04th May2018

‘Action Comics #1000′ Review

by Dean Fuller

Written by Various | Art by Various | Published by DC Comics

action-comics-1000-cover

DC Comics have of late been celebrating the 80th anniversary of both a flagship title, in Action Comics, and their flagship character, Superman. Both are, of course, fully worthy of such accolades. Action Comics has been continuously published since the dawn of the comic book industry, and without Superman there would possibly be no comic book industry. He was the spark that lit the flame. I have already reviewed DC’s 80 Years of Superman book, which was a love letter to every decade of Superman’s adventures, cherry picking some of the many high points from the 1930′s to the present day. It was very much a look back at Action Comics greatest hits, and a great reminder it was too. But what about the future?

Action Comics #1000 is DC’s counterpoint to the book, an oversized single issue to show you that Superman can be as relevant and as exciting today as he ever was. Sort of. Although the contents do indeed reflect the going forward, the cover and the various variants are an opportunity to still honour Action Comics past. DC have commissioned artists to draw covers in the style of each era, beginning with a fantastic Steve Rude 1930′s style cover, through to a 2000′s cover by Lee Bermejo. There are also many other exclusive variants out there, far too many to list here. Me, I went for the 1970′s Steranko cover, which also features my favourite logo. Cheap marketing gimmick, or giving the fans what they want? A bit of both? You decide.

The issue itself is divided up into ten stories, with a pinup or two also thrown in for fun across the 80 pages. My favourite story is probably the first, ‘From the City that has Everything’, which really is Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund throwing in everything they like about Superman and his supporting cast into a single story. Dan Jurgens has been a hugely influential voice on the Superman books, and his love for the character really shines through. From the title, a loving nod to the Alan Moore classic, to the belief that his importance lies not in his life as a superhero, but as a symbol to all. The second story, by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, is equally good but thematically very different. They decided to literally celebrate all the decades by having Superman fight a foe across time, each page being a full page splash but in the style of each era, with Superman’s costume changing to reflect that too. It’s nicely done.

The third story is something of an oddity, with Marv Wolfman scripting some unused Curt Swan pencils from the past. Nice to see these classic Superman creators get in the book, but it’s little more than a pleasant interlude. Story four, ‘The Car’, is a fun look at what exactly happened to that car and driver on the cover of Action Comics #1 anyway? Geoff Johns has fun with that. Story five, by Scott Snyder, is more a nod and a wink to Lex Luthor than anything else, or more accurately the odd couple relationship down the years between pre-Crisis Clark and Lex, and between post-Crisis Superman and Lex Luthor. It’s nice enough. Story six, ‘Of Tomorrow’ is a more personal tale, a character piece really brought to life by the art of Clay Mann and colours of Jordie Bellaire.

Story seven is another personal favourite, delivered as it is by Louise Simonson and Jerry Ordway, who both contributed so much to Superman through the 1980′s and 1990′s. In ‘Five Minutes’ they make the city of Metropolis the star, especially The Daily Planet. I smiled reading it. It’s impossible to not like the eighth story here, ‘Actionland’, by Paul Dini and legendary DC artist Jose Garcia-Lopez, which has a real Silver Age fun quality to it. Then again, with those two it was always going to I guess. Fun stuff. Story nine , by Brad Meltzer and John Cassaday, is slight but beautifully drawn and I like it’s message. The title, ‘Faster than a Speeding Bullet’ also gets bonus points. And that concludes the celebration of Superman.

Ah, but aren’t there ten stories in the issue? Yes, there are. But I didn’t think the final story, by superstars Brian Bendis and Jim Lee, was a celebration of Superman at all. It was certainly action packed, which I guess a lot of the younger readers today like, but just felt like Doomsday-lite. Big ugly guy throwing Superman around a lot. Bendis is a big name in the field, and will attract a lot of readers at first, but I hope he delivers better than this seems to indicate he will. Again a focus on Krypton seems to be coming, which has been done a lot later, so nothing new there either. For me, and most of the writers in this book, it is Clark’s humanity that makes Superman interesting. Clark is the real face, Superman the disguise. I suspect Bendis will come from the other side of the table.

Last story aside, this was a fantastic book. Great covers, great writing and art, and lovely pin ups. Even that last story has a place I guess, in that the book wants to push off into exciting directions in the future. As I’m more the Steranko cover kind of guy, I may not go on that journey, but I certainly appreciated seeing what got us here.

As pure a love letter to Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster’s dream as you’ll probably ever see. Here’s to the next 1000 issues.

***** 5/5

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