It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a mediocre review segment! For those who have been following, it should be no surprise that this is CWPB 80 Years of Superman Special Part 2! The actual Action Comics #1000 issue released this week, so now I can talk specifically about the issue itself. Plus a few other exciting reads this week! Like last week, there won’t be an after-credit. I was going to throw in a review of a Superman story in trade paperback form, but between the cost of buying one and the amount of time AC #1000 ended up taking it wasn’t feasible. My review of AC is almost as long as some entire weeks of review, so hopefully y’all don’t feel I shorted you. Let’s dive in!
Action Comics #1000
The format of AC #1000 is a little different, since it’s a collection of short stories. The Swamp Thing Winter Special had the same thing, but was only a couple stories. Since this is more, I’m going to break it up a little bit into sections
From the City That Has Everything – A great story to open it up, Metropolis celebrates a Superman Day. A few different people show up to talk about how Superman saved and changed their lives. The touching testimonials show all the ways Superman matters within Metropolis, and what a huge impact he’s had over the years. I really like the stories being told, and I like the characterization of Superman who is of course very humble. Lois has a plan to make him enjoy Superman Day, with tension being resolved in a really sweet way. The art is solid as well, pretty much in line with the last few issues, which isn’t surprising since this story is the normal AC creative team. Starting out with a “thank you” to the Man of Steel works perfectly even if it’s obvious, and I thoroughly enjoyed the story
Never-Ending Battle – Superman is recounting a time he was attacked by the Immortal Vandal Savage who teleported Clark through time and forced him to live through a bunch of different heroic moments. While in the comic Clark says that him being alive in the 1930’s is impossible, we know that the mysterious scenarios he’s living through are all from his past in some way. All the major eras are paid their tribute, and even a few things like Kingdom Come are brought in since it’s a time travel story and there are no rules. The art shifts slightly for each segment, echoing the art of the time. Once again very enjoyable, and I like the references to things like him not having all his powers earlier on. His monologue over the whole thing as he tells his story is full of the messages that Superman has always been meant to instill, and it doesn’t come off as too cheesy or preachy. It’s nice to see Superman outright state his philosophy, although he does that far more often than Batman due to his Lawful Good nature.
An Enemy Within – A pretty simple story where Superman is barely pictured, but talks over the whole thing. He laments his inability to be in every place that needs him at once, while fighting some Braniac drones in Japan. Back in Metropolis, a principal has taken his school hostage. He’s being mind controlled, and it’s an opportunity to show the goodness and strength of people even when Superman can’t be there. This one comes off a little too preachy and cheerful for me. The police using rubber bullets even in the face of an active shooter is hailed by Superman as “compassion even under the threat of danger.” I don’t want to get overly political, but a story about the police handling a person with a gun without killing them doesn’t really land comfortably during current events. The idea that Superman can almost always be good and moral is inherent to his character, but trying to project that on to all humans just feels fake. The art is fine but a little rough, it has a 90’s feel to it that doesn’t quite fit. Overall I understand needing a story about how Superman makes the world a better place even when he’s away, but I didn’t like this one.
The Car – This one is especially short. It’s obviously set somewhere in the past. Maybe 40’s to 60’s. Superman stopped a criminal by standing in front of his car, and the criminal went to get it fixed. Superman finds him and talks to him, doing the Superman thing where he connects with people individually. It’s short but sweet, with a heavy handed metaphor that works well enough in the context. I love the art, it echoes the older style as well and looks really good doing it.
The Fifth Season – A small look into the connection between Superman and Lex Luthor as the two stand in the Smallville Planetarium. Luthor has acquired some powerful artifacts, but tries to convince Superman that they aren’t part of an evil scheme. It’s a touching little story, going into some of Luthor’s past (which I assume has been covered before) and allowing a rare peaceful moment between the archenemies. I really enjoyed it, and it didn’t surprise me when the last page said it was written by Scott Snyder. It’s always nice to delve into the relationships between superheroes and their rogues’ galleries, usually in less direct ways. The two sharing a conversation and a memory is a nice change, although I’m sure it only works because of the short story format and the fact that issue #1000 is a tribute and not advancing any plot or even taking place in any order.
Of Tomorrow – Superman stands on Earth, talking to his dead parents’ grave as our planet floats into the sun four billion years in the future. He talks about how humanity has left it abandoned and something called “the eternity formula” keeps everyone immortal. It’s nice, having a story where Superman thinks about his adoptive parents and all they did for him. How they shaped him. It wouldn’t be a fitting tribute issue without addressing them. I’m not crazy about the form it took though. Forcing Superman to say a final goodbye as the planet is destroyed is of course really heavy, but the leaps to get billions of years in the future are a bit too much.
Five Minutes – Another classic story, this one takes a look at the old days of Superman balancing being a superhero and being a journalist. With five minutes to deadline, he still has to leave and do a bunch of heroic stuff. It feels like the Superman cartoons I remember watching, but all fit into a short story. It captures the nostalgic feel well, not overbearing. It’s also the most action packed of the stories so far; although the time-travel one had a lot of single slices of action this one actually flows.
