Bookworm: 80 Years of Superman (Deluxe Edition)

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DC released a special collection of classic stories from Action Comics to celebrate its milestone 1000th issue. I thought I’d look at it and review each comic and article.

  1. “The Coming of Superman”–The first Superman story, where he can’t fly. It’s OK, for what it is. But I prefer a Superman who’s not as brazen with his powers.
  2. “The Mystery of the Freight Train Robberies”–Action Comics #1 didn’t see the debut of just Superman, but also Zatarra, father of Zatanna. I like Zatanna better because she doesn’t have the “Mandrake the Magician” rip-off feel to her stories.
  3. “Revolution in San Monte”–I still say I’m glad other people came on after Jerry Siegel and wrote a nicer version of Superman.
  4. “The Times”, a commentary by Tom DeHaven, a Creative Writing professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. He gets some points docked for scoffing at Supergirl.
  5. “The Origin of the Vigilante”–I’ve never understood why the Vigilante is a thing. He’s just your average cowboy crimefighter.
  6. “The Terrible Toyman!”–Toyman was a big deal in the Pre-Crisis days of Superman. Nowadays, not so much. In fact, I think the current version isn’t even a criminal anymore. Still, he’s actually not a bad villain here, for Golden Age style storytelling anyway.
  7. “How I Saved Superman”–Marv Wolfman talks about his tenure on Superman, a run I’m not familiar with. I knew Wolfman more from New Teen Titans and Crisis on Infinite Earths.
  8. “Too Many Heroes”–An unpublished story from 1945. Superman imposters ruin the real deal’s reputation. Not bad.
  9. “Clark Kent, Reporter”–David Hajdu talks about Superman’s alter ego, and how he’s just as impressive when he’s wearing glasses.
  10. “The Super-Key to Fort Superman”–The first appearance of the Fortress of Solitude. So glad they didn’t keep the original name. This starts the Silver Age section, and it’s pretty good. I love how he’s got stuff in it to pass on to his friends when he dies.
  11. “The Super Duel In Space”–Brainiac makes his first appearance! Loved this one! He’s one of my favorite villains.
  12. “The Supergirl from Krypton!”–Supergirl meets her cousin. I like that they found a good loophole by having her live on another planet before landing on Earth. I’ve always liked her because I like the fact that she constantly lives in her cousin’s shadow.
  13. “Endurance”–Larry Tye contemplates how Superman is relatable even with his god-like status.
  14. “The World’s Greatest Heroine”–Superman reveals Supergirl to the world, including her foster family. I like the part where the Legion of Superheroes shows up at the end and makes sure they don’t ruin the surprise for her until they meet her again and she already knows.
  15. “The Infinite Monster”–Supergirl gets a solo story! She fights a giant monster. It’s not bad.
  16. “The Assassin-Express Contract”–The Human Target’s debut. I really don’t get this “Oh by the way, here’s some stories that have nothing to do with Superman, but they were in his comic” idea. But at least we get some nice Carmine Infantino art

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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”

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.

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