By: Adam Basciano
I don’t usually review single issues of comic books, as I like to wait until a full storyline is complete. So my comic book reviews will largely be of complete arcs, in graphic novel format. However, there are instances, where I will make exceptions to my rule. On this occasion, I’m breaking my rule, due to the release of the cover art for Action Comics #1000 and the way I felt, after reading Superman #39.
In regards to the cover of Action Comics #1000, the imagery is appropriately classic. It features Superman, on a rooftop, with hands on hips, the Daily Planet Globe over his shoulder and the other Metropolis skyscrapers and skyline behind him. Adding to the awesomeness of this issue is that it is drawn by my favourite artist, Jim Lee. One striking element that stands out about this issue, Superman’s trunks are back on the outside of his uniform. Some people love this, some people hate this.
First and foremost, this being a milestone issue for such a classic character and long standing title, I “get” why they’re back. If the return of the trunks are a permanent thing, beyond this issue, I’m okay with that. My stance on the trunks are as follows; if they are part of the costume, then great. If they’re not, that’s great to. Personally, I don’t spend time staring at Superman’s crotch area to notice. More importantly than that, I’ve never obsessed over whether Superman wore trunks on the outside of his costume, or if Superman has an S curl in his hair. What I obsess and focus on are the character traits and the portrayal of the world’s greatest superhero. As long as that is given respect and is on point, then I’m all good! I will definitely be pickup up this historic issue, to see what all the creative talent being assembled, has in store for the Man of Steel. That list includes Geoff Johns, Dan Jurgens, Richard Donner, and the first DC story by Brian Michael Bendis, after leaving Marvel for DC Comics. Many others will contribute to this extra size book. You’ll be able to get your copy of Action Comics #1000 in April.
Two of those creators contributing to that book, are the creative team of the Superman title, Patrick Gleason and Peter J. Tomasi. Their latest issue of Superman, issue #39, was quite special. The issue begins with Superman battling in the sky, with a group of no name villains, known as The Demolition Team. What I noticed about this battle, was how upbeat and quippy Superman was. It wasn’t Spider-Man level, but very reminiscent of Henry Cavill as Superman in Justice League. After Kal-El makes quick work of his adversaries, he stops by a children’s hospital and arranges to take children with serious, and sometimes terminal issues, on a trip to the Justice League Watchtower in space. With the help of Green Lantern creating a space craft with his ring, the kids are taken to the Watchtower, given a tour by every member of the team, and then compete in a scavenger hunt, for the ultimate prize of seeing the Earth on the moon!
What Gleason and Tomasi are so adept at is finding a balance between Superman engaging in superhero fisticuffs and being an inspiration who wears his heart on his sleeve and engages with the people he protects. On the way to the Watchtower, the kids bombard Superman with questions. The two writers tapped into their inner child, with questions ranging from; What’s it like to fly?, Do you and Batman hang out? Also, the age old question, who’s faster, you or The Flash? The book really pulls at your heartstrings, when it keys in on a wheelchair bound boy named Lateef. As the other kids are having fun experiencing zero gravity, Lateef appears quite sad, expressing to Superman that he’s afraid to try, for fear of hurting his friends, because he can’t control his legs. Superman assures the boy he’ll be close by and no one will be hurt. The boy let’s loose and has a blast experiencing “flying.” However, as they approach the Watchtower and see the Justice League waiting for them, Lateef’s demeanor turns sad once more. When Superman questions him about it, Lateef wishes a friend of theirs who passed away, could’ve shared the experience. Superman reassures him, that his friend Gail, will be seeing and doing everything he is, through his eyes and heart. These two moments gave me a lump in my throat, and tears in my eyes. Honestly, if you can read this issue and remain unmoved in any way, I’d be seriously concerned if your heart is working correctly!
Gleason and Tomasi counteract the tear jerking moments with some levity. One of the scavenger hunt tasks, is to make Batman smile. Lateef whispers something to Batman, which gets a smile and a chuckle out of Batman. The funny part is the following scene, where every Justice League member huddles around Lateef wanting to know what he said to make Batman laugh. The book ends, with Superman gearing the kids up in astronaut suits, and taking them for a walk on the moon, so they can get a better view of the Earth. Art for this issue is handled by Barry Kitson, While his art is more simplistic, with an animated in look, I feel it fits the content of the story. My favourite pagers of the story are the Justice League waiting at the window of the Watchtower, to greet the children. Then there’s the incredibly beautiful last page of Superman and the children, standing on the moon and observing Earth, in all its glory. This is a truly awe inspiring imagery.
For whatever reason, I find that Superman fans argue amongst each other about which comic run is the “true” epitome of Superman, whether the costume should- or shouldn’t- have the trunks on it and which actor is their Superman. Instead of constantly arguing, can we not accept each other’s differing opinion on the character we love, and discuss openly and in a positive manner? After reading this issue, I think all Superman fans can agree that Superman is awesome because he can save the world with his incredible abilities, and also makes it a better place because of his compassion, kindness, and the love he has for humanity.
If you’ve read this issue and know of a child suffering from disease, or in a hospital, give them this book, or read it with them. It will lift their spirits and yours. Also, after reading this issue, consider donating to a children’s hospital, if you have the means to do so. At the very least, if you have a friend or family member going through a rough time right now, call them, go see them, or take them out for a day. Give them your time, show them you care, and reassure them that things will get better. After all, it’s what Superman would do. If more people asked themselves, What Would Superman Do?, I believe fandom and the world at large, would be a better place.