“Action Comics” #1,000 was a landmark issue for DC Comics. As such, DC went all-out and had the issue be an 80-page giant, a number that coincides with this issue also marking Superman’s 80th anniversary. The issue is filled with stories written and drawn by a variety of DC’s top creative talent.
The first story, “From the City Who Has Everything,” was both written and drawn by Dan Jurgens, who had been writing “Action Comics” since the 2016 “Rebirth” initiative.
The story is about the city of Metropolis, the town Superman lives in, hosting a celebratory event in honor of “Superman Day.” Superman himself says he does not like these types of events because he does not save people to be recognized. He is not a gloryhog. His wife Lois and son Jon have him listen to the people at the press conference give testimonies of how Superman personally affected their lives and how grateful they are. Lois convinces Superman that this ceremony is not for him. Instead, it is for the countless people who have been inspired by his presence and heroic acts.
This story is quite meta, as the people in the story also reflect the many readers who cherish Superman and who are honoring him on his 80-year anniversary. In addition, a crowd of heroes appear at the end of the story. They likewise thank Superman because, as they say, there is a very high chance none of them would “be here” without him. “Be here,” in this context means from an in-universe perspective that they would not be heroes without his inspiring them to do so since Superman is one of the first heroes to openly reveal him/ herself to the public. The words also mean that they as fictional characters likely would not exist had it not been for Superman’s existence sparking a public appreciation for superheroes and thereby allowing comic books as a whole to succeed.
While the first story of the milestone issue was written by “Action Comics”’ writer up to this point, the last story was written by Brian Michael Bendis, who will be writing the comic from here onward for the time being. The placement of the two stories is symbolic of Jurgens passing on the “Action” torch to Bendis.
In Bendis’ story, “The Truth,” which was drawn by Jim Lee, Bendis has Superman (and Supergirl) getting their butts handed to them in battle by a new villain named Rogol Zaar, who claims to be the one responsible for Krypton’s destruction. This revelation, if proven true, will monumentally change Superman’s history by adding another layer to his origin. This story will be continued in Bendis’ first major Superman story arc in a self-contained miniseries called “Man of Steel.” Each “Man of Steel” issue will be released weekly instead of the standard monthly so that fans can conclude this story and dive into further Bendis Superman stories as Bendis takes over both “Action Comics” and “Superman.”
As another noteworthy happenstance in Bendis’ story here, two civilians talk about how Superman now has his red trunks again. He has been without them since the 2011 reboot changed the design of his uniform. Some fans have awaited their return – because, like the civilians in the story say, “He doesn’t look like Superman without the shorts.”
The stories in-between Jurgen’s first and Bendis’ last also offered some interesting and inspirational moments.
The second story, “Never-Ending Battle” was written by Peter Tomasi and drawn by Patrick Gleason. The story had Superman trapped in hyper-time so that he was forced into the past and had to battle his way back to the present. The battle through time had Superman go through his own history, from his original look and power set in the ‘30s to his death and rebirth and even further to the present. This story allowed fans to recap important moments of Superman’s history through the decades.
The following story, “An Enemy Within,” was written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by Curt Swan. The story had Superman halfway across the world from Metropolis taking care of one threat while the villain Brainiac was trying to possess citizens of Metropolis. Superman said he was not worried because he believed humans were stronger than Brainiac thought. He called them real heroes. As Superman predicted, every person Brainiac tried to possess resisted, and the villain failed.
“The Car” was written by Geoff Johns and Richard Donner and was penciled by Olivier Copiel. In the story, a man’s car is in the shop because it has been damaged by driving into Superman, who was stopping the driver from doing something unlawful. Superman approaches the man and gives him an inspirational speech about being the kind of person he needed when growing up as an orphan. The man goes to his old orphanage and helps cool off the hot kids by using a fire hydrant to create a makeshift sprinkler.
In “The Fifth Season,” written by Scott Snyder and drawn by Rafael Albuquerque, Superman and Lex Luthor are in a Smallville planetarium, reflecting on life and whatnot. In a flashback scene, we learn that Clark and Lex were chemistry partners in school – and we learn that Clark saved his life, even as kids.
The next story, “Of Tomorrow,” written by Geoff Johns and drawn by Olivier Copiel, is set 5 billion years into the future. Superman is visiting his parents’ graves, and he says he has been doing that once a year all this time. He says that Lois and Jon alive thanks to an “eternity formula” that oddly tastes like grape. Meanwhile, the Earth is being consumed by the sun, and the planet has been vacant of humans for 4 billion years. Clark says goodbye to his parents’ grave for the final time in a touching moment.
Writer Louise Simonson and penciler Jerry Ordway’s “Five Minutes” has Superman compare his job as a reporter to his job as a superhero. In all of five minutes, he both saves a train of passengers and completes a deadline for a news headline. The story closes with Superman saying he loves both jobs.
“Actionland!” written by Paul Dini and drawn by José Luis García-López shows a woman giving people a tour of an amusement park designed around Superman, relaying his history both as Kal-El, the alien who was sent to Earth, and as Clark Kent, the boy who grew up to become Superman. Ultimately, the tour falls apart before the supposed ending of Superman can come. However, the whole thing was an illusion created by Superman-enemy and reality-warper, Mr. Mxyzptlk, with the woman host being his wife, Miss Gsptlsnz. The latter accusing him of not wanting Superman to end because that would mean the end of his mischief-making, to which Mr. Mxyzptlk smiles and agrees.
Lastly, “Faster Than a Speeding Bullet,” written by Brad Meltzer and drawn by John Cassady, has Superman racing to stop a bullet from killing an innocent civilian held by a deranged gunman. He calculates that we will not make it at his usual top speed, but he forces himself to fly even faster, and he is able to (barely) save her life. He calls her brave and recommends she consider joining the police force before flying off.
With these many stories, “Action Comics” #1,000 will be a legendary issue as well as an historic one.