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Action Comics #1000 [Review]

action_comics_1000From the City That Has Everything

Writer/Artist: Dan Jurgens
Inker: Norm Rapmund
Color: Hi-Fi
Letters: Rob Leigh

This is the “primary” story of the issue–a sort of stand-alone “finale” to Jurgens-and-Co.’s run the last couple of years and 45-some issue run. We open on a narration/captions of Jon Kent and Lois talking, against imagery of Superman battling a Khund warship. Jon’s worried his Dad won’t get here in time, as Lois reassures him he’ll be here. As Clark arrives, Lois reminds him that people just want to thank him. We see that they’re at a Thank You, Superman presentation in the park–Metropolis has gathered to try to offer thanks to Superman, though knowing they can’t begin to cover it. Amidst various testimonials of how Superman has impacted and saved folks, Clark keeps thinking he sees further traces of a Khund invasion…perhaps just looking for an excuse to get away from this presentation. Eventually, the crowd gets to see Superman fly into action, as Clark can’t ignore his senses. He finds Wonder Woman, who reveals that there was indeed a major Khund incursion…but it’s been handled. By everyone. Even his fellow heroes are fans, and thank Superman for his role in everything. Without him, none of them would likely be there.

On its surface, this is a rather cheesy story of little substance. There’s some presentation to honor Superman, and he’s avoiding it. Then, alllll the other heroes are there as well, because they wish to honor him, too.

Neat and simple, right? Evocative of classic Silver Age stories (to me), and not terribly deep.

But back to “on its surface.”

See, this is the 1,000th issue of Action Comics. 80 years of Superman. This is a major event, a one-issue spectacular. An anthology of sorts with numerous shorter stories making up the whole. It’s a standalone issue, something that draws from and can influence other stuff, but it’s not truly coming off any To Be Continued… message. It’s (as an issue) not leading directly into anything. It’s expected that this will be read where the previous few issues, or dozens of issues, or even hundreds of issues, have not been read.

There’s loads of “meta” to this–as a story, and as part of the issue.

This Superman–Dan Jurgens‘ Superman–comes from a take on the character where Clark Kent is the man, and Superman is a “mask.” This Superman is Clark Kent…who does what’s right because it is right–not to show off, not for accolades and recognition–and is actually rather uncomfortable being the center of attention. And we get to see that…as we get to see a bit of Lois’ personality. She teases him for trying to get out of the ceremony, but we come to see that she’s the one that spearheaded the gathering of the heroes, and helped coordinate with Batman and the others to “cover for” Superman, so that he could have this day, this event. We also see Jon, the son, both AS the Son of Superman and as a kid. Not fully understanding everything going on, loving his dad but not sure if he’ll make it, and an eagerness to stand in for him, recognizing the importance of the situation and wanting to live up to the family tradition.

I knew going in that Norm Rapmund was involved with the art…and I was loving the art all through the story. There was something extra familiar about it, though, that had a slight smile trying to escape me as I read it, but I couldn’t quite place it. Until I looked consciously at the credits for the story and realized why the art seemed that much more familiar and was evoking such a reaction in me: Jurgens on the pencils. Of course! Regardless of conscious realization in words, on sight I had recognized the (somehow UNexpected) presence of work by probably my favorite Superman artist!

Superman reluctantly accepts the recognition…somewhat awkwardly. The final spread with all the heroes and fans and such…metatextually, real-world…without Superman, there probably would NOT have been any of these other heroes. Certainly nowhere near as many, and probably not even a comics industry.

This story is a send-off of sorts from Jurgens–capping off his run, as well as recognizing and thanking Superman.

And for one such as me–a 30-year-fan of Superman, introduced to him when I was but 7 years old–this is a powerful piece, meaningful and deep, and moving…and if one has to put a one-off story as a capstone to a run, that stands alone and evokes the past, has elements from the run, but isn’t beholden to it and all that…this does it well, and is a worthy opening to Action Comics #1000!

action_comics_1000_variants_30sNever-Ending Battle

Story and Words: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Patrick Gleason
Colorist: Alejandro Sanchez
Letterer: Tom Napolitano

This story opens with a rather hellish, red-tinged image of Vandal Savage having Superman engulfed in some sort of red energy and alien machinery. The narration is Superman, speaking to Lois, apologizing for being sidetracked on the way home–he’s late. Basically, Savage tried to blend Superman with the past, trapping him and leaving the future open for him (Savage) to rule without Superman’s interference. So we get a bunch of pages evoking some key eras in Superman’s history, as we know it in the real-world; but in-continuity the character himself acknowledges that despite the familiarity, he knew it was impossible to have been there in the 1930s, for example. These are all full-page images with the “voiceover” going along with them…not necessarily tied exactly to the image whose page the words are on, but particularly for those familiar with the history of the character and the stories/eras being referenced, the words take on additional (and deeper) meaning than they might otherwise. And the story ends with a shot of Superman standing at a table with a lotta candles (one can assume there are probably around 1,000 of ’em!), Lois and Jon on either side, a “Happy Birthday” sign strung up behind, and even Krypto in the foreground, as we celebrate Superman’s 80th birthday, and the 1,000th issue of Action Comics.

Normally I would not care for this sort of story. Had this been a 15-page sequence in an otherwise-20-paged issue of something (especially if at a $3.99 price point) I would be disappointed and annoyed. Even as one of the longest stories within this issue, it’s still a “mere” 15 pages, and as such, even this sequence is a relatively small portion of the entire issue. As a “short story” in this “anthology” issue of numerous creators…it works quite well. We have a basic story–Superman faces a villain, is flung throughout time, makes it home safe. This reminds me of other stories I’ve read, and feels rather familiar, like it’s a sort of “trope” at this point–where you can have a numerous-issue “event” of a character being thrown through time, or it can be just a casual backdrop “referenced” but not really the point of a story.

Here, this does both: it’s a sort of casual-ish “reference” thing…but the pages as we go through show Superman through the decades–Gleason‘s imagery evoking the general “style” and depiction of Superman through the decades. One page reminds me loosely of the Superman vs. Superboy issue from early in the Byrne era; the next is a familiar image from Miller‘s Dark Knight Returns (and signed by the artist after Frank Miller). There’s a page with the black-costumed, long-haired Superman fighting Mongul, with Steel and Superboy in the background, in reference to the Death and Return of Superman…Reign of the Supermen. There’s a page with a version of Zod, the pointy-crystal Fortress of Solitude in the background, and a Superman trapped in the pane of glass version of the Phantom Zone. There’s even a page showing the Kingdom Come Superman facing Magog, a mushroom cloud in the background with several of the other heroes. And there’s a page showing the New 52 Superman breaking through a wall, shifting to the black-costume, bearded Superman of JurgensLois and Clark, shifting into the Rebirth costume, into the Reborn costume, punching Savage out.

This is an appropriate celebration of Superman, of how (ultimately) he easily overcomes situations, fights through whatever is thrown at him, and that Tomasi puts as Superman’s words: “Each and every time stream, in the end, led home…to my family.”

Tomasi and Gleason being the primary creatives the last couple years on the named Superman title that has run alongside JurgensAction Comics, this is a highly-appropriate story to cap off that run, to share in this issue, and to celebrate and acknowledge the rich history of the character. I often find I’m not overly thrilled with Gleason‘s art–just a personal issue due to comparing it so often to art I prefer–but here, particularly for the time-tossed pages, it shines excellently.

An Enemy Within

Script: Marv Wolfman
Art: Curt Swan
Inks: Butch Guice, Kurt Schaffenberger
Color & Production Assist: Hi-Fi
Letters: Rob Leigh

I appreciate the history of Wolfman with the Superman character, as well as the very fabric of the history of DC Comics in-continuity and out; ditto the importance of Curt Swan as one of THE Superman artists. That said…I did not really care much for this story.

