A look at a milestone issue jam-packed celeberation of Superman in Actions Comics #1000 with stories from some of the greatest creators in the comic book industry.
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It’s Action Comic’s 1000th Issue. We take a look at it straight ahead.
Welcome to the Classy Comics Podcast where we search for the best comics in the universe. From Boise, Idaho here is your host, Adam Graham.
Welcome to a special episode of the Classy Comics Podcast. Usually I record these podcasts well in advance. You probably, this point, just heard Episode Thirty-Three. I just recorded Episode Fifty-Two today, so I stay well ahead. There are a lot of reasons for that, mostly having to do with the number of books I read from the library and I want to record the episodes while they’re fresh in my mind. That said, I’m actually recording this fairly recently so I can talk to you about Action Comics Number 1000. Now here I’m kind of breaking my own rule in reviewing a standalone comic rather than a trade; however, Action Comics Number 1000 is a very big comic book, it’s practically trade-length itself. It has ten Superman stories written by some of the premiere writers in the comic book field, so I think that this is acceptable to go ahead and take a look at, and I want to do it while it is out fresh. I’ll try to avoid spoilers but there may be a few along the way.
Alright, so let’s go ahead and we’ll start with the first story which is written by Dan Jurgens and it is called ‘From the City that has Everything’, and this is a play on the key story from Superman Annual Number Eleven ‘For the Man who has Everything’, but this one’s got an entirely different plot. ‘From the City that has Everything’ has Superman getting ready to observe a Superman Day Celebration; however, there’s an alien invasion and, truth be told, Superman would rather be dealing with the invasion. And as Clark Kent says, the Superman Day Celebration it’s not why he does it, it’s not what he’s all about. He doesn’t do it for parades and grand spectacles, and it’s an interesting story that does a good job showing the relationship between Superman and the city of Metropolis, and it’s just a really…has some really nice emotional moments. It’s written by Dan Jurgens, most recent author of Action Comics, but a pretty solid Superman scribe from the 1990s.
Then we have ‘Never Ending Battle’ which is an interesting story in which we’re told of Superman battling Vandal Savage, and Savage tries to get him trapped in time, and he begins going through this loop where he’s experiencing different eras, and this leads to the art showing Superman as he’s been portrayed throughout the ages going back to the 1930s and then into the Silver Age, and more into some of the modern day stuff. The story is written by Patrick Tomasi and it’s a pretty…and it’s a lot of text with big full page spreads on nearly every page, and these are great pieces of art. Tomasi, good writer, and Gleason is just – his Superman is just a beauty to behold, and it just looks great from start to finish even if the stories just kind of maybe above average because the purpose of the story really is just to showcase the art and to celebrate Action Comics Number 1000 and the eightieth anniversary of Superman.
Next stop is The Enemy Within which has the Metropolis P.D. dealing with a principal who is gone all over the deep end and is holding one of his students hostage while Superman’s out of town. And this is meant to be a salute to human beings, to average ordinary people who do extraordinary things. It’s written by Marv Wolfman; I don’t think it’s a bad story but it doesn’t really have enough space to develop. There are, as I said, there are ten stories in there but a lot of them are five pages long. The Jurgens story and the Tomasi story, as well as the Brian Michael Bendis story at the end are the ones that have a little more length, but everything else are five or six pages and I don’t think there’s enough space to develop it. So, I think there’s a good idea in The Enemy Within – it doesn’t work quite as well.
Next up is The Car and it’s written by Geoff Johns and Superman director Richard Donner, and it is an an interesting piece – it’s a sequel to Action Comics Number One. Now if you’ve read Action Comics Number One you notice that iconic cover: Superman holding the car with the dent in it over his head. That is – and even if you’ve not read Action Comics Number One – you’ve probably seen that cover. Well this story is a follow up because what had happened, the whole premise for that is that Clark Kent and Lois Lane had been on a date. A jerk came up and went ahead and grabbed Lois, took her away in the car and Superman, of course, flies out from the sky and rescues her by stopping the car and lifting it over his head. And the driver falls out and the car ends up with a dent because it hit Superman first, and there’s actually a really funny part in here where the mechanic asks, “What did you hit? An elephant?” and he said, “No, a guy in pajamas”. But it’s how Superman meets with and relates to this guy and really challenges him to change his life. And it’s a good story, it really works within the five page format because there’s a good premise behind it, and it uses a single picture to really tell us how it all plays out. It’s a nice piece of storytelling, I like that one.
