Whilst it’s one of my most anticipated comic book releases, Action Comics #1017 in my opinion is a little jarring to start with, certainly on the surface.
That feeling really begins with the main cover created by interior artist John Romita Jr. First off, the Action Comics logo is abandoned in favor of the ‘Year of the Villain’ banner and ‘Lex Luthor’ subtitle which take centre stage. With this text front and centre, it was a little tricky working out that this is indeed an issue of Action Comics and not another one shot. With so many ‘Year of the Villain’ one shots appearing it’s an easy mistake to make. The cover art itself feels like an interior page. It feels rather abrupt to me, as if there is more to see in the image. I do however like to see Luthor holding Superman’s tattered cape. That kind of imagery is always very ominous yet symbolic in my eyes. Not to mention the image that hides underneath this acetate cover – epic.
The variant cover is created by Lucio Parillo and is extremely detailed. From Superman’s torso to the under side of the vehicle he holds above his head, every inch is captured with extreme detail. At first glance this cover feels almost post apocalyptic thanks to the ‘dusty’ environment. A catastrophe feels like it has certainly befallen Metropolis that’s for sure. Superman’s physique is extremely godlike in this image. In a way it reminds me of the ‘Laocoon and His Sons’ sculpture in terms of muscle definition and pose.
As I touched upon earlier, the issue feels a little jarring. That feeling started with the cover and continued with its opening sequence as the reader is thrust into what appears to be the ending of an epic encounter between the Justice League and The Legion of Doom. This battle had certainly ravaged our heroes along with Metropolis as The Legion stands tall. John Romita Jr’s artwork looks outstanding accompanied by Klaus Janson’s inks. The death and destruction surrounding our combatants looks almost post apocalyptic as Metropolis has been lay to waste. These scenes are very impactful indeed.
Having faith in the creative team, I knew that feeling of uncertainty I had earlier would clear. And so it did as the issue went back in time and would go on to chronicle the events that would lead up to that most catastrophic of encounters between The League and Luthor’s forces depicted at the start of the issue. Along the way we get some very insightful yet playful day to day life at the planet as Ms Leone is interviewed by Clark for a ‘get to know me piece’. This whole sequence is full of Perry White bluster and Jimmy Olsen banter as a seemingly average day in the life goes seriously awry.
This whole sequence is perfect as you actually get to see the madness that occurs in the DC Universe from the civilians point of view. There is a piece of destruction depicted in the distance that was chilling to witness from the offices of the planet building. Seeing all the civilians reacting to this catastrophic event sent a shiver down my spine.
As we close in on the events that opened up the issue, the reader witnesses Superman’s journey as he is lured into a trap which leaves his beloved Metropolis open to attack. This sequence of events sees Superman interact with not only the inhabitants of Gorilla city but one of my favourite Bendis creations, the returning Fire Chief Melody Moore. I honestly adore Melody Moore. Her courage and determination in seeking Justice is so inspiring. Seeing a character who upholds all of Superman’s qualities and traits obviously without his powers, who still manages to protect her city and the innocent in a realistic manner, is utter perfection. This character along with the way she is written really highlights the fact that we can all be heroes. That we can all be the Superman of our own story. That bravery, courage and heroics aren’t exclusive to the pages of a comic. Heroes can be found everywhere in our ‘real’ world.
The issue closes out exactly where we began. A perfect circle as it were and it really did feel that way. Straight off the bat, I was a little unsure of this issue when it began ,however the legendary creative team of Bendis, John Romita Jr and Klaus Janson quickly turned it round for me, and crafted a very dramatic story that played out almost like a real life event. This is very much due to the reader experiencing key elements of destruction from the civilian point of view.
John Romita Jr’s art in this issue is epic and full of heart and emotion. I honestly found myself choked up when I witnessed Superman working alongside the fire department. These sequences took me right back to Romita Jr’s work on The Amazing Spider-man #36 which chronicled the events of 9/11, specifically the immediate rescue effort. John Romita Jr is a true master of movement and powers. Every movement Superman makes be it super speed, flight or combat looks kinetic. You can really feel the motion and you can see the arc and trajectory in which that particular motion originated from.
Bendis has crafted a very impactful issue within a grounded and realistic setting. The stakes and risk feel extremely high. Superman’s connection with Metropolis in this issue feels heightened ironically due to the fact that he was unable to stop the attack that occurred. Seeing Superman fighting for his city alongside heroes with and without powers is extremely inspiring and humbling all at once. The fact that he was unable to stop the attack on Metropolis really grounded the character and added realism which I love.
I’m excited to see what this dream team bring to the table in the future.