Basically, we have narration from Superman as he’s halfway across the world dealing with a Brainiac threat, while we’re shown a hostage situation involving a principal and one of his students. From the narration, we get that the principal is being mind-controlled by Brainiac, and that Superman is facing the villain…but that action all happens off-panel, concluding with a single image of Superman, that may be recycled from a previous publication. The story is simple, has potential, but for me, personally–especially stacked against the Jurgens and Tomasi stories in this issue, and against numerous episodes of Law and Order: SVU I’ve been watching the last few weeks, it just doesn’t really hold up in a way I particularly care for.

It’s not a horrible story, and the art is solid in and of itself…I respect the inclusion here, but other than the “inclusion” aspect, I just don’t really care for this one.

action_comics_1000_variants_blankThe Game

Storytellers: Paul Levitz & Neal Adams
Colors: Hi-Fi
Letters: Dave Sharpe

This is an interesting, short piece, where Superman shows up to the roof of Lexcorp Tower, and he and Lex talk over a game of Chess…and I’m reminded strongly of the Xavier/Magneto imagery from the Fox X-Men films. Luthor springs a trap of animated Kryptonite chains that wrap around Superman…before the hero straightens, flexes, and bursts the chains with an orange background obviously reminiscent of the Kryptonite Nevermore! from the original Superman #233. Superman reveals that he’s got a Mother Box with him that temporarily prevented the Kryptonite radiation

This is another short piece that I don’t particularly care for. I like the concept well enough, and it reminds me (as said) of the Xavier/Magneto stuff…and the more I think on it, I realize there’s also a bit of that Batman/Joker meeting from The Killing Joke in here, too.

Adams is another whose work I appreciate, whose place in comics history I appreciate…but I just can’t get into his Superman art. I didn’t stick with The Coming of the Supermen, I didn’t care for an Action Comics variant I had from some “Neal Adams Month,” and his Superman in general looks rather “off” to me here.

As this is “only” a 5-page story, though, it’s not horrible; but I might have liked a prose version a bit better, as I dig the story much, much more than I do the art.

action_comics_1000_variants_40sThe Car

Story: Geoff Johns & Richard Donner
Artist: Olivier Coipel
Colors: Alejandro Sanchez
Special thanks to: Matt Wilson
Letters: Nick Napolitano

This is an interesting story that seems to be set in the ’30s; the color palette and general art style certainly gives it a rustic, “period piece” look that fits very well with the story being told. A busted-up car is brought into a shop, and when the mechanic tries to get its story from the owner, the tale is a little bit “out there”–all this damage caused by one man? One man lifted it and smashed it against some rocks, apparently. We then move to the owner–Butch–noticing a colorful figure…that of the “man” who smashed his car. Superman chats with him, showing compassion and having come to “understand” more of Butch’s “side” of things, and leaving him with the notion that even having made mistakes, one can choose to make their life count for something, choose to make something of themselves, better the lives of others rather than doing harm.

I’m sure I would have realized pretty quickly that this is a sort of “sequel” to a big part of Action Comics #1; but this benefited SO beautifully from my having just re-read the Superman story from that first issue, and being probably THE freshest-in-mind Superman story for me prior to this 1000th issue.

This Superman feels very much like the “modern” Superman, though; less of the rough ‘n tough version from that first appearance. But it works, and makes for an interesting piece overall. Especially when one considers just how heinous Butch’s crime was–kidnapping a woman for rejecting him…and one could likely predict at least a couple likely outcomes of such action.

I haven’t cared a lot about the Johns/Donner stuff–particularly the Last Son of Krypton, and Escape from Bizarro World stories, even as those are (now) a good dozen years in the past. I didn’t care for them at the time as part of a seemingly-overly-overt rewriting of Superman away from the version I’d grown up on and back to more of a Silver/Bronze Age version. But this single story, I liked; the modern art showing the classic original Superman, with the feel of the contemporary Superman…and this being both a continuation/sequel and yet even if one doesn’t know or connect that context, it works very well as a singular, one-off bit…

And of the “shorts” in this issue, I think this is one of my favorites.

action_comics_1000_variants_50sThe Fifth Season

Script: Scott Snyder
Art: Rafael Albuquerque
Color: Dave McCaig
Letters: Tom Napolitano

I’m not quite sure what to make of this piece. In a way, I think something to it is “over my head,” perhaps..in a way that I definitely do NOT care for in my comics.

Superman arrives at the Smallville planetarium to find Lex Luthor, who has found the “Eye of Xotar” and Chronos’ “Time Scissors”–that together can be used to literally erase any genealogical line from history. Given this is Luthor…obviously, that’d be Superman’s line, the House of El. As the two muse over their shared past, and the present situation, we see a flashback to Luthor’s early days in Smallville, where we also see that a potentially fatal accident that could have killed Luthor was prevented by a young Clark Kent–Superman as a boy. We also get a bit about a “fifth season,” between Winter and Spring, when the weather can be wildly unpredictable…which seems to be a statement of the story itself. Luthor intended to wipe Superman from history, but maybe discovered that it was Superman that had saved him, and so opted not to.

This isn’t a horrible story, but as said, something about it just feels like it might be over my head, needing extra consideration, disproportionate to its size in relation to the rest of this issue. The art also isn’t horrible, but not really to my liking. On the last page particularly, I don’t care for the depiction of the “S” shield…its top and bottom seem way too thin compared to the middle, especially compared to the “standard” licensed version I’m used to, that I tend to hold mentally as the “standard” to which the various takes on the “S” are compared.

This also plays on Luthor and Superman having known each other as kids–something that was NOT part of the story I grew up on, and so I’m a bit biased against it. Still, knowing that and seeing what’s being gone for here in a way, I’m ok with the story, but won’t single it out as a favorite or such.

Then there’s the narration in the background speaking to the idea of Sol, our sun, eventually expanding: “…and eventually, the sun will eat our Mercury…and then Venus…and then Earth. And then, our time…ends.”

Which seems almost intentionally to lead into the next piece:

action_comics_1000_variants_60sOf Tomorrow

Writer: Tom King
Artist: Clay Mann
Color Artist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: John Workman

Superman kneels, scooping up some coal from the ground and squeezing it into diamond. He stands and we see blazing fire all around, amidst his speaking. It’s been BILLIONS of years, and Earth is finally about to be swallowed up by the red giant Sol has become; no matter that Superman had apparently pushed the entire planet of Earth out of its orbit, it still finds itself being consumed. And Superman speaks to his long-dead parents–Jonathan and Martha Kent–as he says goodbye for the final time. He’s got to let go–of them, and of Earth itself. After five BILLION years. Somehow, Superman, and Lois, and Jon, have been essentially immortal, thanks to (apparently) an “Eternity Formula.” He speaks of them, as he forms the diamond into a specific shape. He tells his parents “I miss you. I love you. Every day. It doesn’t matter how long it’s been. It’s still every day.” And as the planet burns up and wee see the grave plate reading:

KENT
JONATHAN & MARTHA
BELOVED PARENTS & GRANDPARENTS
YOU GAVE US HOPE

Superman leaves with the words “We’re all stardust fallen. And so we look to the sky. And we wait to be reclaimed. Good-bye, Ma. Good-bye, Pa. And thank you. For everything.”

This is an odd sort of story. While we can consider that the ongoing story of Superman is not one that’s gonna end anytime soon; while we’ve had stories of Superman surviving into the far future–thousands, even millions of years…to consider that he’d live another five BILLION years seems a bit out there for me. It changes the character. It’s best not to dwell on.

The point is: to the end of the Earth–literally–Superman has been shaped by his parents. He’s continued to live. He’s lived his life. He’s gone on–but that doesn’t mean that he’s forgotten. The love of his parents–his adoptive parents, the REAL parents he actually knew–they molded him into who he became, and that’s NOT something that changed with time. Their brief moment with him lasted through time, a huge legacy, outlasting the planet itself.

