[New to DCU] How Bendis's Action Comics Changed for the Worst: Mini-Opinion Article

I was rereading Action Comics #1005 and I realized how much the series changed as a result of Event Leviathan. Originally, it was the mystery story that focused on who Clark Kent is. Then it became a story about who this international force/presence is. Now it’s become focused on Year of the Villain and Leviathan. The best parts and the best mysteries of What is up with Lois? Who is this Invisible Mafia? and How can we save the Daily Planet? have been set up interestingly but then failed to come together. The better of the two series was the one that ignored shock value and forcing big changes over writing a good story was corrupted when it started making big changes.

I’ve been writing a Superman Fan-Fiction ongoing which takes most of his changing and tries to tell a compelling Superman Story. I took Bendis’s own initial angle on Superman which he chose to alter and feel that I’ve had great success. So what works about Bendis’s Angle? 1. He leaves the platform WIDE open for great storytelling. 2. Jon is older and has a lot more to look at (Bendis did it the wrong way though). 3. Reporting takes a more political angle (so far) of Survivor’s guilt and soon a look at gentrification on artist communities. I won’t spoil how, but I’m really excited to right about this stuff and people who’ve read it seem to really like it.

So here’s what Bendis needs to do. Stop and think about what he’s set up over the last year and a half and really focus on being compelling with what he has versus adding more. He has a wonderful playground, but rather than enjoy his new swing set, he’s trying to add a swinging see-saw that goes down a slide.

Your Friendly Neighborhood Reporter


Wow… That’s insane.

That is totally fair! I don’t blame you. What are you missing while reading it?

@dogwelder9, I dropped all Superman titles during the horrific New52 run( along with everything else but Justice League). I am now considering dropping my favorite superhero again because Bendis has ruined him. Nothing makes sense! Case in point: Clark seeking advice about his dual life from Adam Strange? REALLY?! Wouldn’t it have been more prudent to wait until he got back to Earth and sought counsel from–oh I don’t know–his best friends, Bruce and Diana?!! And he just put a target on the backs of Jonathan and Martha (who if we can believe anything from Doomsday Clock) are back from the dead. To be fair not all this mishegoss in the current DCU is owned by Bendis. Snyder and Johns are also culpable. Where’s that tall “society woman” that used to slap Moe, Larry, and Curly across their faces?


@dogwelder9. Thank you that was terrific! “Nyuck. Nyuck”.

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That tall “society woman” is Jenette Kahn, the last real editor in chief that DC had. And DC has been suffering for the lack of proper editorial leadership for quite a while. Bob Harras took the job in 2010 (enter, New 52). Before that, the position was vacant for almost a decade (Kahn left in 2002, but I think she was coasting for a few years before that.)

No direction, equals no continuity. No continuity, equals pissed off fans. Over the past two decades, we’ve seen a steady rise in pissed off fans.


DC Comics never had a better EIC than Jenette Kahn.


Doomsday Clock takes place after all this. They’re building up to where it was. So, Ma and Pa Kent aren’t back yet. In fact, I’m willing to bet money

Slaps $5 on the table

that the identity reveal (if not also Jon Kent’s Chriskenting) gets undone by the time they catch up to Doomsday Clock in universe.

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I’m pretty sure that Bendis had already discussed that fans had noticed Ma and Pa Kent were back. I don’t remember when but I remember they had already returned before Doomsday clock had started.

I like his Young Justice, but i concur he is trying to hard to “make his mark” on superman, and it has been lackluster and full of gimmicks.

The Quality of Bendis comics often relates to how many comics a month he is supposed to do. You can always tell which one he is enjoying, because those are good. You can tell which ones he is phoning in, because you get full pages of two characters saying “No Way!”, “Yes way!”, “no way really!”, Yes way, seriously and really"


@Aneras713: From your mouth to the comic book gods ears.


@taddmcdivitt: I love your critique Of Bendis’ writing. It is hysterically spot-on.


