Review: ACTION COMICS #1,000

Written by Various
Art by Various
Edited by Bob Harras and Pat McCallum
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: April 18, 2018

The 80-page giant that acts as the celebratory issue for Action Comics 1000th issue is here and were treated to an all-star lineup of creators old and new giving us stories that exemplify why Superman has lasted eighty years as the World’s Greatest Hero. Action Comics is a treasure trove of stories all featuring different iterations and moments in time for the Man of Steel that highlight how he’s affected people big and small for years. Specific instances throughout his time as a Hero are shown in this celebration to man all about “Truth, Justice, and the American Way”

Story #1 – “From The City That Has Everything”
Written by Dan Jurgens
Art by Dan Jurgens, Norm Rapmund, Hi-Fi and Rob Leigh 

In the introduction story, Superman is battling alien invaders in space while on Earth, there are more pressing matters to attend, a celebration of the Man of Steel. Jurgens leading the charge with the first story is a literal celebration of what Superman does, his world, and the people in it.

Worried about an alien invasion keeps Superman attentive and aware during the coveted Superman Day. Jurgens serving as the writer and artist sets him in the driver’s seat of the story with the real work being focused on the character diversity and range as people tell their peace about why Superman is deserving of this day. Hi-Fi as usually gives us a bright and sunny affair in Downtown Metropolis with citizens dressed in blue, red and yellow all over.

Jurgens focuses much more on the characters of Metropolis than the superheroes of the DC Universe here and that gives the introduction story about Superman and his relationship with his city. Kal would much rather focus on the incoming threats that he believes on the horizon than be pulled into the love and admiration that the city is giving him at first glance.

What follows are touching testimonies from different people with varying looks on how Superman has saved the day for them. Jurgens expressions sell these accounts of bravery, inspiration, and self-improvement because of the Boy Scout and with Rapmund’s inking everything from the shadows to the characters gives them the correct definition and look amidst the backgrounds. Superman being preoccupied while the festivities are right up the alley of an episode where the person in question doesn’t see the obvious attempts for him or her to have a good time while their friends do everything to make sure the day runs smoothly.

With a talking to from Wonder Woman, Jurgens wraps up his story with a visit and thank you from all of Superman’s fans showing how far spread the effects of the Man of Steel have reached over the years. Jurgens art is complimented beautifully by Rampund’s inking and Hi-Fi’s colors that fill out the ending page of Superheroes and citizens nicely. Never getting lost in the shuffle, Jurgens does good work on differentiating characters and his expressions go along with the changing story.

Throughout the story, people giving their say on Superman reiterating the qualities that make the Hero relatable give Jurgens one final go at the character he’s written for well over decades now, Jurgens’ time on Superman comes to an end with a story that involves why he deserves the praise in the first place.

Story #2 – “Never-Ending Battle”
Written by Peter Tomasi
Art by Patrick Gleason, Alejandro Sanchez, and Tom Napolitano 

One of the most unique of the Action Comics stories is delivered from the Superman creative team of his Rebirth comic and it’s an absolute blast from the beginning to the end. Superman takes on his history thanks to Vandal Savage and Tomasi charts a story that is told across fifteen pages of single illustrations that put Gleason’s pencils and Sanchez’s colors on full display with Superman guiding us along the way.

Opting to show more, and tell less Tomasi has Superman speak in caption boxes throughout with the single page showing all we need to know. He throws us into the situation and rockets us along through Superman’s words with the picture giving us the central thing we need to focus on. Sanchez’s colors are eye-popping and the champion of the story. Tomasi carefully plots out specific moments and iconic pose worthy events for Superman that speak on the timeline and history of the character, effectively placing Superman into the shoes on his younger self and allowing him to reflect on how far he’s come.

The dialogue from Tomasi gives Superman a reflective look back on everything that he’s done in the trap laid out by Vandal Savage. The writing and Superman’s natural progress through all of his iterations provides an encapsulated look at his history amongst the decades and each picture gives a different adventure, rendered by Gleason with a different Superman look and moment that allows for Sanchez to stretch his coloring range from the glowing reds to the blacks and shadows featuring the Silver Banshee fighting Superman with his red and blue striking out through the dark.

“Never-Ending Battle” is one of the greatest Superman stories in a way that it quickly captures what Superman has been for generations and generations of fans in a montage that shows the world’s and people Superman has faced all because of the ideals and his simple motivations: He wants to do the right thing. No matter the era! No matter the foe! Superman does what he needs to do because he has a family waiting for him, and that rings true throughout each and every iteration as the never-ending battle persists. Trap or not.

Tomasi, Gleason, Sanchez, and Napolitano delivered on a stunning story that is an incredible body of work for the Man of Steel.