But on a smaller level, this speaks in an abstract sort of way to anyone who has ever lost loved ones. Wondering at the futility of visiting a grave, of speaking to those gone before, and I’d say to how even a year can feel like a lifetime, several years like countless lifetimes, when separated from the loved ones.

And on a “meta” level, Superman has outlived this planet, outlived all those lives…as he outlived his creators, and has and likely will outlive so many others.

On the literal level, this reminds me of an old story of an ancient Supreme or Mr. Majestic (I believe written by Alan Moore) (edit: yeah, I’m pretty sure that was Wildstorm Spotlight: Mr. Majestic #1: a story called The Big Chill.) recalling a world he once spent time on…he thinks its name had begun with ‘E’.

On the general level, that abstract level…this just speaks to the heart and I got choked up contemplating loss to come and what that’ll mean to me personally; and teared up considering losses I’ve already experienced. In a way, this had no reason to hit me like it did; yet, this is its own deeply personal, powerful piece…certainly worthy of being a Superman story, and well worth its inclusion in this issue!

action_comics_1000_variants_70sFive Minutes

Writer: Louise Simonson
Artist: Jerry Ordway
Colors: Dave McCaig
Letters: Carlos M. Mangual

This is another 5-page “short.” Clark is trying to finish a story, with Perry and Jimmy standing by, noting they’re 5 minutes to deadline, with Printing already giving hell for holding the presses. Even as Clark points out he’s nearly done, he’s hearing cries of distress, and jumps from his seat to go into action, while Perry tells him he has five minutes. Superman stops a runaway train; saves Bibbo; stops space debris from crashing to Earth, and still makes it back to the Planet to finish his story. But turns out in being so focused on that, he didn’t even consider the impact he just had, saving numerous people, maybe much of Earth…that the story he WAS working on is nothing compared to the story of Superman’s recent super-feats.

This is a neat piece, and as with others in this issue of Action, not one I’d care much for as an entire issue, but as a “backup,” as a piece included in this issue, I really like it. And with Louise Simonson writing and Ordway on art, it’s one that’s hard to beat, having such positive memories of both creators’ work in the ’90s on my early Superman comics.

And the idea of Clark Kent, Reporter, working, having to deal with stuff as Superman and still make his deadline is not new, but it works well here…and the fantastic art just makes it a beauty to behold.

I enjoyed this for that, and its relative timelessness.

action_comics_1000_variants_80sActionland!

Script: Paul Dini
Pencils: Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez
Inks: Kevin Nowlan
Colors: Trish Mulvihill
Letters: Josh Reed

What would a big, giant Superman comic be without Mr. Mxyzptlk? This is a short story showing an amusement park take on Superman and his history, where visitors get to “ride” in a replica of the ship that bore baby Kal-El away from Krypton; lift a tractor like little Clark in Kansas, witness Superman performing super-feats, view other heroes that served with Superman, as well as villains that were fought, and then the way things ended, with Superman… sacrificing himself…giving his life…the ending? The scene we’ve been seeing is a reality of sorts from Mxy, who just can’t quite figure out how he’d like to see the story of Superman end, even though he himself has the power to blink him out of existence with hardly a thought.

I think my initial thought–that it’s “fitting” to have Mxy get a story in something like this–comes from the Newstime special after the death of Superman, where there was some throw-away piece referencing the character, sort of explaining his showing up during all that, and yet not having an actual issue til well after the return.

Story-wise, I’m not overly enamored. It’s a solid enough piece with an interesting premise. Structurally, not a bad story. I think I’ve just kinda felt put-off to Mxy stuff after Superman: Reborn and being reminded of stuff from Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? recently. It has its merits–a glimpse at parts of Superman’s origins; shows us Mxy himself and reminds us he’s around and his powers, and that he can be “just” an imp messing with Superman without wanting to truly destroy him. I just didn’t singularly like this story that much.

Art-wise, this is solid, and though Dini has plenty of pedigree himself, having a new Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez story is quite appealing on principle. I can’t say I’d recognize the art on sight, but knowing Garcia-Lopez has significant association with Superman, this certainly deserves its place in the issue!

action_comics_1000_variants_90sFaster Than a Speeding Bullet

Writer: Brad Meltzer
Artist: John Casaday
Colors: Laura Martin
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos

This was an interesting story, touching on elements that I don’t often think of with Superman stories. A gunman with a hostage prepares to pull the trigger…while from a significant distance, Superman’s flying as fast as he can to the scene. We get Superman’s inner thoughts as he zips toward the gunman, even as he pulls the trigger and the bullet begins to move, as Superman does the math and everything remaining as-is, knows he will not make it in time. Yet, it turns out while he was focused on the gunman, the hostage was shifting, which bought the extra fraction of a second Superman needed to get there, and he saves her. He compliments her on her bravery, that she could be Police, and flies off.

The story here does a good job with building tension as Superman tries to get to the scene. All too often we have the imagery and stories of Superman getting somewhere JUST in the nick of time to bounce bullets off his chest, or pluck them from mid-air, mid-movement before they strike their intended target…but we rarely get something from his point of view, where even he might realize he will be a fraction of a second too late. We get a positive ending here, though, as the woman–Lila–shifts to resist her attacker and Superman is able to save her.

I was not expecting a Meltzer piece, but he’s another name that I feel certainly deserves his place and involvement with the issue…if not for prior Superman work, then for his real-world involvement with stuff–helping bring attention to the Siegel house, helping bring about the Superman display at the Cleveland airport, and other involvement with folks preserving the history of Siegel and Shuster and all that.

The art isn’t bad…and actually, is quite good–overall. There’s just something to the way Casaday does Superman’s face that seems really “off” to me. It looks like someone else’s face, a stranger’s face, is pasted onto a body with “a” Superman costume. Where some artists’ Superman is recognizable just by the face, I wouldn’t be able to look at the faces in this story and just form those know this was Superman.

For another “short,” I can’t really complain beyond that about this one!

action_comics_1000_variants_2000s“The Truth”

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Jim Lee
Inks: Scott Williams
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Cory Petit

Outside of the number, I’m sure this story is one reason for a lot of people to pick up this issue: it offers a prologue to a prologue to a mini-series that itself will lead into the ongoing story in the continuation of this title and rebooted-numbering fifth-volume of Superman. This piece kicks off Bendis‘ work on Superman…and does so with a beaten, bloodied Superman crashing through what looks like a cave wall, and on zooming out, we see a couple more hits as he smashes through the ceiling and out the side of the L-shaped Lexcorp tower, and then hits a road so hard he bounces a few times, destroying pavement, vehicles, and storefronts. Bystanders of course whip out cellphones to take photos/video of the fallen hero, while they try to drag Superman behind a counter. They comment on him wearing “the red shorts” again (rather than the cosmetic change being just there). Some giant creature with a huge battle axe is after him, and after taking a huge punch and repeated jabs from the just-arrived Supergirl, hits her once, taking her outta the fight (sending her flying toward the huge globe of the Daily Planet). Maggie Sawyer and the SCU shows up, though their weapons do nothing to the creature. There’s more discussion from further bystanders of him having “the shorts” again, and the creature continues to get the best of Superman, continuing to physically beat the crap out of him (so to speak), and a simple energy-blast wave-of-the-hand takes a just-returning Supergirl back out of the fight. Transforming the handle of the axe into a sword, he seems to plunge it with a splash into Superman’s chest, as he claims to be wiping out remaining Kryptonians, finishing the job he started when he destroyed Krypton.

Once upon a time, Jim Lee was just about my favorite Superman artist–perhaps behind or tied with Jurgens and Ed Benes. But here, I just don’t care for the art. I’m sure part of it is the coloring…this seems “dark” and “grim and gritty” especially compared to the rest of the issue, and feels out of place visually with the rest of the issue.

