Tag Archive: Action Comics #1


   

Eighty years ago Superman first hit neighborhood newsstands in Issue #1 of Action Comics–an issue that if you kept your copy could pay off your house, car, and retirement.  The cover was dated June 1938, but it was in kids’ hands first on April 18, 1938.  DC Comics is celebrating Superman’s big anniversary this week with a celebratory issue of Action Comics numbered 1000, created by some of DC’s top writers and artists, an anthology of stories just as you’d find in Action Comics’ first 500 issues.  The 1,000 issues is spot-on with the number of Action Comics issues released, but those counting the months since 1938 will come up short:  Action Comics shifted from a monthly to a bi-weekly once upon a time, and you won’t find numbered issues #905-956, which were replaced by 52 issues of the New 52 reboot numbering 1-52.  For American comic book fans, there’s something special about holding this issue in your hands.  It’s no small feat seeing such a truly undisputed iconic character get to this point.

The 80-page giant issue is one not to pass up.  For current fans, it’s a ramp-up to Brian Michael Bendis’s writing run beginning with the complete issue #1001.  For everyone else, it’s a nostalgic trip via variant covers and dozens of classic and modern creators offering up stories about the Man of Steel.  The writers?  Dan Jurgens, Peter Tomasi, Marv Wolfman, Paul Levitz, Geoff Johns, Richard Donner, Scott Snyder, Tom King, Louise Simonson, Paul Dini, Brad Meltzer, and Brian Michael Bendis.  The artists? Dan Jurgens, Pat Gleason, Curt Swan, Neal Adams, Olivier Coipel, Rafael Albuquerque, Clay Mann, Jerry Ordway, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, John Cassaday, Jim Lee, Norm Rapmund, Butch Guice, Kurt Schaffenberger, Kevin Nowlan, Scott Williams, Hi-Fi Color, Alejandro Sanchez, Dave McCaig, Jordie Bellaire, Trish Mulvihill, Laura Martin, and Alex Sinclair.  Cover artists include Steve Rude, Michael Cho, Dave Gibbons, Michael Allred, Jim Steranko, Joshua Middleton, Dan Jurgens, Kevin Nowlan, Lee Bermejo, Dave Dorman, George Perez, Neal Adams, Jim Lee (providing the main cover and two variants), Curt Swan, Felipe Massafera, Nicola Scott, Jock, Oliver Coipel, Jason Fabok, Kaare Andrews, Gabrielle Dell’Otto, Artgerm, Tyler Kirkham, Pat Gleason, Francesco Mattina, Ken Haeser, Doug Mahnke, and Tony S. Daniel.  Check out images of all the variant covers below.  Our favorite?  Danielle Dell’Otto’s take on Christopher Reeve at the Fortress of Solitude, and Pat Gleason’s cover, which includes Krypto.

   

Some comic book stores are holding events to celebrate the Man of Steel’s big day.  This Saturday if you’re in the Kansas City area head on over to Elite Comics, where you can pick up copies of Issue #1000 plus a limited exclusive Superman print (shown above) by artist Bryan Fyffe, a nationally-recognized artist whose licensed works include projects for Disney and Star Wars.  Or check out your own neighborhood store.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

A lot can be said for the DC Comics New 52 reboot, and without re-hashing every bit of that for the umpteenth time, one single high note comes to mind.  With so many #1 titles, with stories starting for the most part from scratch, it allows anyone to become a new reader, anyone to become a fan of something they weren’t a fan of before.

Oddly enough, when DC Comics said that they would have 52 titles, I actually believed them.  I am glad they didn’t stick with that approach.  Several books have been layered into the New 52, some relevant, some not.  Titles like Batman Incorporated and Huntress.  Another title I was surprised to see was Smallville: Season 11.  And I am surprised it is a good series adaptation.

Smallville, the TV series, at its high point had millions of fans.  Over its incredible ten-year run on the CW Network, it boasted both comic book fans and a mainstream audience.  It never grabbed me, but once in a while I’d watch an episode and could see the appeal.  As TV series are concerned, my preference was the earlier, slightly different but still similar Lois and Clark TV series.  That series featured Teri Hatcher as Lois Lane and Dean Cain as Clark Kent, and–one big difference from Smallville–Clark donning the Superman suit and cape.  Although I really liked Tom Welling in the remake of John Carpenter’s The Fog, it’s probably that distinction that kept me away from Smallville.

Smallville: Season 11 gives fans of the TV series Tom Welling finally portraying Superman, in the suit, and continues the story of the characters where the series left off.  This works like the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 8, etc. series–so long as every other panel is drawn to look like the actors who played the characters on TV, this can work.  It actually works really well with Smallville Issue #1.

Writer Brian Q. Miller knows the characters enough to make you feel like you’re watching the show, with snappy dialogue and a relevant story.  He should, as he wrote for the TV series.  The banter between Clark and Lois is likely the best part of the first issue, with Lois as a particularly funny character.  Pere Perez’s renderings aren’t picture perfect but he often nails the actors’ appearances and their roles, enough so that Smallville: Season 11 Issue #1 hits all its marks as you’d hope.  Perez gives readers several good splash pages of Welling as Superman.  Better yet, Miller and Perez give a substantial part of the story to Oliver Queen/Green Arrow and his wife Chloe Sullivan-Queen.  Here the differences between Smallville and the New 52 series are obvious, including the fact Oliver is married, confirming Smallville as a parallel universe story in the DCU.   As much as I know diehard Superman fans love the current Action Comics series, by comparison I found Smallville: Season 11 Issue #1 more interesting than Action Comics Issue #1.  I was also surprised I prefer the Justin Hartley-influenced Green Arrow look, vibe, and story in Smallville to the current New 52 Green Arrow series.