The Fifth Season is written by Scott Snyder, best known for his work on Batman he also wrote Superman Unchained and it’s a pretty simple character piece. It is Superman and Lex Luther meeting at a planetarium and just having a talk, and it reveals a lot about both men and it’s just a lovely bit of interplay. It’s not hugely impressive art but it works for what it’s doing; it sets the mood quite nicely.
Of Tomorrow is written by Tom King, current writer of Batman, and it is essentially Superman visiting the grave of his parents for the last time because they’ve discovered a way to prolong life forever, and everybody has left Earth and it’s going to be destroyed. There are some interesting thoughts – I think it does speak to the human condition and kind of our deep needs. I don’t think it has a great answer to that, but it certainly raises a fair question. It’s kind of an odd bit for inclusion – I know some people cried over it. It didn’t particularly move me but just because I am thinking the logical implications of what was being said.
Five Minutes is by Louise Simonson and it finds Clark Kent on a deadline, but Superman needing to go out and save the day, and he’s trying to balance being a reporter, finishing up formatting the story, and at the same time getting where he needs to as Superman to save the day. It’s a great frantic little five, six-page story and it works just for its pure energy. It’s the type of story that I don’t think could be told longer form, and I kind of would like to see more of these quick, short stories every now and again because you tend just to get the twenty page stories these days. But I think some of these stories show there’s room for some creativity.
Actionland is by Paul Dini, best known for his work on the DC Animated Universe and it finds a tour being given of Action Land which is a theme park talking about Superman and how he ultimately met his end, but there’ s a catch. This one, I think is clever, it’s humorous and has a nice reveal about one of Superman’s key villains, and so I enjoyed it.
aster Than a Speeding Bullet, this was by Brad Meltzer and…this one really has a good premise to it that there is a gunman holding a hostage and he is about to shoot her. And Superman is in the sky and he has got to get there in time to stop the bullet when this guy’s firing at close to point blank range. And it is a really solid concept because you get a lot of art, there’s tension, there are suspects and then there’s a a resolution. And then, like I said, this is only five or six pages so this is really well written to fit within the piece, so I think this was another solid story.
The Truth is by Brian Michael Bendis and I honestly don’t know whether this is a case of Bendis’ ego or whether it’s just DC’s efforts at promotion because on the cover Bendis’ story, The Truth, is centered so that it stands out and the book ends with a full page note, ‘Bendis is Coming’, advertising the new mini series, ‘The Man of Steel’.
So, I don’t know whether that’s DC Comics or Bendis. But at any rate the story gives you exactly what you want in Action Comics Number 1000 and that’s someone beating the heck out of Superman. Yes, we have a ugly looking space villain, Rogal Zaar, who is just pummelling Superman, and Supergirl tries to intervene and he like flexed her off like she’s a fly. Really not impressed at all as he just tosses him around. Superman is thrown into the diner where a couple people try to help him and hide him from the dangerous murderous villain.
Also because this is a Brian Michael Bendis story they get into a discussion of Superman wearing trunks and why does he do that, which is exactly the sort of thing I would do if I were in a diner that was under attack by a crazed megalomaniacal alien baddie, and this leads to the big reveal about something that we didn’t know about the destruction of Krypton. Somebody did it that we don’t actually know before – that’s the big change that’s being teased for The Man of Steel.
I don’t think The Truth is a bad story; I like the fact that Superman is wearing the trunks. It’s hard to explain the aesthetic appeal of it, but yeah, it does break up the whole big field of blue thing, and I think with Superman the balance between blue and red is really important. So, to me it’s aesthetically pleasing, and certainly this villain represents a threat for Superman and I’m really curious as to how he’ll be able to overcome this. It’ll be important that – because we’re really kind of starting this mid-action here because we don’t know what led up to it and we certainly don’t know what comes next.
So, when we see the full context of this later on in future issues of Action Comics that Bendis writes or over in Man of Steel, it’s got to really feel like it actually makes sense. The art is good, and like I said the concept is interesting but I would probably say this that this final story was probably one of my two least favorite in the book. Still, overall I’ll give Action Comics Number 1000 a rating of Classy. It’s a great celebration of the Man of Steel – there are some great stories from some great creators and we really get to see comics used in a short story format which used to be more of a thing in the Gold and Silver Age, and sometimes not executed as well but here there are so many stories that are really well-executed in short form. It’s worth a read and I hope it’s worth considering doing more of these short form one-off tales.
Alright, well that’s it for now. If you have a comment email to me firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’re enjoying the podcast please rate us on iTunes and check out the website classycomicguy.com. From Boise, Idaho this is your host, Adam Graham, on and off.