Bookworm: Action Comics 1000

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When Action Comics hit 1000, I had to get a copy. But I had a problem–there was no comic book shop nearby. My nearest bookstore no longer existed. My solution? Downloaded it off the DC app.

Instead of posting one special story to celebrate this milestone, this issue actually has several stories, celebrating Superman and his legacy. I thought I’d review and rank all of them.

  • “From the City That Has Everything” (Team: Dan Jurgens/Norm Rapmund/Hi-fi/Rob Leigh)–10/10

Summary: Superman fights off a Khund invader and reluctantly returns to Metropolis, where they are celebrating Superman Day. Lois wants him to hear everyone’s testimonies, but he’s too nervous about the invaders.

Review: I liked all the testimonies, including the reformed criminal. It set the tone for the rest of the comic.

  • “Never-Ending Battle” (Peter J. Tomasi/Patrick Gleason/Alexandro Sanchez/Tom Napolitano)8/10

Summary: Superman battles Vandal Savage across space and time, reflecting on the life and battles he’s had so far while celebrating his birthday with his family.

Review: This may be one of the last stories Tomasi ever does for Superman, and if it is, then it’s a good farewell. Gleason’s artwork was great, but I’m deducting points for the Conner Kent cameo. Way to rub our faces in it, DC.

  • “An Enemy Within” (Marv Wolfman/Curt Swan/Kurt Schaffenberger/Hi-fi/Rob Leigh) 9/10

Summary: While Superman fights one of Brainiac’s drones in Japan, a principal in Metropolis has been hypnotized into taking someone hostage. What Superman doesn’t realize is that the drone he’s fighting is what’s controlling the principal.

Review: This story was especially unearthed just for this issue, and is the only story that isn’t new. (For those who don’t know, Curt Swan was one of DC’s most-celebrated artists, and died in 1996) It even ends with a Curt Swan-esque drawing in tribute to him.

  • “The Game” (Paul Levitz/Neal Adams/Hi-fi/Dave Sharpe)7/10

Summary: Superman and Luthor take time out from fighting each other to play a game of chess.

Review: This was a great scene and a classic-style story of worthy opponents with Lex at his hammiest. It seemed like something out of Superfriends, but I liked it.

  • “The Car” (Geoff Johns & Richard Donner/Oliver Colpel/Sanchez/Napolitano)

Summary: You know that car that Superman is picking up on the very first cover of Action Comics? We meet the driver in this story. 8/10

Review: “Hey what about the car Superman picked up on the cover?” sounds like a good “high concept” story idea. And I like Geoff Johns a lot, even with the controversy that seems to follow him wherever he goes.

Continue reading “Bookworm: Action Comics 1000”

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Happy 80th Birthday, Superman!

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On April 17, 2018, Superman celebrated his 80th birthday! Not only that, but Action Comics, where he made his first appearance, just hit 1000 issues–the first time an American comic ever had that many issues!

Superman was vastly different in his first appearance. The only powers he had were superhuman strength, speed, and leaping–not flying. He worked at the Daily Star, not the Daily Planet. (the old-time radio show changed it and also added Perry White and Jimmy Olsen to the cast) He grew up in an orphanage instead of on a farm. He was more aggressive than he is these days.

These days, Superman is now married to Lois Lane, who once considered him a rival. But perhaps the biggest change is now he’s a father! As a result of the Convergence event, Superman’s son was born, named Jonathan Kent, after Superman’s earthly father.

Continue reading “Happy 80th Birthday, Superman!”

Top 10 Favorite Comic Book Artists

Last time, I posted my favorite comic book writers. Now for my favorite comic book artists.

10) Scott McDaniel–I discovered Scott McDaniel when he was working on Nightwing with Chuck Dixon. He has a unique style that mixes Joe Quesada and Frank Miller.

9) Brent Anderson–It’s hard to measure up when Astro City has Alex Ross’s covers, but Anderson is up to the challenge.

