Eighty Years Later...

Lee Bermejo
Possible SPOILERS for Action Comics 1000. READ IT FIRST.

Does the world need Superman?

How many times have I've seen this question? How many times have you? It's frankly ridiculous at this point. We need superheroes to entertain us and inspire. We need a whole bunch of diverse beings with phenomenal powers to show what a world of tomorrow can look like if we follow our better parts of ourselves. DC, Marvel, Valiant, Image... superheroes provide fun escapes and also allow us to ask the question of what would we do with these great abilities? Would we be responsible to a fault? Would we succumb to our base desires? Would we fly high and excel so others could see us and follow us into the light? I would like to hope it was the latter and that we would do it in the matter of the Man of Steel.

Action Comics #1000 answers the question of does the world need Superman while providing us with entertaining stories created by over 40 artists over 80 pages. It also answers another and maybe even more important question- does Superman need the world? Particularly does Superman need the humanity that the world provides in all of its varied forms?

Patrick Gleason
There is an argument to be made that the answer to these questions can be answered with the first story From The City Who Has Everything by Dan Jurgens to the final story The Truth, which is beginning Brian Michael Bendis' new Superman arc with illustrations by Jim Lee. Both show Superman being helped by other heroes and being praised by the people he has rescued. I think a more interesting case can be shown in the other tales.

For example, Never Ending Battle by Peter J. Tomasi presents a story about Vandal Savage trapping Superman within the time stream. He has to battle through his old adventures and it's a very cool way for Tomasi to tell the story and Patrick Gleason to illustrate Superman through different time periods in his comic book history  and alternate versions of himself. More than that it shows how the enemies Superman had to deal with were easier in the past because they were more black and white, such as Nazis, and the robber barons of the time. Villainy is more gray nowadays. This story also shows what motivates Superman beyond the whole "truth, justice and American way" shtick. He is always aiming to get back to his family as well as humanity in general. There are always people Clark will fight to get back to- his parents, Lana, Lois and, now, his son, Jon.
Clay Mann

Which brings me to the Tom King penned Of Tomorrow, illustrated by Clay Mann. Five billion years after the last of humanity has left Earth, Superman returns to the grave of his parents. The sun has began to approach heat death and the planet is being destroyed. Clark has returned this last time to "talk" to his parents who rescued him and taught him what it meant to be a man. It's a powerful series of pages. Superman is walking calmly through the madness of Earth's destruction, crafting a token to leave for his parents' on his final visit to their graves. He crushed earth into a diamond statuette, a nice nod to the whole "coal into diamond" thing that has demonstrated Superman's immense strength in the past. More than that, the care he takes in making this totem resemble his adoptive parents, all while the Earth shoots up magma from its core and is consumed by the Sun, is amazing and shows how much his heart is still with his first introduction to humanity and love. Lois and others have figured out how to extend their lives to exist by his side in the future but he still maintains normalcy by having these chats with his always remembered "folks."

Rafael Albuquerque
You can't have the Superman without Lex Luthor. I mean, you could but it wouldn't be as satisfying. Lex represents the pinnacle of human innovation, a bastion of intelligence. Superman's brawn is forever tied in battle with Lex's brains. There is another story that references that in this issue but what caught my attention more was The Fifth Season by Scott Snyder. Illustrated by Rafael Albuquerque, this story really got me this week because it references a time that is observed in the midwest and northeast that we are experiencing now. As Lex says, the fifth season is "a period between winter and spring...when the weather goes crazy. Anything can happen." Lex refers to this period to explain why he obtained tools that could potentially erase Superman from time. He reminisces about a time where he ran an experiment in the Smallville Planetarium to send a message into space, that would have failed and hurt him without the, unknown to Lex, help of his lab partner, a young Clark Kent. Or was it truly unknown? Lex has the keys to kill Superman but instead uses the instruments to stargaze at the future death of the solar system like the way it happened on Krypton. They share amount and I think it is key to their relationship. Superman will always believe in the best of humanity and show up to stop someone from doing something bad even if it could potentially kill him. Lex will always fight Superman and have plans to beat him in battle but recognizes that he needs him and that they aren't that different in their mission to save the planet. They are enemies but, at least in this version of the story and others as well, they were friends.

Olivier Copiel 
The final story I'll talk about in this post is The Car written by Geoff Johns and Richard Donner and drawn by Olivier Copiel. There is a moment in the first story of this issue where a reformed henchman talks about why Superman is important to him and why he is thankful that Superman caught him on past occasions. That moment is shown in a different way in this story with another individual who runs into Superman. Literally. Johns and Donner take the classic Action Comics #1 cover and craft a story around that iconic image. A man has his totaled car in a garage after an encounter with the Man of Steel, the encounter from the cover of that first introduction to Superman. The man leaves the garage where he sees a bird, then a plane and, finally, Superman. We learn that Superman wrecked Butch's car and left him on a telephone pole because he is a bully who takes what he wants without any real consequence. This is Superman in his infancy as a force of retribution and as the being causing vehicular mayhem on that cover. But that isn't all that Superman is. Superman is a guy who wants to do good and believes people should have a second chance. He understands that most people aren't just born bad but that the world can often lead them astray. This is what happened with Butch. Superman investigates and learns about the tough life and struggles Butch had as a kid trying to save his family at the age of 13 after his father died in the Great War and his mother succumbed to illness. Superman understands this and gives Butch a choice- keep being a jerk because the world was hard to you or become the person who could have protected his younger self. "It's your life, Butch. You can fix it or you can junk it. It doesn't have to be more complicated than that..." Butch makes the expected choice and fixes both his car and his life. Superman has inspired a man and that man will inspire others who will continue to inspire Superman. His circle continues.
Michael and Laura Allred

This issue has other great stories that touch on the Superman mythos. Stories with Superman's supporting cast of Perry White and Jimmy Olsen, a Mister Mxyzptlk story and an awesome story by Brad Meltzer and John Cassady about Superman, a speeding bullet and elements that gave me an All-Star Superman vibe, if not in scope than in feel. Superman is the prototype for a good superhero and doing the best we can as humanity to reach towards his heights. His stories are big and boisterous but at their heart they are about doing the best by our fellow human. This issues captures that and it also looks really good while doing it. Read it if you get a chance and soar to the skies.

Up, up and away.

Sean Fields is an aspiring writer and has been in the education field for more than a decade. He works mostly with teenagers nowadays which both keeps him well informed on pop culture and makes his hair turn grayer daily. He has a few blogs but is currently focused on this one and this other one. You can also find him on TumblrTwitter and Instagram, if you want to be entertained or infuriated.

Eighty Years Later... Eighty Years Later... Reviewed by SeanFields on Thursday, April 19, 2018 Rating: 5
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