Action Comics #1014
Clark Kent meets the new owner of the Daily Planet in Action Comics #1014, by writer Brian Michael Bendis, artist Szymon Kudaranski, colorist Brad Anderson, and letterer Rob Leigh. Bendis stitches together multiple in this issue from his various D.C. series’ in a densely plotted chapter that never gets boring.
Perry White gets to work to find the new owner of the Daily Planet in his office, Marisol Leone (who also happens to be the Queenpin of the Invisible Mafia). She has a new marching order for the paper- find out who Leviathan is and break the story first, no matter how much it costs. At S.T.A.R. Labs, Superman encounters a giant monster and takes it out. Afterward, a group of S.T.A.R. Labs scientists comes and puts Superman in touch with their boss, Dr. Glory. She tells him that they have been researching the Leviathan teleportation energy signatures and that the monster likely came from a rift between dimensions opened by said signatures. Superman scans their lab and finds that they are carrying out numerous illegal experiments. As Clark Kent, he writes a quick expose on it. Perry introduces him to Leone, who offers to pay what he’s worth if he keeps being one of the star reporters. At a nightclub run by the Invisible Mafia, Mayor Strong gets offered a new drug called a Bottle of Apocalypse, when Thorn attacks the club. She spares him but begins to stab members of the Mafia when Red Cloud shows up and takes her out. Clark goes home and tells Lois about his meeting with Leone when a giant energy flash illuminates the sky. He races to the source to find Naomi looking for his help.
There’s a lot to unpack in this story, and Bendis pulls it off very well. There are times when he’s had a tendency to over-plot something, and it doesn’t land very well, but this isn’t one of those times. The pacing of the book is frenetic in the best possible way, shifting through multiple points very efficiently. There’s never a feeling that one of the plot points is being underserved. Everything gets its point across rather well without feeling rushed. Bendis really shines in this issue.
If there is a deficiency to the whole thing, it’s that he’s mostly playing in his own sandbox, something he’s been known to do since his Marvel days. Everything in this issue works with something he’s doing; Leone wanting the Planet to break the Leviathan story, Thorn looking for Leviathan, and Naomi showing up. There’s nothing really wrong with it, but it sort of grounds the story in one corner of the DCU and that’s his corner. He’s using the book to build his work instead of using it to be about Clark Kent and the Daily Planet, which is what he said the book was going to be about. As much as these things are important to the overall story of the issue, they almost feel like they’re being used to tell a story that doesn’t have very much to do with them at this time. It honestly kind of feels like Clark Kent isn’t even the main character of the book very much. The plot is moving him. He isn’t moving the plot.
The art by Szymon Kudaranski is a total home run. He brings a level of detail to the book that must be seen to be believed and his character acting top-notch. Perry White is so very expressive that it almost feels like watching a real person. The colors of Brad Anderson play a huge part in this. When Perry first sees Leone, she’s like a shining angel, and it’s the colors that put this across. This serves the story because Perry sees her and her seemingly infinite purse strings as a gift from heaven. In other places, Anderson knows when to lighten or darken a scene to give it maximum effect. These two working together is a visual treat for readers.
Action Comics #1014 is a breathlessly paced, wonderfully written comic with great art. Bendis moves things around quickly while still giving everything the room it needs to breathe. It would be nice if Clark Kent/Superman were more proactive in the whole thing, but that’s a very small gripe. Kudaranski and Anderson gel together perfectly, producing beautiful art. It’s tough to say much bad about this issue. While It’s not exactly perfect, but it’s a home run nonetheless.