DC celebrates the landmark 1000th issue of Action Comics with a celebration of Superman’s eight decades. The special issue is now available in a hardcover Deluxe Edition.
Instead of one epic story, the anniversary edition contains a collection of shorts from a variety of high profile creative teams, many with a history with the Man of Steel. The outgoing Rebirth era creative teams on the regular Superman books get the lead slots, with Dan Jurgens focusing on Superman’s reluctance to attend a celebration in his honor, while Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason tell a time-bending tale whose full-page images echo famous moments from the character’s long history. The other significant inclusion is an introduction to the Brian Michael Bendis era of the franchise, with a story illustrated by Jim Lee. The other shorts focus on certain aspects of Superman’s persona or on key relationships. The Deluxe Edition is filled out with a trove of alternate covers by some high profile artists and a reprint of the very first Superman story from Action Comics #1.
These kind of anniversary jams can be hit or miss, and while some passages make a stronger impression than others, overall the quality is fairly high. There are no outright clunkers, though a couple of the mini-concepts can be a bit odd. But with an extensive roster of high profile creators participating, fans get a lot of perspectives on the iconic character, with a tendency toward gentler moments. The alternate covers feel like more than padding, affording a wide range of artists an opportunity to offer their perspectives, many riffing on famous images from the character’s lengthy history. The reprint of Superman’s debut is an engaging time capsule, showing how far the hero has come.
In addition to Superman, the stories feature some of his most important relationships, including wife Lois Lane, son Jon Kent and arch-enemy Lex Luthor. Some may find the marginalization of certain characters puzzling (Jimmy Olsen, Lana Lang, Pete Ross and a few others are either marginalized or absent altogether). But even at around 80 pages, the main section contains only so much real estate and while some readers might have made different choices on who to include or spotlight, the stories are uniformly readable, even if not necessarily essential.
This isn’t a “must read” but for fans of Superman and his colorful history, Action Comics #1000 Deluxe Edition is worth checking out.