Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Patrick Gleason
Colors: Alejandro Sanchez
Letters: Josh Reed
Brian Michael Bendis’ dueling Superman titles continues this week with Action Comics #1002. Any reader of a Bendis book knows that this is his usual norm as it allows Bendis to flush out his story from two directions as well as play with different styles in each book. Where Superman appears to be the larger than life and big action book Action Comics is focused on the Daily Planet and the streets of Metropolis, which are not as pretty as people think. Of the two titles Action Comics has really grabbed my attention and it is Bendis at his best when he is telling these street level crime stories with a wide cast of characters on both sides of the law. It’s also fantastic that the books star is Clark Kent, not his more heroic alter ego.
It’s not easy being a criminal in Metropolis. More times than not the Man of Steel, with his super hearing and super speed, swoops in and ends a crime before it can culminate in a successful conclusion. A certain criminal group have found there way around this conundrum, distraction. They’ve discovered that if they cause a bigger disturbance, such as lighting buildings on fire, Superman will be so consumed with the blaze and saving citizens that they can successfully pull off their crimes, but what happens when the man hired to set the fires suddenly falls from the sky. What begins as a seemingly mindless death soon turns into a mystery. Hot on the trail of this scoop is Clark Kent, who not only wants to file a great story but also discover who has distracted his alter ego to the point he is missing major crimes happening in his city. Throw in some mysterious cabals maneuvering against one another, an appearance of the classic Jack Kirby hero the Guardian, and a surprise cliffhanger leads to an enjoyable comic.
Action Comics is the perfect vehicle for Brian Michael Bendis’ Superman run. Bendis is at his best when he is telling these ground level stories that are full of shady underworld characters, mysterious players, and the downtrodden hero. Patrick Gleason does a magnificent job on this title. His contrast between Clark Kent and Superman is excellent as they look like completely different characters. Gleason and colorist Alejandro Sanchez do a fantastic job of making Metropolis’ under belly look dirty. To often the city of the future looks like a shining light on high. But Gleason and Sanchez make it feel smoggy and dirty, more akin to Gotham than Metropolis and it is a great shift from previous interpretations of Superman’s city. Bendis feels at home in Action Comics #1002 and with Patrick Gleason along for the ride makes for a great comic and hopefully a classic run.