One interesting effect of the TRUTH arc working its way through the Superman books is to raise the issue of secret identities and their social reality, something DC has not emphasized in the last few years.  Just what, exactly, do superheroes do when they aren’t on the job? Barry Allen’s CSI work is an important part of his character, and the new Batgirl is very much a social being when out of uniform.  But Clark Kent, reporter, has not put in an appearance in quite some time.

Action Comics #45 opens with Clark in full reporter mode, tracking down the activities of Wrath and the Shadows that have been infesting Metropolis.  Undercover as an industrial worker, he has traced them to the hidden area of a major plant supposedly engaged in manufacturing a better anti-mold spray.  He has already demonstrated his determination to keep his tracks covered from friends and foes,  governments and corporations.  He senses that Wrath, HORDR_ROOT, and the rest are only strands in a giant web, and that the great spider is yet to be revealed.  Unfortunately, when he invades the inner fortress of the Shadows, he also realises that he has badly underestimated their power and the virulence of the threat they represent.

Pak, to his credit, does more than just nod at the issues raised by Clark Kent.  How, exactly, did those ridiculous glasses fool so many people for so long?  The answer is a brief meditation on the art of thespian misdirection, how Superman can become Clark can become Archie the factory worker through the power of expression and movement. It is thoroughly unconvincing, even cheesy, but the effort is admirable.

Scott Kolins takes over on art duties for this issue.  His panel layouts are somewhat too busy, with large numbers of insets cluttering pages that could tell there stories more clearly with fewer and larger images.  His figures and faces, however, are naturalistic, almost reportorial.  And that is entirely appropriate for the adventures of Clark Kent, journalist.

Grade

B

Conclusion

This is a solid issue, if not a particularly exciting one. It has the feel of a necessary cog in the machine. As such, it serves its purpose with admirable efficiency, if little flare.