Superman: Action Comics: Invisible Mafia by Brian Michael Bendis

details
Title: Superman: Action Comics.
Story-Arc: Invisible Mafia.
Volume: 1.
Writer(s): Brian Michael Bendis.
Penciller(s): Ryan SookPatrick Gleason, Yanick Paquette & Wade von Grawbadger.
Colourist(s): Alejandro Sanchez, Brad Anderson & Nathan Fairbairn.
Letterer(s): Josh Reed.
Publisher: DC Comics.
Format: Hardcover.
Release Date: April 9th 2019.
Pages: 160.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
ISBN13: 9781401288723.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.

thoughts

With The Man of Steel marking his debut into Superman’s lore, writer Brian Michael Bendis now has his knees deep in the only two comic book runs featuring the Big Blue Boy Scout: Superman and Superman: Action Comics. While the first volume of Superman, The Unity Saga – Phantom Earth, was an action-packed exploration of the iconic heroes’ most prominent traits, from his charisma to his sensational physical abilities, as well as the history of Krypton, the first volume of Superman: Action Comics, The Invisible Mafia takes on a completely different tone and direction as it focuses on Clark Kent and the history of Metropolis. To simultaneously pen both existing Superman comic book runs is a colossal task, but it has also proven to be an original and efficient way to mold the character’s stories to the writer’s satisfaction as Brian Michael Bendis writes both story arcs in a congruent fashion without ever feeling redundant.

What is Superman: Action Comics: The Invisible Mafia about? Collecting issues #1001-1006, this story arc brings us back to the numerous mysterious fires occurring throughout Metropolis that not even the world’s greatest hero could stop. As Clark Kent, Daily Planet’s most resourceful investigative reporter, the streets of Metropolis remain silent as rumours circulate that maybe our hero has decided to embrace some darkness and burn down houses for mere pleasure. While the enigma continues to haunt Clark Kent and Superman, the absence of his wife Lois Lane and son Jonathan Kent leads him to go on unfocused and disturbed in his daily routine. It doesn’t help when a new threat known as the Red Cloud looks to rule the city’s underworld.

Untitled

Remember how Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo effortlessly introduced the Court of Owls into Gotham’s mythology? Brian Michael Bendis looks to create the same staggering extension to Superman’s lore through this new series by introducing the Invisible Mafia. With much slower pacing focused on developing Clark Kent’s struggles as he progressively acknowledges the void in his heart with the absence of his loved ones, the story doesn’t hurry into unveiling too much too quickly, building a sense of suspense as to who’s behind all the futile crimes occurring throughout Metropolis. Interlaced with some exciting revelations, sometimes a bit predictable, Brian Michael Bendis still succeeds in setting the table for this series as he centers the narrative around the journalist rather than the superhero, allowing us to emotionally relate to the character.

Unsurprisingly, Brian Michael Bendis continues to put his characters at the forefront of his stories as he deepens their internal conflicts while marrying them with their complex relationships with one another. While he does rip his way into his Superman costume a couple of times and showcase his valorous ways to defuse situations with words rather than violence, this story arc still curates its narrative into a mystery drenched in investigative journalism. Furthermore, attesting to the stellar quality of this much more human story, the artwork also plays a huge role in conveying these ideas that are infused in Clark Kent’s character, where he is always attentive for leads and ready for well-founded stories that don’t put people into harm’s way. Patrick Gleason’s and Yanick Paquette’s artwork does give the story the edge it needs to make it visually stunning but I struggled with certain facial expressions are drawn by Ryan Sook that had me less enthused. Nonetheless, the overall quality, while unfortunately not always consistent, does offer a rather compelling visual treatment.

A special mention here for those full-page shots of certain character’s desks filled with little details on Bendis’ and DC’s publishing projects as well as insightful and funny memos related to certain characters. This gave every issue a fun little kick start that was adequately meta.

Superman: Action Comics: Invisible Mafia is a splendid portrayal of Clark Kent’s character in the midst of the rise of a secret organization with great visual art to accompany the hero’s hunt for answers.


