Action Comics #1000 is a powerful tribute to Superman’s enduring …

Action Comics #1 changed comic books forever when it debuted 80 years ago, introducing a new character whose wild popularity created the genre that became synonymous with the medium. Superheroes have since jumped off the page and become bonafide pop culture juggernauts, and Superman laid the groundwork, starting with comics before moving into highly successful radio serials, TV shows, and movies. Action Comics is the first American comic-book to reach issue #1000, and DC Comics is celebrating this milestone with an 80-page prestige format special paying tribute to Superman with 10 short stories by a variety of creators.

Action Comics #1000 (DC Comics) is an emotional, exciting celebration of Superman’s evolution and the core tenets that have stayed constant through these changes. It explores the hero’s past, present, and future, examining his relationships with his city, job, friends, family, and enemies. Departing Action Comics writer-artist Dan Jurgens—the man who killed Superman back in the ’90s—kicks off the festivities by having the people of Metropolis and Superman’s superhero allies gather to show their support for the man who has shaped their lives, and fellow ’90s Superman creators Louise Simonson and Jerry Ordway look at how Clark Kent balances his job at the Daily Planet with his costumed crusading. There’s a new story featuring unpublished art by Curt Swan, who defined Superman’s look in the Silver Age, but it’s one of the flimsier stories because it has writer Marv Wolfman inserting Superman into pages that weren’t created with him in mind.

The high point of the issue comes from the current Superman creative team of Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, who take the hero and the reader on a journey through Superman history courtesy of a time-travel trap set by Vandal Savage. Gleason and colorist Alejandro Sanchez create full-page illustrations brimming with character, and they capture the spirit of each era in the tone of each image. A standout visual shows Superman shortly after his debut, putting intense effort into stopping a train because his powers weren’t as strong. It sets a point of contrast for the shot that immediately follows, which has the indestructible Superman picking up a tank on the battlefield, fully realizing his larger cultural potential as a symbol for U.S. superiority in World War II.

The best stories in Action Comics #1000 highlight how Superman is a symbol for the strength and resilience of the human spirit. “The Car,” written by Geoff Johns and Richard Donner with art by Olivier Coipel and Sanchez, cleverly uses the cover of Action Comics #1 as the foundation for a story about how Superman helped pull American citizens out of the turmoil of the Great Depression. Coipel draws a stern, sexy Superman whose build and posture call to mind the circus strong-men that inspired Joe Shuster’s original design for the hero, with a splash of Jon Hamm in the facial features.

Clay Mann uses a Christopher Reeve likeness for the Superman in his short story with writer Tom King, “Of Tomorrow,” which adds an extra dimension to this reverent eulogy for the planet Earth and Clark Kent’s adopted parents. As the Earth’s sun expands into a red giant five billion years in the future, Superman gives Jonathan and Martha one last update about their family, which has survived and grown over the millennia. It’s a beautiful goodbye that is also the only story to focus on Clark’s relationship with his parents, and that one shot of a Reeves-inspired Superman incorporates the memory of the actor who was the character’s face for a generation of fans.

The weakest piece in Action Comics #1000 is the one that’s been hyped the most. “The Truth” marks the DC debut of writer Brian Michael Bendis, who leaves Marvel Comics after nearly 20 years, and his story with artist Jim Lee sets up an upcoming plotline rather than offering a self-contained work speaking to a larger theme. There have just been nine stories that showcase the complexity and depth of this hero, and this underwhelming prologue ignores what makes Superman so interesting. Bendis kicks off his run by making Superman a punching bag for a villain that is totally basic in both characterization and design, and having civilian bystanders come to his aid while spouting awkward, out-of-place dialogue commenting on the return of Superman’s red trunks.

There’s one good moment when Superman stops himself from flying through a window, but it’s not enough to elevate a bland fight scene that readers have seen over and over again. Bendis is about to take over both Action Comics and Superman after the six-issue, weekly Man Of Steel miniseries, and while “The Truth” isn’t very inspiring, DC is providing multiple easy entry points for readers to get a taste of what Bendis is cooking up. Next week’s DC Nation #0 has Bendis delivering a second Man Of Steel prologue with the legendary artist Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez—who contributes a story with Paul Dini in Action Comics #1000—and as one of three stories in a 25-cent one-shot, it’s going to be read by a lot of curious DC fans. The publisher is banking a lot on its high-profile hire, and the wave of Bendis Super-books over the summer is going to reveal if that investment pays off.


