This week marked the arrival of Action Comics #1000 – the bumper-sized issue which celebrates the Man of Steel hitting the big 8-0. Here’s our review…
How do you sum up and celebrate one of the greatest fictional characters of all time in just one, albeit extra-long, issue in order to mark his 80th birthday? It’s a tall ask but Action Comics #1000, which brings together as many great comic book writers and artists as possible to contribute a series of short stories about Superman, makes a terrific stab at it. This true landmark issue is brimming with talent and love for the superhero that started it all.
There are 10 stories in total in the issue, created by such heavyweights as Marv Wolfman, Curt Swan, Jim Lee, Paul Dini, Scott Snyder Peter J. Tomasi, Jerry Ordway, Louise Simonson and many more. Together, they touch on pretty much every major aspect of the Superman mythology, from Lois Lane to Lex Luthor to the Justice League (almost everyone is involved, even if it’s just for a background cameo). They all have their merits, but these are just three of my personal favourites.
Firstly, “The Car” by Geoff Johns and Richard Donner (as in “director of 1978’s Superman: The Movie” Richard Donner), takes us right back to the beginning by exploring the story behind that iconic cover to Action Comics #1, featuring Superman lifting up that car. It surprisingly makes you feel sorry for the guy whose vehicle was totaled by the Man of Steel, before providing yet another example of how inspiring Supes can be.
Then we have “Of Tomorrow”, from Batman‘s Tom King, which fastforwards to the other end of Superman’s life and gives us a glimpse of five billion years into the future. This has to be the most emotional of all the shorts in the issue. We all know Supes is immortal but this story is one of the few that goes so far as to explore the full extent of that. In fact, you can read this short in its entirety right here.
Finally, #1000 ends with a promise of a much nearer future. As the final page reminds us, Bendis is coming and so “The Truth” teases the big twist to the Superman mythos that Brian Michael Bendis is going to explore when he takes over the characters’ adventures next month. It’s an intriguing twist, to be sure, perhaps building on the work Dan Jurgens has done with Jor-El in recent arcs. No doubt fans will have mixed reactions to it, but I’ll restrain my judgement until things develop.
Overall, though, what’s most impressive about Action Comics #1000 is, despite the wide range of authorial and artistic styles on show, every vignette in the collection reminds us what Superman stands for: the power of hope and how it can truly change the world. That’s a theme that has kept the character going for 80 years now because it’s something that we always need to be reminded of. You can bet Superman will keep on reminding us for another 80 years. And then another… And another…