Action Comics #1022
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: John Romita Jr.
Inks: Danny Miki
Colors: Brad Anderson
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Action Comics and Superman cover different adversaries on Earth and across the galaxy, but both continue to cover the fallout and from Superman revealing himself as Clark Kent. This secret identity-less state allows writer Brian Michael Bendis to create the emotional soul of this issue around three generations of Kents.
Action Comics just wrapped an arc that saw villains Lex Luthor and Leviathan turning on each other after the Legion of Doom attacked Metropolis. During the battle, Bendis’ Young Justice team arrived bringing Clark Kent face to face with Conner Kent. Issue #1022 focuses on the mystery of who Superboy is and how ended up in the current DC universe and provides a sub-plot that explores the Daily Planet staff working through the reality of the paper being owned by a known criminal. The plots assume readers have both an understanding of the event in recent arcs and the fate of pre-New 52 Conner Kent’s Superboy from the mid-2000s event Infinite Crisis. In spite of a narrative deeply woven into the past 25 years of Superman’s extended family, Bendis constructs a personal story tightly focused on characters. This approach creates an engaging, emotional story regardless of a reader’s prior knowledge.
Trying to weave together and smooth over DC multiple reboots during the last ten years is met with mixed results though. Superman’s application of the scientific super heroes of Atom, Mr. Terrific, Batman, and others create an effective meta conversation about multiple universe restarts and reboots. Ma and Pa Kent remember Conner’s time with them, even though Conner has not existed in this current version of the universe. Ma and Pa Kent embrace and love all three of these Supermen, regardless of confusing continuity. Inconsistently, there are interactions with Superman when he seems surprised and confused by the appearance of Conner. This reaction will work in a vacuum of Bendis’ run, but it does not acknowledge Superman’s involvement with the Doomsday Clock series or his merging with Rebirth’s Superman in the pages of this very comic. Fortunately the emotional payoff of bringing these characters together is greater than inconsistency finger pointing.
While Superman’s recent reboots create continuity tangles, Bendis effectively crafts a rewarding narrative that works for fans of each generation of Supermen. The interactions of the Superman’s son Jon, Superman’s partial clone Conner, and Superman provide new ground for stories and new opportunities for all three characters.