‘Action Comics’ #1000 Pays Tribute To 80 Years Of Superman …

Action Comics #1000Action Comics #1,000
Writers/Artists: Jim Lee, Geoff Johns, Tom King, Scott Snyder, Peter J. Tomasi, Neal Adams, Patrick Gleason, Paul Levitz, Brian Michael Bendis, Marv Wolfman, Rafael Albuquerque, etc.
Publisher: DC Comics

How do you celebrate the 80th birthday of arguably the most famous and greatest superhero of all time? With a 93-page extravaganza that not only celebrates the hero’s past, but also looks ahead to his future, of course.

Last week’s Action Comics #1,000 is a milestone in comics history, as it also marks the 80th anniversary of the creation of Superman in Action Comics #1 way back in 1938.

Featuring a stellar roster of writers and artists – including Jim Lee, Geoff Johns, Tom King, Scott Snyder, Peter J. Tomasi, Neal Adams, Brian Michael Bendis, and many more – it is a fitting tribute to the Man Of Steel’s long and storied history.

The opening story, From The City That Has Everything, gets things going with Metropolis celebrating Superman Day, even if Superman himself is a bit too preoccupied with an invasion by the alien Khunds. While rather wordy and a little too fawning at times, it does get the mood of this celebratory issue going.

What better way to celebrate Superman's birthday than to have all his friends along for the party?

What better way to celebrate Superman’s birthday than to have all his friends along for the party?

The subsequent story, Never Ending Battle by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, plays up the nostalgia of the character, using the context of a “hypertime” attack to send Superman on a journey through his greatest hits over the past 80 years – from the simplicity of his 1930s Golden Age run-ins with tommy-gun-wielding gangsters, to iconic battles with villains like Silver Banshee and Mongul.

Never Ending Battle by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, plays up the nostalgia of the character

Never Ending Battle by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, plays up the nostalgia of the character with iconic scenes from stories like Kingdom Come.

Tomasi and Gleason, who are ending their epic run on the main Superman title soon, pay tribute to some of Superman’s most iconic moments in a story chock-full with Easter eggs and homages. These include references to stories like Final Crisis, Kingdom Come and The Dark Knight Returns, and even films such as the 1951 feature film Superman And The Mole Men and the classic 1978 Superman: The Movie.

While the title is “Action Comics”, some of the best stories in this 93-page extravaganza don’t involve much action at all. The Game (by Paul Levitz and Neal Adams) sees Superman taking on Lex Luthor in a game of chess, while Five Minutes (Louise Simonson and Jerry Ordway) is more about Clark Kent’s job as a reporter than it is about Superman.

Based on an original story by Cindy Goff, Curt Swan and Butch Guice (with a script written by Marv Wolfman), An Enemy Within answers the question “how does Superman choose where he is needed the most” with a simple story revolving around the police trying to resolve a hostage situation.

My favourite story, however, has to be The Car, co-written by the ever-reliable Geoff Johns and Richard Donner. Yes, THE Richard Donner, director of Superman: The Movie, which is still the greatest Superman film ever made.

If you’re familiar with the first ever Superman story in Action Comics #1 80 years ago, you’ll probably recognise the character Butch, who was driving the getaway car during a kidnapping and ran into Superman, who hung him on a telephone pole.

If Superman hangs you on a telephone pole, he expects to see you stay there.

If Superman hangs you on a telephone pole, he expects to see you stay there.

In The Car, we get a continuation of sorts of Butch’s story, with him climbing down the telephone pole by himself and then taking his car to the mechanic. What happens when he meets Superman again is a nice little ending for a character who would have otherwise been left dangling on that telephone pole 80 years ago.

Another highlight is seeing Superman catch a bullet meant for a hostage in Faster Than A Speeding Bullet (Brad Meltzer and John Cassidy), which isn’t so much about the hero inspiring the people, but rather, the other way around.

Superman and Lex Luthor playing chess is an unexpectedly entertaining affair.

Superman and Lex Luthor playing chess is an unexpectedly entertaining affair.

For an issue that is supposed to celebrate the life of Superman, it’s a bit of a surprise to see two stories about death. The Fifth Season, by Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque is a well-written if low-key story about how Lex Luthor finally offs the Man of Steel in the most unassuming way; while Of Tomorrow by Tom King and Clay Mann is set just before the death of Earth itself.

Not all the stories are winners, though. The Mr Mxyzptlk-led Actionland (by Paul Dini and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez), about a Superman theme park, is a bit of a muddle, to be honest.

Brian Michael Bendis introduces new villain Rogol Zaar in his debut story for DC Comics.