8) Todd McFarlane–Say what you will about McFarlane as a person, but I have a lot of respect because he’s one of the few founders still left with Image. Spawn did take a while to get good, but the art was always great. And let’s not forget how great he was on Spider-man.

7) John Romita Jr.–John Romita Jr is the apple that doesn’t fall far from the tree, and he’s continuing his father’s legacy. He was great on Spider-man, and I’m pleased to see he still gets work. I especially like his use of negative space.

6) Norm Breyfogle–I don’t understand why Norm Breyfogle has never gotten a great fan base despite his credentials. He helped create Bane and I loved his Prime comic back when Malibu Comics was around. He also revitalized Archie Comics these days.

Continue reading “Top 10 Favorite Comic Book Artists”

My Top 10 Favorite Comic Book Writers

The main reason I like comic books is they are a great marriage of writer and artist. For the next two posts, I will be discussing my favorite writers and artists of the medium. For now, I will focus on the writers.

10) Chuck Dixon –For most of the 90’s, Dixon was one of the best writers on Batman and the various spinoffs. He helped Tim Drake break out as a new Robin in his solo book. He created Bane, one of Batman’s most dangerous enemies. And he helped establish Nightwing as a solo hero by creating his home turf of Bludhaven, Gotham’s sister city.

9) Jeff Smith–Creator and artist behind Bone, Jeff Smith gets the nod here for his mastery in humor. He is excellent at pacing his stories in order to time his jokes perfectly, but he’s also just as good at creating a rich lore for his characters.

8) Denny O’Neil–For most of the 70’s and 80’s, Denny O’Neil helped to redefine Batman beyond what he was in the Silver Age, becoming almost as important as Frank Miller would become years later. In addition, he also was the creative team behind the establishment of the Green Arrow/Green Lantern team, helping to show how comic books can be a viable medium for political expression.

7) Scott Snyder–the most recent addition to this list, Scott Snyder was recruited to Batman during DC’s controversial New 52 rebranding. While I had my problems with the New 52, Snyder’s version of Batman was not one of them. I’m so glad they’ve kept Snyder on in the Rebirth version of DC’s universe.

6) Dan Jurgens–a writer and artist best known for creating Booster Gold and his work on Superman, especially the “Death and Return of Superman” arcs. During his tenure on Superman, he showed that Superman could indeed be a relatable character.

5) Kurt Busiek–creator of both Astro City and Marvels, both of which also feature the magnificent work of Alex Ross. What I like about Busiek is that he often uses the POV of the ordinary person, allowing the reader to imagine what it would be like to walk among the giants of the superhero world.

4) Grant Morrison–while some may consider Morrison to be overrated, I don’t think he is. He is a very surreal writer whose imagination creates intricate stories that I often have to read more than once in order to fully grasp. I especially love his runs on JLA and Doom Patrol.

3) Chris Claremont–While Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the X-Men, I feel it’s the creative team of Chris Claremont and John Byrne that truly defined the team. He turned them into the dysfunctional family that they are best known as and weaved plots that often took a long time to pay off, but when they did, it was often awesome.

2) Neil Gaiman–Neil Gaiman is best known for his work on the Vertigo series Sandman, my all-time favorite comic book. It combined several genres–superhero, fantasy, horror, and mythology; weaving them all into an intricate tapestry that I would even recommend to those who don’t normally read comics.

1) Alan Moore–Time Magazine once made a countdown of the greatest novels of the 20th century, and bent their rules so they could include Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s epic miniseries Watchmen. This series is often celebrated for its excellent deconstruction of the superhero mythos. What I like best about Moore is his ambiguity. He often leaves the story up to your own interpretation. I think it’s great that he trusts the reader that way. And as for his worshipping a sock puppet, hey if his weird habits help him to create such awesome stories, then why not?

Come back next week, and I’ll talk about my favorite artists!