Action Comics #1000 (DC Comics)
Runners Up: Mister Miracle #8 (DC Comics), Batman #45 (DC Comics)
Forgive me for going a bit out of order here, but what an excellent week for superheroes.
Batman by Tom King and veteran Bat-Artist Tony Daniel might be the surprise of the week. Not that King writing something notable is any surprise, but what seemed like a filler between the-build-up-to and the-actual-wedding-of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle got real messed up, real fast. King’s take on the often bumbling Booster Gold captures both the fun of the character, and the danger of his role in the timestream. Booster Gold’s attempt at a good deed leads to another alternate universe, one that grows more violent by the moment. Daniel remains one of the best in the business, and really shows it here.
Tom King also wrote Mister Miracle. Now, if you think I have a bias here, I’m going to be completely upfront with you. As I was writing this, I realized that King appeared three times in the picks and was horrified as I didn’t have anything specific to say about that. I’m almost as surprised as you. Maybe he’s due a Dissecting Fiction award! No, I’m not linking that episode, it sucked. Anyway, he and Mitch Gerads continue the mindbending series with yet another spectacular issue. It seems that the story is finally coming together here, and the theme of inescapable responsibility looms over Scott Free. There’s no way you can jump on here, but go back to issue #1 if you haven’t. Two-thirds of the way through and this book hasn’t missed a step yet.
In addition to my picks, I loved X-Men Gold, The Amazing Spider-Man and the bitter-sweet finale to the latest volume of Iron Fist. Superman and Justice League also stood out, but everything this week fell short of one of the major reasons the form exists: Action Comics. Dan Jurgens, Norm Rapmund, Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, Geoff Johns, Richard Donner, Oliver Coipel, Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque, Tom King, Clay Mann, Louise Simonson, Jerry Ordway, Paul Dini, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Kevin Nowlan, Brad Meltzer, John Cassaday, Butch Guice, Brian Michael Bendis, Jim Lee, John Romita Jr., Walt Simonson, Jorge Jiminez and more all contribute their talents to the ten stories and added pin-ups featured in this celebration of Superman’s eightieth anniversary. I enjoyed every story in the time-spanning anthology, though the prologue to Bendis’ Man of Steel admittedly felt out of place. As I’ve ruminated on the book, four of the entries really stand out in my mind.
Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund’s From The City That Has Everything opens the issue, with a story celebrating Superman’s relationship with Metropolis and the world. Jurgens’ grasp on Superman is breathtaking, so even in a relatively straight forward tale like this, it rings true. Jurgens and Rapmund also provide gorgeous artwork for the tale. I don’t think Jurgens has turned out such wonderful pencils since his seminal Death and Return of Superman work.
Never-Ending Battle from Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason not only provides a wonderful examination of Superman through the decades, but serves as a deserved farewell to their run on the character. I think the greatest casualty of Bendis’ coming run is their Superman, a book that, in my opinion, helped saved the DCU in general.
Richard Donner and Geoff Johns, who teamed for a run on the book a while back, join Oliver Coipel for The Car. One of the shorter entries in comic, the tale’s impact come from its period setting and expert execution. Two of the best in the Comic Book industry and a film legend deliver one that will sit in the back of your mind for a long time to come.
A little over a month ago, CBR ran Of Tomorrow by Tom King and Clay Mann as a preview for the issue. While I enjoyed the story at the time, reading it in context only amplified its power. King is a shape-shifter of a writer and the more he produces, the more faith I have in his ability to change up his style.
I rarely say this, as I am a huge proponent of the importance of the creators, but the biggest element here is Superman. All of these tales are driven by a love for a character who has been with us through war and peace, and our own failures and victories. Action Comics #1000 is an important moment for superheroes, and the medium that birthed them. Sometimes I think the philosophical angle on superheroes can be overdone and used as a crutch for creators who are too intimidated to shake-up the status quo, but Superman DOES symbolize hope in the eyes of many, myself included. This issue provides a rich endorsement of that view, as any celebration of an idea should. Superman isn’t for everyone, I doubt he ever has been. Some people find him boring, others don’t even look that hard. Regardless, Superman is the prototype for arguably the most popular genre in entertainment today. I’m confident he’ll be around for a long time to come.
Just look up in the sky.