Ditto on the story side–this beating, this violence and Superman just being pummeled and beaten and such, and Supergirl coming off as completely ineffective as well–is sickening after so many happier, brighter, celebratory bits.

Sure, this is a new villain, but we don’t even get the name here. We just get nothing but fight. Superman himself points out he hasn’t gotten a name, and the villain accuses him of stalling, rather than giving his name. And sure, on one hand, it would be old-style, stereotypical monologuing or such to just give a name at that point…typically, the villain would be depicted in a large panel with a logo-style word balloon declaring his “cool”-sounding name and such, so instead he calls Superman out for stalling, and on a technical level, I guess this is good to get away from the typical.

I don’t like that we’re thrown into the middle of a fight like this, that we end on a cliffhanger, when the entire rest of this issue has been self-contained one-off stories and whatnot.

Surely we could have started on a brighter note, seen a bit of a different status quo or perspective maybe hinting at this villain’s coming or some such. I don’t know–but based solely on this 12-page piece, I’m not looking forward to the upcoming Man of Steel mini, and I’m suddenly quite concerned about what to expect from Bendis‘ run, where until now I’ve been content to “wait and see” and been fairly optimistic. I suppose I’ll now have to “wait and see” what we get in the DC Nation #0 issue and go from there.

I guess it’s appropriate enough in its way to launch Bendis‘ run with this issue…and yet despite assurances to the contrary, the part of me that suspects his “coming” heralded the end of Jurgens‘ and Tomasi‘s runs feels like they should have had more pages to play with in this issue, and Bendis could launch with DC Nation or The Man of Steel (after all, the last time, one creator (Alan Moore) ended the previous Superman, and it was the interstitial mini-series Man of Steel where Byrne‘s stuff started.

This is 12 pages of what’s likely a multi-year, dozens-of-issues run by one writer, so ultimately may not be indicative of what to expect on the whole and long-term…but for just these pages, and to come after such positive stories for the other 60+ pages…this just seems out of place and inappropriate for something as celebratory as a 1,000th issue…especially seeing nothing but Superman take a beatdown outta nowhere.

Overall Thoughts on the Issue As a Whole

I’ve looked forward to this issue for a long time. In some ways, I’ve probably looked forward to it for nearly 30 years, ever since the first issue I ever owned of the title (#651). At the least, I’m sure I wondered at a comic making it to #1,000 during the Doomsday! and Funeral for a Friend stuff, and the years following, as Adventures of Superman hit #500, Action hit #700, Superman (vol. 2) hit #100, and so on. I certainly wondered about it seven years ago when DC announced what came to be The New 52, that every single title including Action Comics and Detective Comics would be restarted with a #1. Though I still feel that Action making it to #1,000 technically needs an asterisk denoting the 1-52 sequence (there are no issues numbered 905-956) from the New 52 run. But I give DC a “pass” on that, as it was only one “hiccup” in the numbering. Given cover dress, paper condition, and literally the pricing should anyone actually find a copy of the original issues 1-52, one just needs to add 904 to the issue number to know what the issue is in that sense. There have not been numerous iterations where multiple hundreds of issues here, a hundred issues there, another several dozen issues, a mini-series, and a couple of less-than-20-issues runs suddenly add up to a big number. Number-wise, there’s virtually no reasonable confusion.

When Rebirth was announced, when it was announced that Action Comics and Detective Comics would get their original numbering back, and that Action Comics (especially) would indeed get to make it to #1,000, I jumped back in. And all these issues and almost two years later, here we are. I feel like this issue is a sort of reward, an attained destination, a prize that’s been driven toward since Action Comics #957 back in 2016.

A few months ago, there was some definite ambiguity as to formatting and such for the issue and what to expect for the issue. Part of me thinks this should have been even bigger, included even more–both in the way of original stories as well as reprints. But the companion hardback collection Action Comics: 80 Years of Superman handles a lot of that–with essays and reprints of stories both for characters and creators tied to Superman, and Action Comics itself. I was also a bit curious about what the issue’s story would be, or if it would be an anthology/”jam” issue.

Back in the 1990s there were periodic special issues such as The Wedding Album that were key, integral chapters in the ongoing Superman story unfolding in the actual, ongoing titles; though this would be an actual numbered issue, I’d wondered if this would have any singular through-story that just happened to have a bunch of different artists and maybe some narrative structure allowing for different writers to leave a mark on the story.

Obviously what we got was 15-page chunks of the two main creative teams of the ongoing titles, and then 8 more stories/contributions, and a 12-page launch sequence from the new writer coming onto stuff.

As with my excitement for Rebirth and Action Comics #957, I bought this digitally, and I bought this in-print, and I’ll gladly buy the hardcover edition that I believe will be out this Fall. I also ordered the “Decades Variants” through DCBS, and will be getting the 1,000 covers poster, which will be an excellent, appropriate addition to my comics space.

This is an issue that rightly deserves the “celebration” that variants offer. There are artists who may not otherwise have had involvement with the issue, who get to be associated with Action Comics #1000 if only with a variant. And as the first American comic book to make it to #1000…it’s more than worthy. 80 years of continuous publication of a comic titled Action Comics is nothing to sneeze at. I’m among the first to complain and gripe and grouse about variants, and will continue to, where they merely cheapen stuff and are “abused” (really, does a #17 or a #81 or a #962 truly deserve a variant? What makes such numbers special if they’re just another issue?) But this 1,000th issue deserves the added recognition, the “fun” of certain variants…especially what I’ve seen of the “Decades” variants, that bring back the logo style and even the DC logo of each decade…the DC Bullet I grew up on is back with several of the issues, and even the “swoosh” logo gets some love with the 2000s variant.

$7.99 for a single issue is a bit much in most cases. This is squarebound and has 81 story pages with no ads between stories nor interrupting any stories, and the cover is a stronger cardstock…so this is absolutely worth its price for the physical product as well as the content it contains.

None of the stories seem to specifically continue from anything; nothing I’m aware of comes off of a To Be Continued; and other than the Bendis segment leading into stuff out of/after this issue, that’s still 69 or so pages that stand alone quite well, neither requiring previous reading nor requiring subsequent reading. This is well worth getting just for itself; a 1,000th issue; a standalone, celebratory Superman issue. Perhaps it’s an endpoint; maybe it can be a starting point; it’s definitely an excellent one-off, special thing.

I highly recommend this to any Superman fan or anyone interested in checking out some Superman content, period, and especially if you don’t want to commit to anything ongoing or long-form.

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The ’90s Revisited: X-Men Series 1, Cards 28-36

Looks like my "schedule" with covering this card set is slipping! As it’s been several months since I last touched on this, I’ll "lead" with the links to the previous posts in the series!


Cards 1-9  |  Cards 10-18  |  Cards 19-27


xmen_series1_full_028-036

This is another page of mostly characters I’m at least familiar with, if not entirely informed on. Jubilee, of course, catches my attention as having been one of the primary characters in the ’90s Fox animated series, as does Rogue! Forge I always remember from the same animated series, despite being placed in a different time for that.

On with the individual cards…

028a

I think I’m actually most aware of Boom Boom from Nextwave by Warren Ellis. Here she has the "typical" look, and I think I might slightly recognize her by the bubblegum-bubble, but overall would likely not have recognized her without the name prominent on the card!

028b

And right here on the card-back is more information than I could have told you myself off the top of my head. I’d’ve thought she was a character introduced at the end of New Mutants if not X-Force #1. And I knew she could blow stuff up, but would not have recalled the "time bomb" aspect.

029a

Jubilee was a "point of view" character in the ’90s X-Men cartoon series…she was the inexperienced one, the one who could ask the same questions the viewers would have, and have stuff explained without talking down to said viewers. My first introduction to her was the cartoon, and it wasn’t until later that I first "met" her in the comics. I was aware of her earliest-on in the comics in an issue of Wolverine as well as the Uncanny X-Men issue that saw a "death" of Illyana Rasputin (Colossus’ sister) at the time.