Brian Michael Bendis introduces new villain Rogol Zaar in his debut story for DC Comics.

And then there’s The Truth, Brian Michael Bendis’ first story for DC Comics since defecting from Marvel Comics. With art by Jim Lee, it serves as a prelude to Bendis’ upcoming The Man Of Steel mini-series, and introduces a new villain named Rogol Zaar, who proceeds to pummel Superman into submission and might have more to do with the destruction of Krypton than we thought.

While this is without doubt the most action-packed story in Action Comics #1,000, the story feels like the odd one out in an otherwise solid collection of stories celebrating the Man of Steel.

First of all, it features Superman getting his butt kicked quite convincingly. Secondly, there just doesn’t seem to be much substance to the story itself, especially with the relentless pace and action and the frankly uninspiring design of the new villain.

But most damning of all is Bendis’ script, in which he seems to be obsessed with highlighting the fact that Superman is wearing his red trunks again.

Yes, we know that Superman’s new costume has the red trunks again, Bendis, you didn’t need to have two unnamed characters having a completely pointless conversation about why he wears his underwear on the outside.

While I shall reserve judgement on Bendis’ writing on The Man Of Steel until the book is released on May 30 (and when he begins his stints on Superman and Action Comics), it’s a little disappointing that in a book that is all about celebrating Superman’s past, the weakest story is one that looks ahead to the Man Of Steel’s future.

Why? We were asking the same question when we found out Superman was going to wear his underwear on the outside again.

Why? We were asking the same question when we found out Superman was going to wear his underwear on the outside again.


Was Superman Banned From Action Comics Covers After #1? – CBR

Welcome to Comic Book Legends Revealed! This is the six hundred and seventy-fifth week where we examine comic book legends and whether they are true or false.

NOTE: I noticed that the the CSBG Twitter page was nearing 10,000 followers. If we hit 10,050 followers on the the CSBG Twitter page then I’ll do a BONUS edition of Comic Book Legends Revealed during the week that we hit 10,050. So three more legends! Sounds like a great deal, right?

Click here for Part 1 of this week’s legends.


Superman was initially barred from Action Comics covers after issue #1


Seems true enough for a true

There are two main things that you have to keep in mind while discussing the early days of Superman in Action Comics #1.

First, everything was done very quickly. Action Comics #1 was thrown together on the fly.

Second, we know very little in terms of explicit details about how everything precisely happened in the early days of Action Comics, as there are very few original resources from the era (there are SOME, of course), with most of the details coming from later recollections which, naturally, are tinged by people wanting to remember their place in the history of a major character as being perhaps more important than they originally were. Of course, somebody had to be involved in the early days, so some of these people WERE remembering their places correctly. The question then becomes, who?

Anyhow, this all ties into why Superman did not appear on another cover of Action Comics until #7.

Here is the cover…

And here are the covers for Action Comics through #10…

You’ll note that Superman appears on the cover for #7 and then, by #9, there is a permanent mention of Superman on the cover.

We know that Harry Donenfeld, the publisher of National Allied (along with Jack Liebowitz, who was more heavily involved in the actual day-to-day running of the operation), did not like the cover of Action Comics #1. He was embarrassed by what he found to be a ridiculous looking cover (sometimes said to be “too wacky”). That much is clear.

What is slightly less clear is whether Donenfeld specifically banned the character from appearing on the cover of the early issues of Action Comics. It appears very likely that they were going to go with different characters on the covers no matter what for the first few issues. That’s just how anthology books work. You don’t know right away who the hit characters are, so you mix and match for the first few issues.

However, the fact that the character who was the LEAD in every issue did not appear on a cover again until #7 and the fact that Donenfeld DID have a real problem with the character at least, to me, supports the contention that Donenfeld specifically said, “Don’t use that character on the cover.”

Note, though, that in Action Comics #4, there was a survey of readers as to which feature they liked best…

And by the fall of 1938 (when the cover for #7 came out), Donenfeld and Liebowitz were already negotiating for a Superman comic strip deal (a deal where they would get a shocking, for the time, 40% licensing cut, leaving the syndicate and Siegel and Shuster to split the remaining 60% 50/50), so they likely knew pretty early on that the Superman character had caught on, leading to him appearing on the cover for #7 and then pretty soon getting featured on covers where he did not appear.

But it sure does seem that, early on, at least, Superman was specifically being kept from appearing on covers. Normally speaking, your lead feature would appear on a cover earlier than #7 unless there was a specific reason otherwise.

Check out my latest Movie Legends Revealed – Was There Nearly a Batman/Godzilla movie?

