Who is the Red Cloud?
New Superman Villain makes first appearance in Action Comics #1001
Action Comics returns this month with the first official sequential issue of the series since the 1000th issue spectacular. We've had an Action Comics Special and the Man of Steel miniseries since then, but it's back to the twice-monthly regular issues of Superman's original book.
DC have pumped a lot of effort into their Superman output of late, and Action Comics #1001 continues to draw us into Brian Michael Bendis' run with this landmark character.
Superman has been placed under suspicion for the spate of arson attacks across Metropolis, tying his hands by preventing his involvement in the investigation. Desperate to find out who implicated him in these crimes, Superman starts to ask around to try to bring the situation to a close immediately.
The Man of Steel is shown at his heroic best, patiently dealing with crooks and their ineffective attacks, while seeking answers to his questions. Meanwhile, his alter ego is still missing Lois and Jonathan, who are travelling across the galaxy with Jor-El. As if that isn's bad enough, gossip-columnist Trish Q hunts down answers to Lois's whereabouts and assumes that Lois has left Clark... for Superman himself! Desperate to get the exclusive, she constantly opens up Clark's wounds.
It's easy to feel for Superman, missing his family, eager to clear his name and still more eager to bring an end to the fires that endanger the lives of Metropolis residents.
Meanwhile, we meet a brand new set of characters in the Metropolis underworld, including a deadly woman known as the Red Cloud. What can Superman's powers do against a foe who can slip away as a vapour? No super strength, no heat vision, super hearing or X-Ray vision is going to help against Red Cloud, so when these two finally go up against each other, it's going to be interesting. What's clear is, this syndicate has resources and they know some patterns in Superman's behaviour, so they know exactly when it's clear to get on with business.
Patrick Gleason's artwork is dynamic and crisp, with lovely colour work from Alejandro Sanchez. Some of the character proportions remind me of Tim Sale's artwork in Jeph Loeb's A Superman for All Seasons, with big, broad-chested Superman, with a powerful, thick neck, evoking the Superman Animated Series. The characters are expressive and distinct, and the backgrounds are lively and well-rendered.
In summary, I've enjoyed the artwork and story of Action Comics #1001, and I'm very much looking forward to what comes next!