Superman: Action Comics #1023 – Brian Michael Bendis, Writer; John Romita Jr, Penciller; Klaus Janson, Inker; Brad Anderson, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Ray: While Superman has had the explosive action, Action Comics has actually been the tenser and stronger book at times. For the last few issues, the focus has been on the unusual Super-family reunion as Superman and Conner Kent get reacquainted, but the main villain of the run is about to make her presence known again. Red Cloud has been a mixed bag as Leone’s chief enforcer, but ever since she got an upgrade from Apex Lex (remember when he was a thing?) she’s become more and more unhinged. When she corners Lois and Jimmy in a secret underworld hideout, there’s some real tension as she goes through how best to hurt and weaken Superman. Lois is able to contact Superman, and he arrives with not one but two Superboys in tone, and this leads to a thrilling family showdown against the new villain—with some genuine danger for one of the Superboys.
There’s an interesting question posed here: what happens when you genuinely piss Superman off? It’s not something we see often, and when we do it’s usually in the context of his mind breaking and turning him into a villain like in Injustice. But here, Red Cloud makes the mistake of going directly for his family, and we see a Superman determined to strike back in a way we don’t usually. But he doesn’t charge into battle or pick a fight. Instead, he goes directly for Leone’s most valuable assets, with a clever twist in how he neutralizes the heart of her empire. Bendis’ Superman is a lot more unpredictable than the character usually is, and it feels like this is the first shot in a war that’s going to get nasty. I still feel like we need a little more context on Red Cloud’s motivation, but she and Leone have added some interesting new rivals to Metropolis and the cliffhanger promises a big shake-up.
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GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.