029b

Jubilee is another character that was still very new when I came in, despite now being close to 30 years old! Nothing much new for me information-wise on this card outside of the term "plasmoids"…perhaps a way of making something sound scientific regarding her powers? I always forget if her first appearance was #242 or #244 of Uncanny X-Men, so there’s a handy reference to have.

030a

Shatterstar is a character who epitomizes "the ’90s" for me, as a character, and as a part of X-Force, and the actual X-Force title as it stood in the early-’90s. I mainly only knew the character for awhile from the Spider-Man/X-Force crossover that was collected in a tiny 3-issue volume back in the day.

030b

Reading the back of this card gives me more information than I ever could have given specifically about the character off the top of my head. It’s interesting that there are so many time/dimensional refugees that multiple characters up and down the timestream of an alternate reality found their way into the "main" one. Part of the convoluted nature of ’90s X-stuff, I guess. Also interesting to consider how relatively cliché it is that a character travels back in time to get help and simply joins the group they went back to interact with…or even some other group! Readily-assimilating (-ish) into a time not their own seems relatively common (Shatterstar, Bishop, Cable, Rachel Summers, etc to name just several!).

031a

Strong Guy I’m most familiar with from the then-current iteration of X-Factor, around the 30th anniversary of the X-Men and the whole Fatal Attractions crossover; though he became more of a standout to me due to the cliffhanger leading into the original Age of Apocalypse saga.

031b

There’s not a lot of depth to my knowledge of Strong Guy, and this card doesn’t really change that. It’s handy to see the first appearance…that’s a factoid I did not know off the top of my head. I did know he used to be a bodyguard.

032a

Captain Britain is a character I feel like I’ve been "familiar with" in terms of the character existing much more than I am with the character himself. He’s got a distinct look, and I’ve long associated the character with Excalibur–at least early issues that I’d been aware of.

032b

I’ve known about (but forgotten til reminded here) that stuff with Captain Britain is where we got the "616" designation of the "main" Marvel Universe. I can’t say this card really tells me much, but it’s such a little block of text for a fairly complex character, even back in 1992!

033a

I first "met" Forge in the X-Men animated series; though in that he was a character whose present seemed to be "The Future." Not long after that I learned a bit more about him, at least in his existing in the present-day in the comics, and there having been something between him and Storm.

033b

…and there we go: another character I’ve learned more about from a card than I might’ve been able to easily convey myself off the top of my head. I did not remember (if I even knew) of the character’s involvement with the Vietnam war (something that dates the character a bit).

034a

I don’t remember for certain when I first became aware of Multiple Man (Jamie Madrox), though it was probably somewhere around X-Factor‘s 100th issue when the character had "died" at the time. I think I’d gotten the issue as part of one of those department-store 3-packs or "boxed set" of a couple issues leading into/including the 100th issue.

034b

The main thing I learn from this card in 2018 is the first appearance of the character…I would have assumed he first appeared in an X-book. But Giant-Size Fantastic Four? Ok.

This mutant power is one of my go-to "super-powers" in answer to the question "If you could have one character’s power, which would you want?" (and excluding the likes of Superman with multiple powers).

035a

I can’t remember when I first became aware of Quicksilver…it was probably around 1993’s X-Men #25 (part of the Fatal Attractions crossover). I recall a bit of ‘hype’ around "that" issue of X-Factor where Peter David left a huge mark on the character: giving a great analogy from the character’s point of view as to why he’s always seeming like a jerk. (Something about standing in line behind someone that doesn’t know what they’re doing, and to imagine being surrounded by people who don’t know what they’re doing, every moment of every day).

035b

I’d forgotten Quicksilver started as part of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants with his sister, the Scarlet Witch. I also forgot (or hadn’t realized) that he had a stint as an Avenger. Same for how early he first appeared in the X-Men series…

036a

Ah…Rogue. One of my favorite X-characters, largely thanks to her depiction in the X-Men animated series. It’s safe to say that as fictional characters go, she was a definite "crush" as a kid. This is my favorite design of the character (matching the cartoon series); and though I don’t mind some of her other costumes, this one’s the one I most think of for her.

036b

I learned of Rogue’s backstory from the animated series, as well as elements from the mini-series in the earlier ’90s. I’m pretty sure I "discovered" Ms. Marvel from the animated series before any appearances in the comics. It’s interesting to see that a major part of Rogue’s character is basically non-existent in the present; same for the impact on Ms. Marvel (now Captain Marvel). While one of my "grail" comics is Uncanny X-Men #266 (the only issue I’m missing from having a run from #240ish to 500 or so), I’d also be quite interested in getting Avengers Annual #10 for Rogue’s first appearance.

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The ’90s Revisited: Iron Man #12

90s_revisited

iron_man_(1996)_0012Heroes Reunited part 3 of 4: Matters of the Heart

Plot: Jeph Loeb, Jim Lee
Script: Jeph Loeb
Pencils: Ed Benes, Terry Shoemaker, Mike Miller
Inks: JD & Homage Studios
Colors: Wildstorm FX
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft’s Albert Deschesne
Editor: Ruben Diaz
Inspiration: Special Thanks to Scott Lobdell
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: October 1997
Cover Price: $2.99

[ Heroes Reunited part 1 of 4 was in Fantastic Four (1996) #12  |  Heroes Reunited part 2 of 4 was in Avengers (1996) #12 ]

This felt like the most "standalone" issue of this 4-parter so far, and felt a lot more tied to previous issues than the other chapters. This issue has several references to the previous issue, beyond simply THAT a conflict had begun or stuff come before.

We open on Tony Stark being brought into a meeting involving The Fantastic Four and the "Hulkbusters." As he gets up to speed on the overall situation, a fight breaks out between the Thing and Hulk, eventually interrupted by Invisible Woman separating them in invisible force-shield bubbles. Cosmic readings are picked up, and the group finds several entities headed to Earth. Tony cuts out–leading the others to think maybe he hasn’t changed as much as thought…but we find that he’s actually checking in on Happy and Pepper–actually caring about others beyond himself. The FF went into action against the heralds of Galactus while Tony’s (separately) kidnapped from Happy’s hospital room by Dr. Doom…while Pepper frets over this, Happy seems fine, figuring it’ll all be resolved within the day. Doom takes Stark to the Helicarrier; meanwhile, Liz gets past security and interacts with Hulk–who reverts to Banner. On the Helicarrier, Stark suits up as Iron Man and confronts Doom before they’re joined by Fury, who lays things out before assembling other heroes, and breaking the news that the Fantastic Four have been (by then) killed in action. The remaining heroes head out to make true their name as "Avengers" and engage the heralds in battle, before Hulk and Iron Man attempt to take on Galactus himself. As he sees them fail, Doom activates his device, and armed with the new knowledge of this latest go-round, disappears back in time for another attempt at stopping Earth’s destruction.

As said, this issue feels the least connected to the overall story/pattern. Doom is there, and we have reference to stuff, but that’s almost incidental. This feels like it probably could read pretty well without the first two chapters, and only earlier issues of this very series (Iron Man) for context. I both like that and yet don’t at the same time. The story title of the issue and the title/credits page don’t even have any reference to Heroes Reunited, unlike the first two chapters; almost like this story was written with a few story-beats required but otherwise completely independent of the overall 4-parter.

heroes_reunited_03

With the art, there are multiple pencilers…but that again didn’t bother me as nothing really seemed to jump out at me or have any jarring differences in appearances. Simply reading the issue, I’d only know there were multiple pencilers because of looking at the credits. I’m a reader-first, so when the art is at least "similar" enough that I don’t really notice it change–that is a good thing. I suspect at least part of that is also due to the consistent inks, colors, and lettering; perhaps heavier handed inking and no huge variation of colors can well hide the different pencils. All that said, I enjoyed the art on this issue! I don’t know how I’ve gone all these years without noticing it, and I didn’t notice it on the interiors, but the EAR on Iron Man on the cover just looks extremely odd and "off" to me and is really the only thing that totally "threw" me off with the visuals. Also as said with the previous two chapters, I’m quite glad the cover can work as it does on its own, yet is part of a 4-part image; as opposed to any one of the chapters having 3 extra variant covers to make up the singular image. Get all four chapters of this four-chapter story and have 1 full image; get any single issues and you have a cover that has the characters in the issue and can be its own thing.

