REVIEW: Action Comics #1023

Action Comics #1023 sees Lois and Clark take the fight to Metropolis’ Invisible Mafia and then some. It’s all out war as The Kent’s go toe to toe with the combined forces of Ms. Leone and Robinson Goode aka The Red Cloud.

Action Comics #1023 picks up directly on from where we left off in the previous issue with The Red Cloud looking to send a chilling message to Superman using none other than Jimmy Olsen to do so.

The Red Clouds’ preemptive strike against Superman and his allies is depicted on the main cover created by interior artist John Romita Jr alongside Klaus Janson and Brad Anderson. In my opinion the cover definitely leans towards the horror genre. The Red Cloud looks totally demonic thanks to her upgrade at the hands of Lex Luthor. Her towering presence over Superman emphasizes her increasing confidence and control over her powers. This is a scary individual who is finally tapping into her full potential.

Superman’s facial expression really does speak volumes. It really is harrowing to see The Man of Steel in such distressing circumstances. This feeling is heightened by the somber backdrop of this piece. I love the driving rain depicted in this piece. This really compounds Superman’s sense of dread and despair in the face of a foe who is seemingly unstoppable.

Action Comics #1023 Review
Photo Credit: DC Entertainment

The variant cover is by Lucio Parrillo and is spectacular! His run of the variant covers on this series has been stellar so far and full of realism. This one I think is my favourite cover of his to date, this seems more like a photograph than a piece of artwork, it is truly sensational. I love the blur on Superman’s edges, it perfectly depicts the speed and flow of movement and that’s a really thoughtful touch.

Action Comics #1023 Variant Cover
Photo Credit: DC Entertainment

As I eluded to earlier, Jimmy Olsen’s life hangs in the balance as The Red Cloud looks to make a statement. Thanks to a defiant Lois Lane, Superman soon enters the fray alongside Jonathan Kent and Connor. The Red Cloud really is turning into an unforgettable foe as she continually holds her own against The Man of Steel.

The Red Cloud really shows us what she is made of in this issue as she utilizes a plethora of skill and power. She truly feels like a legitimate threat thanks to Brian Michael Bendis’ meticulous development of her character. The Red Cloud formally known as The Red Mist is very much the antithesis of Rogol Zarr, another of Bendis’ creations. These two villains showcase his versatility at establishing new characters alongside well established heroes and villains.

During this sequence of events I absolutely adored how Conner established himself alongside Superman and Jonathan during the heat of battle. Conner is every bit the hero I remember him to be, as the former Teen Titan put the safety of others before his own. It still amazes me how Bendis has created room for this character to not only survive but thrive. Conner feels like a relevant and integral part of the Superman family. In my opinion there is plenty of room for two Superboys to operate in.

As this encounter wraps we find Lois and Clark taking the fight to Ms. Leone’s doorstep of sorts as the intrepid couple look to hit her operations head on. This sequence features a fantastic panel were Clark faces a room full of gangsters. This really took me back to the very early days of Action Comics.

Ms. Leone and Robinson Goode discussing the ramifications of this act really was the highlight of the issue for me. The dynamic between the pair has really shifted and evolved organically for me over time. Robinson really felt like a minion of sorts that Leone had her eye on. Now, Robinson and Leone feel like full blown partners in crime. The respect these two powerful individuals have for each other is immense. Both women see the value in one another as they both rely on the others strength. That is exactly what makes this duo so effective. No ego, no arrogance or entitlement at play just practicality in the face of getting the job done.

Action Comics #1023 is a very strong issue in my opinion however, for those of you who have already read Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #12 things maybe a little confusing by the end of Action Comics #1023. This maybe a case of waiting to see what answers the next issue of Action Comics provides, and if it does indeed tie-in with events that have transpired in the aforementioned issue of Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen. It may also be the case that the events that took place within the pages of Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #12 are isolated and will have only occurred in that series. For now, I eagerly await the answer with bated breath.

The artwork featured in this issue is awesome as The Red Cloud’s power set dominates. I love how John Romita Jr showcases her powers, that is truly his strength in this series. The billowing red mists that pour off of The Red Cloud are all encompassing. It simply engulfs all that it encounters be it organic matter or otherwise. I just love the totality of it all. The slow march forth that which cannot be stopped. I will say though that there are some moments within this issue and series that could use a little more detail within the artwork to truly tell the story.

Our characters facial expressions really do speak for themselves in this issue. Ms. Leone’s certainty and conviction is etched across her face. This is a very charismatic individual who doesn’t allow bravado to rear its self-destructive head. Inker Klaus Janson alongside colourist Brad Anderson worked wonderfully in tandem to give this issue depth and a unique ethereal feel that ties perfectly into The Red Cloud’s aura.

I did notice that Robinson maintained her Red Cloud Persona throughout this whole issue. I wonder if this will serve as a narrative plot point further down the line. Could it be that the more masterful she becomes over her powers the less connected to her human form she will become? Only time will tell I guess.

Bendis has crafted another strong issue of Action Comics that has firmly cemented the ties that bind regarding both Robinson and Ms. Leone as well as Conner and The House of Kent.    

Haven’t picked up your issue of Action Comics #1023 yet? You can get the standard cover by John Romita Jr here (UK), or here (US).

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