REVIEW: Action Comics #1012

Action Comics #1012 is finally here and with ‘Event Leviathan’ in full effect, Action Comics is an open playing field. Just what exactly has Ms Leone and her ‘organisation’ been doing while the world has been rocked by Leviathan? Before we dive in, lets checkout the covers.

‘Naomi’ interior artist Jamal Campbell has created arguably one of my favourite covers of 2019 so far. Superman is flying at speed over Metropolis just ahead of The Red Mist’s reach. I just LOVE this cover. Superman pushing his powers to the maximum spotlights just how dangerous The Red Mist is, even though she is still a newcomer to the villain world. The colours are just so striking above the clouds, I just love the texture of the artwork.

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One of my all time favourite artists Ben Oliver has created a simple but very effective variant cover. The Man of Steel looks calm and confident and that is a scary proposition. It’s easy to forget that this is one of the most powerful beings on the planet. It is just SO realistic! To me it looks like a perfect homage to some of the worlds favourite Supermen – Henry Cavill and Christopher Reeve especially!

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Action Comics #1012 is here and to be honest, I had no idea what to expect from this issue. Knowing that ‘Event Leviathan’ would be chronicling the ongoing mystery and events surrounding Leviathan, I was left wondering  just what exactly would Action Comics #1012 focus its attention on now? Of course Ms Leone and her ‘organization’ along with The Red Mist seem the obvious choice and that’s exactly what we get. However we get so much more than that as Bendis meticulously intertwines that specific facet of Superman’s recent trials and tribulations, with the re-emergence of a character long absent from the annals of DC Comics.

Action Comics #1012 opens up in very crime noir fashion, as various individuals connected to Ms Leone’s organisation meet to discuss The Red Mist’s recent altercation with ‘Big Blue’. The lengths this group goes to to remain hidden from the Man of Steel is impressive and shows immense dedication. This organisation also showcase precautions tailored to counteract Superman’s abilities, and creates strategies that specialise in tracking his movements. This really lends to my theory that Ms Leone has been deeply entrenched in the Metropolis underworld from a very young age. In my opinion Leone has been in and around the criminal element her whole life. Perhaps even born into it.

I actually believe that Leone is somehow related to the previous owner of the green automobile seen in her private ‘collection’ that also featured on the front cover of Action Comics #1. I love the pragmatic approach and realistic view Ms Leone has towards Superman. In my opinion this very much lends itself to why she looks for every upper-hand she can get against Superman and utlizes it to full effect. I love how she doesn’t bad mouth him or set elaborate traps, she simply attempts to operate out of his purview, and for me that is the ultimate sign of respect – even if they are adversaries. Artist Szymon Kudranski really does a wonderful job of creating a hard-boiled and gritty atmosphere during these scenes. This isn’t the gleaming, shiny city streets and skyscrapers of the ‘City of Tomorrow’, these are the dimly lit back streets and alleyways you dare not come across after dark.

The reader is then transported to Superman’s Fortress of Solitude as Lois and Clark take part in a rather dull and slightly awkward exchange. The exchange just seemed totally unnecessary in my opinion. Clark’s sentimental pillow talk is met with a response from Lois that just felt aloof and in fact a little mean. To me this honestly felt like the Lois from before the Leviathan Rises story-arc who I criticized for behaving cold and acting rather distant towards Clark at the time. Artist Szymon Kudranski’s Superman really looked like Christopher Reeve, and that certainly is a nice touch. This combined with the jagged Kryptonian crystal making up the majority of the scenery made it feel like these pages were ripped straight from Superman: The Movie. I adore this kind of nostalgia in my comics. It really allows you to see who the artist takes influence from when they work on a character with such rich history.

As the story progresses we come to the ‘piece de resistance’ as Robinson Goode is contacted by Rose Forest. Rose Forest is a character who first appeared in ‘Flash Comics’ #89 back in 1947 – known then as Rose Canton. Later, the character was reintroduced in the silver age first appearing in ‘Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane’ #105 in 1970 known then as Rhosyn Lynne Forrest. All iterations of the character exhibit split personality disorder with her dark alter ego going by the name of ‘Thorn’.

In this issue, Rose Forest contacts Robinson and exposes her alter egos’ actions as she viciously targets the criminal element of Metropolis. Not only that but she reveals to Robinson information about ‘pro vigilante’ police corruption on the force, as well as knowledge that hits all to close to home for Robinson and the organisation she works for. It’s not totally clear why Rose wants to expose her alter egos actions in such a public manor… YET.  Kudranski displayed these scenes in the most creative of ways as lush green leaves envelop the panels when Rose maintain’s control of her person. As Thorn starts assert dominance, the lush green leaves transform into Thorn riddled stems creating a prickly boarder around the panels.

As the issue draws to a close, the reader is treated to some very brutal scenes of ‘Thorn’ attacking various members of the underworld including a member of Ms Leone’s own organisation. Kudranski really dials up the brutality as the horror and bloodshed of her attacks takes centre stage. This is indeed a violent and dangerous woman. It has to be said, Action Comics #1012 may be one of the slightly weaker issues of the series. It just felt rather disjointed. Looking back that maybe due to the Lois and Clark scene at the Fortress of Solitude. I did however really enjoy the Rose/Thorn exchange with Robinson Goode. It didn’t make total sense to me why the character debuted in such a manner, but the way it was presented looked incredible and you certainly get a good idea of just how violent the character can be.

Bendis’s writing of Lois felt slightly like a backwards step for me. The Pulitzer prize winner did come across a little mean towards Clark and after all they have recently been through, it just felt a little off. I am very excited to see what path the writer takes Rose and her alter ego ‘Thorn’ down. I had not heard of the character before but absolutely loved her appearance in this issue. I have a feeling this is a very complex individual who is much more than what she appears.

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