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The Weekly Haul: Week of July 11, 2018

This past week was a small week for me for comics!

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The new Superman #1–a long time (several months?) coming. I still think this would’ve been the place to start with the storyline that we got as Man of Steel (2018). Then we have the extra-sized Flash #50, with what I suppose is the "conclusion" of Flash War (at "only" 4 chapters…but an Annual prologue and whatever other lead-up threw me off with the title earlier in the year).

GI Joe: A Real American Hero #253…a series closing in on its 100th issue or so. This "began" with a Free Comic Book Day #155 1/2, if I’m recalling correctly–and then started properly with #156…picking up from the original Marvel numbering going back to the early 1980s! Given the time between 1995 and the start of this run, the series could legitimately have started with a new #1…but this has a feel of TRUE "legacy" in the numbering.

The second issue of Aliens: Dust to Dust is out; and the "surprise" new series from Kirkman Die!Die!Die! premiered with the barest heads-up that it was even going to be available. I opted to check it out on principle: the way I grouse about over-hype and over-marketing and such (particularly from the likes of Marvel) I feel I should at least check something like this out to "support" something NOT being part of the "hype machine" and all that. If they’re willing to take a chance putting it out withOUT all the hype/etc, I can take a chance on a #1. Normally I’d be annoyed at something with a distinct lack of information available…but especially as an exception to the norm, I’ll give it a bit of leeway.


And speaking of exceptions, I was actually going to go ahead and check out the new Amazing Spider-Man #1 given some online spoilers…I even went so far as to physically pick up a copy of the issue to look at…but the $5.99 (while not $9.99!) was still way too much for me for some "casual" "check-out." At $3.99…I’d’ve bought it. That extra $2–whether extra main-story pages or not, is too much. Marvel already put me off with years of $4.99 #1s…going up to $5.99 just keeps me out all the more! With all the relaunches/renumberings/WHATEVER…certainly they could do a "loss-leader" and give some extra pages for a lower price, to get folks to check the thing out?

There’s also some sort of "digital sale" for DC…and though I already have the print edition, $4.99 for the digital Legends of the Dark Knight: Norm Breyfogle was well worth a purchase…all the more as I’ve been annoyed lately at all the digital sales having been $5.99. Though my tablet (an iPad 2) is nearing the end of its functionality (I"ve already had to drop Marvel Unlimited due to incompatibility), it still works with the DC app (over 4 years on and I’ve yet to buy anything through Comixology itself since they dropped in-app purchases through Apple devices.) I’d been on the edge of paying $1.99/issue for the four-part The Mud Pack as it was…so here, for $3 cheaper, got a whole mess of additional issues’ content for the price. AND I don’t feel bad double-dipping on the digital for "only" $4.99 despite having the actual hardcover and numerous copies of each of the single issues from The Mud Pack.

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The Weekly Haul: Week of July 4, 2018

Last week was an odd week for comics, with a US holiday being on Wednesday itself…and with both Marvel AND DC putting out key books on the day, many comic shops opened for limited hours so as to accommodate making sure people could buy the Wedding issue of Batman as well as the premieres of the new Catwoman and Captain America series, among other things. I had a mix of stuff, making it to two shops, amidst a couple of other things going on.

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I was doing my darnedest to avoid SPOILERS for Batman, and while I technically succeeded…I saw ENOUGH to have a PRETTY STRONG GUESS as to what happened, though I still hoped I was wrong. I ended up buying the issue digitally so I could read it before 1am, and thus be "safe" with spoilers I knew were out there. Suffice it to say that I opted NOT to buy Catwoman. The new Man of Steel mini had its final issue–and I really feel like this SHOULD HAVE BEEN simply the first three issues of the new Superman and 1001-1003 of Action Comics with Bendis. I just don’t see the "specialness" to it that warranted this as a mini-series…we have a new villain, major developments…but nothing to the LEVEL OF the John Byrne stuff.

I’m quite enjoying the TMNT: Urban Legends, reprinting the Image run of the TMNT book in color. While I know Peter Laird retained some publishing rights to his own series when he sold the property…given we’ve seen some IDW reprints of the Tales of the TMNT run from the 2001+ era, I hope we might also eventually get colorized reprints of his TMNT vol. 4…perhaps even some sort of finishing of the story that trailed off around 2007.

I need to catch up on my reading of Spawn, though being "on" the title since #256 or so, I’m probably still on at least to #300. Of course, a jump from $2.99 to $3.99 might have me reconsidering that. And as much as I like Priest, I have yet to actually read any of the Deathstroke vs. Batman issues, and as I’m easing out of DC, as this arc wraps, I’ll probably be off the title.

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Bane: Conquest finally gets to its 12th issue. I can’t even honestly remember at this point if I read the first issue last year with stuff going on in my personal life–but the intent was always there, so I stuck with the title. Now by the time I get around to gathering all 12 issues together AND actually reading, I should have waited for the collected volume.

