It’s time for round two between Superman and the Red Cloud, but another person enters the fray, Deputy Fire Chief Moore. Can he save others if he was barely able to save himself last time?
Action Comics has generally been a very solid book since Brian Michael Bendis began his run on the Superman line of books and, while that has been the case, this is probably the weakest issue of Action Comics in recent months. That’s not to say that the issue is bad, it’s pretty good. But throughout this arc, there really haven’t been any plot developments per se, and that is still the case for this issue, except for the last page. If nothing, this arc has been Bendis playing with Superman and gauging how Superman works and not focusing on plot.
Throughout this first arc of his run on Action Comics, there have been a lot of commonalities in style to Bendis’ first thirteen issues or so on Ultimate Spider-Man (especially after recently re-reading Ultimate Spider-Man). There’s much more of a focus on the character interactions and the development of the characters than there is on plot. That is very much a good and bad thing when it comes to this book though.
While the character moments have been great throughout so far, with several coming in this issue alone, Bendis is creating an overarching story that seems like it’s going to be present throughout much of his run if not all of it, and by having no plot development so far, it makes everything feel slightly slow and tedious. This worked in Ultimate Spider-Man, because there was very little in the way of continuing story other than character development, but here, because the plot doesn’t necessarily seem tied into the character development, the lack of development on that end brings the quality of the book down.
The thing is though, while there probably should’ve been more development on the plot, the character moments are always what Bendis has shined with and that’s no exception here. From a little boy seeing Clark ripping his shirt open in an alley to Superman simply hugging someone, this may be one of the best incarnations of Superman since All-Star Superman.
Image by DC Comics/Art by Ryan Sook
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Really though, most of these character moments wouldn’t have worked without artist Ryan Sook, who absolutely kills it in this issue. A lot of this issue predicates on Clark’s reactions to the world around him, and the range of emotion that Sook is able to give him is astonishing. You start feeling happy for Clark, and by the end of the same page, you feel sad just based on the way Sook’s art conveys the emotion and plays perfectly into the dialogue presented.
Sook’s Superman is nothing to laugh at either. Superman fights a cloud, again, in this issue, which is something that really shouldn’t look interesting or be fun to read at all. Yet, Sook manages to make it exciting and inventive. If you can make a fight against a cloud fun, you’re a great artist.
While light on some plot developments that the series feels like it needs, the character moments and art are enough to save this issue of Action Comics.