Review: Action Comics #1027
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: John Romita, Jr. and Klaus Janson
Colors: Brad Anderson
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
It’s not fair to call it a finale, but off panel Team Kent defeats the Red Cloud…and we head are left with the slightest chance of redeeming Lois.
There are a couple of positives that stand out with Action Comics #1027, firstly, Brad Anderson is a wizard at coloring. He makes the pages pop, and they are perfect for Superman. Like last issue, his inclusion of some pinks in the Red Cloud create an exciting visual emphasis. And, when you compare his Superman work to other titles, he clearly understands what colors work best for the different characters. Especially interesting is how he mutes the Phantom Zone in this issue. (Aside, the ’70’s looking Phantom Zone logo is brilliant- not sure who to laud here, Bendis or letterer Dave Sharpe.)
The best writing in the issue comes in Leone soliloquy as she more or less tells off Robinson Goode aka The Red Cloud. Goode is already in jail and the letter she receives from Leone is quite revealing and intense. Leone lets her have it with both barrels as we are able to more fully understand Leone’s plan and how Goode’s going rogue threw it off. It genuinely adds to Leone’s character, it’s a shame we didn’t get more of this along the way. While keeping her mysterious was effective to a point, she should’ve had a reveal sooner in order to develop her more.
Lastly, it’s nice to see the whole Super-family working together this issue. I’ve said before that it’s obvious that Bendis enjoys writing them this way. It’s too bad most of his run was focused on separating the family and keeping them at odds. More development of the family would’ve gone a long way in selling the aged-up Jon to fans. While it works well here, it stands out as a huge missed opportunity for the run.
Unfortunately, the art from Romita, Jr. and Janson isn’t any better this issue. In fact, it may have gone backwards. The cover is actually slightly painful to view. The story doesn’t fair much better. There are a few issues with the script the main one being the non-linear aspect. This can be effective, but like the previous “Metropolis: Doom” storlyline, it just doesn’t work. The main reason in Action Comics #1027 is that it completely derails the tension and drama of the opening sequence.
After an exciting opening with Supergirl trying to save Superman and the Superboys and Brainiac 5 trying to capture the Red Cloud, it just makes no sense that as Superman’s fate appears dire, the action jumps to the Phantom Zone with Superman just fine. It’s not so much the use of the Phantom Zone as a deus ex machina, but rather the fact that the excitement and tension is just cut… Over. There was a lot more drama to be shown, exactly how did Superman survive the Red Cloud’s attack? How did they manage to get her into the Phantom Zone? These are questions that shouldn’t have been answered off panel.
Also, recent issues and her own mini-series have suggested that Lois may not be from a parallel Earth. While this creates a whole separate set of issues, it’s at least interesting. The tone of the issue indicates that this may not be true, meaning her characterization way back in Action Comics #1004 is nothing more than bad writing. And, even if it is true, it just indicates how ill conceived and executed this entire run has been. No one actually wants an aged-up Jon or to have witnessed Superman having sexually relations with a parallel Earth Lois. It’s a no-win situation, but at least the parallel Earth solution is interesting and could potentially bring back a younger Jon.
Lastly, the big reveal at the end is just…boring…because, we’ve known Jimmy was going to be the owner of the Daily Planet since his mini-series ended months ago. So, no surprise here! And, it’s not the only time Bendis has done this. The previously mentioned “Metropolis: Doom” storyline had no impact because Bendis had already show us the day after in Superman #18 when he selfishly and foolishly revealed his identity to the world. Jimmy’s surprise has no impact whatsoever, much like most of the past two years Bendis has spent noodling with the Man of Steel.
It’s hard for a Bendis Superman comic to be much more than mediocre, and Action Comics #1027 is no different. Bendis can never seem to get out of his own way. As soon as he introduces something interesting, he botches it with the execution. Next month sees the end of his tenure on Superman. At the very least we will all know where things stand. Maybe the big reveal will be Lois was from a parallel Earth and every time they had sex it was a Superman robot standing in for Big Blue, as corny as that sounds, it’s really preferable to either of the other two outcomes.