Check back soon for Part 3 of this week’s legends, also an Action Comics #1-related legend! Feel free to write in with suggestions for future legends to either or!


Action Comics #1000 Honors Superman’s Film & Animation History

WARNING: This article contains major spoilers for Action Comics #1000, which is available now.

DC’s celebration of Superman’s 80th birthday has mostly concentrated on his comic book history, and rightly so; after all, 1,000 issues of a single series is a huge accomplishment for any superhero. However, it would be a mistake to forget the legacy the character has left behind in television, movies, and animation. Luckily, Action Comics #1000 doesn’t miss the chance to include other mediums in its celebration.

In today’s world of multimedia conglomerates, no property is restricted to a single medium anymore. Comic book characters are now regularly featured on TV and in film, so it’s fitting that DC was sure to honor Superman’s history on the big and small screens over the last 80 years. Creators like Richard Donner, who gave us the first two blockbuster Superman films, contributed with the story “The Car” alongside Geoff Johns and Olivier Coipel. Paul Dini, one of the masterminds behind the DC Animated Universe, added a story called “Actionland” with the legendary Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. It was cool to see them included among the greatest Superman storytellers of all time.

RELATED: Action Comics #1000: Tomasi Gleason Cover 80 Years of Superman in 15 Pages

While most of this issue focuses on the character’s comic book history, if you blink you may miss quite a few clever references to other media. Most of those references come courtesy of Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, who contributed the 15-page story “Never-Ending Battle.” Vandal Savage sends Superman through an endless reel of dimensions, timelines, and alternate universes. The plan is to use the Man of Steel’s past against him by making him fight alternate versions of himself.

In the story’s third segment, Superman is seen lifting a tank above his head during World War II. The costume he wears, especially the black S shield, harkens back to the old Max Fleischer cartoons from the 1940s. These animated shorts were the pinnacle of animation in their time and have been considered some of the most influential cartoons in both comics and animation. Having this Superman rubbing elbows with legends like Neal Adams, Jerry Ordway and Curt Swan just seems right.

A little further into the story, Superman is seen fighting “The denizens living below the surface,” which is an obvious nod to the Mole Men from the the 1951 film Superman and the Mole Men. Superman was portrayed by George Reeves in what was the character’s first live-action adaptation. The success of this movie launched the Man of Steel into television stardom with Adventures of Superman. If you look closely, Gleason’s art is rendered in black and white, which is a perfect tribute to the film.

RELATED: Action Comics #1000 Tells the Last Lex Luthor/Superman Story

Superman is then forced to fight different versions of himself, one of which is very clearly rendered to look like a cartoon. This is the Superman that was featured in the Super Friends cartoons that debuted in 1973 and continued on in various forms until 1986. The show was produced by Hanna-Barbera, which Warner Bros. owns and DC has been dusting off in comics for a few years now. The cartoon may be made fun of for its hokey representation of superheroes, but it certainly deserves a place among the greatest adaptations of Superman.

Tomasi and Gleson’s final reference comes as a two-in-one on page 12. Superman is shown to be locked away within the Phantom Zone, just like it was seen in Superman II from 1980. We see the Man of Steel pressed up against the window of the paper-thin representation of the prison. Instead of Zod and Ursa below him, though, we see Jax-Ur and Mala as they were rendered in Superman: The Animated Series. At the time of the cartoon, Zod was deemed off limits, so other Kryptonian criminals were used to replace him. It’s quite the twist on a famous film scene and makes sure that one of the greatest Superman cartoons of all time got in on the celebration.

Page 2:


Superman fans snatch up Action Comics #1000

The events for the week-long celebration in Canton have not yet been announced. However, officials expect it will be the biggest gathering in the history of football.


The Story That Made Me Realize How Lonely Superman Must Be

Superman relives his exit from Krypton.
Image: Curt Swan, Frank Chiaramonte, Gaspar Saladino and Adrienne Roy (DC Comics)

When I was a kid, it seemed impossible that Superman might have any problems. Sure, he had adventures that threw setbacks in his path but he always overcame those. It wasn’t until I read Action Comics #500 that I ever thought that the Man of Steel could have the same kinds of persistent emotional vulnerabilities that normal folks deal with.

