Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: John Romita Jr.
Inks: Klaus Janson
Colors: Brad Anderson
Letters: Dave Sharpe
DC has a problem. DC has a glut of events that are overlapping (unintentionally at this point) and these issues are beginning to affect their regular titles, which is very apparent in Action Comics #1017. DC has three major events happening at the moment. They have the Brian Michael Bendis crafted Event Leviathan that wrapped a few weeks ago yet the effect of Mark Shaw (a former Manhunter from the ‘80s) complete destruction of the DC Intelligence and Covert Operations Organizations is still reverberating through the DC Universe. More so in Action Comics than other titles, which makes sense since it is a Bendis book. While Event Leviathan destroyed the spy side of the DC Universe in Scott Snyder’s Justice League Lex Luthor has become obsessed with the true creator of the Multiverse, Perpetua, who has gifted him a new body of an original man and granted him the tools to help every villain in the DC Universe to defeat their heroic foe in a line wide event now known as Year of the Villain. Both of these events have collided in Action Comics in what feels like a forced way as Luthor and Leviathan have decided to go to war with one another. Throw in the Invisible Mafia, the mysterious criminal organization that has been a thorn in the side of Superman since Bendis took over the adventures of the Man of Steel. Throw in some ramifications from the fantastic Lois Lane title and Action Comics #1017 feels like a hodgepodge of an issue that has way too much going on and most of it feels forced. I didn’t even mention Doomsday Clock, which was supposed to be a year in the future but with its delays is seemingly a year in the past and apparently now doesn’t take place because it can’t with everything Bendis and Snyder have done, as well as Tom King in Batman and Heroes in Crisis. DC may want to do another Crisis but they actually have a crisis with the direction of their universe right now.
Action Comics #1017 is a very Bendis book that begins at the end before taking us to the beginning of the story. As I stated earlier there is a whole lot crammed into this issue and it all begins with the heroes of the Justice League and their allies defeated and Superman on his knees before the transformed Lex Luthor, who refuses the Man of Steel’s surrender and will only accept the submission of Superman when they both believe that he is truly finished. The story then jumps back a day to the offices of the Daily Planet, which thankfully has been the true focus of this title, and Clark Kent interviewing the reclusive new owner of the paper, Marisol Leone, who is in fact that head of the Invisible Mafia that has been operating in Metropolis in secret for years. The interview is cut short as a flaming object shoots by the Daily Planet and Superman is on the case. With an unexpected trip to Gorilla City, the mysterious burning of a Metropolis nightclub that is a front for the Invisible Mafia, and then the lead up to the upcoming battle the rest of this issue jumps all over the place with no real conclusion to any situation. Lois makes a brief appearance and Jimmy Olsen seems to offend a fellow reporter in his usual scatterbrained Jimmy way that lets you know he’s there but serves no purpose to the overall story then comic relief but also doesn’t work with his current solo series Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, where Jimmy is the lynchpin for the Daily Planet staying financially solvent. but even with wonderfulness of the Daily Planet staff under Bendis it wasn’t enough to save this jumbled mess.
I don’t blame Brian Michael Bendis for the messiness of Action Comics #1017. I actually think Bendis did the best that he could to align all of these different events and storylines into a semblance of cohesiveness. I blame DC editorial for letting all of these events spiral out into the larger DC universe without a plan and for letting Doomsday Clock exist when they knew it wasn’t going to be finished in time and did little to remedy that situation. Still this issue is a mess with no flow and a continuity nightmare as it seems that none of DC’s big writers are on the same page and editorial doesn’t seem to care. The art is by veteran superstar John Romita Jr. who made the transfer from Marvel a few years back and has seemed to hover around either the Batman or Superman books. I’ve never been a huge Romita Jr. fan but his artwork here feels like it was rushed and it relied heavily on the ink work of longtime collaborator Klaus Janson. I know it is supposed to feel like a big deal that Romita Jr. is working with Bendis again but although both have a long and historic careers in comics Action Comics #1017 will not be remembered as a stellar outing.
Verdict: Pass. Unfortunately DC comics has a mess on their hands with too many events and no one being on the same page and this dysfunction sadly sinks Action Comics #1017.