I've been doing a reread of Brian Bendis's Superman/Action run this past week -- with the publication of Action 1009, he's reached 24 full issues, plus a short in Action Comics 1000. And I've found some interesting threads to consider.
1) On his recent Word Balloon interview, Bendis mentioned that there's a conspiracy at STAR Labs. It was one of their experiments going wrong that plunged Earth into the Phantom Zone in the first issues of Superman. Specifically, it was "Phantom Zone mapping," which they'd done before with no ill effects. So it might have been sabotage, or an interaction with another experiment the rank-and-file didn't know about.
Anyway, in Man of Steel #1, Lois mentions the Vice President has a secret financial stake in STAR Labs's overseas operations. She was just about the force him to disclose it when she headed out into space. (The allegations about the VP are repeated in issue 2, so there's a good chance this isn't throwaway dialogue.)
2) The Dominators. The first issue of Superman opens with Clark out in space, looking in all directions for Lois and Jon. He spots a Dominator fleet heading straight for Earth. Light-years away, but on the move. He flies out there and disables them before they cause any harm.
Later, in issue 7, Jon tells his story of his time with Mr. Oz. That *also* begins with a fight with the Dominators, heading straight for earth. And Jon & Mr. Oz take out the fleet. It seems weird that two unrelated Dominator fleets were heading for Earth at approximately the same time. (The fight in issue 7 would have happened before the fight in issue 1.) So either the Dominators are being really persistent in targeting Earth, or maybe it's a hole in the now-aged-and-returned Jon's story. The one drawback to that theory is that Lois was there for the Dominator battle. She might not have been aware of which aliens they were, but I can't imagine her not asking.
Anyway, I found that a little strange.
3) The visions. In Superman issue 5, Zod has a vision of a peaceful future, with the houses of El & Zod celebrating a tenuous wedding to unite their houses. Kandorians are there also, indicating that Zod doesn't yet know they've been killed by Rogol Zaar. The scene is broken up by an attack from a large group of flying people...and in issue 5, it was easy to presume it was the horde of Phantom Zone criminals Zaar was leading.
And yet in issue 9, Superman daydreams himself a similar peaceful scene -- World Peace Day, with superheroes the world over thanking him for making it possible. Zod arrives on the scene in a spirit of truce as well, seemingly invited by Jon. And then, another attack from the sky. We can see the attackers a little more clearly this time, and can make out some silhouettes. And it could very well be the Legion of Super-Heroes. (There are figures that look like Bouncing Boy, Gates, Lightning Lad, and Chameleon Boy among them.) And that puts the last line Zod says before getting attacked in *his* dream in a different perspective. His last words there were, "The future..."
I haven't reread Action Comics yet (aside from the story in 1000), but I'm betting I'll find more clues and things that reward close reading there, too.
Anyway, that's what I've got to say for now. I'll probably follow up with some nice moments from the run in a little while. There's definitely one bit of storytelling in Superman issue 6 that I really want to highlight -- a virtuoso use of the comics medium.
Honestly, when the Leviathan story line started, I did kind of wish Manhunter was still around, because he would have worked perfectly for this, and kind of resented the fact that the only Manhunter we would likely see was Kate Spencer. Well, I guess I got my wish! :)
This week's Action Comics, 1017, starts a new story. It looks like a big bang-up between the Legion of Doom, the Invisible Mafia, and Leviathan (as well as Superman and other heroes, of course). John Romita Jr takes of the art for this arc, and it's really exciting, kinetic stuff. Some books look like he's rushed it -- this isn't one of them.
We're getting more Leviathan in April: DC announces Event Leviathan: Checkmate.
Six more issues from Bendis and Maleev.
I read the latest issue of Superman, part 2 of the "Truth" arc. I thought it was pretty great. It makes sense what they're doing with the reactions to Superman's identity.
I also loved the way the rest of the United Planets (in its infancy) teamed up to take down Mongul. I'm really hoping they succeed in this quest. It would be pretty awesome.
I like this story idea a lot. I'm sure Superman's ID will rubberband to the status quo someday, but I think the revealed ID is going to be one of the features of this era that we'll be using to define it in the years to come.