ACTION COMICS #1004 — and the series in general — has been a throwback book of sorts. Writer Brian Michael Bendis has evoked the late 80s/early 90s era of John Byrne. There are a lot of street-level villains and action. Bendis also puts an emphasis on the Clark Kent half of Superman’s life and the Daily Planet.

There has also been a minor mystery in regards to the whereabouts of Lois Lane, Clark Kent’s wife. Originally, Lois went into space with their son Jon and Clark’s biological father, Jor-El. Within ACTION COMICS #1004, we finally learn the truth about what’s going on with Lois and Clark.

As The Red Cloud Looms, Lois Explains Her Absence

ACTION COMICS #1004 begins with Clark at the Daily Planet. The mystery of Red Cloud has finally reached Clark Kent and Perry. As Clark and Perry argue back and forth about the identity of the Red Cloud, Robinson Goode observes. The conversation then takes a turn as Trish, the gossip columnist, and Perry ambush Clark with a picture of Lex and Lois together in Chicago (the cliffhanger of the last issue).

Trish is kicked out of Perry’s office and then attacked in the bullpen by a disgruntled villain. The villain, Copperhead accuses Trish of ruining his reputation. Superman saves the day and interacts with the rest of his friends at the Planet. Interspersed throughout this are scenes between Superman and Lois Lane. We get down to why she is hiding in Chicago, writing her book. Since the return of the Pre-52 Superman and Lois Lane, Clark has been the one to go back to the Planet and resume his life.

Lois has been a stay-at-home mom, caring for Jon. While she loves her life, she missed being a writer, so she’s taking the time to write her novel. There is no break-up or divorce or anything that dramatic. There’s just an agreement to let the current status quo be for a bit, while Lois finishes her book.

Sook Guests & Brings Incredible Art

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ACTION COMICS #1004 page 6. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment.

Artist Ryan Sook takes his turn drawing for Brian Michael Bendis and Superman in the pages of ACTION COMICS #1004. Sook’s pencils are gorgeous, and his work feels like he should’ve been tackling Superman for years.  Sook’s work is some of the best on Superman in a long time, and really impressed with this issue. He compares very favorably to former regular Superman artist Patrick Gleason, who drew the Superman Rebirth series with Peter Tomasi.

The last few pages with Lois especially feel majestic. There are a minimalist background, just clouds, and the moon, but the swirling clouds around Lois and Clark evoke the classic 1978 SUPERMAN movie. Particularly, the scene when Clark takes Lois flying for the first time. It’s a very romantic, very sweet moment, that Sook captures beautifully.

If Ryan became the regular artist on ACTION COMICS or SUPERMAN, there would be very little complaints. Sook is a great draftsman, and his work is enhanced by inker Wade Von Grawbadger and colorist Brad Anderson. The darker blue Superman suit is an interesting choice, as he’s usually primary blue, but it makes the symbol and cape pop that much more.

Strong Writing, But Some Nagging Issues

It’s arguable that ACTION COMICS is the stronger of the two Bendis penned Superman series. It plays to his strengths more; Bendis’ career started with street level, dialogue-heavy stories. ACTION COMICS #1004 continues those trends. The Daily Planet scene is satisfying, as Clark gets a lot thrown at him in a short time.

The Superman interactions are also a lot of fun and show a lived-in universe. Superman is interacting with Perry and Jimmy like they’re old friends, and they are. There’s further development with Robinson Goode and Superman. The characterizations are mostly spot on, but there are little nagging things that didn’t feel right, but that boils down to personal preference. A few examples include the “Great Ceaser’s Ghost” post-coital exclamations just feel a bit hokey.

It’s a charming nod to the history that Lois and Clark share at the Daily Planet, especially with Perry, but it’s a bit much. Bringing your boss’ catchphrase into bed doesn’t seem like a thing normal to me. Lois Lane also uses the word “baby” a lot, almost excessively. Lois doesn’t strike me as a “baby, baby, baby” person. Another key one, perhaps the most important one, is the seeming lack of regard for Clark Kent as Lois Lane’s husband.

Cheating On Me With… Me.

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ACTION COMICS #1004 page 5. Image courtesy of DC Entertainment

The fact that Superman has been seen whisking Lois Lane away and displaying affection publicly is really bugging me. It’s interesting though, that Bendis has made this a subplot and not an oversight. Brian Michael Bendis has consciously written in the fact that the public has seen the canoodling, and that Trish, the gossip columnist, hounds Clark relentlessly for his reaction to his wife’s seeming infidelity.

It places Clark in a very difficult position, and as a reader and Superman enthusiast, it’s both frustrating and intriguing at the same time. How will Clark Kent handle this? Will this become an ongoing issue? Will this force Kal-El to abandon Clark? While we resolve the mystery of Lois Lane’s whereabouts, the mystery of what Superman is thinking exposing himself like this continues beyond ACTION COMICS #1004.

Final Thoughts On ACTION COMICS #1004

The moment many have been waiting for finally happened in ACTION COMICS #1004. We find out what the heck is going on with Lois and Clark. While the payoff is fairly satisfying, and the interactions between Lois and Superman are terrific (Great Caeser’s Ghost aside), there’s a big problem.

The fact that Superman is so flippant with his identity when he picks Lois up is worrisome. Is Bendis setting up the eventual exposure that Clark Kent and Superman are the same people? That would be a bombshell story, but it would also take away the best part of ACTION COMICS thus far. Superman being intrepid reporter Clark Kent at the Daily Planet has been so great. Only time will tell if that’s Bendis’ true agenda.

In the meantime, his work on this series is some of the best in years, and the next issue can’t arrive soon enough.

ACTION COMICS #1004 by Brian Michael Bendis, Ryan Sook, Wade Von Grawbadger and Brad Anderson
Art
Characterization
Plot
Summary
Bendis and Sook gave us an excellent issue of ACTION COMICS. Clark digs deeper into Red Cloud, the Planet gets attacked, and we finally figure out what's going on with Lois!
90 %
Reunited and it feels so good!
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