I don’t remember when I first read the “The Life Story of Superman,” by writer Martin Pasko, penciller Curt Swan, inker Frank Chiaramonte, letterer Gaspar Saladino, and colorist Adrienne Roy. However, I do remember how I first read it. That story originally appeared in Action Comics #500 in 1979 but my initial encounter with it was in a beat-up paperback titled The Superman Story. That volume was first published by Tor in 1983, which means—if I read it in that first year—I would’ve been 11 years old. The Evan of 1983 was skinny, gawky, and awkward as all hell, my introvertedness made more painful by my mother’s moving us to Long Island. Whether it was the borough of Brooklyn where I was born or the town of Hempstead that we’d just moved to, I never felt like I fit in anywhere. That’s probably why a story that showed Superman as someone who felt all alone in the cosmos hit me so hard.

“The Life Story of Superman” is exactly what it sounds like: a museum tour through the character’s fictional biography, narrated by Kal-El with highlights pegged to his coming-of-age. There’s also a standard, late-Silver-Age plot that has Lex Luthor surreptitiously planning to replace the Man of Steel with a quick-grown clone that’ll be loyal to him, but that’s not the part that I responded to as a kid. This comic was the first one to give me a sense of Superman’s emotions and, probably, the first time I experienced him as human.

Moreover, it fed into the sentimental relationship I was already subconsciously building with the character. My clearest early Superman memories are from 1978’s Superman: The Movie and I remember how reading this story helped me understand the character emotionally. I haven’t read this story in three decades but, coming back to specific moments calls up surprisingly powerful echoes. More specifically, I remember how they made me feel. The storytelling is all swollen with soap opera melodrama but there’s no denying the impact certain scenes have. Unexpected poignancy abounds through “The Life Story of Superman,” hidden in little throwaway beats.


Superman reveals that kryptonite has triggered memory loss over the years.
Image: Curt Swan, Frank Chiaramonte, letterer Gaspar Saladino and Adrienne Roy (DC Comics)

For example, Superman says years of Kryptonite exposure have eroded his ability to recall childhood memories despite having a super-brain. It’s a beat that sets up the hacked mind-prober ray that Lex will use to program his clone, but it’s also a panel that makes clear the secret toll Superman has been paying while saving the world.

Action Comics #500 boomed out in the grandiose, stentorian voice that typified the Julie Schwartz era of DC Comics. For its occasional moments of feeling staid, this comic was meant to be understood as important. Impressionable 11-year-old Evan soaked it all up, mostly because Pasko’s script is great at keeping characters’ emotions at the forefront. The scenes set on Krypton all land exceptionally well, especially the sequences centered on Jor-El and Lara’s frustration and desperation, as well as toddler Kal-El’s attachment to his pet dog Krypto. That first chapter culminates in Superman reliving his escape from an exploding Krypton as a child, and those panels hit like a hammer. That small, quiet panel of Superman shaking with silent sobs, surrounded by people who’ve shown up to celebrate an indestructible hero, is a thing of beauty.


Helplessly watching a planet and parents die all over again is too much for even a Superman to bear.
Image: Curt Swan, Frank Chiaramonte, Gaspar Saladino and Adrienne Roy (DC Comics)

If memory serves, it wasn’t until high school that I’d started to pay attention to the specific names of writers and artists who’d worked on comics I was reading. I remember thinking of penciller Curt Swan as a ham-n-egger, a dependable omnipresent machine that churned out unremarkable work. I distinctly recall that this comic started to change my perceptions of him and a long-blooming affection began. With the distance of decades, it’s easy to laugh at fraught scenes of Superman choking up and crying. But the way that Swan draws emotional reactions is forthright and guileless, and there’s a midcentury sentimentalism that seems to connect to Norman Rockwell and Leave It to Beaver. Combined with the thematic ambitions of Pasko’s script, the end product makes this comic feel like a milestone in execution—and not just because of its issue number.

Ooof. Poor Clark.
Image: Curt Swan, Frank Chiaramonte, Gaspar Saladino and Adrienne Roy (DC Comics)


I’d always had a sense of the emotional churn inside, say, Spider-Man and Batman. “The Life Story of Superman” made me start to think of the Man of Steel as someone who does just more than fly, punch, and smile. In particular, the dialogue from his reunion with Krypto is inspired and the smile that Swan draws on Superman’s face really makes it seem like he’s experiencing a moment of peak happiness.

Needy much, Lana?
Image: Curt Swan, Frank Chiaramonte, Gaspar Saladino and Adrienne Roy (DC Comics)
“The wind in your face in a way that no one else in the world can feel it…”
Image: Curt Swan, Frank Chiaramonte, Gaspar Saladino and Adrienne Roy (DC Comics)


Later, Superman explains what it meant to have Supergirl be with him on Earth and the talk of familial love leads the audience to ask the Man of Steel about his romantic life. In these scenes, we get the familiar canard that he can’t marry Lois because of how her life would be in danger. However, all the preceding emotional beats make this instance of that logic resonate more meaningfully. The story walks the reader through his loss and loneliness and, for me, it felt like he might really want and need to be with Lois, as opposed to merely enduring her marriage-crazy schemes from older stories.

