Action Comics Vol 1 #1025
"The House of Kent Part Four"
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller: John Romita, Jr.
Inker: Klaus Janson
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Colourist: Brad Anderson
Cover: John Romita, Jr. (pencils), Klaus Janson (inks), Brad Anderson (colours)
Variant Cover: Lucio Parillo
Assistant Editor: Bixie Mathieu
Associate Editor: Brittany Holzherr
Editor: James S. Rich
Mission Monitor Board:
Superboy (Jon Kent), Brainiac 5
Superboy (Conner Kent), Supergirl
Lois Lane; Perry White; Jimmy Olsen
Invisible Mafia (Dr. Glory, Marisol Leone, Red Cloud); Extra-dimensional Parasite
The story continues from the previous issue. Years ago, and in another place, a very young Dr. Glory meets with a much younger Marisol Leone in a shabby diner. Dr. Glory says she can get Marisol Leone out of the place. This will be the seventh time Dr. Glory has done this, with no customer complaints, and it will be the last time, as she's going to be going with Leone on this trip. The destination is a plum one, and Glory tells her that they both need to start over. The two are interrupted by a battle that occurs outside as the Crime Syndicate of America becomes involved outside the diner in an attack. Leone says she has to get off this Earth, which is clearly Earth-3.
In the present day, Clark is sending a story to Lois (Lane, his wife) to print about Marisol Leone, the Red Cloud, the murder of Melody Moore and the Invisible Mafia. He tells that he's got the entire Super=Family with him - Superboy Connor Kent, Superboy Jon Kent and Supergirl, along with Legion of Super-Heroes member Brainiac 5 - out looking for them. The Invisible Mafia has to end tonight.
They arrive at the Invisible Mafia's former base, and after Brainiac 5 confirms using his technology that there are no traps or things "rigged" in place, Superman rips the walls to the place apart, allowing the egress. They find the place has been totally abandoned, but do find a wrecked, busted car. Superman is still reeling somewhat from the death of Melody Moore, blaming himself for not saving her. The family is supportive of him, with both Jon and Kara reminding him that he isn't to blame, as he can't be everywhere.
Meanwhile, Dr. Glory arrives at S.T.A.R. Labs to find that Red Cloud has taken out everyone who was still at the torn apart facility, and enact the plan set up by Marisol Leone. They open a door that leads to a portal, and telling Red Cloud to power down to her Robinson Goode self, open the door. The portal opens, and a humanoid, purple blob-like creature (perhaps composed to energy?) comes through the portal. In his dimension, he was the Parasite who killed Superman, absorbed all his powers, and then went on to use that power to absorb more. Dr. Glory cuts him loose and sends him after Superman, and his super-powered family.
The creature goes after Superman, making a beeline for him, but is momentarily confused by the fact there are four Super-Family members there. However, Superman tells them to hang back and charges at the creature. Brainiac 5 tells the Super-Family there is no such creature in his database, but he starts to scan the creature as best he can. Before Superman can attack the extra-dimensional Parasite, however, Superboy Connor Kent sneaks in the first attack.
Meanwhile, at the Daily Planet, Lois tries to get Perry to print the story that Clark sent her at the beginning of the issue. She knows the law, so she can try to get it out to the public even while the FBI is investigating. Agent Chase debates the matter, and while this is going on, Jimmy Olsen asks about whether one has to buy the entire building or whether one can just buy the paper. (As I understand it, he bought the Daily Planet in the last issue of his own mini-series.)
Marisol Leone shows up at the Planet at that point with her lawyer, saying that she has been libeled by Lois Lane, who made up facts and printed them without authorization. Se claims that not only can she prove that, but she also says she can prove that Lois Lane is from another Earth in the Multiverse! Before anything else can be discussed, Superboy Jon Kent comes crashing through the roof, and tells Lois to get everyone out of the building and to hide!
