Action Comics #1005 // Review
The identity of the Red Cloud is revealed in Action Comics #1005, by writer Brian Michael Bendis, artist Ryan Sook, colorist Brad Anderson, and letterer Josh Reed. Action Comics has been the more underwhelming of Bendis’ two Superman books, and this issue is no exception.
A man tries to sell a “Dial H For Hero” dial to a boss in the Invisible Mafia, but the Question shows up and takes out the gang. Clark Kent gets a call from Deputy Fire Chief Melody Moore about the recent arsons, and learns something about the mayor and his feeling towards superpowered folks. He dons the Superman costume to investigate further, and gets attacked by the Red Cloud. After escaping her, she gloats that she was able to survive a fight with him just about unscathed, revealing her identity.
This issue feels meandering and ponderous. There’s a lot of things “happening,” but none of them feel very important. Sure, the Question busting up the gang is a fun sequence, but why is it here? It just serves as a catalyst for the boss of that gang to go to her superiors and demand the Red Cloud take some action, which is what one would assume the superpowered leader of an invisible mafia would do regardless. Why include the “Dial H For Hero” dial at all? The only answer is to advertise the upcoming “Dial H For Hero” series, but in this issue, it’s just a plot device, and not a very good one.
Bringing Melody Moore back to talk about a mystery that’s already been solved for readers doesn’t really make any sense, and the entire conversation doesn’t really reveal anything worthwhile or even very pertinent to the storyline. Metropolis’ mayor doesn’t like superheroes very much and…who cares? Sure it may be setting something up for the future, but what and why include it here? It just feels like filler. The reveal of the Red Cloud’s identity isn’t a shock or really even that big of a moment, because Bendis hasn’t made us care about the Red Cloud or her secret identity. The reveal also raises a really big question about the Red Cloud and her place in the Metropolis’ invisible mafia.
Ryan Sook’s art is the highpoint of the book, but the way the panels are laid out seems weird in places. Take the Question fight scene: there’s a lot of interstitial shots of the “Hero” dial in between panels that sort of take away from the fight itself. This isn’t Sook’s fault, of course; Bendis’ script probably called for this and Bendis is known for being a very bad action scripter, but it just feels weird to focus on something so unimportant in the middle of a fight. Other than that, Sook’s linework and character acting are top notch. He draws a great Superman, and it’s nice to see him get a shot to draw the character. It would just be better if he was drawing a good story.
Action Comics #1005 is all of Bendis’ fault wrapped up in one book. There’s a lot of talking but none of it is important, the events therein don’t have any impact, the action is muddled by unnecessary filler, and the reveal is both underwhelming and an easy one to guess. Ryan Sook’s art is wonderful, but when a story is this bad, that’s just gilding a piece of fecal matter. In the end, none of it really matters and it leaves no impact at all.