As with the Fantastic Four and Avengers issues of this story, this works well enough as a one-off issue…it’d be worth getting even by itself if you found it for 25-50 cents or so; even up to $1ish. Any more than $1-$2 and I’d recommend definitely getting it as part of a set of the four issues of Heroes Reunited. Despite working alone, I’d recommend this more as part of a set for the "experience." I’m glad to have read it, and somewhat surprised at the details I remembered from whenever the last time I read this was–possibly only back in 1997!

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The ’90s Revisited: Fantastic Four (1996) #12

90s_revisited

fantastic_four_(1996)_0012Heroes Reunited part 1 of 4: Doomsday!

Plot: Jim Lee
Script: Brandon Choi
Pencils: Ron Lim & Brett Booth
Inks: Mike Miller, Tom Mcweeney & Homage Studios
Letters: Richard Starkings/Comicraft’s Dave Lanphear
Colors: Wildstorm FX w/Jessica Ruffner
Editor: Ruben Diaz
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Date: October 1997
Cover Price: $2.99

It’s probably been a good 20 years since I last read this story, but as I’ve yet to actually do a solid read-through of the entirety of the HEROES Heroes Reborn thing, so the sense of familiarity I had in the reading was a very welcome thing.

The cover itself hit me with all sorts of deja vu…and seems like something that in some ways could qualify as a favorite or “iconic” cover…at least because hey–you have the Fantastic Four in full-on attack mode against a distressed Galactus, who is quite recognizable as the giant purple Kirby-entity that he is. I’d actually forgotten until looking at the other issues in this 4-part epic that the cover joins with the other 4 chapters to forma larger 4-part image. Which, of course, would virtually never happen today, 20-some years later, when any potential for such things absolutely MUST be used all on the same exact issue as variant covers, instead of a fun “bonus” or “reward” of getting one copy of an entire story!

After the front cover itself, the next thing to immediately grab my attention was the fold-out nature of the cover. This is from a brief period when Marvel utilized the cover to provide both a page giving the premise of the title and a list of core characters and another page to recap what’s come before as one heads into the issue. Though Marvel has since gone through other things and seems to primarily at present do a “page” with this sort of info as just a text piece, I can definitely say I’d prefer this overall…at least by comparison.

In a way, this issue is rather simple, despite its extra length that allows quite a bit of detail to unfold. Dr. Doom returns to New York, and the final piece of a device he’s been working on is finally in reach. Meanwhile, the Fantastic Four continue a standoff with the heralds of Galactus, before their master summons them away, and the FF are picked up by SHIELD. Nick Fury has also gathered Iron Man and Captain America–Avengers–as things are bigger than they appeared. Probes that had been launched earlier penetrate Galactus’ space and reveal his ship, and the release of devices to several points on Earth. This leads to the various heroes splitting off, each to attend to the building situation in different places. Johnny Storm–the Human Torch–goes to the Himalayans with the Inhumans to face Firelord and one squad of Avengers goes to Monster Island to face Plasma (and by extension of being on Monster Island, the Mole Man). The fight with Firelord winds up falling to Black Bolt, who is able to destroy the device, but its energy emission on destruction kills the Inhumans and Human Torch. Meanwhile, Namor sacrifices himself to neutralize the device guarded by Plasma. As the fight moves to Galactus himself, now on Earth, the SHIELD Helicarrier is compromised…and after it’s evacuated, Nick Fury and the Countess steer it into Galactus’ ship, giving their lives. Unfortunately, Galactus survives. In the ongoing battle, we get surprising twists and turns…and deaths. The Thing and Black Panther are killed, and as the situation deteriorates further, Doom enters the fray, determined to gain the Power Cosmic for himself…and his interference screws things up further for the heroes. As Reed appeals to Doom’s better side, it becomes apparent that the situation is hopeless. As the world dies, Doom alone escapes via his device.

heroes_reunited_01

This issue alone would in present-day terms be an entire event in itself, at least for the most part. I know where things go, and why this is “only” part 1 despite the deaths and then destruction of Earth itself. The extra size to the issue, with plenty of dialogue and captions and such certainly gives us more in a single issue than we’d likely feel we got in an entire event in the present.

The story seems to mostly be its own thing…there are “moments” and plenty of references that would probably mean more to me if I’d read the previous few issues, or the entire series so far; but I felt comfortable jumping in here and just seeing characters behaving largely to form, regardless of their depth.

The art is excellent–for the most part, I felt like Lim and Booth gave some of my favorite appearances to characters throughout the issue. Overall I didn’t notice much of a change between the two…the only point I really felt like I noticed an actual/major difference is in one panel having a large, majestic Captain America, and then another panel with him looking maybe half the size and pretty much TOO “lean.” The entire visual team seemed to work quite well together here, at least in my reading: I enjoyed that this did not feel like it had multiple teams on it.

As series go, this is “functionally” the last issue of this version of the Fantastic Four. There is a 13th issue, but due to its crossover with the then-part-of-Image Wildstorm universe prior to Wildstorm‘s being bought by DC Comics, that issue has not (to my knowledge) been reprinted or the story “acknowledged” in-continuity/etc…making it a sort of one-shot and curiosity.

While I’d initially checked out the first issues (as of this writing, I honestly don’t recall if I’d followed the next few issues of FF or not but recall #7 or so for sure) I was quite a bit “behind” by the time of this crossover. I imagine that I was aware of things coming up, thanks presumably to Wizard Magazine, which was probably part of my getting this story as the issues came out…gearing up for the end of Heroes Reborn and the return of the characters to the main Marvel universe.

This issue more or less works on its own, though it ends on quite the bad note if read in isolation. If you can find all four of the #12s for Heroes Reunited, though, they make quite a set, and just from this first chapter, I’m eager to get into the rest.

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The ’90s Revisited: X-Men Series 1, Cards 19-27

Well, it’s been a couple weeks longer than intended since revisiting these X-Men cards…but here we are, with the next "page" of 9 cards!

xmen_series1_full_019-027

With the exception of Kylun, I’m "familiar" with all of these characters, though some a bit more than others.

Let’s get into these and see what thoughts the cards bring up for me!

019a

This is definitely Cable as I remember him. Huge arms and muscles, giant guns, the scars and glowy-eye thing going on…and for this image, look! Even a random chain thrown in! Totally "the ’90s" visually–or at least, a PART of the ’90s.

019b

Well…this card is certainly "dated." Nathan Summers. Son of Cyclops. But back in ’92, he was just some new-ish unknown, not yet tied tightly into the X-Men mythos and all that. And since this card was published, we’ve learned a whole lot about his origins, the "bionic limbs," etc. Though there was a recent-ish run of Cable and X-Force or such, I’d say by and large his time with X-Force or the New Mutants is more a footnote in the character’s history these days.

020a

This image of Archangel is rather iconic. It’s typical Jim Lee for sure, and I’m pretty sure it was used as the cover for at least one comic, if only one that was highlighting card art in much large scale! Though I was aware of Archangel, this particular version of the character was a bit before my time…this (to me) still carries clear shades of the ’80s; it wasn’t terribly long into my time following these characters that the metal wings disappeared and Warren had actual wings again.

020b

To a certain degree, I don’t think I originally associated Archangel with Angel, as an "original X-Man." It’s sorta interesting to see the changes the character has gone through…as well as the "diluting" of his status as "Death," with seemingly so many other characters having held the role as well.

