Things are starting to slowly unravel in ACTION COMICS #1005. Writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Ryan Sook are starting to reveal their hand. The Invisible Mafia is starting to get more visible, the mystery of the arson around Metropolis runs deeper than Melody Moore suspected, and we finally learn who the Red Cloud is.

Questions Come To Light In ACTION COMICS #1005

ACTION COMICS #1005 opens with one of the Invisible Mafia, Gummy. Gummy buys a HERO dial (from the classic DIAL H FOR HERO series) from a shifty dealer. The deal goes poorly, as not only is the dial fake, but the Question makes his presence known. The Invisible Mafia is starting to get exposed, and that exposure is getting to them. They take their complaints to their leader Mister Strong. Their businesses are at risk as Guardian, Superman, and now the Question is investigating now.

ACTION COMICS #1005
ACTION COMICS #1005 page 1. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

On the arson front, Melody Moore reaches out to Clark Kent (because Superman told her she could trust Clark… dual identities have their perks), and tells him about a gala she attended. It’s there that she met the mayor of Metropolis… who tells her to quit investigating the arsons. That raises suspicions in Melody, and now in Clark Kent/Superman.

Superman makes his way to City Hall, to spy on the Mayor, and finds him fetal and drunk. Suddenly, the Red Cloud surrounds and attacks Superman. Superman is unable to beat the Cloud and escapes from its grasp. It’s only then that we discover the identity of the Red Cloud and the huge ramifications for Metropolis and for Superman. ACTION COMICS #1005 ends with that huge reveal and leaves readers wanting more.

The Clues Were All There

Since he began his run in earnest with ACTION COMICS #1001, Brian Michael Bendis has given us a few mysteries to mull over: what was Lois up to and who is the Red Cloud? With this issue, we finally have answers to both. Without spoiling the reveal, there were subtle hints throughout the first four issues. The choice is understandable and explains a few events that happened. What will happen to Red Cloud’s alter ego after they’re discovered? We are still a ways away from that happening, but Bendis reveals this secret only enough to tantalize us. ACTION COMICS #1005 is just the start of the struggle between the two.

In Red Cloud, Bendis has created the rare credible threat to the Last Son of Krypton. Unlike Rogal Zaar, Red Cloud is a sneaky threat that can asphyxiate their enemies. In the short struggle that Red Cloud had with Superman, Superman’s strength, speed, and heat vision did nothing against their cloud form. Red Cloud allowed Superman to flee, simply because they had just wanted to see how they measured up against Superman. The advantage is definitely to Red Cloud for now, and probably beyond ACTION COMICS #1005.

Ryan Sook Returns In ACTION COMICS #1005

Artist Ryan Sook returns to the series with ACTION COMICS #1005, and bring his gorgeous art back too. Sook’s art is very nice to look at whether it’s a dark bar scene or the sunny skyline of Metropolis. The contrast between the two scenes with Melody Moore also shows off the skills of both Sook and colorist Brad Anderson.

ACTION COMICS #1005
ACTION COMICS #1005. Page 2. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

The alleyway scene between Melody Moore and Superman is a perfect example. The background is dark, but not moody. It feels like a Metropolis nighttime scene, as opposed to a gloomy Gotham night. There’s a subtle difference between dark and gloomy. Sook and colorist Brad Anderson strike that balance. In contrast to that scene is the flashback to the cocktail party. The pages are tinted in bright yellows, and Sook’s clean pencils set the framework.

Sook and Anderson give a gilded appearance to everything. Perhaps it’s a thematic choice? Superman’s X-Ray vision and super-hearing reveal that the Mayor is huddled under his desk, drunk. The mayor is most likely under the thumb of Mister Strong. That’s why he told Melody she should end her investigation. The Mayor himself is in a gilded cage: having power, but merely a puppet.

The contrast between the hooded, inconspicuous Melody and the Melody Moore in the sequined blue dress is equally star. I’m not sure a Deputy Chief in the Fire Department has dressed like that lying around, but I’m willing to suspend my disbelief because the art looks that good. ACTION COMICS #1005 is a pretty book, and Ryan Sook may be my new favorite Superman artist.

Can Superman Beat The Red Cloud?

Clark Kent may be getting closer and closer to bringing the Invisible Mafia into the light, but the Red Cloud is a threat that Superman hasn’t figured out. ACTION COMICS, in general, has been an excellent series. It’s a solid addition to Bendis’ legacy, and ACTION COMICS #1005 continues his run of great storytelling in this series.

ACTION COMICS #1005 by Brian Michael Bendis, Ryan Sook, and Brad Anderson
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Characterization
Plot
Summary
Brian Michael Bendis is doing great work on Superman, and ACTION COMICS #1005 is no exception. Ryan Sook returns, and he delivers gorgeous visuals. The arson mystery and the Invisible Mafia slowly unravel, and Red Cloud makes their presence known to Supes!
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