Writers: Various / Artists: Various / DC Comics
It’s a bird… It’s a plane… It’s…
On the main cover of Action Comics #1000 and the decade-inspired variants, you’re going to notice a couple things. The first, most important thing is that number: 1000. Action Comics is the first series title to ever reach this particular milestone. The thing is that you’re going to notice is a logo with 80 years. That’s how long Superman has been part of the pop culture landscape. Eighty years. That’s a veritable lifetime and Supes shows absolutely no signs of slowing down. The last thing you’ll notice is that the Red Trunks are back in style. Or maybe you don’t notice that part. Maybe you’ll be like me and be smiling as the Man of Steel strikes one of several epic poses.
Action Comics #1000 is a victory for comic book fans everywhere. It is a testament to the persistence and tenacity of the superhero genre and comic medium. The anthology DC assembled is a fantastic tribute to a character that we hold near and dear to our hearts, and this 80-page giant is an introspective glimpse into the different facets of him.
Do good to others and every man can be Superman.
The opening story, From The City That Has Everything, by Dan Jurgens sets the tone for the rest of the anthology. It examines the impact Superman has had on all of the citizens of Metropolis which are poetic anecdotes about every-day heroes and how a little bit of empathy can change the course of someone’s life. Jurgens also gets credit for featuring Lois Lane very prominently in the narrative.
Other stories like Faster than a Speeding Bullet (written by Brad Meltzer and art by John Cassaday and Laura Martin), An Enemy Within (written by Marv Wolfman with unpublished artwork from Curt Swan), and Five Minutes (written by Louise Simonson, the only woman writer featured in the anthology], and art by Jerry Ordway) give us a peek into Superman’s internal monologue as he goes about his super heroics.
The Car, coauthored by Geoff Johns and Richard Donner and illustrated by Olivier Coipel, provides a much needed alternative perspective and follows the point of view of one of the people Superman saved and subsequently changed. It’s one of the more poignant, somber stories of the anthology.
There is a right and a wrong in this universe. And that distinction is not hard to make.
A handful of the stories also delve into Superman’s rogue gallery, which while not as iconic as some of his counterparts it is still pretty cool.
The Game by Paul Levitz and Neal Adams and The Fifth Season by Scott Snyder show the strange rivalry and friendship between Superman and his most infamous adversary, Lex Luthor. And while they share a similar premise of the two characters meeting on neutral ground, they explore very different dynamics.
Conversely, ACTIONLAND written by Paul Dini and pencils from José García-López, takes a more lighthearted approach to reminding us about the different characters Supes has faced off against and makes some cute nods to some more meta-elements.
Truth, Justice, and the American Way
One of the first previews of Action Comics #1000 was Tom King’s Of Tomorrow, and if for some reason you’re unable to acquire an issue, you should do yourself a favor and read the story online. It’s my second favorite comic in the anthology and the most humanizing out of the all the stories in the anthology.
Yet, my favorite story is by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason. Never-Ending Battle is a brilliant introspection of Superman throughout the ages and it’s just page after page of beautiful dialogue and stunning artwork that are the perfect tribute to the Superman mythology, from its inception in the 1930’s all the way to the current Rebirth run. It’s a fantastic collaboration between two of the best Superman creators of the modern era.
I don’t know about you but I could certainly use Superman right now.
Concluding Action Comics #1000 is the long-awaited debut of Brian Michael Bendis’s first DC story with art by Jim Lee. When the story broke last year, it reverberated throughout the comics universes. The Truth provides insight into that “something special” that Bendis has been cooking behind the scenes. It serves as a sneak preview of the upcoming The Man of Steel series and starts to pave the path Bendis wants to take. All in all, I’m… intrigued by his pitch. Not excited. Not apprehensive. Just intrigued.
I’m not invested just yet, but Superman is one of those characters that I follow from creator to creator (and mind you, it’s usually the other round). If nothing else, it sets the stage for the next chapter of the iconic superhero.
Up, Up, and Away
It’s not a perfect anthology, and it feels odd critiquing the Man of Steel on this monumental day, but Superman would welcome it, so I will give it. I wish there was more space given to the Clark Kent side of Superman. I wish there was more space for Lois Lane, as much a fixture of Superman as the shield on his chest. I wish there was more diversity in creative teams because Superman represents all of us and everyone resonates with some part of the Superman mythology. Some subtle changes would have elevated the anthology from fantastic to flawless.
At the end of the day though, when I finished reading Action Comics #1000, I smiled. I smiled because of the pop culture history that was made. I smiled because the more I grow up, the more I realize that Superman is the hero I needed growing up and the hero I continually strive to be. I smiled because it’s Superman and how the character Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster has remained stalwart through the years. I mean, how could you not?