Superman is still reeling from finding out Lois is back on Earth, making him vulnerable to the things happening around him, even from his co-workers, such as Robinson Goode, who has come into possession of Kryptonite.
Brian Michael Bendis slows it down a bit this month for this issue of Action Comics, revealing his first real test on the Superman titles. Can he make his stories last? Bendis has proven in the past that he’s able to work on hundreds of issues of a series and character without skipping a beat, while also, occasionally, letting a series take a breath away from the action. He obviously showed this with his run on Ultimate Spider-Man, and it seems to be what he’s doing here, taking a breath after the extremely fast-paced first two issues.
With that breath though, not much happens in the way of this issue fight-wise. There’s only two pages where Superman is even on the page. The rest of the time it’s Clark Kent. That’s fine though. Bendis is really focusing on Superman being bombastic and larger than life, while Action Comics has been more of the mundane, street-level stuff. Both were set up in The Man of Steel, but both have divulged into separate entities, causing them to really be differentiated. And, I think Bendis should be applauded for that.
That being said though, Bendis’ writing in this issue does have its problems. While it’s great that he’s focusing on the journalistic and more human-side of Clark Kent’s life, he’s barely in the issue. The issue focuses on Robinson Goode, a new reporter at The Daily Planet, who’s searching for a story. While it’s interesting to focus on a reporter other than Clark or Lois, Bendis hasn’t given the audience enough time to really be invested in Goode as a character and therefore,
her story and subsequent search for her story, which is more than likely to expose Clark as Superman, falls flat. That being said, there is a great scene between Goode and Batman in this issue.
The lack of Patrick Gleason this early into the run is also very surprising. Yanick Paquette is a great artist and does some really good work throughout this issue, but his style doesn’t quite fit a Superman book as much as say, a Batman book. So, it’s probably good that he did the issue where Batman was a fundamental part of the issue and was even on one page more than Superman.
Paquette is able to make what could be a very slow and meandering issue move at a quick pace thanks to his framing and panel choices as well as the layouts of his pages. There are a couple of spreads in here that read extremely well just because of the way he chose to lay them out. Even with Paquette’s really solid, good work on the issue though, Patrick Gleason’s artwork was sorely missed, and here’s hoping that he won’t need fill-in artists as often.
Bendis hit his first real snag in his run on Action Comics with a slower paced issue focusing on a character that hasn’t been developed enough to care about yet.