Action Comics #1000

I had a copy of this comic on a side table in my living room this weekend and, when my brother took notice, he stopped in his tracks and scooped it up. “One thousand? Seriously? One thousand?”

We grew up in an era in which “landmark” designations still made an impression. I’ll never forget how excited I was to get my hands on Uncanny X-Men #200. I pinned and re-pinned that comic to my wall I don’t know how many times. Or the big 50th anniversary celebration of Batman that culminated in Detective Comics #600. That might have been the first time in my mercifully brief middle-school comics speculation career that I purchased a duplicate copy of a book. But nowadays, big round numbers mean very little, especially with rebirths and fresh starts and new number 1’s every fall.

But #1000… we all take notice of that. That number is on another level. My son once explained matter-of-factly that he could eat one thousand shelled edamame, to which his uncle retorted, “It’s impossible to eat one thousand of anything.”

The Romans never bothered coming up with a number greater than “M.”

My girlfriend, who, perhaps due to having grown up in Mexico, had been criminally inexperienced with baseball terminology (and thus at something of a disadvantage when we started communicating), recently learned what it means to “bat a thousand.” It’s unattainable perfection.

It’s hard to imagine a thousand of anything.

So it’s with proper reverence that I approach DC’s truly landmark 1000th issue of Action Comics, the comic that started it all. It’s a marvelous 80-page anthology with vignettes from an all-star lineup of superhero creative teams both past and present.

There are a number of noteworthy stories in this anthology, although, for me, nothing comes close to a dramatic four-pager by Tom King and Clay Mann, “Of Tomorrow.” It’s both heartbreaking and inspiring, paying tribute to the true timelessness of this character, the genre, and maybe storytelling in general (I’ll admit I’m in a sensitive place in that regards, having recently finished Chuck Klosterman’s rather depressing What if We’re Wrong?) And the anthology closes out with Brian Michael Bendis’s heralded DC debut, partnering with Jim Lee for the first chapter of their new storyline. Bendis clearly needed a breather from his Marvel tenure, as this brief intro is an exciting prelude to a new mystery involving Supes’s origins, and it’s peppered with some nice Bendis beats and well choreographed Lee sequences. I’m back onboard, BMB.

Whether you’re a fan of DC or Marvel, or even if you have no patience for the capes n’ tights explosion that has transformed popular culture in recent years, you still can’t deny the importance of Siegel and Shuster’s seminal Kryptonian superhero. Wonder Woman tightly sums it up in a piece by Dan Jurgens and Norm Rapmund:

We’re fans too, you know. We know that without you none of us would probably be here.

Diana is speaking not just for her costumed compatriots either, I’d venture to say. Lord knows what I’d be spending most of my waking hours doing if not for funnybooks.

April 11 | New Release Highlights | April 25