The sheer audacity of this The Pouch character got me for Bloodstrike: Brutalists. I have had zero luck finding concrete info as to whether this Brutalists numbering is continuing from the 1990s’ numbering or a more recent numbering. If the latter, I may jump in; otherwise, might go for a collected edition.

TMNT Universe is another I have to catch up on reading…though being TMNT, it’s an exception to most of my usual problems with comics and gets that "pass" on its over-pricing.

Then we have the newest DC Nation issue; a 10-cent Project Superpowers issue, and another Back Issue issue caught my eye.


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With plans to catch Ant-Man and the Wasp, and known traffic issues with my route, I built a lot of extra time into things on Friday and made it to a Booksamillion I hadn’t been to in awhile, and managed to get this Tyrannosaurus Rex Pop that I passed on some time back and regretted doing so. I thought about getting the Velociraptor but ultimately passed on it due to other books (see further below) and a few other factors for present.

I continue to notice that I love these figures for non-human-face characters. They’re excellent for the style…but the human characters/faces just look too generic for my taste.

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I stopped in at The Exchange, a location of which I hadn’t been to in awhile…and had a 3-way excellent find!

Some years back, a friend had found a copy of this The Further Adventures of the Joker book for me…though in regrettably poor condition. Still, it was the only copy of the thing I’d ever seen or come across. But here, I found one in much better condition, and for 25% cheaper than a standard Marvel comic!

I’d been vaguely aware THAT there was a hardcover edition of The Greatest Superman Stories Ever Told, but finding it for $10–half the price of the PAPERback edition–and in relatively decent shape, and it being Superman…I snagged it, as I know full well I’d have totally regretted it if I didn’t and missed out. This is now shelved next to my original paperback copy (that I received as a Christmas gift in 1989…my first-ever TPB/graphic novel/collected edition).

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The Exchange also had this Samurai Usagi figure. I don’t’ recall if I’d actually ever seen this "in the wild" or not–I’d seen a couple of the regular version, and bought one of those at the time–but seeing this for only $10 (basically a $2ish premium over Target or Walmart before they prematurely clearanced the line out completely) I jumped on it.

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Along with the Jurassic Park Pop, the Booksamillion also actually had The Son of Neptune with the other bargain-priced volumes. I’d been eyeing these for quite awhile, but saw no point in buying the hardbacks for vols 3+ without owning vol. 2…and having bought vol. 1 in hardback when it first came out (whenever that was now) I wanted the hardbacks instead of the paperbacks. So finding vols 2-5, I sucked it up and spent the money to get these. The next challenge will be actually getting around to–you guessed it–reading them.

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And speaking of "challenge" and "reading" as a singular thing… Sarah-cat here has really gotten consistent with inserting herself into things whenever I’m trying to read OR take photos for this blog… but she’s so darned cute, and I’d always loved spotlighting Ziggy as well as Chloe along with comics and such, I can’t be annoyed with her. Especially when I can get her to actually look at the camera like this!

But as I posted on Twitter when I sent this photo out…it’s safe to assume that any photos in this blog have passed her inspection, as I can’t seem to take any without her being on-hand to supervise. Chloe is often nearby as well, though she seems to have delegated to Sarah, which means between both of them, this blog is 100% kitty-approved!

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The Weekly Haul: Week of June 6, 2018

Once again, a decently-small week for new comics!

weeklyhaul_06062018a

The newest Man of Steel, the new Batman, and because of having already gotten a couple chapters, the newest Deathstroke for the vs. Batman arc. And for the sake of momentary completion since I got the first issue, Demi-God #2. Not sure if this is a mini-series, but not knowing when I’ll get to actually reading #1, didn’t want to then have to hunt for #2…particularly with the likelihood of then being "stuck" with a wrong cover.

And the "first" issue of DC Nation…which somehow I didn’t realize was going to be magazine-sized, nor what it is. Because of the #0 issue last month, I figured it was at least going to be comic-sized. At least this one’s "free," and I truly don’t have nearly as much room to grouse about that.

Of course, I’m sure it’s not free to comic shops–they still have to pay for stuff like this.

I also bought a print based on one of the covers to 1991’s X-Men #1–the Magneto piece. I’ve already got it in a frame, so getting a proper photo’s not happening right now–either too much shadow or too much glare or too much reflection.


Along with the comic-shop run, also stopped by a Walmart for groceries. And per usual, took a walk down the toy aisle, figuring I’d start my hunt/quest for finding the Deadpool Wave Cable figure from Marvel Legends. Fellow blogger FigureFanZero reviewed the figure the other day on his blog, and really sold me on it, showing what an awesome piece it is.

