WARNING: The following article contains major spoilers for Action Comics #1001 by Brian Michael Bendis, Patrick Gleason, and Alejandro Sanchez, on sale now!
When the super-sized, jam-book Action Comics #1000 was released in April, it was nothing short of a milestone in comic book history. The issue was impressive not just due to the four digit number plastered across its cover — it also heralded the arrival of Brian Michael Bendis to DC Comics’s monthly schedule. But somehow, despite this, Action Comics #1001 almost feels like a bigger deal. If issue #1000 was the summit of a mountain, then this issue marks the beginning of a new climb, which feels like something that should be celebrated as well.
This summer has involved comic readers becoming acclimated to Bendis taking up the reins on Superman. Some fans were apprehensive about how the prolific comic scribe would embrace the most iconic superhero ever created, but thus far, his tenure at DC (which has included the six-issue miniseries The Man of Steel and Superman #1) has proven that not only does Bendis understand the character on the fundamental level, he can also incorporate his own story telling devices to make the Kal-El feel new again without betraying the last eighty years of Superman comics. Action Comics #1001 is no exception.
In this issue, we pick up a loose plot thread from The Man of Steel surrounding a series of mysterious arsons plaguing Metropolis. The fires have been the bane of not just Superman, but Clark Kent. And yes, there is a dichotomy there, despite the two of them being the same person. Clark can interact with certain groups of people in ways Superman never could, and vice versa.
As the logline on the cover of this issue proclaims, “As Metropolis burns, only one hero can save it… Clark Kent.” This isn’t some cheeky nod to the power of investigative journalism. It’s stating a fact. Despite all his power, there are some thing Superman can’t get done on his own. The string of fires burning his city down is a something he can’t solve by punching it into orbit.