Updated: Apr 29, 2019
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Steve Epting
Brian Michael Bendis’ popular run on Action Comics continues with the motif of the opening page of each issue being an extreme close-up of the desktop workspace of an Action character… but who it belongs to this issue, isn’t as easy to figure out as Lois Lane’s or Clark Kent’s… until you turn the page. The next pages are as well-directed, suspenseful, and disconcerting as any spy movie.
It’s curious that there are 9 character portraits running down the sides of the title page, yet only 6 of them appear in the issue. Why bother to show characters that don’t make appearances in the story?
In Paris, Lois and Clark are undercover as fake agents Andi and Chaz on a mission to infiltrate the superspy org Spyral, and find out who Leviathan is, and stop the attacks on the world’s secret organizations, like the one that destroyed the D.E.O. last issue. We learn a lot more about Spyral and its origins, and things may not be as they seem.
Meanwhile, Jimmy Olsen and a teed-off Amanda Waller are “under protection” in the safest place in the world, Superman’s new Fortress of Solitude, in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle. If her looks could kill, Jimmy Olsen would be a pile of ash for Kelex to clean up.
Bendis has a widescreen writing style, guiding the artist to create cinematic double-page spreads, and single-page-wide panels that draw you into them. Bendis is also known for his feel for dialogue, but this issue features very little, as he leaves it to the visuals to tell most of the story. While that can be a good thing sometimes, it does make one feel a bit cheated to not have enough of Bendis’ words to read.
Steve Epting’s art style is a departure for Action or Superman, but is as enjoyable as it was on his Captain America run. His more illustrative, heavy brushwork style, and liberal use of shadows visually communicates a feeling of solidity, reality, and gravitas that more traditional, cartoony art styles do not. Occasionally, his Clark/Superman faces are a bit odd and rough-looking, like a boxer who has been in too many fights and had his nose broken too many times. But this issue, his Superman looks more like the Superman we’re familiar with, except when he looks like Chaz. His depictions of women are delicately rendered and beautiful, especially his facial close-ups. Epting’s cityscapes and rooftop details are as realistic as you could want, and Brad Anderson’s colors expertly add atmosphere, depth of scene, and separate the characters from the backgrounds.
It really didn’t feel like a lot happened in this issue, but what is there is so well done, the next issue can’t come soon enough.
• Lois and Clark as Wendy and Peter Pan
• a romantic rooftop kiss
• “Chaz” Superman