The Man of Steel fights to save Metropolis from total destruction…
Written by: Brian Michael Bendis / pencils by: John Romita Jr / inks by: Klaus Janson / colours by: Brad Anderson
What’s it about?
“Metropolis Doom!” – Conclusion : as Metropolis crumbles, Superman faces-off against a supervillain team-up of seemingly unbeatable proportions – but help is at hand…
A good but by no means great issue of Action Comics, issue #1021 concludes the “Metropolis Doom” arc which began back in issue #1017. The good is furnished by writer Brian Michael Bendis with an entertaining, if packed, script and solid characterisation whereas the not-so-good is the result of the underwhelming visuals by penciller John Romita Jr.
Brian Michael Bendis produces some challenging stakes for the Man of Steel as he confronts the combined threat of Leviathan, the Invisible Mafia and Lex Luthor’s Legion of Doom. Luckily, Superman has some help as the Justice League and Young Justice join the fight to save Metropolis from annihilation. Bendis continues to demonstrate his passion and belief in the values of Superman in a classic take on the character that is both reverential and relevant, bringing strength and hope in a time of bleak crisis. The support of the likes of Justice League comrades Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash and Green Lantern in addition to Young Justice heroes such as Conner Kent’s Superboy, Impulse and Wondergirl enhances the hopeful and upbeat aspects of the story. It’s certainly ambitious and epic in scope but can also make thing seem a little overcrowded at times, there are some fun quips from the likes of Flash and Conner Kent in the heat of battle and there’s a lot of strong dialogue for Supes himself, maintaining the determination and morality we’d expect – even when the odds are stacked against our hero.
In terms of adversaries, Leviathan continues to be an intriguing and well-defined antagonist with an idealistic nature and identifiable motivations. Bendis also continues to develop the increasing threat of the Invisible Mafia and the Red Cloud which has been building since the beginning of his Action Comics tenure, but perhaps it’s time to bring things to a head with Red Cloud/Robinson Goode and seek some resolution to that particular arc. Once again though, Lex Luthor (in his ‘apex’ form) is the most formidable of opponents and the climactic showdown between Luthor and Superman is suitably tense and richly dialogued.
What really diminishes the quality of this issue – and indeed this arc – is penciller John Romita Jr who’s blocky, cartoonish characters and overuse of linework to accentuate shading is something of an acquired taste (it’s a shame that Romita Jr has maintained this style in recent years as some of his earlier work is actually pretty good). It’s not totally awful, the visuals are improved by legendary inker Klaus Janson and veteran colourist Brad Anderson and to be fair Romita Jr does help construct some intense action sequences and is able to bring out the emotions of the various players, but it irrefutably pales in comparison to the exemplary work Ivan Reis is doing over on the also Bendis-written Superman. Fans of John Romita Jr will likely be satisfied but one can only wonder how much more appealing and effective the story could have been if drawn by someone like Jim Lee or Jason Fabok.
The bottom line: Brian Michael Bendis writes a fairly enjoyable, if overstuffed, issue of Action Comics that’s let down by some unremarkable visuals by penciller John Romita Jr.
Action Comics #1021 is published by DC and is available in print and digital formats now.
Images used herein are utilised for illustrative purposes only and remain the property of the copyright owner(s).