Action Comics Vol 1 #1026
"The House of Kent Part Five"
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 (Marisol Leone, Red Cloud); Extra-dimensional ("Uber-")Parasite
The story continues from the previous issue. The issue opens up with a splash page similar to those found in the current run of Legion of Super-Heroes comics, in which Brainiac 5 summarizes for the reader what he's been up to, why he came to the 21st Century, and a recap of what's been happening to the House of Kent in terms of the Invisible Mafia. He also marvels about having seen a toilet.
Brainiac 5 stands on the roof of the building on which Connor Kent's Superboy lies, the body of Superman's protege having been drained by the extra-dimensional Parasite. The extra-dimensional Parasite continues to fight Superman, Supergirl and Jon Kent, unfazed by the presence of the four, well currently three Kryptonians. It turns out that Connor Kent isn't dead, either due to his unique physiology or that the extra-dimensional Parasite's powers are only a temporary effect. Superman tells Jon to get Connor and "your friend from the future" (i.e., Brainiac 5) to safe place, the Hall of Justice, perhaps, but Jon replies that Brainiac 5 can handle that himself and besides, Superman and Supergirl need him there.
As the fight continues to rage, Brainiac 5 flies close by, scanning and trying to analyze the extra-dimensional Parasite. Meanwhile, the Red Cloud is observing from the roof of the S.T.A.R. Labs building. Brainiac 5 seems to be aware of her presence there. Needless to say, this is a form of Parasite, and getting in close and dusting knuckles plays to the villain's powers. Heat vision, punches and close combat aren't going to work...and they don't. The Superman Family's attacks prove fruitless, and a massive blast from the extra-dimensional Parasite sends the heroes flying, Brainiac 5 crashing back onto the roof.
In the meantime, inside the Daily Planet building, Marisol Leone continues to say that Lois Lane is behind all the evidence implicating her in crime, and still maintains that she's not the Lois Lane of this Earth. As the battle continues to rage outside the building, shaking it a couple of times, Agent Chase tells Perry White to implement the evacuation protocols. Leone resists this, and fires Perry and continues to blame Lois for what's going on.
Back outside, Supergirl realizes that the heroes need a different strategy, and tells the Superman Family to stand down and regroup. Jon says that he thinks they should listen to Aunt Kara. The battle slows for the moment, and the extra-dimensional Parasite answers Supergirl's question about what he wants. He tells them that on his Earth he is/was the original Parasite, Raymond Maxwell Jenson. On his Earth, he killed all the Kryptonians of his world, permanently absorbing their powers. He didn't know there were other Earths until he was invited here, but now that he does, he plans to eat the heroes of this world. When he reveals he is from another Earth, Superman takes a peak at S.T.A.R. Labs, and sees that the Red Cloud is standing there. Other-Earth Parasite tells the Kents that he doesn't need to touch them to drain their abilities, just that it's faster. Before he can drain the Man of Steel, Supergirl clubs the "Uber-Parasite" with a massive girder. Superman tells Jon to back up Supergirl's play, but that he's to keep his distance from the Other Earth Parasite, and he flies off.
Back at the Daily Planet, Marisol Leone continues to claim that she can prove Lois Lane is not from this Earth, and that Lane used Leone's own information and papers to cast the blame the other way. Agent Chase tells everyone to sit down.
Meanwhile, Supergirl continues to be smart in her fight against the extra-dimensional Parasite, using girders to keep her distance and push him away from the others. At least, until the moment when there is a large flash of light - and he disappears! Supergirl asks the others where he went, and it turns out that with Brainiac 5's help, the somewhat recovered Connor Kent was able to shrink him with Brainiac's shrinking ray. He's been "Kandored." Supergirl thinks that he's now so cute, and says she wants to keep the extra-dimensional Parasite, but cooler heads prevail. Jon Kent uses is super-cold breath on him; realizing that this being is still a massive threat, even if he's diminutive, puts him in a standard Legion containment field. They debate what to do with the villain, and come to the decision that they have to send him back to where he came from, trapping him there forever. They look around to see where Superman has gotten to.
