Look! Up in the sky! We all know the rest—it’s Superman, alien from Krypton, son of Martha and Jonathan, husband of Lois Lane. In this first collected volume of Superman: Action Comics written by Brian Michael Bendis and illustrated by Ryan Sook, Patrick Gleason, and Yanick Paquette, readers join Superman on a journey of yearning, heartbreak, madness, and the investigation of a mysterious red cloud that is haunting and terrorizing Metropolis. Along with all that, there are the fires—horrible, destructive fires—that are bringing the city to its knees, and everyone’s a suspect, even Superman himself.

Clark Kent is very sad. His wife, Lois Lane, has left town with his dad, Jor-El, and their super-powered son, Jonathan, and he has no idea where they’ve gone or when they’ll be back. It also doesn’t help that the entire staff of the Daily Planet also know this, and everyone keeps asking him about it like he has answers they don’t. And, with the new gossip columnist insisting on running stories showing Lois with everyone from Martian Manhunter to Lex Luthor, Clark is having a rough time without all he’s dealing with as Superman. Superman is feeling stressed. There are fires all over town, someone has labeled him as the culprit, and there’s also a mysterious Red Cloud figure that is like no other villain he’s dealt with before. He’s got to get to the bottom of both mysteries and clear his name. Who could be behind these fires, and does the Red Cloud have anything to do with it?

This first volume of Bendis’s run on Action Comics will delight both seasoned and newbie readers of Superman. There’s enough backstory provided to get everyone up to speed, and a trove of new villains to keep long-standing readers interested. A lot of fan favorites show up in this volume: Batman, Lex Luthor, Lois Lane, and good ol’ Jimmy Olsen, terrorizing Clark as per usual. Just as much as readers see Superman in action, they’ll also see a lot of Clark Kent running down leads and interviewing witnesses as he tries to piece the puzzle together in his day job. All the while, he’s missing Lois and… comes into contact with some random Kryptonite. Or, was it so random? And, where did it come from?

The illustrations in this volume are detailed, very colorful, and exactly how you want Superman and his world to be drawn and colored. There are beautiful full-page spreads, inventive and creative overlaps in the traditional paneling of pages, and lettering that is clear and concise. The coloring ranges from beautiful sepia evening tones to bright, hypnotic panels that showcase just how Kryptonite feels through close-ups of Clark’s face and yellow-toned tightly executed boxes that exude the stench of possible death. The way characters interact with each other in panels is also transfixing and will keep readers mesmerized as they read the words they are saying to each other. The illustrations are wonderfully rich in color and emotion, and the book is full of all different kinds of paneling and placement that will keep readers glued to a page just to take everything in.

Superman: Action Comics, vol. 1: Invisible Mafia is a great example of what Superman comics should be. Full of action and intrigue, mystery and love, teen and adult readers will enjoy this new foray into the Superman mythos. It’s an intriguing read that will keep everyone engaged until the cliffhanger of an ending.

Superman: Action Comics, vol. 1: Invisible Mafia
By Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Ryan Sook, Patrick Gleason, Yanick Paquette
ISBN: 9781401288723
DC Comics, 2019
Publisher Age Rating: 13+

  • Traci

    | She/Her

    Traci has been a graphic novel selector and collections coordinator for kids and teens in libraries in Arizona and Oregon since 2005. She served as the chair of YALSA's Great Graphic Novels for Teens selection committee, and served as a member of the Great Graphic Novels for Teens blogging team. She previously coordinated the Oregon Young Adult Network’s Graphic Rave list, OYAN’s yearly list of the best graphic reads for teens. Traci is a member of ALA, YALSA, and GNCRT. And, she achieved her greatest dream ever by serving as a judge for the 2019 Eisner Awards.

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