Outside, Superman and Supergirl are attacking the extra-dimensional Parasite with their vision powers, even as it retains Superboy Connor Kent in its blobby tentacled grasp. Superman tells Kara they have to get Brainiac 5 as far away from the creature as possible, because of its parasitic powers. The watching Red Cloud is impressed and surprised at the fact that Dr. Glory and Leone's plan is actually working. The extra-dimensional Parasite finishes draining Connor Kent's super-powers and perhaps life energy, and throws him aside where he crashes onto the nearby roof. The shocked and horrified Superman, Supergirl and Brainiac 5 look on.
Inside the Daily Planet, Lois Lane and the other Planet staffers look on in disbelief. Marisol Leone grabs Lois by the blouse, and tells her, "My house." The story continues in the next issue.
Once again, I will state here that I have no comments to make about the House of Kent storyline and what is going on in the tales running through the Action family of comics, except as it relates to the Legion of Super-Heroes. I don’t read the comics, other than the Legion appearances, and have no idea of what's been going on in the Superman (and Action Comics) titles. So, with that out of the way...
This story is the fourth part of the "The House of Kent" storyline, and is not a Legion tale, though it does have one Legionnaire (Brainiac 5) in it. I do have a better idea of what the Invisible Mafia is that's been plaguing the family of Superman the last few issues, though I'm not sure about certain aspects of the story. I will say that I'm intrigued by some aspects of the story, and was intrigued by the fact that Marisol Leone is actually native to Earth-3, the home of the Crime Syndicate of America, as is Dr. Glory. I have two comments to make about the overall issue itself. First off, Superman is the most powerful of the super-heroes in the DC universe, and being accompanied in this story by his cousin, Supergirl, his son, Jon Kent, and the Superman/Lex Luthor clone Connor Kent, that is a tough team to take on. So writer Brian Bendis introduces a new, ultra-powerful foe in the story, the extra-dimensional Parasite, which is all fine and dandy, but to be honest, when looking at his work on the Legion of Super-Heroes title and this one so far, "the next great threat" is becoming something of a cliche with Bendis. And to be honest, that worries me when it comes to the actual Legion title. That said, I was glad to see that Superman was cognizant enough of the threat that the extra-dimensional Parasite represented to Brainiac 5 that he told Supergirl that they had to keep the creature away from Brainy.
But the real detractor to me this issue was the artwork of John Romita, Jr.. To be blunt, it's just sloppy and quite ugly. The opening three-page sequence with the young Marisol Leone and Dr. Glory was quite lovely, with sharp lines, and good backgrounding, but the double-page spread with the Crime Syndicate of America is just...muddy, ill-defined, and doesn't have a sharpness to it makes things pop off the page. It was bland. The big bad villain of the piece, extra-dimensional Parasite, is just a purple, heavy-looking bag of colours with eyes. And I won't talk about the fight scenes between the extra-dimensional Parasite and Superman and his family members. Just a blur of reds and blues, meant to simulate speed, and to be honest, it was never completely clear to me what was going on and who was involved; the only way I knew that Connor was the one who'd been taken out was because of the accompanying text and Superman shouting "Connor!" right near the end.
As for Brainiac 5, well... Brainy doesn't have a lot to do in this issue, other than trying to stay out of the way of the villainous creature here, and try to do some scans. In the two-page shot on pages 6 and 7, the artwork by Romita Jr. isn't great, but I do have to question why Brainiac 5 is shown flying upside down (!) as if he's sitting in a car or at a computer desk, though. It seems like when he not in the 31st Century Brainiac 5 doesn't fly with the flight ring in a conventional manner. And it's just...weird. Oh, did I mention that brainiac 5 does scans? Two of them... one at the abandoned Invisible Mafia base, and a very long scan it seems during the encounter with the extra-dimensional Parasite. The story this issue could have omitted Brainiac 5, and it wouldn't have made a difference to the story.
Nothing else to add to this.
The story continues in the next issue...
The opening sequence of the story becomes clearly set on an alternate Earth, the home of the Crime Syndicate of America. This clearly makes it Earth-3...
On page 8, the smashed green car in the abandoned Invisible Mafia base is a homage, and reminiscent of the green car on the cover of i>Action Comics</i> Vol 1 #1.
Next Issue: Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 8 #9