At a dense 33 pages, including an alternate cover image and recap of the TV series season 1, with Smallville: Season 11 you’ll for once feel like you got your money’s worth.

Ten weeks ago I posted my list of what I intended to buy from the DC Comics New 52.  To recap, they were:

Then through browsing the racks at the store, I added the following, based on something I saw in the title or a page-turn, or in the case of Animal Man, a good review:

Based solely on what I read in Issue #1 of each, I decided to not go forward with the following titles:

I reviewed Action Comics #1 here.  Just not the Superman I was interested in reading about, I guess.  (All other DC Comics titles I have reviewed here include links in comic title names in this article).

Green Lantern #1 was spent exclusively on Sinestro, not Hal Jordan, and because I wasn’t interested in an ongoing Sinestro book, I gave up on buying Issue #2, which he also appears to be featured in.

Voodoo #1 was so thin in plot and long on shock factor that it made the bottom of the list of all that I read over the past three months.  Not my cup of tea.

Supergirl #1 wasn’t bad.  But I couldn’t help comparing it to Michael Turner’s and Jeph Loeb’s Supergirl from the Superman/Batman series and this just didn’t compare.

Birds of Prey was a series I read in about 5-10 issue arcs over several years.  This isn’t the same team, and it’s not worse because there is no Oracle, it is just not the same sensibility.  I prefer the more mature, aka women heroine vs. girl heroine Birds of Prey group of the past, and I don’t like at all where the current Black Canary is, they should get her back in the Green Arrow title.  I think the characters are drawn almost like teenagers, as if this should be a companion to the Teen Titans.  That would make more sense.  So I left this title behind after Issue #1, too.

I decided to go forward and read Issue #2 of the following titles, however, just to give them another shot (I plan to review each Issue #2 at a later date):

So this is how five titles were cut from my pull-list.  The big winners?  I have eight titles I hope to be reading for a long time:

I will also keep buying Green Arrow in hopes that it will improve, and Jim Lee’s Justice League since it seems to glue a lot of the other stories together.

Frankly, eight is about the right number I wanted to end up with, especially at current comic book prices.  I also will keep reading til the end of the short series, Huntress.  And as I get into more Marvel Comics I will be adding at least one book from that publisher to the ongoing read pile, in addition to independent publisher books Bionic Man and Rachel Rising.

So was the first round of the New 52 successful?  Ultimately most of what I read was worth reading, so I’d answer a definite “yes“.  I read 21 of the 52 titles, more than I planned to read.  The biggest surprise?  How much I liked All-Star Western #1 and its mix of old Gotham City and Jonah Hex.  Captain Atom and Justice League Dark were the two books I was most curious about, and they both delivered in a big way stellar stories and art about more minor DC Comics characters that I now can’t wait to read more about.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

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Review by C.J. Bunce

As much as I am a fan of Rags Morales’s art style, Grant Morrison’s reboot story of Superman in the flagship title Action Comics for the DCU is really pretty ho-hum, if not plain disjointed, and ultimately hits the floor with a thud.  The excitement, energy, and portrayal of the great power of Superman of the past is non-existent here.

Much has been said about Superman’s new costume–shirt and cape are not all that different, but he is wearing jeans and no red boots–and ultimately that doesn’t matter.  Morrison’s writing is just…odd.  Even read by someone with an extensive vocabulary, from seeing the use of the archaic and out-of-place word “teetotal” on page one to a character named “Mrs. Nyxly,” you get the feeling that someone is putting us on here.  A key story element about a problem with a train comes out of nowhere.  Can this Superman see the future?  Doesn’t seem to be what is happening here.  There are just elements here that don’t jibe.  And why does Superman have these strange gold, shining eyes?  At first I thought this was meant to convey a Bizarro appearance, which could have been fun, but on re-read that’s not the case.

In one scene Superman captures a baddie named “Glenmorgan” for using “illegal cheap labor, no safety standards” which echoes a bit of what we’d expect from a 1970s Green Arrow, so maybe this new Superman will be pursuing non-obvious villains down the road.  But unfortunately we only get this in a singular image of the book.

OK, I’ll say it.  Superman with jeans and some form of brown dress shoe looks, well, just plain silly.  What’s the point, and does it say anything about the character we care about?  Wearing jeans makes him modern?  Who in the USA in 2011 wears brown dress shoes with jeans rolled up at the cuff?  There’s nothing cool about this look.  Dorky, yes.  Cool, no.

The standard cast of Superman is here as well, evil-without-explanation Lex Luthor, goofy Jimmy at the paper and sassy looking Lois Lane.  In this brief intro they appear as mere caricatures.

Strangely enough the best parts of Action Comics #1 are four entire pages of entirely visual content with no words.  The value in this first issue is Rags Morales’s renderings, not Morrison’s story.  What appears to be happening here is a Smallville sequel, a boy of steel instead of a man of steel.  Isn’t that what Superboy is for?

Stepping back from the story and art, other than Justice League, all the rest of the New 52 appears to be priced at $2.99.  Inexplicably this is a $3.99 book.  Unfortunately it doesn’t offer enough to keep anyone reading except maybe the diehard Superman loyalist.  With all the solid books introduced this past month featuring Batman, other Justice League characters and the unexpectedly refreshing non-A list titles, this title won’t make the cut for anyone looking to end up with only a few titles for the long haul.