That LL fetish…
Image: Curt Swan, Frank Chiaramonte, Gaspar Saladino and Adrienne Roy (DC Comics)

In an editorial letter, writer and DC’s in-house continuity cop E. Nelson Bridwell runs down major events that have happened in Action Comics and wonders about the future:


The beginning of E. Nelson Bridwell’s editorial letter in Action Comics #500.
Image: DC Comics
The end of E. Nelson Bridwell’s editorial letter in Action Comics #500.
Image: DC Comics

The 1,000th issue that Bridwell mused about just came out and the Man of Tomorrow that we have today owes a debt to the foundations laid by comics like Action Comics #500. The anniversary installment from 1979 came out long before images of Superman crying and quotes about how his feelings are his true invulnerability became latter-day clichés. He was a still a fairly static character meant to soar through done-in-one stories that would shore up a pillar of a publisher’s business. Part of that business was selling stories to be repurposed for the bookstore market. That paperback I read as a kid had no color and had skewed panels that were seemingly cut out and pasted onto a new compressed layout that did the story no favors. The cheap printing, transparent plot formula, and uptick in craft sophistication may prompt modern readers to laugh at Action Comics #500.


A scan of “The Superman Story” paperback where “The Life Story of Superman” was reprinted.
Image: Curt Swan, Frank Chiaramonte, Gaspar Saladino, and Adrienne Roy (Tor Books, via Google)

But “The Life Story of Superman” had enough energy to break through to my heart and give me the sense that Superman had a heart too, one that yearned and broke just like mine. Pasko’s writing gave me a lesson I didn’t know I needed: All the super-strength in the world doesn’t make one immune from wanting connection with others and those connections make us who we are, even if we’re Superman. Especially if we’re Superman.


Action Comics #1000 Honors 80 Years of Superman With Another …

Superman’s 80th birthday bash doesn’t exactly go off without a hitch.
Image: Jim Lee, Scott Williams, and Alex Sinclair (DC Comics)

Although Action Comics #1 launched in May 1938, DC Comics is celebrating 80 years of the Man of Tomorrow a little early with today’s release of Action Comics #1ooo, a bumper collection of tales reminding us about why we love the last son of Krypton so much. But a future-looking tale in the issue adds a new mystery around Superman’s origin.

Of course, this is nothing new when it comes to detailing how Krypton perished and an infant named Kal-El came to Earth. After all, 80 years is a long time, and part of the reason why Superman has endured over three quarters of a century’s worth of adventures is that he has grown and evolved as a character over those years, as beautifully illustrated in Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, Alejandro Sanchez, and Tom Napolitano’s story in the anthology, “Never-Ending Battle.” Frankly, it’s one of only a handful of stories in Action Comics #1000 that does something relatively interesting with the celebratory retrospective nature of this special issue—wildly, DC already released the far-and-away best story in the issue, Tom King, Clay Mann, Jordie Bellaire, and John Workman’s “Of Tomorrow,” over a month ago.

Superman meets a new foe in Action Comics #1000.
Image: Jim Lee, Scott Williams, and Alex Sinclair (DC Comics)

But Superman has also lasted so long because of fresh twists and takes on his own past, modifying it and adding layers of mystery to keep the age-old tale of a dying world and a little boy in a rocket still as fascinating as it was back in 1938. The latest attempt at that shows up in the final story in Action Comics #1000, a preview of what’s to come now that Brian Michael Bendis has taken on writing duties for the Man of Steel after he surprisingly jumped ship from Marvel late last year.


Featuring art by Jim Lee, Scott Williams, and Alex Sinclair, and lettering by Cory Petit, “The Truth” sees Superman and Supergirl confronted by an unknown assailant, one that is more than happy to knock the pair about like they’re not some of the strongest people in the DC multiverse. Clark actually spends more than half of the issue knocked unconscious, while Kara battles the unseen foe and, weirdly enough, two civilians caught up in the fray drag Clark’s unconscious body to safety to, err, discuss the return of his red underwear.

