exploration of the characters and their motivations. It ends up feeling very superficial.
Lois’s broader story is addressed on page one as the events of her limited series are touched upon. However, it only serves to remind the reader that despite her own assertions in the issue of being focused on her masterpiece, she’s not only investigating this thing with the Question, readers easily recall she joined hubby, Clark as an Agent of Spyral a few issues ago. Lois is far from sequestered and isolated, she seems simply to have made an excuse to not be sharing an abode with Clark. It’s easy enough to imagine that she’s just busy, but it calls into question the basic premise of their public “separation.” It’s as if the editors are asleep at the wheel, content to let Bendis do his thing. DC has seemingly handed over the keys of the kingdom to Bendis. Or, It’s simply terrible writing or a wildly out of character depiction of Lois Lane. The questions first raised in Action Comics #1004 remain, what is going on with Lois Lane, and how long will it take to feel right again?
As Bendis develops his Superman epics both in Action Comics and Superman, it becomes more and more clear that all his titles are interrelated. Naomi’s appearance on the last page of Action Comics #1014 and the Legion of Super-Heroes appearance at the end of this week’s Superman #14 demonstrates that he’s developing his own corner of the DC Universe and you have to be “all in” on his titles. It’s a double edged sword. While one can admire the planning it takes to bring all these disparate storylines into one grand cohesive tale, if you’re not really digging some of the basics, it’s hard to get worked up about the big picture. Despite Lois and Clark’s relationship appearing to normalize a bit more, the inconsistency of its portrayal and multiple subplots which suffer from lack of attention casts a shadow of doubt on how well the overall story will hold together.