Spoilers ahead for this week's Action Comics #1005.
When Brian Michael Bendis came up with the idea for Superman’s new rogue the Red Cloud in Action Comics, the writer specifically wanted to design someone that was very different from the villains the Man of Steel hads faced before.
In this week’s Action Comics #1005, readers found out that the Red Cloud not only has powers that really challenge Superman, but the villain’s secret identity is none other than Robinson Goode, one of Clark’s fellow reporters at The Daily Planet.
As Bendis describes it, someone else at The Daily Planet is using the newspaper to cover for themselves the way Clark Kent does.
Action Comics #1005 also introduced the Question to Bendis’ story, which he’s creating with artist Ryan Sook, and teased his upcoming Wonder Comics line with a nod toward Dial H for Hero.
Following up on our discussion last week about his worrisome plans for Jonathan Kent, Newsarama talked to Bendis to find out more about the revelations from Action Comics #1005 and what readers can expect next.
Newsarama: Brian, the big reveal in this week’s Action Comics #1005 is that the Red Cloud is actually Robinson Goode. I think we all suspected that she wanted to get Superman somehow, but her job as a reporter – is that really just her secret identity?
Brian Bendis: Yeah, it’s this cool thing where there’s someone at The Daily Planet who’s using The Daily Planet as their cover story, just like Clark does.
So we have someone literally sitting a few cubicles from him using the office in the same way he does.
Nrama: At the end of the issue, it seems that she didn’t plan this attack and is surprised about what just happened. Is that accurate?
Bendis: Yeah, we’re going to reveal that she kind of just attacks Superman on a whim. She was right there and just went for it.
I like this idea that you wouldn’t know you could go toe-to-toe with Superman unless you tried. So she went for it, which is very much what we’ll find out is true to her character, and why she got her powers in the first place.
She found out, “Ooo! I can fight Superman to a stand-still. That’s a whole different deal. That puts me in a different category.”
So now we’re seeing a change come.
Nrama: OK, so we know she’s working for this secret organization. Wait, is she in charge of the organization?
Bendis: No, she’s not in charge of it. We’re going to find out in the next issue who’s in charge of it. She’s working for someone, but it’s going to change their relationship. But we’re going to find out who is running this unseen Metropolis mafia.
Nrama: OK, so this spontaneous attack - you’re saying that’s a clue to her true character? She’s spontaneous?
Bendis: Yeah, spontaneous is good. Impulsive.
Nrama: We talked before about how her power - the ability to become a vapor that you can’t punch - is a real challenge for Superman. I guess this nature of hers to be spontaneous is also a challenge for him?
Bendis: Yeah, it’s a different level of challenge.
Nrama: The spontaneity means she’s almost the opposite of Lex Luthor.
Bendis: Yeah. It’s not “I’m going to stand here and monologue now.” She jumps him! It’s almost like she jumped him with a shiv in the alley. She took a shot.
Nrama: And these types of unique, new threats like the Red Cloud were part of your plan for Superman? To bring a sort of different flavor?
Bendis: Exactly. That was literally one of the things I wrote down on my Superman manifesto, was that there have been flavors in the past, and they’re awesome flavors, but there are other flavors of attacks and fights and conflicts that Superman can have.
And like you said, having someone that he can’t punch - does he inhale her? Or blow her away? He has to make some choices on how to handle her. And is she poisonous to him? We’ll find all those things out.
And her origin, where her powers come from, will reveal why she’s such a threat to him
Nrama: The inability to just punch her kind of goes along with the focus of this series. Clark Kent has to use his skills as an investigator. That’s got to be the focus if he’s going to stop this clandestine organization, right?
Bendis: Clark is going to have to fight this, not Superman. Clark’s going to have to figure it out.
Nrama: We also met the Question in issue #1005, and we found out that he is investigating the Red Cloud …
Bendis: And although this seems like a cameo in this issue, it is the first stop of a very large role.
Nrama: So his investigation of this organization has got to crossover with Superman’s own investigation eventually, right? Will you be bringing together the threads?
Bendis: Yes. It’s going to build over time into our big, fun stuff next summer.
Nrama: Is there anything else that you want to let people know as we head toward the next chapter in your Action Comics tory, as well as your other Superman book?
Bendis: We’re into the runs now, and I’m hearing really enthusiastic responses. People are really picking up the book and they’re really into it. I know there was a lot of hype around this, but now it’s when people decide on their own whether they want to stick around or not. And I really, genuinely am just so moved by how into the story everybody is. I’ve had this before, and it’s such a gift, and to hope for it again is asking too much. So the fact that it’s happening is just nuts.
So thank you to every Superman fan who’s been really digging this, especially the people who were worried about Lois and were worried about Jon and worried about Clark - thank you for being patient.
And if you’re still upset with me, please, still be patient. There’s more to come.