Story #3 – “An Enemy Within”
Written by Marv Wolfman
Art by Curt Swan, Butch Guice, Kurt Schaffenberger, Hi-Fi, and Rob Leigh 

“An Enemy Within” is a Superman-inspired tale that only features the Man of Steel on one page. Instead, we’re treated to Wolfman delivering on a story that focuses more on the everyday citizens of Metropolis specifically Maggie Sawyer saving the day. Wolfman writes Superman talking about one of the more often talked criticisms when it comes to Superman and how he saves the day. Superman has to pick and choose where he saves the day essentially but there’s a trick to how he combats this: Us.

Wolfman writes an optimistic Superman that is comfortable keeping his eye on the situation while he’s battling evil elsewhere, leaving Maggie to do her job. Swan’s pencils speak to the classical era with the up close panels keeping the tense situation tightly wound with Guice’s inking not being overly used but just enough to where it doesn’t overshadow the colors from Hi-Fi.

Wolfman’s tale of human bravery and compassion add to the mission statement of Superman in ways that are often overlooked when it comes to the Hero, he believes in us to do the right thing when it comes to saving the day. Leigh’s lettering has nice touches that go with small interactions and motions guiding Wolfman’s characters along as Maggie calmly and quickly does what she needs to do as Superman watches from above. Wolfman charts a Superman story that puts the people he protects in the driver seats and shows how we can be Heroes, even when the heroes aren’t watching.

Story #4 – “The Game” 
Written by Paul Levitz and Neal Adams
Art by Neal Adams, Hi-Fi, and David Sharpe 

There isn’t a lot of to make of “The Game” story. Levitz and Adams plot out a meeting of the minds between Superman and Lex Luthor over a game of chess. There’s more fun to be had as the two discuss their points of view and what they’re planning on a rooftop. Levitz writes the pair as an odd coupling for old time foes at odds but with a calm understanding of their respective differences and outlooks.

Adams’ pencils of the two are heavy-handed and at the most provide for some awkward faces. Levitz equally doesn’t give a lot of either them to do pass the conversation of Superman attempting to level the playing field only for Lex to adjust the rules and give Superman a moment to show why it’s better to just follow the rules in the first place. This particular story doesn’t leave a lot to be desired when it comes to a fulfilling Superman or Lex Luthor adventure, just as the team finds a moment to show something exciting we’ve reached the conclusion.

Story #5 – “The Car”
Written by Geoff Johns and Richard Donner 
Art by Oliver Coipel, Alejandro Sanchez, and Nick Napolitano

Life is like a car, we can either fix it or junk it. Geoff Johns and famed Superman Director Richard Donner present a stylized tale of what doing the right thing can mean when faced with a choice. Johns and Donner set the story in the warm colored garage with the morning glow filtering in through the windows from Sanchez.

Coipel is slick and exact in his linework with his characters giving off more emotion and story to them before the writing tells the whole story. The coloring again from Sanchez is a resounding winner here, the man in question sits out on the brightly lit steps remembering the story of what happened to the car throwing part of the page into darkness. Isolated in its switching of the tone momentarily to show the disapproving Superman standing in their way, only lit by the headlights Coipel captures Superman’s face in its entirety.

Johns and Donner inject some visual cues of Superman’s famous saying that is a nice nod and wink to the character but the real heart of the story can be found with the talk Superman has with Butch. Johns and Donner give Superman a wisdom beyond his years and levels with Butch, that speaks to the readers and rightly so. He doesn’t preach to Butch but tells him exactly what he needs to hear to turn his life around and it’s a heartwarming finale that is short, quick, and to the point when it comes to getting its message across.

Superman does a lot more than fight evil and save the day, sometimes all it takes is a change of course in the right direction and nobody resonate that point than the Johns and Donner.

Story #6 – “The Fifth Season”
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Rafael Albuquerque, Dave McCaig, and Tom Napolitano

Snyder orchestrates a brief dive into the relationship between Superman and Lex Luthor in the poetic but brief “The Fifth Season.” The shadows from Albuquerque start out the conversation heavy issue from Snyder that presents the two dueling men with some added wrinkles to their long history together.

When Superman is told that Lex has items in his possession that could very well destroy and kill him at any time, Lex ushers him through a small moment in his own history that may have more to do with Superman than maybe he doesn’t even realize. Albuquerque worries about the characters and their expressions first with McCaig’s colors promptly setting the mood of the personal Planetarium and its mix of warm and cool colors fusing into the background as animated Lex details why this place means a lot to him.

Snyder plays on the parallels between Kal and Lex with a surprising connection to the stories purpose that shows even when Lex didn’t know it, Superman was looking out for him. Snyder, Albuquerque, McCaig bring their American Vampire sensibilities to their Superman story and it’s not a bad thing, looking back on the relationship between the pair and with art that keeps it set on them and the young counterparts…it’s a short, sweet, and to the point truly proving that in “The Fifth Season” anything can happen.

Story #7 – “Of Tomorrow” 
Written by Tom King
Art by Clay Mann, Jordie Bellaire, and John Workman

What’s there to do at the end of everything you know and love?

King sets out to see what life is like four billion years later as Earth is on its last legs and Superman spends it remembering and honoring his Earth parents. Bellaire smashes the colors of exploding solar systems and pure heat as Superman traverses what’s left of Earth.

