Title: Superman: Action Comics.
Story-Arc: Leviathan Hunt.
Writer(s): Brian Michael Bendis.
Artist(s): Szymon Kudranski.
Colourist(s): Brad Anderson.
Letterer(s): Dave Sharpe, Josh Reed & Rob Leigh.
Publisher: DC Comics.
Release Date: May 12th, 2020.
Genre(s): Comics, Science-Fiction.
My Overall Rating: ★★★☆☆.
Creator Brian Michael Bendis is far from done infusing his own surge of creativity into the DC universe. Ever since his debut with DC after jumping ships and letting go of Marvel, he has now implemented key characters, worlds, and stories, that all allow the DC universe to embark on a revitalizing new adventure filled with possibilities but also to escape inevitable status quo that is often noted by readers. With his Event Leviathan now unveiled, he can proceed to further explore various sub-plots that have been planted left and right into a fertile land of story-telling ever since the beginning of his DC career. The real question now is to see if he’ll be able to give all these stories the proper resolution to make them all worthwhile in the end.
What is Superman: Action Comics: Leviathan Hunt about? With Leviathan setting off a chain of events across the world by taking down secret intelligence agencies, Superman finds himself quite busy with the Invisible Mafia now resurfacing amidst all the chaos. It doesn’t help when their intangible enforcer known as Red Cloud is back at it again and ready more than ever to tussle with the Man of Steel once again. But Metropolis couldn’t be any more of a danger zone without the interference of Lex Luthor himself. Collecting Superman: Action Comics issues #1012-1016, this story arc returns back the spotlight onto the Invisible Mafia and the mysterious Red Cloud villain while additional threats enter the scene.
With the issues composing this story arc released during the “Year of the Villain” DC Comics event, it isn’t hard to realize a couple of flaws that transpired from this timing. The most notable problem that comes with this story arc is its structure. It’s simply all over the place. One second the story brings back Robinson Goode’s trials as a rookie journalist at the Daily Planet and Marisol Leone as the Queenpin of Metropolis through her dominion over the Invisible Mafia, and the next second the story teases the arrival of a brand-new devastating designer drug known as Apocalypse, the sudden implication of the split-personality vigilante Rose/Thorn who is somehow connected to the whole Leviathan event, the mysterious resurgence of Lex Luthor and his enigmatic plans, and, of course, the deus ex machina that is Naomi McDuffie. Let’s just say that Action Comics is now ACTION Comics.
“I guess it’s time to show everybody in Metropolis how big an empire we’ve built under them.”
— Brian Michael Bendis
While the story might be floating around a bit too much in this latest arc, struggling to really get some kind of footing, and making the main plot move forward much more efficiently, writer Brian Michael Bendis continues to display his marvelous grasp on Superman’s lore and the characters of his universe. From Lois Lane to Perry White, he delivers some of the most hilarious banters yet, especially when the volume in itself is almost exempt from Superman’s omnipresence and looks to focus on the supporting cast a lot more.
It is also interesting to see writer Brian Michael Bendis continue to incorporate his Wonder Comics characters into the DC universe, especially with Naomi this time around, although her role here, as previously mentioned, is a bit out of the blue. While it does wrap things up for what takes place after Naomi: Season One, her arrival really tossed things into the air, allowing no resolution for all the other sub-plots introduced, including the one where the Red Cloud’s origin story was supposed to be revealed.
For this story arc, artist Szymon Kudranski was kept from cover to cover, allowing the story to possess a darker, grittier, but much more intimate tone. Although Clark Kent, Superman, and Lois Lane’s facial design was disconcerting and not at all to my liking, the overall artistic vision that was prioritized was surprisingly stunning. From blur effects to colour contrasts that allow a certain focus on key characters, the artwork remained authentic and original. Colourist Brad Anderson also continues his phenomenal work as always as well and helps bring to life this story in ways that only images can.
It was also refreshing to indulge certain sequences where the panel structure was unconventional, allowing multiple narratives to take place at the same time (e.g. interviews with random citizens while Superman is in the middle of a devastating battle). Speaking of originality, writer Brian Michael Bendis brings another of his quirky touches to each individual issue by including a full-page pseudo-Twitter feed for the Daily Planet that offers insight on events inside the DC universe (e.g. events taking place in other heroes’ worlds) but also outside of it (e.g. brand-new stories released by fellow creative teams).
Superman: Action Comics: Leviathan Hunt is an entertaining yet cursory story-arc zipping through a myriad of sub-plots centered around villains in the heart of Metropolis.
Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!