Metropolis is going through a time of change as the year winds down. With the Year Of The Villain ongoing across the DCU, Superman is focusing on both the arrival of the new young superhero on the block, Naomi, crash landing in Metropolis and the threat of the recently upgraded villain, The Red Cloud throwing down with the Man of Steel across Metropolis!
Action Comics #1016 is an issue that serves as a Naomi continuation of sorts and gradually continues the Invisible Mafia story in the background. Framing the issue as an aftermath of the big battle that we saw take place last issue, the story is piloted by Daily Planet reporter Trish Q. Reporting from the scene that two super-powered people initially left in their wake, Trish tries to piece together what happened via the citizens that saw the battle. Kudranski spreads out the interviews with the people of Metropolis through window-sized panels across the destroyed and wrecked background. From police officers, a guy buying a hot dog, regular everyday workers of their shops…we get everyone’s takes on what they saw in the fight, making sure no one’s word bubbles gets crossed together or confused in the process and it effectively pushes the story forward as we’re guided through different people’s recounts.
Spread across the wide destruction, Trish and others reflect and the art shows it. Each and every person is diverse and Kudranski’s pencils show people of all shades and colors as they discuss Superman’s latest battle. The parallels between the fierce battle that show him in a situation we don’t normally see him in (losing), and the citizens recounting it makes up how Trish and the readers see the battle, putting the pieces together. The paneling and color work from Anderson do well to differentiate the flashes of the battle between Superman and the Red Cloud and the interview portions surrounding or cutting in between the panels that show Superman on the ropes. Anderson’s colors make the Red Cloud almost overwhelm the page and bloodthirsty with Kudranski’s penciling the losing battle. The facial work shows rage and anger from Red Cloud, enveloping the bits with her in red and action-based panels.
As a book under Bendis that scratches a different itch from the main Superman title, Action Comics has the liberty of utilizing a different cast, as seen here with Trish piecing together motivations and the story of what happened. With some Bendis-level winking humor to other parts of the universe he’s overseeing, the second half of the comic adds to Naomi’s story that began in Season One of her solo title and flew directly into her short Action Comics stint. An epilogue of sorts as we return to where her story started but under different circumstances now as the DCU begins to literally set up shop to watch over her. It’s heartwarming as two of the biggest superheroes reassure both parent and daughter that the new kid has what it takes and begins to become apart of the larger DCU. Naomi naturally weaving in and out of Action Comics for a short extension to her story as it slowly begins to unravel shows Bendis’s eye for connectivity across titles he’s writing and doesn’t draw away from the main plot of the ongoing Metropolis “Invisible Mafia” ramping up as the reveals and battle lines are drawn, and given the Year of the Villain who could blame them?
Action Comics #1016 gives us a short-lived addition to the title as Naomi flies in and becomes a part of the larger DCU by being integrated into the current happenings of Action Comics and meeting some of the Justice League, and Bendis leaving his co-creation with some developments that are sure to mean more down the road in a STAR Labs related tapestry he seems to be weaving. It also wraps up the latest phase of The Red Cloud’s mayhem on the title and into something more explosive as the Invisible Mafia begin to make their move and they just might take all of Metropolis down with them! It does wrap up the fight with Red Cloud rather quickly, serving the remaining time to pushing Naomi into another direction for appearances down the line, but Bendis leaves exciting prospects for the young Hero given her first official team-up in the DCU.
Kudranski’s work on the title continues to do well for the story as it deals with people and he captures the downtime and more down-to-Earth aspects of the book with the action being shown in small glimpses more so than last issue’s all-out brawl. Anderson’s colors help make everything shine or darken depending on where and what Bendis needs at the moment. Naomi, for example, always has a golden hue to her and brightens the page even in the dead of night. Red Cloud’s whispy nature while being a physical threat spreads across the page gutters with red when she lays into Superman, overtaking the moments. With the pencils needing to capture both big and small moments within, Anderson knows how to keep things exciting to look at across the board.
Overall, we’re treated to an issue that serves as the continuation of two superheroes and their stories while seemingly wrapping up a conflict for a later time. Bendis is making sure Superman is put through the wringer with the new threats that have quietly infected his city and seems to have no signal to slow down as Metropolis is about to become a warzone!