EXHIBITA

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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!

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25 comments

  • Maybe it’s because I don’t really know much about this superhero and don’t have knowledge about DC comics BUT SUPERMAN IS MY LEAST FAVORITE EVERR! 🤣🤣🤣 I am sorry but I had to say it! 🤣🤣🤣 Still, you have put such acute attention to the pros and cons of this one while still making it sound…I don’t know…AWESOMEEE!? 😍😍❤️ Loved the review, Lashaan. AS ALWAYSS! ❤️❤️

    I loved the Suicide Squad though? 🤣🤣

    Liked by 2 people

  • Wow!! To do two different Superman story arcs at once?! Am I reading you right Lashaan?! That is crazy hard!! I do like the idea of Superman being disturbed by the fact his loved ones are MIA. I don’t really understand what the invisible mafia is either… but it sounds cool. Its the new lore, right? Like Joker to Batman? Anyway I’m glad you enjoyed this!! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  • I like the idea of two story lines and by your review it sounds that it was pulled off rather well 😊 I’m interested to see where the invisible mafia goes? Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, it’s definitely pretty interesting in the sense that he can explore different angles while focusing the story in similar directions. I do wonder if he can make the whole Invisible Mafia bit more interesting though. Thanks for reading! Really appreciate it! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  • Huh, I am willing to make a leap of faith here – Bendis’ work rarely disappoints and I like the idea of Metropolis own Court of Owls (even though the name is so woefully unimaginative! Invisible Mafia… Ugh! 😜)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hahah it is indeed a bit silly 😂 Sometimes there’s a nice surprise underneath though.

      Hmmm I figured it was the best way to showcase the art without having a bunch of photos stacked one after the other. I could try the mosaic style but it seemed a but odd, consider my art pictures have edges that cut into the book. The slideshows allow black outlining and also helps shrink pictures so no one falls on any spoiler dialogues by accidenr hahah Do you think you’d prefer if it was showcased differently?

      Liked by 1 person

      • No, I totally like it that way. The reason I was asking is because I’m brainstorming a little about my own blog. This month’s Blogging Tip question is regarding images in posts. Aside from the featured/ cover photo I do not use any, but I might consider changing it. But there are some concerns, so I’m trying to investigate various options, experiences and thoughts.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ohhh that’s kind of you to say, I appreciate it. It took me years of blogging to settle with this structure though. I used to also put a full large picture between each paragraph, for example. I just found this to be better, so that people don’t get too distracted by the artwork while reading my stuff, or to help those who are just curious about the artwork to check it out at the end.

          Liked by 1 person

  • Great review sir, glad to hear you enjoyed this first volume of Action, especially since you weren’t completely enthralled by Man of Steel and volume 1 of the main Superman book. I’m intrigued by the Invisible Mafia and love the way Action has a different approach and feel to the main Superman series. I thought the rotation of artists would taint the experience but, although Patrick Gleason’s rendering of Supes is a bit too reminiscent of Mr. Incredible at times, it didn’t bother me too much!

    I continue to enjoy both comics (although the latest Super Sons-focused issue of Superman was surprisingly a little ‘meh’) and highly recommend you read volume 2 of Action as it sets up “Event Leviathan” and features the sublime art of Steve Epting…for the whole arc!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Chris. Yep. While Man of Steel and Superman were fun, I found Action Comics to be much more enthralling although Superman’s artwork seemed a lot more vibrant and exciting. At least in Action Comics the artwork was original a lot of times. I’m curious about the Super Sons arc, I have the first trade of Peter J. Tomasi’s Adventures of the Super Sons that I look forward to trying too. I don’t know if it’s too distracting in the Superman arc but I hope not hahah And yes! Hourrah for a full-time artist for a full arc!!!

      Like

  • Lashaan I have just realized that I did not know that Superman was married to Lois nor that he had a son!!!! Qee? that’s why I love going on your blog as you fill in big holes in my comics culture 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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