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.

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I really liked this issue, too. I think Bendis is doing really interesting things with Superman's super-speed: Not using it as a weapon so much as using it as the opposite -- a chance to have a conversation and work things out quickly. He's done this a few times in the run -- and there was also that great super-speed fight between him and Zod and Rogol Zaar which was narrated almost like a storybook, which created a jarring effect when he was pulled out of it. 

And as someone mentioned when I tweeted this image: There's one person on that page who's been wearing the House of El crest since we've met him. 

Is this the right place re the new LSH ?

I've seen a grainy page of the new looks of more characters than previously and there is a recognisable MON-EL !!!! Hooray!!!

Hey Richard! Let's talk about the Legion (my absolute favorite subject) over here on this thread. (I'm gonna quote your post and then respond over there, 'kay?)

Yesterday, I read Superman #11--an issue that I evidently missed, because I had read issue 12 a couple weeks back. I guess I did get a little more information that I didn't realize I had missed, like more to the mystery that Jax-Ur, Zod, Jor-El, and Rogol Zaar all seem to know something about regarding the destruction of Krypton.

This one is starting to become more interesting to me, but still nowhere nearly as interesting as Action Comics.

Detective 455 posted (in another thread, copied to bring the discussion "home"):

Event Leviathan #2

I'm really enjoying this so far.  This a perfect Bendis-sytle comic with noirish atmosphere, street level heroes and a vast secret conspiracy.  The star of this issue is without a doubt The Question, who seems tailor made for Bendis.  Also, the scene with Plastic Man and Leviathan is just perfectly written.

In this issue Leviathan lets on that he is aware of Plastic Man's history across various continuities.  Who is this guy (or girl)???

Oh, that's an interesting point! I didn't read Leviathan's conversation with Plas as a cross-continuity thing at all. Instead, i read it as an acknowledgement that all of those stories and groups existed, in one form or another, in this continuity, even if we hadn't officially heard about them post New52 before. (Which might reflect the post-Doomsday Clock reality.)

It's a similar conversation to one Leviathan already had with Batgirl in the FCBD issue, where he listed the teams in her past, even including the Suicide Squad and the Seven Soldiers of Victory -- both pretty deep cuts, and that last one pretty much for superfans only. And maybe that *is* an indication that Leviathan can see into other continuities. But given that neither Batgirl nor Plas responded with confusion -- "When was I in the Seven Soldiers?" -- I think these are just pieces of these character's histories that we didn't realize still applied. 

And man, I already feel like rereading all of the Superman & Action Comics again, to see what other clues I might have missed with Leviathan! I just reread them a few months ago, and I want to reread them again. Honestly, Bendis on Superman might be the best superhero comics reading experience I've had in ages. I'm poring over these books for clues the way I did in the first year of so of the 5YL Legion.

I feel a little at a disadvantage since I haven't been reading many of the Superman comics. I may have to go back and check them out.

But the thing that really threw me off was Leviathan's mention of the All -Star Squadron.  Is there a post Crisis version?   I have to admit I would love to see a new version introduced post-Doomsday Clock.

A post-Flashpoint All-Star Squadron hasn't been introduced yet. My guess is that we're being told it exists, but we haven't heard about it yet, as opposed to it existing only in another continuity. But we'll see what the future brings! (Or, well, the past.)

My thoughts on Event Leviathan #2:

  • Red Hood knows who Lois Lane's father is off the top of his head? I guess I can get behind that if I imagine Batman made him learn that kind of thing when he was Robin.
  • Sam Lane and Amanda Waller must not be very good at their jobs as spies if they are so well known for their positions.
  • I love that Bendis acknowledges Batman and Amanda Waller's adversarial relationship. I remember that fondly from JLI and Suicide Squad back in the 80's.
  • I really hope it's not Jason Todd. Whoever it is has a sense of humor, and they seem to have quasi-honorable motives, which makes for the best villains. I just really don't want it to be someone who is a hero-hero who is turned bad. Not this soon after Wally.

I would say Red Hood = red herring.

A few more thoughts on Event Leviathan 2:

I don’t think Leviathan is the Red Hood, Sensei, but I do think it’s likely a hero. (Though I never thought of the Red Hood as a hero-hero since his return from the dead... as a villain at first, right?) In fact, multiple heroes might be working together to be Leviathan, who always uses “we” when talking about his plans. Dr. Anj at Comic Box Commentary suggests that they’re the former Charlton heroes -- particularly Ted Kord, Captain Atom, and Nightshade -- working together. It’s a theory that fascinates me, although a lot of his evidence is extra-textual. But Bendis *did* show Kord early on in his Superman run, and he hasn’t been seen since. And I just re-read the Event Leviathan special, and when he approaches Leone, Leviathan talks a lot about R&D -- the same way a head of a tech corporation (like Kord) might look at a problem.

I don’t think it’s that unusual for us to know Sam Lane and Amanda Waller -- they’re both heads of agencies and public figures, not secret operatives. Gina Haspel is the head of the CIA. Just because I could look that up doesn’t mean CIA agents aren’t out their doing their jobs covertly.

The Batman/Waller animosity might be seen as another example of Bendis hinting that all of DC’s history happened, much like the references to Batgirl’s stint in the 7 Soldiers or Plastic Man’s in the All-Star Squadron.

Broken Worlds? Leviathan says both he and Plas came from broken worlds. It could be a way of referring to their sociological circumstances (Plas a criminal from a bad part of town, Leviathan, well, whatever). But it could also refer to Plas coming from Quality comics, and Kord coming from Charlton -- both worlds gobbled up by DC.

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