80 pages for 80 years of The Man of Steel, and it still didn't seem like enough. That's unfortunately what happens when a regular, in continuity, issue of a long running comic book series has to do be marketed to a non-continuity buying crowd. While the stories contained in Action Comics #1000 are all high quality and, at times, truly great, not many of them move the overarching narrative along. It's to be expected though, and the break does give time for the long reading fan to reflect and enjoy some fun stories. Action Comics #1000, when considered all together, makes for a fine tribute to the first, and still the greatest, superhero ever created.
Contributing to Action Comics #1000 is a host of Superman writers and artists who worked on the character's titles over the past several decades, as well as a few who are new to the Man of Steel's storied and honored list of creators. In particular, a never before seen story drawn by the legendary Superman artist Curt Swan is printed herein, and legendary 1990's Superman artist and writer Dan Jurgens writes and draws a whole episode. First time Superman writer Brian Michael Bendis lays the groundwork for his upcoming Man of Steel miniseries which promises to introduce new mythological aspects to Superman's origin story.
Much ado has been made about Bendis making his DC Comics debut, and the build up has perhaps not quite lived up to the hype. While Bendis' story was drawn by Jim Lee and is the most action packed story contained herein, it is not as unique or original a story as I was expecting. In fact, despite the big reveal concerning Krypton's history, the new character introduced isn't anything all that interesting. In fact, he looks like just about every other extraterrestrial bad guy. He's big. He carries an ax like weapon. He's disfigured (or just ugly), and armored. While not quite Steppenwolf from Justice League, he probably could be mistaken for one of his family. He's also on a genocidal mission to wipe out Superman...of course...
I'm sure that as the years go by, Bendis will come up with some good Superman stories. He's a phenomenal storyteller, and the odds are ever in our favor where Bendis is concerned. Far and away though, the best story contained herein is the one by Brad Meltzer and John Cassaday. It's the nitty gritty, realistic, down to Earth Superman story that made the original Superman movie starring Christopher Reeve so great. It's much more nuanced and speaks much more quietly, and therefore much more powerfully, to what's so great about the character. In the midst of several tales of intergalactic battles and chess matches with mad geniuses (Luthor appears in a few of the tales), the simple story of Superman being faster than a speeding bullet, with a little help, wasn't just refreshing, it was glorious, and fittingly dedicated to Christopher Reeve.
In addition to several sci-fi stories featuring Superman at the end times of the Earth, and battling alien invaders, there are several stories starring the very down to Earth Superman of the 1930s and the 1940s. One in particular features Superman living through various incarnations of himself in different eras, including his very earliest incarnation as a flightless, supervision-less, and overall less powered version of himself. It's fun to see Superman as he existed eight decades ago, and not as a pale imitation of that character as he was presented in the early days of the horrific New 52 reboot.
Superman has been an inspiration to kids, readers, adults, writers, artists, and dreamers of all ages for 80 years and counting. Action Comics #1000 overall is a fitting, if not perfect, tribute to the hero that started it all.