Priorities, ladies, please!
Image: Jim Lee, Scott Williams, and Alex Sinclair (DC Comics)

But when Clark wakes up and rejoins the fight, we finally get a look at who this powerful new threat is. And, if said threat is to be believed, they may not be that “new”—they’ve apparently hated and killed Kryptonians for a very long time. The assailant is a hulking alien named Rogol Zaar, who reveals that it wasn’t a natural disaster that wiped Krypton out of existence: He did.


Say hello to Rogol Zarr, the scourge of Krypton.
Image: Jim Lee, Scott Williams, and Alex Sinclair (DC Comics)

Zaar has apparently then spent the years since taking out Kryptonian survivors, “cleansing” the galaxy of their “plague” as he dramatically puts it to Superman as he bores a gaping hole in Clark’s chest. That’s all we get, outside of a promise to learn more in Bendis’ upcoming Man of Steel series, but once again, 80 years on, the real reasons behind the death of Krypton have been changed again. That is, if Zaar really is as sinister as he claims to be.


Action Comics #1000: the 10 most important issues from 80 years of Superman

Eighty years ago today, the first issue of Action Comics was released, with the now iconic cover showing Superman lifting a car over his head as hoodlums flee. It was comic book readers’ first introduction to the character, starring in the lead story by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

Now, Action Comics has become the first monthly comic book to hit its 1,000th issue. In the manner of major book and film releases, #1000 got a midnight release, with studio DC Comics encouraging comic book lovers to mark the historic issue, which includes stories from artists and writers including Brian Michael Bendis, Scott Snyder, Louise Simonson, Jock, and Marv Wolfman. But what are the most important issues in Action Comics’ 80-year history? Try these for starters:

Superman Vs the Cab Protective League

(#13, June 1939)

Forget Superman, it’s Uberman: Clark Kent is taking an innocent cab ride when his taxi is rammed by a rival firm’s vehicle. It’s the work of an organised racket aiming to take down innocent cabbies – but Superman’s having none of that.

Apparently, this is the first issue where Superman is shown actually flying, which makes you wonder: why does he bother with taxis at all?

The Man Who Hated Christmas

(# 105, February 1947)

Remember that famous 1940s Captain America cover where he’s shown punching Hitler? Well this is DC’s tilt at a titanic, though less hateful figure, as Superman physically assaults Father Christmas by forcing him down a chimney (he may actually be trying to help).

Santa is a little too portly to fit, because evil millionaire Jasper Rasper has decided he hates Christmas and fed Santa sweets laced with “a new wonder drug which causes fatty tissue to multiply at miraculous speed!” And like the Joe Wicks of his day, Superman puts Santa on a high-intensity training regime. All just in time for Christmas.

The Key to Fort Superman

(#241, June 1958)

Now we’re getting somewhere – specifically, the North Pole. But don’t worry! No Santa Claus here: it’s just Superman wielding a gigantic golden key, which unlocks his Fortress of Solitude, introduced for the very first time in issue #241.

The Fortress is like a super man-cave, where Superman keeps all his stuff (an alien zoo, a big metal diary in which Superman pens his memoirs, a chess-playing robot – all true). But you know that mate who keeps turning up when you’re just wanting to chill out on your own? Here, that’s Batman. Hasn’t he got his own cave to hang out in?

The Unemployed Superman

(#368, October 1968)

Thirty years after his debut, Superman was put ignominiously out of work. And he didn’t even get a carriage clock. Our hero has been off doing something space-y, and when he comes back, he finds that Earth has become a very different place. All criminals have turned over a new leaf. War has been abolished. There aren’t even any natural disasters.

It’s all thanks to the Sentinels, a group of mysterious aliens who’ve sorted everything out, and who tell Superman he can toddle off to a distant planet where his powers don’t work. Stupidly, he believes them. (For a bit).

The Super-Cigars of Perry White

(#436, June 1974)

File this one under “Things they’d never get away with today”. In his Clark Kent guise, Superman works as a reporter at the Daily Planet, where his boss is Perry White, who once helped Superman with some problem bothering some mutants from another planet somewhere. To show their gratitude, the aliens give Perry White some special cigars, and every time he smokes one he gets super powers just like Superman.

To think it would be only a few years later Superman would be having a pop at evil smokey joe and the UK’s Health Education Council villain Nick O’Teen.

Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow

(#583, September 1986)

In the 1980s, DC embarked upon what would become an almost annual tradition in the world of superhero comics – completely rebooting its tangled continuity with a cross-title event called Crisis on Infinite Earths.

As a way of saying goodbye to the old Superman, DC published a two-part story, started in Superman and finished in Action Comics, the end written by none other than Alan Moore. It’s actually a quite lovely “imaginary story” that brings in pretty much every aspect of the character’s legend of the preceding half-century … and ends with a knowing wink.