I’d forgotten the notion of the wings exerting any control over him…probably because that was largely done away with by the time I got into things.

021a

I definitely like this costume, or at least this rendition of it. Yet I’m not certain if I’ve actually read any "new" issues with this version of the character. Offhand I primarily know the character from the cartoon in the ’90s, and for his role with Generation X.

021b

I also did not recall the character being an X-villain, though I do vaguely recall the character’s appearance in Giant-Size X-Men #1. Also seems like a "given" to me his relation to Black Tom Cassidy.

022a

I’ve never been overly keen on any of Kitty’s codenames…to me, the "default" name to the character is her name–Kitty Pryde. I first "met" the character from the animated Pryde of the X-Men, which was itself my first/earliest exposure to the X-Men, several years before my conscious getting into the characters.

022b

This card seems suitably generic and basis…hardly any "contradition" to the last 25+ years, except I’m not sure she’s a teenager anymore (or if she is, she’s incredibly mature for one..!)

023a

Ok, I’d guess here’s a character that may have Once Been A Big Deal, but I wouldn’t have been able to place offhand…though given the theme of these cards and ranking my familiarity with properties, my first guess WOULD have been Excalibur for this character, had I not seen the back of the card already!

023b

Though that sounds distinctly ’90s, it fits the ’80s as well. Nothing really to say except I’m not familiar with the character, and this doesn’t exactly prompt any interest in me…though perhaps part of that is that I don’t know that the character has appeared or had any significance, period, for over two decades…

024a

Typical-ish Jean…another character that I’ve "always" known by her own name more than any codename. And appearing here both very familiar and yet looking a bit more muscled and "older" than a number of other characters. Yet perhaps still a bit on the "young side" for me at my present age.

024b

I was rather oblivious to the whole Scott (Cyclops)/Jean thing at first, their interest in each other being a bit of a "surprise" to me when it manifested in the cartoon; ditto the "triangle" aspect with Wolverine. It’s been interesting to see the various takes on the character over the years, and learn more about her past from before I got into the comics. This also reminds me how much I’d like to have this "original" Jean back, in place of the "teen Jean" taking over in contemporary Marvel comics.

025a

Colossus is a mixed sort of character for me…one I feel like I’ve known quite a bit about, and yet still a bit of a "stranger" to read about. He was largely a "side" character to me at first, with one of my earliest comics with him being Uncanny X-Men #304 when he "defected" to Magneto.

025b

Another early memory for me of Colossus is the cartoon series, coming shortly after the end of the Cold War and whatnot, early in my developing any sort of consciousness for history or world events. Though not mentioned here, one of my favorite portrayals of the character is his friendship with Wolverine and Nightcrawler. I believe he was "stuck" in his "metal form" at the time when I got into the X-stuff; though that obviously didn’t last.

026a

I’m pretty sure I first came across Warpath in X-Force, probably the crossover with Spider-Man where they fought the Juggernaut and Black Tom.

026b

Though I’ve long known Warpath’s relationship to the X-Men via Thunderbird, I often mixed the two names. Seems rather cliché in a way to realize how many active members of the team "started out" as "villains" or at least antagonists. These cards also seem to lowball weights, as it seems almost impossible for characters to be so light given muscle mass and such at least!

027a

I’m not sure when I first found this character. This particular image doesn’t strike me as overly iconic, though the costume basically screams X-Factor to me. I probably did discover the character in that title.

027b

Another "early memory" I have of Polaris is–I think–a reprint of Giant-Size X-Men, perhaps in Classic X-Men/X-Men Classic. I feel like even now, too much of my thoughts on the character center on her being/not-being the daughter of Magneto, or her relationship to Havok.


I guess while familiar with more of these characters, I don’t necessarily have a LOT to say about them…at least not the way I’d want to in a post like this.

Here’s my first post in this series, covering cards #s 1-9

And my second post, covering cards #s 10-18

The ’90s Revisited: X-Men Series 1, Cards 10-18

Here we get into several of the characters I know a lot better, and definitely associate with the ’90s…though also one that I remember by name, but at a glance don’t even remember any details!

xmen_series1_full_010-018

We also see where this set seems to pre-date the "consciousness" of cards like this likely being stored in 9-pocket pages and the "use" of that structure. Given one page late in this series, they weren’t entirely without that, but having just one "landscape" card amidst eight "portrait" cards doesn’t exactly work well for the aesthetics of the "page"…

010a

Lockheed’s had a number of looks, and seems a bit malleable…at least to my conscious mind. This image makes him look a bit larger–so it’s the "conscious" knowledge of his being smaller that I can know that.

010b

I’d swear I’ve seen images of Lockheed on Kitty Pryde’s shoulder like a parrot…but 55 lbs? That definitely stretches stuff a bit. I don’t remember much detail of the character over the years, but this card’s info doesn’t seem to be contradictory to anything…just a bit outta date. And I knew how he got his name, but forgot til re-reading the card. I probably knew that originally from this card. Or Wikipedia.

011a

Given Xavier’s place in the X-Men story, I’m surprised he wasn’t the first card…but then, they’re not going alphabetically nor in order of first appearance and not even by team, so…yeah. This is a fairly typical image of the character, and though I have fond memories of the look (with the golden hover-chair) it seems so dated now, afer getting used to the character in actual wheelchairs or with his legs restored.

011b

Xavier’s description here is pretty generic…and certainly precedes Onslaught, the Illuminati stuff, and obviously the likes of AvX. Though I suppose as I think about it…those added a certain depth the character hadn’t had…even if retcons get old and stale fast.

012a

I’m sure I’ve seen this image–or at least the pose–a number of places other than this card. It’s typical Jim Lee, typical of this character (at least in this ’90s incarnation), etc.

012b

…but no mention on the card of her past, or that this (apparently) isn’t her original body and whatnot. I’m fuzzy on the details, not having read the "Siege Perilous" stuff first-hand as yet, even after all these years.

013a

While I’m sure I was aware of the character before then, I feel like most of my conscious memory of Domino came after the Age of Apocalypse stuff, in the Cable title. This image of her seems a bit harsher and more generic than what I picture in my mind when I think of the character.

013b

This card pretty much sums up what I’d be able to say about the character, despite remembering her from those issues of Cable. And I would not have been able to cite her first appearance or tell you offhand that she’d first appeared in New Mutants #98. This description seems "typical ’90s," as is fitting.

014a

My conscious introduction to Storm was the ’92 X-Men animated series…that look, and that voice are the definitive Storm for me. This card’s image is fairly typical for what I’d think of with the character, except I wouldn’t have recalled her cape having the purple tint or the gold trim.

014b

Nothing stands out much for this card (though I’m noticing the weights of characters seems rather questionable). Her "X-tra Fact" is something I don’t think I’d consciously realized until a recent-ish Nightcrawler series. I have the feeling by the time I’m done offering commentary on this series of cards, I’m gonna be thoroughly kicking myself for not (yet) having gotten to the bulk of the Claremont run.

015a

Meggan…ok. Blond Siryn? For all that my memory has on the character at a name and image.

015b

Huh. Ok, interesting–and here’s a character I’ve learned about by going through these cards. I also like the X-Tra Fact…that’s the sorta detail I definitely took to heart as a kid, and would hold as relatively "absolute" in terms of continuity.

016a

Feral! This is the character I previously couldn’t think of, that I always mix up with Wolfsbane! Two female were-wolf-like characters, X-characters at that, with association with X-Force…no wonder I’ve mixed them up!

016b

So, I probably mix up the names, but most often would think of Wolfsbane, when it comes to the two characters. More details here that I’d hold as certain and be disappointed to not see reflected in a generic, casual appearance of the character involving any kind of action or such.

