April has been the month of Action Comics. Last Wednesday DC Comics released their 80-year anniversary hardcover celebrating the history of the series and Superman, and then we started our giveaway to win that hardcover and today’s #1,000 issue. This issue is 92 pages, features some of the greatest comic book talents in the industry and kicks off Brian Michael Bendis’ run on Superman and his work at DC Comics. That’s a lot to be excited about and this book certainly gets you in the mood to celebrate the Man of Steel.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
Celebrate 1000 issues of Action Comics with an all-star lineup of top talent as they pay tribute to the comic that started it all! From today’s explosive action to a previously unpublished tale illustrated by the legendary Curt Swan to the Man of Tomorrow’s future–this very special, oversized issue presents the best of the best in Superman stories!
Why does this matter?
This anthology collects 11 stories from comic greats like Geoff Johns, Tom King, Richard Donner, Clay Mann, Neal Adams, Dan Jurgens, Jim Lee, Tim Sale, Scott Snyder, John Cassaday, Olivier Coipel…I mean the list is insane guys! It costs $7.99, but there’s incredible value in the quality of story and the size of this book.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
Is that Christopher Reeve?
This issue opens with a story from Dan Jurgens which is fitting since he’s been writing this series for quite a while. He writes and draws (with inks by Norm Rapmund) and it’s a story that honors the greatness of Superman. It’s Superman Day, and people are coming from far and wide to share their stories of how Superman saved them. Superman is a humble guy though and wants to avoid all this hubbub. The story does a good job reminding us Superman does this because he wants to, but at the same time receiving thanks is an essential part of being a hero.
The second story by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason is told via 15 full page spreads, giving readers a snapshot of Superman’s history and why his fight against fear is so profound. The art is exceptional and well worth framing, and the words are at times poetic and touching.
Marv Wolfman and Curt Swan write the next story titled “Enemy Within” which focuses on Superman’s trust in humanity to do the right thing and be heroes themselves. It’s a friendly reminder that Superman doesn’t save folks every day, but witnesses goodness in people every day too.
The fourth story is by Paul Levitz and Neal Adams and appears in the Action Comics: 80 Years of Superman Deluxe Edition. This one is all about Lex Luthor and Superman’s ongoing competition with each other. It has an old-school feel that serves to show the slightly goofy aspect of the characters.
The next story is by Geoff Johns and Richard Donner with incredibly moving art by Olivier Coipel. This story is a good example of how Superman doesn’t win all his battles with his fists.
Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque are behind the sixth story which involves Lex and Superman warring with words over some weapons Lex could use to do great harm to Superman. The story ties into the special nature of Clark’s hometown in Kansas and the underlying respect Lex and Superman have for each other.
The next story by Tom King and Clay Mann is deeply emotional focusing on Superman paying his respects to his human parents. There are some wicked images in this story especially so because Mann draws Superman like Christopher Reeve.
The eighth story is by Louise Simonson and artist Jerry Ordway and gives us the only snapshot of the Daily Planet lifestyle. This story does a good job reminding us Superman’s day job gets in the way of his superhero work and vice versa. It ends with a slightly comical twist and one that shows Superman has a complicated life.
How does Superman not have anxiety?
Paul Dini and penciler Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez focus their next story on ActionLand, a Superman-themed park of the future. This story recounts Superman’s history with the Justice League, his time in Kansas, etc, etc. It has a twist that turns its entire focus on a significant Superman villain, and it’s a nice reminder of the weird ways Superman stories can go.
Brad Meltzer and John Cassaday create the tenth story, which is all about saving one life. It’s a tight scene reminding readers Superman can move incredibly fast and in some cases still may not get to his destination in time. It dives into the speed of a bullet and has one hell of a heroic finish.
This villain is Doomsday level strong.
Rounding out the collection is Brian Michael Bendis and Jim Lee’s story, which may be the most casual of all the stories. While most of these stories focus on honoring Superman and reminding us of his greatness, this one actually has the lasting appeal of being a story of now. It ends with a cliffhanger that’ll leave you wondering how Bendis will pull this off and is a nice way to finish off the book as it gets you excited for what’s next in the Superman legacy. There’s also a moment or two that plays around with Superman’s powers that are unique (like when Superman stops himself from flying through a shop window by slamming the brakes with his flying powers mid-air). Jim Lee doesn’t disappoint with sharp detailed art and a ’90s styled monster only he could pull off.
He’s kinda like a Tim Burton character, isn’t he?
It can’t be perfect can it?
Not every story is a complete success, with more than one ending abruptly as if the creators could have used an extra page or two but had a specific limit. Geoff Johns and Richard Donner’s story is one example of Superman giving the antagonist a lesson only to have him abruptly play with children on the last panel. It’s as if they could have done something more meaningful, but it was the best they could do with only one panel left to use.
Another aspect that’s slightly annoying is how multiple stories recount the history of Superman. Overall each of these types of stories touch on different issues (one might touch on the Justice League while the others don’t, for instance), but it’s a bit tiresome to see the same sort of story more than once.
Is it good?
This is an excellent tribute to Superman. The book is not only made well with its shiny and thicker paper stock cover, but it’s jam-packed with incredibly talented creators honoring Superman in many different ways. It also does a good job looking at the history of the character, and why he’s so great and then ending with a story that will get you excited for the future.