The angry Superman has gone to confront the Red Cloud. Calling her a murderer and still seething over the death of Melody Moore, Superman battles the Red Cloud, who seems almost upset that no one thought she would have the nerve to kill anyone. As the fight goes on, Superman appears to be losing battle. However, Supergirl, Jon, Connor and Brainiac 5 come charging towards the confrontation. Supergirl says she has a plan, and tells them to wait until she signals them. The Red Cloud looks like she's willing to take on all of the Kryptonians.
Back inside the Daily Planet building, the confrontation between Marisol Leone and Lois Lane continues, Agent Chase seeming unable or unwilling to stop it. Things become more violent when Leone brings Lois's dead father, Sam Lane, into the conversation. Agent Chase then arrests Lois Lane. 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 fifth part of the "The House of Kent" storyline. While it is not a Legion of Super-Heroes story, it does have one Legionnaire (Brainiac 5) in it, and he does play a pivotal role in this issue. To start with, all of the additional text this issue is from Brainiac 5's point of view. This includes the splash page, which is done in the same style as the splash pages in the Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 8 series, with Brainiac 5. I find that there are complaints that I have about the text heavy splash pages in the Legion book, but to be honest, I liked this one. Not only was this a good recap of the House of Kent storyline to this point, but it also gave us some insight into Brainiac 5's coming back to the 21st Century with Superboy Jon Kent. The Interlac on this page was funny, but shed a bit of light on Brainy as well. See the translation of the Interlac in the Final Notes, below.
Brainiac 5 is quite useful in this story, as he manages to scan the extra-dimensional Parasite and learns something about it that makes him think of using the Kandorian shrink ray on it. It seems that it's actually Connor Kent who uses the shrink ray on the villain, but I'm not positive about that, as to be honest the fourth panel on page 18 of who's holding the weapon is a bit out of kilter for me, though it definitely looks like Connor is holding the weapon. That said, Brainiac 5 imprisoning the now tiny, but still dangerous, Parasite villain in a Legion containment field is a good move, though it isn't clear what they intend to do with the creature (despite how the text reads). And in good news, at least John Romita, Jr. has got Brainiac 5 flying around in a normal fashion, rather than these weird ways from the previous two issues.
Speaking of the artwork, John Romita Jr.'s art remains a blocky, scratch-filled batch of panels for my taste. That said, I did like the layout of this pages artwork and panels. Most of this issue is basically the knock-down,drago-out fight between the Superman Family and the "Uber-Parasite" (Kara's term for him). With such a gigantic, epic scale combat, the reader needs to feel the chaos and the action (no pun intended) that should ensue. The issue unfolds with pages tumbling, with vertical two-page spreads that literally have the reader flipping the book over in their hands. It was like the equivalent of a frenetic hand-held camera series of shots in a(n action) movie, and worked really well here. So Romita, Jr. is to be commended for that.
I will also comment on Supergirl here. I haven't read or kept track of the tales of Supergirl over the last few years, but it seems that she's been...terribly mishandled by the folks at DC Comics in the past decade or so. One of the things I enjoyed this issue and the last was the fact that Kara comes across as mature, young woman bright and optimistic, with smarts and strategic sense, and a natural leadership ability, From last issue's bit about being insulted about not being invited to join the Legion to this issue's taking charge of matters in the fight against the extra-dimensional Parasite when she realized they were going about it the wrong way, to her turn to the Super"girl" who found the shrunken creature cute and wanting to keep it, the writing of her character in this story has been delightful to read. I'm not really fond of Brian Bendis's work on Legion of Super-Heroes, his writing there is atrocious at times, but here he seems to have an understanding of Supergirl. I can only hope that since Kara's own book has been cancelled, perhaps she might find her way into Legion of Super-Heroes, where I can only hope that Bendis will continue to write her the way he's done during this House of Kent storyline.
The story continues in the next issue...
On the opening page, the Interlac reads,
"A space-time continuum permissions visa is not a real thing. Brainiac 5 created it to give himself permission to visit his ancient heroes. I mean, we get it, it's exciting but, let's be honest, he made it up. Time travel!"...
Next Issue: Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 8 #10