Review: ‘Action Comics’ #1023 Is A Frustrating Duality

by Tony Thornley

One of the best things about Superman in the past decade or so is how much his family has grown, literally and figuratively. That ends up front and center in Action Comics #1023.

This is a story that takes advantage not only of that, but also some very fun Silver Age throwbacks as well. However, there’s one aspect of the issue that falls short. It’s an issue that comes to us from Brian Michael Bendis, John Romita Jr., Klaus Janson, Brad Anderson, and Dave Sharpe.

The Invisible Mafia stands revealed, with the Red Cloud and Daily Planet owner Ms. Leone at its head. Superman and his family realize there’s one way to combat their foes. It’s time to fight fire with super-powered fire.

This story is pure fun, a hybrid of modern character-centered storytelling with Silver Age silliness played perfectly straight. Bendis understands these characters well, and the first half of the issue is dedicated to Clark, Conner, Jon and Lois reacting to all the changes happening around them in some really interesting ways that also advanced the plot. The second half was surprisingly funny, but was also a thoughtfully plotted story of how Superman, the ultimate good guy, would use mafia-style tactics on an enemy.

Unfortunately the art doesn’t match. Romita’s work in this story is far below his usual quality. Though some scenes are solid, many are not. His figures are inconsistent, some of the characters are difficult to tell apart, and there are frequently too many lines on a face or body. It doesn’t ruin the reading experience, but it’s jarring. I’m not sure if it’s because Superman is a poor match for Romita, or if it’s something else, but this issue just simply doesn’t look good.

I hope we can see improvement in the near future, because this story is a fantastic concept that Bendis executed so well. It’s an issue worth a read despite the issues in the art.

Action Comics #1023 is available now from DC Comics.

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