Superman: Action Comics #1011 – Brian Michael Bendis, Writer; Steve Epting, Artist; Brad Anderson, Colorist
Ray – 8/10
Corrina: Under Cover
Ray: As we get ready to spin this title into Event Leviathan, Action Comics #1011 is a series of intriguing and exciting vignettes – few that have much to do with Superman. The best segment of the issue happens right at the beginning, as Kate Spencer comes under attack by law enforcement suspecting her of being behind the destruction of the spy bases. She goes toe-to-toe with Maggie Sawyer, fights her way out of a crowded hallway, and makes her triumphant return as Manhunter. I can’t wait to see her cut loose in a big way in the event comic. Meanwhile, Superman is frantically searching for Lois in London – only to have her return with all the details on the members of Spyral, the latest organization to fall. Lois and Agent Tiger make good spy partners, and I’m loving how much of this story is rooted in Greg Rucka and Mark Andreyko stories from ten years ago, along with the more recent work of King and Seeley. It’s an excellent noir book that plays to Bendis’ strengths – but is it a Superman book?
Bendis has been seeding various plots through his run, and we come back to them at random points. Did people even remember about the Guardian being beaten within an inch of his life by Red Cloud at this point? He gets a visit from Leviathan offering him a place in the new order. It’s a compelling conspiracy thriller, and I think Bendis is doing justice to a lot of strong female characters in the run – Lois, Waller, and Manhunter, plus Huntress (although the light makes her look a bit whitewashed in Epting’s art). Waller’s backstab of Superman was expected (unless she’s got a bigger plan, which she probably does), but the characterization of Jimmy in this scene was odd. He opened this arc looking like a tough-as-nails young spy, and in this issue, he looks and acts like he’s Superman’s kid sidekick again. He’s also forgotten Superman’s secret ID again, but that can be explained through the Superman Reborn storyline in Rebirth. Overall, good as a setup for Leviathan, but in two books I still have very little idea what Bendis’ Superman is like.
Corrina: I don’t feel as if it is a Superman book, no. However, after criticizing Bendis for over a year about either sidelining Lois Lane or writing her terribly, he manages to write her well in this one story. So that’s one out of 24 issues? In any case, I didn’t have to wince at her absence or her portrayal this week.
I liked the Manhunter scenes a little less than Ray. One, yes, it’s good to see Kate Spencer again, as she’s a long under-used character. But seeing Maggie in Metropolis reminds me of how Maggie was written out of Batwoman’s story–especially their relationship–and Maggie exists in this story only as someone to be beaten up by Kate. So, while I liked Kate, her “bad-ass” moment also came at the expense of another underused/misused character. However, the sequential panels of the fight are brilliant, as one would expect from Epting, including the final shot of Kate in her full Manhunter costume.
It looks like Bendis is going to rewrite the full spy network of the DCU. That’s not a bad idea, given how many different secret spy societies there are. They could use some trimming. We’ll see how it goes but not gnashing my teeth at the story was enough for this month.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.