017a

Now, Cyclops. Possibly my favorite X-character, and this is by far my favorite costume…though I’d swear I never consciously took in all the pouches in the early ’90s. I like the blue, and the gold; I’ll grant that the shorts are rather dated, but the contrast of yellow and blue–evoking prior costumes while becoming iconic for the ’90s–just works for me!

017b

This is another fairly generic description…and it’s quite interesting to see how MUCH the character has grown and changed since the early-1990s…though I really have NOT cared for what’s been done with him since AvX.

018a

I have a mixed bit of thought on Gambit…but he remains one of my definite favorites of the X-Men, for his role in the ’92 cartoon and the Fabian Nicieza series from ’99ish. This is a classic sort of look for the character, and the one I prefer…regardless of how dated or "’90s" it is.

018b

Interesting. Remy Lebeau. I just think of the name with the character…so to consider his name unrevealed (in any form) is a bit odd…but then, he was introduced at most two years before this card was printed, and I’ve been myself aware of the character for most of the last 25-ish years!

I’m more aware OF the "early" stuff with the character, not having actually read his first appearance as yet and "met" the character via the animated series, and he’d already undergone some development well before I realized how "new" a character he was at the time!


Here’s my last post, comments covering the first 9 cards of this series.

The ’90s Revisited: X-Men Series 1, Cards 1-9

Several years back, I started covering this card set, one "page" at a time. (You know, those 9-pocket pages that fit in standard binders and are commonly used for storing trading cards and gaming cards and whatnot).

Life got in the way at the time and I’m pretty sure that was one of the points that I trailed off and let this blog go for awhile.

I’m almost curious myself what I wrote about these back then and how my thoughts/perceptions/memory may have changed since then. But now I’m going to give it another shot, and see if I can get through the entire set this time…and perhaps get a bit more detailed than I had that time.

What I intend for now is to show the entire "page" of cards, and then I’ll offer some sort of comment(s) on the individual cards, which I’ll show further below.

I scanned every one of these myself and did all the editing to make ’em pretty for these posts. If this goes well, I may cover a couple other sets. I suppose time will tell!


It’s interesting-ish to note the mix of "wide" vs "tall" images and the rather arbitrary placement/use of them. As I believe these are all Jim Lee pieces, perhaps it’s just what he felt like drawing, or whoever was working on the card set felt like cropping.

As I think this was one of the "earlier" such card sets (and pre-dates Magic: The Gathering and the whole "collectible card game" thing by a few years) so perhaps they were "learning" what/how to do a card set. C’est la vie.

xmen_series1_full_001-009

Beast and Wolverine I can see as some of the top X-Men…I’m a little surprised at Havok’s place here (but then, I’m typing this in 2017, and these were published in 1992–a quarter-century ago!) Similar goes for the others. I wouldn’t tend to associate Siryn or Wolfsbane with top-level, premiere X-Men…I associate them more with stuff like X-Force or X-Factor. Same for Cannonball.

I’ve noticed, though, that the "X" icon on the cards changes color depending on the character–this seems to correspond a bit to their specific team/title affiliation. I guess we’ll see as we go through the cards!

001a

Typical Beast…and very much a classic rendition of the character. I far prefer this version to the more modern takes.

001b

I don’t care at all, really, for the "stat graph". I do find the description basic and to the point, and the sort of thing that would definitely "informed" my knowledge of the character. I also like the brief info for name, affiliation, and first appearance…though Beast is a character that (now) that’s all information I take for granted.

002a

I’ve always preferred the yellow costume on Wolverine…though I appreciate this one. I’m sure part of that is the ’92 animated series, and that the character had "gone back to" the yellow by the time I was actually getting "into" the X-Men.

002b

Would it be wrong to suggest that this card’s text is "cute," given all the additional info that’s been added to the character in 25 years? In a way, it’s almost laughable how dated the card is for the character as he’s evolved…PARTICULARLY the bit about his "first recorded mission!" First? Pretty sure that’s long since been retconned…and/or I just take for granted how MUCH the character did long before that.

003a

This image of Havok reminds me a BIT of the holographic image from X-Factor #92…though this predates that issue by a year or so at least.

003b

I don’t think I ever realized Havok "absorbed cosmic energy," I just thought his power was some sort of bio-energy projection. Sorta interesting that there’s no mention on the card of Havok being the brother of Cyclops–Scott Summers. I know it, obviously, but you’d only be able to "guess" from the info provided here.

004a

Not really sure what I think of Iceman at this point. This is one of the more boring sort of looks for the character, even if it’s good art. I remember enjoying some of the stuff in the early/mid ’90s with them building the character a bit after Emma Frost got inside his head and utilized aspects of his powers that he himself hadn’t used. There’s also his role in LegionQuest and attempting to freeze Legion solid.

004b

I don’t recall the story this card mentions, of his being unable to control his powers. That strikes me a bit like Rogue’s, perhaps–though I can’t be certain (since I haven’t read the story!). I’ve also never "gotten" the ice-slides as travel…the LOOK is cool (no pun intended) but the physics and such behind it seems questionable. Still…suspension of disbelief and all that, right?

005a

While I don’t consciously recall reading much involving this version of Phoenix, I do recall seeing the character here and there and not being quite sure what to make of the character. That said, that fact and this sort of imagery is part of where I had a real problem with AvX–if the Phoenix was manifesting regularly like this, it was a bit more suspending of disbelief to buy into it as such a rare entity needing to "return," but that’s a bunch of thinking for another time.

005b

Well there’s another thing I’d forgotten–Rachel using her powers to hide the tattoos. I’m sure I knew that along the way because her being shown with OR without them rarely phases me or gives me much pause over the different appearances.

It’s interesting to note the language here–rather than going into the more complex aspects of her history, they say "an alternate reality." Days of Future Past

006a

Nightcrawler’s one of my favorites, yet I rarely think of the character when put on the spot or trying to think of favorites off the top of my head. I guess that’d make him a "forgotten favorite."

006b

Another "X-tra Fact" that I didn’t/don’t recall about the character. Perhaps that’s further push that I need to read the entirety of the Claremont run one of these years. Like Wolverine, definitely interesting-ish to see the character’s background as presented here, compared to what would come over the subsequent 25 years.

009a

Cannonball is a character I remember primarily for "graduating to" the main X-Men team during the ’90s. Something to this costume is a bit off, so I’m thinking I’m more familiar with a different look…I just can’t recall it off the top of my head.

009b

I often "forget" that the New Mutants got their start in a "pilot" of sorts in the graphic novel, and that it was the first appearance of a number of characters. It’s further interesting to consider that that was 1982–maybe 11-12 years before I would have learned much of anything about the character. And that it’s been well over 2 decades SINCE learning of the character!

When I see the character’s last name–Guthrie–I often think of Age of Apocalypse and the character and his family as used there.

008a

I feel like I often mix Wolfsbane up with another character…yet, as I type this, now I can’t think OF the other character! Perhaps it’s more that the character changed over the years and wasn’t restricted just to New Mutants or X-Factor?

008b

And of course, part of the above association with the character is not clarified by the card text. I do recall the character being unable to shift back into a human form, though. And really have gotta get around to reading some of these other key stories from pre-1991/92 that had so much impact on characters as they were in the ’90s when I was actually reading their ongoing stories!

007a

I remember Siryn primarily because of her being in the Spider-Man/X-Force crossover that I initially read in its tpb form (when such things were relatively rare). Her costume is rather recognizable, so she’s one of the more distinct characters for me visually…at least with this costume.

007b

Here’s another case where I’m actually learning about the character NOW from the card–I did not know about her first appearance (and would have pegged it as X-Force #1 or thereabouts…not Spider-Woman…and at LEAST would have thought she was a more recent character than early-’80s! I also don’t recall much of anything about Banshee lamenting a lost child…but then, haven’t read much with Banshee, period, so…yeah.


Perhaps a bit disjointed/random…but that’s my stream-of-conscious commentary on looking through these first 9 cards!

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