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Saturday, August 29, 2020 

Newsarama reviewer sees what's wrong with Bendis' Superman tales, even as he tries to give #1024 a fair rating

A reviewer for Newsarama at Games Radar looked over Brian Bendis' latest Action Comics issue, 1024. He's actually trying very hard not to be too negative, yet he admits something's wrong with the scripting:
Brian Michael Bendis lets exposition get in the way of real deal heart in Action Comics #1024. Unburdened by the Leviathan affair and his ongoing troubles with his secret identity, Superman now fully turns his sights toward the Invisible Mafia. Better still, he has backup in the form of Brainiac 5, Jon Kent, and the newly returned Conner Kent and Supergirl, who makes her return to the 'main titles' here in this issue.

But while this family reunion and the fallout of the Red Cloud's latest attack on Metropolis infrastructure generates great pathos for the title, the exposition Bendis wraps the plot in saps energy away from the forward momentum.

Artists John Romita Jr, Klaus Janson, and Brad Anderson also lose a bit of pep as well, settling into static expository scenes. Though the trio lay them out in splashy, highly detailed double-pags splashes, none of the scenes really pop as well as they should. Nor are the art team allowed any real set pieces for this newest issue. So while it has heart, Action Comics #1024 gets lost in the plot. [...]
Wow, that part about heart is something the writer must've really strained to put in there, along with the 6 out of 10 points he gives the issue in ratings. But, I think this is a sign of somebody who understands something's wrong and mishandled, and at least has what it takes to admit that. Also: 
...these are the true failings of Action Comics #1024. Starting with essentially a recap of the last several months of Action and what people might have missed from Event Leviathan, Bendis packs the opening scenes with scads of dialogue. Most of these scenes are basically just watching a telephone conversation, one between the enigmatic Whisper and another while Melody Moore is being interviewed by another news outlet. While an effective way to deliver exposition, seeing the scenes back to back robs them of their import which is taken away further as the script shifts to the Daily Planet and more exposition. This time in a more open-air setting.

The drag of the exposition also, unfortunately, extends to the artwork as well. Though, as I said, the trio attempt to jazz it up a bit by spreading it across double-page splashes (like Whisper's monitor dominated hideout and the main bullpen of The Daily Planet) it doesn't do much to pep up the issue.
While there were a few times when John Byrne might've written up panels with crowded word balloons in the 80s, it was nothing compared to what this is like, and Byrne had the advantage of providing more to think about when he was a writer at the time. As for the artists, Romita may be talented (though his style became awfully blocky-looking at times in past years), but some of the projects he's taken in over 2 decades have been pretty lousy choices, not the least being the time when he was paired with J. Michael Straczynski on Spider-Man, and look where that got to for over a decade following One More Day. So to see him paired with Bendis isn't much of an improvement, but rather, a downright embarrassment.

I hope Bendis will make a departure eventually from a franchise he's almost singlehandedly brought down in just a few years, and a more decent writer brought in to replace him, not to mention jettison the slapdash abandonment of the secret identity. It's just a shame Newsarama's reviewers won't go all the way in calling a spade a spade, and let political correctness get in the way of being seriously objective in their viewpoint. The Man of Steel won't be saved by such wimpiness.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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