Actionland! – Speaking of nostalgia and feeling like a cartoon, here’s a story put together by Paul Dini who worked on the DC Animated Series shows. Somewhere in the future at a 60’s style amusement park, there’s a ride chronicling Superman’s life. It takes a quick look over a few of his historical moments and some of his villains. I don’t want to talk too much about this one because it goes in a weird and funny direction. It’s a fun little story, and that’s all it wants to be.
Faster Than a Speeding Bullet – The majority of the story takes place over a few seconds. Superman is rushing to save a woman who has a gun to her head, and the trigger is pulled. It’s straightforward, both a story about how amazing Superman is and how important everyday people are to his stories. The short ends with a conversation between Superman and Lois that’s really meaningful though, so spoilers ahead. “You met a good one today, didn’t you?” “I meet a good one every day.” “You know what I’m saying, Clark. People always say they’re inspired by you… but I know your real secret. You’re inspired by them.” It’s a sentiment that’s been expressed throughout Superman comics forever, and is integral to the character. This story handles it well and fits another important theme into this landmark issue.
The Truth – This is the one story that serves a specific purpose within the DC lineup. This is the short story that leads into the new Man of Steel title, written by Bendis who has recently come over to DC from Marvel. It was big news a while back.
Anyway, I wasn’t a fan of this at all. For one there’s a joke that goes on WAY too long given the length of the story, talking about how Superman has the red shorts on the outside of the costume again. The big setup for the story bothers me too. It’s looking at a villain who has come to Earth to kill Superman/Supergirl/all Kryptonians because he views them as a plague and that’s why he destroyed their planet. It’s one of those things we just don’t need to reexamine. Superhero origins don’t need to be altered and retread every year. Earlier in Action Comics already retconned Jor-El dying, and now they’re putting in some new villain to take credit for killing the planet. I’m not into it. And I’m not the biggest Bendis fan, though anyone will admit he had some good runs. Jim Lee’s art is always a treat, but this story didn’t do anything for me.
Overall Action Comics #1000 was packed with content and had more hits than misses! They fit a lot of good stuff into the 80-page “Landmark Issue” and made it well worth the extra couple bucks. Even with the limited attachment to Superman I have, this hit a lot of the emotional notes that Superman aims for. A fitting tribute for sure.
The Brave and the Bold #3
Batman is now fully into the story, and things are heating up. The king’s death remains mysterious, and his actions before his death are being called into question as well. Is the peace between the two groups even more fragile than it seemed? This issue is also absolutely steeped in mythical lore which is what I enjoyed the most. Different magical creatures from stories, tricks like a Hag’s Stone, spells and glamours and dreams and evil. I love it. Plus, Batman mentioned an Irish nanny that told him stories and she was from County Cork, so shout out to the most beautiful place I’ve called home. Back to the actual story, Batman’s involvement is upping the mystery as he peels away the layers. Having him is driving the plot forward, since he’s more proactive in figuring out what’s going on. They may be setting up for who the murderer actually is, but I suspect since it’s an obvious culprit it will end up being someone else. Fortunately, Batman’s introduction wasn’t as jarring as I feared. He’s obviously the least magical thing going on by a pretty significant margin, but he fits in well. The costume choice is a little weird artistically, having him in the black and yellow suit reminiscent of the Greg Capullo design. Wonder Woman’s costume is also the classic look, but hers fits in better with the magical world. He just looks a little off, it’s nothing too egregious. The look of the art still remains amazing, there’s so much going on in some of the panel divisions and empty spaces. We’re now halfway through the story and it’s moving forward, so stay tuned for the exciting next issue in a month. This one is probably my favorite DC book at the moment.
Ballad of Sang #2
I’m not 100% sure where I stand on this one. The art style and the way the violence is put together and the overall complete absurdity are already wearing thin. This issue was all over the place, with sorta shitty dialogue and a lot of questionable character decisions. Sang is attacked by a heavy metal themed gang who need the money from his capture in order to keep their bar open. The woman who takes him in doesn’t seem to make much sense. Being mute he writes most of his messages, and the bad spelling and backwards letters feels forced. Gonna give this one another issue, but this one just really didn’t hold my attention.
John Wick #2
Fortunately, John Wick remains pretty solid. It still can’t quite capture the smooth action of a movie, but that’s the only weakness. The story continues focusing on John resolving “personal matters” with a group who did him wrong as a kid. Looks like they might have killed his family. He’s now aware of the existence of the Continental hotel after meeting Charon last issue. Overall, we’re getting a bunch of John’s backstory along with more bits and pieces about the world of assassins that revolve around the Continental. I really like that. The action is good by comic standards, so it’s still well put together. I really like the art, which does a really good job of looking like the actors for John and Charon. Many comics that attempt to keep an actor’s face fail miserably (like that Blade Runner book from an old post-credit). I’m pretty impressed with the quality here, I always fear the worst with movie/game tie in comics but the current crop I’m picking up are good all around. John Wick seems to have a little bit of an inconsistent release schedule, so the next one will pop up whenever it does.
That’s it for this week, and once again there won’t be a post-credit due to the Superman themed stuff taking up too much time and effort and space. Thanks for joining me, come tell me all about your thoughts on 80 years of Supes on the Discord and make sure to check out everything else on the website!