Action Comics #1011
Superman and Lois get more pieces of the puzzle in Action Comics #1011, by writer Brian Michael Bendis, artist Steve Epting, colorist Brad Anderson, and letterer Josh Reed. This story arc has been on a rising arc of quality, especially with the last issue and this one keeps that up, giving a great lead-in to Bendis and Maleev’s upcoming Event Leviathan.
In Metropolis, the SCU comes for Kate Spencer, accusing her Mr. Bones’ murder and other crimes, but she’s able to defeat and escape, suiting up as Manhunter, ready to clear her name. In London, Superman frantically looks Lois, but she finds him and reveals that Tiger gave her all the information that he had collected on Spyral. Lois calls Perry to let him know about the Spyral story, and he asks for a second source. As Superman and Lois begin to look for Tiger, they see a column of blue light erupt in the sky… a touchstone of a Leviathan attack. They hightail it over to Gotham and talk to Huntress, who doesn’t think they should publish it, for fear of the consequences. They go back to the Fortress to talk to Waller, only to find Jimmy knocked out and Waller gone. Back in Metropolis, Jim Harper, the Guardian, is visited in the hospital by a mystery man who enlists his help with the change that is coming. Back in the Fortress, it’s revealed that there were no bodies at any of the Leviathan attack sites and that when Superman fought the Leviathan monster, he was able to ascertain that its power wasn’t destructive in nature. Superman, Lois, and Jimmy get ready to tell what could be the biggest story of their lives.
This issue is dense and eventful, and Bendis is able to pull off an exciting tone throughout. That isn’t normal for him. There’s none of his usual meandering or jokes for their own sake. There’s a palpable feeling of excitement throughout, starting from the jump with SCU going after Kate Spencer. Of course, it is the requisite two pages of action that Bendis likes to throw into Action Comics, but it sets a good tone- that everyone is on the run, trying to figure out what’s going on. The biggest problem with the beginning issues of this arc is that is was so muddled and slow. Only in the last two chapters has anything really been revealed and it was done in a breathless fashion that actually worked a lot better than it should have. Usually, when a writer throws in too many reveals too quickly, it can leave readers feeling a bit cheated. Here, it works.
This issue succeeds in drumming up interest for Event Leviathan, something it felt like this story was going to fail at in the earlier parts. It lines up the pieces and adds a new wrinkle to the mystery of the thing- if Leviathan’s attacks weren’t inherently destructive and there are no bodies, then what is really going on? That question changes everything readers thought they knew. That question makes the quandary of who or what Leviathan is and what they /he/she/they could want that much more intriguing.
Steve Epting’s art, much like the quality of the story, has improved with every issue, and this one is no exception. The beginning action scene with Kate Spencer and the SCU is exciting and kinetic. In some of the previous segments, his detail, especially facial detail, would be muddled or near non-existent, but that’s not the case in this one. In fact, without his top-notch facial work, a lot of the plot points of the story wouldn’t have the impact they do. His Superman also looks excellent. Epting’s style in recent years has lent to well dark spy stuff, but the way he draws Superman proves that he still has that flair for superheroics he’s showed over at Marvel.
Action Comic #1011 does what this storyline struggled to do in the beginning- it sets up Leviathan as a powerful and mysterious organization, but one whose plans are way more interesting than they seemed at the beginning. Bendis doesn’t waste any page real estate in this one, just dropping more bombs, whetting interest in his upcoming Event Leviathan. That said, event set-up has always been Bendis’ strong suit, and there is no guarantee that he’ll be able to keep that up in the upcoming book, but here he turns in an exciting story that leaves readers begging for more.