So far Bendis' run on Superman has been a little touch and go, but Action Comics #1 is a huge step in the right direction. It is amazing the difference a fantastic artist can make.
Bendis seems to be settling in and actually taking his time to craft a compelling story. In his Man of Steel mini series it felt as though Bendis was attempting to set up a thousand different plot threads at once. But in this issue he is able to slow it down a little and the comic is all the better for it. That being said, this comic still moves. There is hardly a dull moment, but Bendis expertly paces the book to where it does not feel rushed.
Bendis has a very specific style of writing that fits some characters perfectly, but can feel out of place for others. In this issue, it seems as though Bendis has found the right balance of his quirky writing style with the traditional Superman mythos. A great example of this would be when Superman is questioning a boy who told the fire department that he saw Superman light the fires that have been plaguing Metropolis. The boy tells Superman that a bald man paid him $300 to say that, so the next page is a who's who of bald villains in the DCU. It's classic Bendis and delivers a good laugh.
The main difference between Action Comics and the Superman title under Bendis seems to be that Action is going to focus more on Metropolis and Clark Kent. From the front cover to the last page, this book highlights the differences between Clark and Superman's worlds. Gleason lends a hand to this theme by expertly distinguishing Clark from Superman by his posture alone. There also seems to be a conflict brewing between Superman and Clark as the nosy gossip columnist for the Daily Planet believes that Louis left Clark for Superman. It is a fresh and interesting spin on the classic Superman/Clark dichotomy.
But the main aspect that truly elevates Action Comics and distinguishes it from any other Bendis Superman story is Patrick Gleason's art. In my opinion, Gleason is the top Superman artist working today and he is on top of his game in this issue. I truly can not stress enough how much of a treat it is to look at this book. This issue would be worth the money even if there was zero dialogue and just twenty two pages of Gleason's art.
All in all this issue is the most enjoyable Bendis Superman issue thus far. Bendis is on a mission to flesh out all of Metropolis (in the same way that Gotham is it's own character in the Batman books) and looks to do so in the pages of Action Comics.