The figure’s been selling for stupid prices online, and with distribution and all, I figured I’d have to visit numerous Walmart stores–maybe several of them repeatedly–along with Targets to find the thing. I had seen it somewhere in-person before and passed on it, which made it all the more likely that it was going to be a real hassle to find again.

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But there it was, so of course I bought it. The price–and buying it at all–was made a bit more palatable by the fact of not having spent a huge amount on comics. I also saw the classic Deadpool from this wave. But since that’s apparently selling for a reasonable price online, I’m in less hurry for that. (Famous last words?)

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And then on the way out of Walmart, spotted this plush Deadpool looking loose and on top in one of those "claw machines." My first try, the claw simply didn’t firm up (stupid machine!) The second time, whatever the machine was programed for, the mechanism of the hook had caught on the loop at the top of the character’s head…such that even when the claw opened again over the delivery chute, the thing was still hanging there.

So I paid a third time and the claw immediately dropped it through the chute. All told, Plush Deadpool was cheaper than a comic book. And quite the cool "prize." I’m sure this would probably be a good $7-10 off the shelf. Much cheaper from the "claw machine."

For this photo…one could say he’s been defeated by the black panther…Sarah the Kitty.

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ForgedBy4: The Man of Steel (2018) #1 – A New Era Begins

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The Man of Steel (2018) #1 – A New Era Begins

man_of_steel_2018_0001Man of Steel Part 1

Script: Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils: Ivan Reis
Inks: Joe Prado
Art (pp21-22): Jay Fabok
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Cory Petit
Cover: Reis, Prado, Sinclair
Associate Editor: Jessica Chen
Editor: Michael Cotton
Group Editor: Brian Cunningham
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: July 2016
Cover Price: $3.99

This is a good point to jump in if you’ve not been following Superman stuff for awhile, and especially if you are a fan of Bendis’ writing. As said above, I’m a Superman guy–so in that regard, I wasn’t going to pass this up. For what this issue and mini-series are…I think it’s well worth picking up…and this six issue "event" seems like it will definitely be cluing us in on what to expect when the ongoing series come back. That said, there’s not really enough to this to "only" get this issue–one pretty much needs to commit to the entire 6 issues. I’m on board, and I’ll be interested in my own thoughts on it once all 6 are out.

Full Article posted over at ForgedBy4!

The Weekly Haul: Week of May 30, 2018

This ended up being another pretty small week for new issues!

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We have the first issue of BendisThe Man of Steel, starting a 6-week 6-issue "event." GI Joe: A Real American Hero #252 is part 2 of the Special Missions arc that apparently is focusing on individual specific characters.

We finally have another issue of Doomsday Clock. I very nearly passed on this, but in the HOPES that it actually has the Joker in it, that there’s some sort of dealing with the "three Jokers" thing from Rebirth, I opted to get it after all.

I’m not sure if or how late Bane: Conquest is at this point…I don’t remember what I last read, just that I’ve been keeping up with the issues since I had several, to eventually have the full run TO read. I’d forgotten this even existed, though! One more issue to go, though, and I’ll be done.

Then, on strength of the writer’s name, I decided to actually try an Image #1 in The Last Siege, despite it being apparently an 8-issue mini-series.


Outside of the new issues, I wound up ordering 18-19 issues of Cat & Mouse by Roland Mann from mycomicshop.com. I just backed the Kickstarter for a new Cat & Mouse series’ #1 issue, and on realizing I could get a bunch of classic issues, jumped on that.

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Avengers Hot Wheels and Shelf Displays Update

This comes a couple weeks later than intended, but that’s just how things are!

At a Walmart, I’d come across another bin of Hot Wheels cars. Much as with several previous Marvel waves, I was able to find the entire numbered series, and given the small price point each (all 8 for less than the price of two Marvel comics), I went ahead and bought them.

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These were numbered 1 through 7 of 7…and then the Infinity Gauntlet car was unnumbered. Of course, had I only bought one, I definitely would have gone with that. Only two, and I’d’ve gone with that and #4; three I’d have gone with that and #s 4 & 5.

As usual, these are kinda neat, spotlighting the Avengers through history. As I was primarily into them for Heroes Reborn and Heroes Return, #s 4 & 5 are my favorite here because of the cards!


And with this as a bit of a filler post–new content weekdays–here’s an update to the toy shelves/displays!

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On top is the bulk of the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers collection.

Then the TMNT (’80s/’90s) villains; then TMNT (’80s/’90s) "good guys" (non-turtles).

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On the other side, the Power Rangers extend on over at the top, joining an AT-AT and Fin Fang Foom.

Below that’s the Superman shelf.

And finally, the newest shelf, with the Doomsdays and then mostly ’90s-ish miscellaneous figures.

I’d intended to do a similar display for my Marvel Legends, but they won’t fit, doing the three-tier, so I’m going to have to figure out something else!

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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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