REVIEW: ‘Action Comics,’ Issue #1021

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Action Comics #1021

Action Comics #1021 is written by Brian Michael Bendis, with art by John Romita Jr. Klaus Janson is the series inker, Brad Anderson is the colorist and Dave Sharpe is the letterer. Action Comics is published monthly by DC Comics. ‘Metropolis Doom’ arc reaches the finish line. Superman is a battered prisoner of the Legion of Doom. Most of Earth’s heroes lie defeated. The only items left on the board is for Lex Luthor to declare his intent, and for Superman to be eliminated.

Lex Luthor conquered Metropolis in order to offer its citizens a better model. The better Metropolis he touts hovers overhead, built by Leviathan, who joined the Legion’s cause back in Issue #1019. Superman, weakened yet able to argue against his old foe, lashes out. This is a typical setup in comics, the villain believing himself to be the true hero. However, it’s not too often played out this far, where Luthor is able to proclaim his destructive invasion was really altruistic. Superman, conversely, is left in a rare moment of helplessness, anger, and loss. He is displayed in a very different light than readers are accustomed to. The juxtaposition between these two is the best part of this issue by far. Then comes the elimination.

Next,  Luthor chooses another newfound ally to kill Superman. The Red Cloud, the current leader of the gangs in Metropolis, and a villain who crushed Superman in a previous battle. She can easily take out the Man of Steel in his broken state. Usually, any tale involving Superman beaten is nothing more than a scene of him lying in the dirt, only to rise again, last minute, and battle on. Here, he’s a vocally reckless shell, with nothing left in his arsenal but spitting bile at Luthor. Seeing him at such a low is more painful to read than Superman’s death back in the 90s. It has always been clear that Luthor operates through others to keep his hands clean. His using Red Cloud to exterminate Superman is a given. But then, things change, and they change fast.

Action Comics #1021

The change is not the problem with Action Comics #1021. A long, dramatic storyline has to come to a conclusion at some point. There are some great bits and Bendis’ handling of Superman has been the best. It’s just that the ending itself is a bit flat. Nothing particularly bad about it, but the level of destruction, drama, and intensity built up over several issues led to a swift finale that left me conflicted. Bendis has been such a strong writer on Action Comics that it doesn’t make the series falter. If anything, it’s a speed bump on a fantastic racetrack in terms of story and art.

Romita Jr., Janson, Anderson, and Sharpe keep giving readers a dynamic book in terms of visuals and wording. There is no problem with art, dialogue pacing or plot twists. This issue offers a better level of animosity between Superman and Luthor, and other characters than has been done in some time. It leaves enough opening for further threads to be left dangling, and that’s a solid plus.

I only wish it went out, not bigger, but more complex, considering all it brought tumbling down. ‘Metropolis Doom’ is over. It will be fun seeing how the city rebuilds, how the Man of Steel handles any fallout, and how villains might exploit it.

Action Comics #1021 is available wherever comic books are sold.

Action Comics #1021
3.5

TL;DR

Romita Jr., Janson, Anderson, and Sharpe keep giving readers a dynamic book in terms of visuals and wording. There is no problem with art, dialogue pacing or plot twists. This issue offers a better level of animosity between Superman and Luthor, and other characters than has been done in some time. It leaves enough opening for further threads to be left dangling, and that’s a solid plus.

I only wish it went out, not bigger, but more complex, considering all it brought tumbling down.

‘Metropolis Doom’ is over. It will be fun seeing how the city rebuilds, how the Man of Steel handles any fallout, and how villains might exploit it.