I 100% understand that I’m in the minority, but I’ve been loving Action Comics and Superman since Bendis hopped on at 1001. I thought Event Leviathan was an excellent dip back into Bendis’ usual style, while still keeping his ethos of, “I’m not going to write Superman like I write all my other characters.” Which, when it comes down to it, is probably why I like the run so much. Lois Lane is a Bendis character. Smart-talking, snappy, world-weary reporter is pretty much an archetype in the world of Bendis comics. But, BMB never writes Superman in that quippy, Spider-Man-y voice he loves. Bendis writes him like the Superman we know and love: a good person who just wants to use his powers to help people, no matter what very Bendis-esque situation (cough LEVIATHAN cough) he is put in. That dichotomy is refreshing, particularly following up on the Tomasi/Gleason run (which was delightful and fun at first, but got stale after awhile).

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  1. Lois Lane IS 100% a bendis character. The problem is Bendis rarely uses her to much effect. The most memorable Lois Lane moment he’s written was her in Event Leviathan, but ultimately she didn’t really figure anything out. The other one is the weirdly written meet up in Action Comics #1004.

  2. Event Leviathan would have worked, but it fell apart when everything we thought was significant turned into filler. Everything important happened in Issue 1 and Issue 6.

  3. Yes Superman shouldn’t be quippy, but Superman’s developments aren’t really character development, rather headline worthy developments that feel unearned. Superman’s Identity reveal has no real lead up. The Jon Kent age up has no real lead up. Leviathan being a manhunter has no real lead up. The creation of the United Planets has minimal lead up.

  4. The aging up of Jon has failed to add anything to Jon’s character. Instead its a character we love who’s been changed so much we need to rediscover him, only we don’t get to rediscover him. He’s just a younger Superman now.

  5. Superman isn’t supposed to be quippy. A quippy Superman would be wrong and bizarre so Bendis is just writing Superman like he should at a base level. The fact that Bendis doesn’t normally write that way doesn’t add to his writing of Superman.

For the record, I really liked Action Comics first volume. The Leviathan stuff started compelling but fell apart after Event Leviathan #2.

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Oh, Event Leviathan is totally a “70% of this comic is filler” Bendis event, and, as someone who loves that extremely mid-2000s New Avengers era of comics, I found that kind of charming. I recognize that it’s objectively a bad comic, but I’m signed up for a print copy of that trade the day it comes out. Anyway, as for the other critiques, I think Lois has a bunch of cool stuff to do, but it is Superman’s book; she’s a side character. She has her own ongoing (which is awesome and I am a Greg Rucka disciple). But, anyway, I think back to issue 1010, which was like a super cool, Lois/Clark team-up spy story, which is the kind of thing that I love that Bendis is doing that would NEVER have happened under Tomasi and Gleason, but it happens with Bendis and it’s magnificent. Also, the stuff with Jon is definitely not the best part of the book, but I kind of felt like that character had grown a little stale and one-note (Superman’s son who’s still figuring it all out), and, even if it wasn’t the best choice, I did think it was at least a new direction for the character we hadn’t seen.

But, that’s all to say, I’m a big Bendis fan, and I get a lot of enjoyment out of this comic. But I also understand that it’s weird, and not a typical Superman run, and I understand people not liking the take on the character and his world. I understand your criticisms, and I like the book despite them, and, in some cases, because of them.


I actually don’t mind Jon’s aging up. I just mind what he did once Jon aged up. He’s been aged up for about a year now and he’s more stale then he’s ever been. If I hadn’t read Tomasi’s run, I would find Jon a superman clone.

@Batwing52, I share your sentiments. It’s been a tad lonely in the “I like Bendis’ Superman” department, especially in online forums :slightly_smiling_face:


I dropped Action about 6 months ago because I just didn’t enjoy it anymore, but still have Superman and now Legion on my pull list. Not a fan of Supes telling the world he is Clark or he and Lois being alright with their son leaving them to live in the future-but am still hoping for the best.

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I think it’s hard to quantify the sales of issues. The drop is actually very comparable because they are the sales at roughly the same point in the run. Both are 18 months. Note Action Comics #963 started the Jurgens run, and was double shipped. Bendis is making half the number of books per month AND selling worse. I think he’s being kicked off with 5G.

And yes it’s low but for November, Superman was #28 and Action Comics was #48. I think the big difference between Rebirth Phase 1 and 2. is 1 was double shipped. 2 (bendis’s run) is not, so those number appear worse.