Where There Is a Will…

(#642, June 1989)

This issue is notable for what actually wasn’t in it, which should have been a story written by Neil Gaiman. For a period in the late 1980s, Action Comics became a weekly, with a rotating roster of characters in the main story. This was the last issue before the comic returned to a monthly schedule, and Gaiman’s story featured Superman and Green Lantern in their alter-egos Clark Kent and Hal Jordan.

However, DC ruled that Kent and Jordan shouldn’t know each other’s secret identities, so pulled it (and replaced it with something a bit similar by another writer).

Swan Song

(#700, June 1994)

In the early 1990s, Superman died at the hands of villain Doomsday (an event that even made international mainstream news) and then was resurrected, a miracle that occurs in comics quite a lot.

When he comes to, Superman has very long hair, and Metropolis is bombed and lies in ruins. Meanwhile, Lois Lane has been doing some investigating and discovered that Lex Luthor is, in fact, a clone and not his own son. It all got a bit Dynasty at this point.

Last Son

(#851, August 2007)

Although the Christopher Reeve Superman movie had introduced the evil Kryptonians led by General Zod 30 years before, those characters weren’t folded into the main DC continuity until this storyline, which was co-written (with Geoff Johns) by Richard Donner, director of the 1978 movie.

It was also presented with a 3D cover to try to give the reader that full, freaky Phantom Zone (the other-dimensional Guantánamo Bay where Superman routinely chucked evildoers) experience.

Superman Vs The City of Tomorrow

(#1 or #904, November 2011)

In 2011 DC had another reboot, and all the publisher’s comic numbering was reset back to #1, though this was in fact #904 of Action. The comics have since been retroactively dual-numbered to preserve the ongoing numbering of the comic.

In this issue, wrtier Grant Morrison took over with artist Rags Morales to take Superman back to basics, resetting the continuity to tell the story of the nascent DC universe afresh. And guess what? Superman wore short sleeves and didn’t wear his red underpants. Thankfully for purists, he gets his knickers back on in number 1,000.


Superman Turns 80. The Red Trunks Still Fit.

Superman, created by the writer Jerry Siegel and the artist Joe Shuster, was introduced on April 18, 1938, in Action Comics No. 1. The Man of Steel struck a chord with readers and, faster than a speeding bullet, he became a multimedia sensation, with his adventures chronicled on radio, stage, film and television, and his image on a kaleidoscope of merchandise and collectibles. “If everybody doesn’t know by now who Clark Kent and who Lois Lane is, you’re not paying attention,” said Maggie Thompson, a senior editor of the Comic Buyer’s Guide, which covered the industry from 1971 to 2013. On Wednesday, Superman turns 80 years old and — great Caesar’s ghost! — DC Entertainment will publish Action Comics No. 1,000. Here are some memorable issues on his journey to that milestone. Happy Birthday, Kal-El!

Action Comics No. 1 (April 1938)


Brian Bendis decided to write Superman comics for DC after a trip to …

Brian Michael Bendis makes his DC Comics debut this Wednesday (April 18) with a Superman story in Action Comics #1000 and artwork by Jim Lee. This is just an appetizer for Bendis’ takeover of the Man of Steel title for the publisher, something he’s voiced his excitement about on several occasions due to the fact that like the character’s creators Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel, Bendis is also a Jewish kid from Cleveland, Ohio. 

While speaking to The New York Times about his new comic book endeavours at DC, including his imprint of Jinxworld, the writer revealed the moment that he decided to work on Superman. It’s only fitting that the moment of truth (justice and the American way) occured in a library in Cleveland. While home for the wedding of his brother Jared, Bendis came upon an exhibition all about the Man of Steel, titled “Superman: From Cleveland to Krypton.” Seeing such an impressive collection of the superhero’s appearances in comics, television, film, and radio, he realized that this would be the next chapter of his career. 

“O.K., God,” Bendis said to himself, almost as if a burning bush had just spoken to him. “I get it. Do Superman.”

Indeed, his ethnicity as a Jew will play into his take on the character, Bendis said while answering a fan’s question at C2E2. After all, Superman was created by two Jewish guys and several elements of his persona were derived from Judaism, its language, and traditions. Superman’s birth name, for instance, Kal-El, is actually Hebrew for “Light of God.” Bendis joked that Clark would be receiving a Bris Milah (a ritual circumcision); let’s just hope the recovery time doesn’t take too long. 


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