Title: Superman: Action Comics.
Story-Arc: Invisible Mafia.
Writer(s): Brian Michael Bendis.
Penciller(s): Ryan Sook, Patrick Gleason, Yanick Paquette & Wade von Grawbadger.
Colourist(s): Alejandro Sanchez, Brad Anderson & Nathan Fairbairn.
Letterer(s): Josh Reed.
Publisher: DC Comics.
Release Date: April 9th 2019.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating: ★★★★☆.
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.
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.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!