Mann goes from panels of his hands to body shots of Superman practically overcome with the white-hot sun surrounding him that makes for some great shots of Superman as there’s no end to the sun-ridden landscape and it’s only a man and his mission. King motions Superman through some of the highlights of his life four billion years in the making and some more recent updates that any person visiting a loved one would want them to know.

Acting as a final goodbye to Ma and Pa Kent, this particular Superman story hits all the right notes for a sobering farewell with a Superman that’s ready to give the people who gave him every instilled right to do good one last gift before it truly ends. Mann, Bellaire, and Workman create a beautiful landscape and color work for Superman when there isn’t much left, quite literally.

Story #8 – “Five Minutes” 
Written by Louise Simonson
Art by Jerry Ordway, Dave McCaig, Carlos Mangual

A classic tale of racing against the clock if there ever was one, Simonson and Ordway give us Clark Kent and Superman both on the job with five minutes to reach a deadline. The only hang-up? Hearing everything means crime never stops so Simonson sets to see how much trouble Superman can stop in five minutes.

McCaig’s colors are warm, grounded, and Superman himself stands out with his signature blue and red saving the day in the yellowish hues no matter the situation. Simonson focuses on the balancing act that Clark and Superman must face in the caption boxes, seeing and hearing everything is a challenge in its own right but Superman makes the best of it as he tries to save the day.

Ordway nails the environments from panel to panel, filling in every detail giving Metropolis its own identity and mood as Superman flies over and under to whatever crime or problem arises. Mangual’s letters pop on the pages as bullets and Superman’s speed and strength are put to use. “Five Minutes” provides for a more Clark Kent inspired adventure as he tries to make the most out of his situation and do what’s right on both sides of his jobs.

Story #9 – “Actionland” 
Written by Paul Dini
Art by José Luis García-López, Kevin Nowlan, Trish Mulvihill, and Josh Reed

In a Superman story that’s more about what Superman means to others as a character and concept, Dini encompasses Superman’s history into a Disneyland style theme park where anyone can view it. Everything from the opening to the theme park, drawn in great detail from García-López with inking from Nowlan that lightly inks the commercialized Superman theme park even starting with a ride that’s a replica of the rocket Superman crash landed in.

The humor throughout the story is apparent from Dini, giving it a cosmic snapshot of some memorable Superman moments in his history. Mulvihill’s colors liven up the imagination and wonder of a rollercoaster of guests looking on in amazement and remarking on the historical moments of the Man of Steel. What follows is a twist on the entirety of the story that reveals Superman’s impact on people whether he knows it or not, because it’s all about Mr. Mxy!

Dini gives us another go at the Fifth Dimensional Imp and his conundrum on what he feels about Superman. It turns the primarily fun and imaginative story on its head as Superman influences Mxy so much, he can’t help but keep him around because as Gspie puts it, “I don’t think you want that story to end. Ever.” Dini illustrates a cosmically bonkers Superman story that is more about the man and his influence as a character and what that means for even his rogues.

García-López delivers on the dazzling and creative art with Nowlan’s inking rounding out the pencils and Mulvihill colors utilizing the zany nature of the story to tie Mxy’s nature into the bright and vibrant colors.

Story #10 – “Faster Than A Speeding Bullet” 
Written by Brad Meltzer
Art by John Cassaday, Laura Martin, and Chris Eliopoulos

Speed. Meltzer’s story is about the speed of Superman and how he continually pushes himself in order to save the day, and the story is a literal rush of heroism. Taking place as Superman flies in to save the day, the issue itself takes place over the course of a few seconds, Meltzer writes a calculating Superman fully aware of the strategy and analyzes the who, what, where, and why of the situation and Cassaday goes by a panel by panel basis to illustrate the rush and dynamics of Superman rushes to the scene and keeps us updated with even the smallest of seconds of a gun going off.

Martin’s colors allow a relatively still Superman to be spotlighted among the blurred background in his blue and red. Cassaday’s pencils showcase an emotionally charged situation in a subway, keeping the panels tight and focused on the pair in question leaves room for the triumphant smashing rescue that Cassaday and Martin show in great detail, providing for a courageous moment between Superman and a citizen that shows why Superman being a Hero isn’t a one way street but a partnership that shows why Superman and Humanity are both Heroes in their own right.

Story #11 – “The Truth” 
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Jim Lee, Scott Williams, Alex Sinclair, and Cory Petit

The finale to Action Comics #1000 ends on a prelude for what’s to come from new writer Brian Michael Bendis. It’s an action-packed shot at teasing Bendis run that’ll begin with his weekly series next month and not much else. Lee, Williams, Sinclair are a creative art team that remains on their toes with this action-adventure romp through Metropolis.

Destruction and details in the rough of the crashes are prevalent as Superman and Supergirl face a newly created character with one thing on his mind: Death to Kryptonians. The star of the show here is Lee and Williams traversing the landscape and wide-scale action with Sinclair.

The Verdict: 8.5/10 


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