While the newest Superman adventure is intriguing, it’s lacking something else.
There is a threat brewing on the streets of Metropolis. While Superman is distracted by the significant incidents that plague the City, a group of street-level criminals unites to work under his nose. This Invisible Mafia begins setting fires to distract the Man of Steel and goes as far as to get blame pushed on him. Unfortunately for them, the truth comes out, and Superman begins to investigate. With the eyes of Superman heading towards them, the leader of the Mafia, Mr. Strong, punishes the fire-starter. He has his metahuman crony, Red Cloud, murder the rogue mafia member in front of the others to set an example. How far will this group go to hide from the Man of Steel?
**Some Spoilers Below**
After the body of the murdered Invisible Mafia member is dropped in midtown, reporter Melody Goode prepares a story that would blame Superman. Perry White, the determined editor for the Daily Planet, knows the story is false and has Clark investigate. Clark learns that the gangster was a member of this Mafia and agrees to follow the trail further. Meanwhile, Mr. Strong speaks with his inside reporter at the Daily Planet about taking down Superman. Melody believes she has a plan for that and has a request: she needs Kryptonite.
This investigation is pretty intriguing. Seeing Clark go out of his element to learn about the Mafia has its good points. We get to see Superman be a reporter, which to be honest, doesn’t happen as often as one would think. It’s a nice grounded part of the narrative that I appreciate.
That being said, that’s all it has storywise. This is supposed to be the more action-packed of the two Superman titles, and there is none in this issue. We get the investigation, but it needs more than that. The closest thing to action we get is Superman flying into the asteroid belt to let off some steam by punching them. Usually, the more grounded stories are left to the Superman series, but there are plenty of times Action Comics merged action with grounded moments. Comics don’t need to be full of action, but if this arc doesn’t pick up, more people might end up skipping it.
While I could go on and on about the story, I should mention the phenomenal art. There is something different about Patrick Gleason’s art this time around, but it’s still excellent. At first, it seemed as if Gleason was trying to go for a more subtle approach for this story. The style certainly captures the world of Superman, as it has in the past, and can still be considered more grounded. It becomes clear that Alejandro Sanchez’ colors are the factor responsible. His subtle shades keep the world real enough to be intriguing. All the factors considered, this team knocks it right out of the park.
This opening arc to the Bendis-era of Action Comics needs more than what it is putting out. While the art and investigation hook the reader, it doesn’t do enough to keep them. The coming issues need more than just Superman following clues, but with the cliffhanger at the end, I feel we might just get that.