Review: Action Comics #1015
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Szymon Kudranski
Colors: Brad Anderson
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
Naomi! Guest starring Superman and Batman! Sheesh!
Let’s start with the art in Action Comics #1015. Kudranski seems to hold things together this issue with a very even performance. His Batman is probably the best rendered character in the issue. However, Naomi and Superman also come across singularly. There’s also some fairly breathtaking moments as Naomi struggles with her first attempts at flight.
Bendis spends a lot of time providing exposition on Naomi’s character. While exposition is sometimes bad, in this case, it is good because for those unfamiliar with Naomi, it provides enough backstory and information to provide coherence to Action Comics #1015. As it is, technically, Bendis does a good job of building character for not only Naomi, but also Superman and Batman. However, it does feel a bit superficial, the character equivalent of a comedic one-liner.
Superman is portrayed accurately in this situation, encountering a super-powered teen– empathetic, sympathetic and concerned for Naomi’s well-being. Probably, because he’s seen it before. He even has a few really insightful moments. When he calls in Batman to consult at the Hall of Justice, the fact that he tells Naomi that Batman has “the most experience with people your age,” is not only funny, but very accurate. Who else in the DC Universe has cranked through teen-aged sidekicks?
Bendis also finds aspects of empathy for Naomi in both Superman and Batman. Superman confides that he is also adopted, and Batman tells her that his parents were also killed. If you like Naomi and are interested in who she is, where she came from and what impact she will have on the DC Universe, then this is definitely a book for you!
Bendis is simply pointing out why she isn’t exactly unique or different, especially considering her superpowers don’t seem innovative either. The incidentals of the issue are well done. However, if one thinks back to classic Supergirl’s reintroduction, we’ve seen this before. This is not new. Naomi is not new, at least from the perspective of Action Comics #1015.
The reintroduction of the classic Supergirl from Superman/ Batman Volume 2, has recently been reprinted in Superman Giant. It’s hard not to see this parallel. It’s also hard not to see how it was done much better by Jeph Loeb and Michael Turner. It’s not Bendis’s fault that Supergirl is a beloved character and Naomi is essentially an unknown quantity. Bendis gives it the “old college try,” but it just feels derivative. Bendis fails to make the reader feel like Naomi is worth caring about. Supergirl is doing pretty well in her own series by Marc Andreyko and Kevin Maguire….
Perhaps, the biggest drawback of the issue is that it suggests that maybe Superman is not the purpose of this series. Bendis has already proven that he’s will to adulterate Lois, Clark and Jon in order to re-introduce the Legion of Super-Heroes in issue #14 issue of Superman, (it took 20 issues if you include the 6-issue The Man of Steel mini-series). Action Comics #1015 begs the question…is Action Comics a feint to allow Bendis to write his own creation? (Naomi is an original Bendis creation for the DC Universe.) This issue even teases, “Can Naomi Save Superman?” Is that what we have to look forward to? Will Superman be minimized in his original title?
There are technical aspects of this issue, and all of Bendis’s Superman and Action Comics runs that are executed well. He really wants to work on character, and that’s great! However, the content is almost always unenjoyable. If one doesn’t think about the issue (all his Superman issues) after reading it, the score would be higher, but with just a little thought, the weaknesses of his stories become immediately apparent. With the body of work at hand, it’s beginning to feel like Bendis doesn’t want to write Superman…. Over in Superman, it’s become clear that he really wants to write the Legion of Super-Heroes. His content choices for Superman, Lois and Jon all have begun to feel contrived, simply to introduce the Fourboot Legion…. And, to hell with Lois, Clark and Jon. With Naomi showing up and dominating this issue, it seems like this story arc is going to dovetail into a Naomi arc. I feel like I”m just not able to drink the Kool-Aid…. Why do I care about Supergirl derivative Naomi? Would it be too much to ask editorial to “wake up????”