Action Comics: 80 Years of Superman Deluxe Editionby Published 17 Apr 2018
|Action Comics: 80 Years of Superman Deluxe Edition.pdf|
Superman and DC celebrate the anniversary of an American cultural touchstone moment with this original graphic novel anthology ACTION COMICS: 80 YEARS OF SUPERMAN, which features a previously unpublished Golden Age Superman epic!
Join us for an 80th anniversary celebration of the single most important comic book in American history: ACTION COMICS #1, featuring the first appearance of Superman! It's an extraordinary party as we revisit classic stories from across the decades featuring the debuts of not just the Man of Tomorrow, but also Supergirl, Brainiac, the Fortress of Solitude and so much more!
See the work of generations of top writers and artists on the original super hero! Enjoy sparkling essays from literary wizards who have won Pulitzer Prizes and hit the New York Times bestseller lists, including Jules Feiffer, who relives his memories of when ACTION COMICS #1 first hit newsstands. Plus, a historical essay by guest editor Paul Levitz, and all one thousand ACTION COMICS covers presented on a special poster!
As a bonus, don't miss a previously unpublished 1940s Superman tale believed to be by writer Jerry Siegel with art by the Joe Shuster studio, salvaged from the DC Comics files fifty years ago and hidden away until now.
"Action Comics: 80 Years of Superman Deluxe Edition" Reviews
A decent, if slightly schizophrenic collection of Superman stories. The text pieces by Levitz and especially the great Jules Feiffer are welcome, as is the excellent (if brief) piece by Gene Luen Yang. But the reprinted stories are all over the place.
The previously unpublished piece believed to have been written by Jerry Siegel is great, if only because of the amazing story (told in his introduction) of how it was saved by a young Marv Wolfman. And I will always be up for Superman stories by greats like John Byrne, Neal Adams, Curt Swan or any others I've loved over the years. But did we really need a Human Target story in this book? Or Zatara: Master Magician? If this is a retrospective of Action Comics as a whole, then sure. But it's 80 Years of Superman in Action Comics, which makes those feel particularly out of place.
But still, good collection. Don't go expecting this to be a comprehensive book of the best Superman stories ever told (DC has books with those names, but they're hardly definitive), as this is limited to tales that appeared within the Action Comics run. But it's a decent collection, and some of these stories haven't been collected elsewhere. Worth reading if you're a fan for sure.
You can find my review on my blog by clicking here.
On April 18th 1938, Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster introduced Superman to the whole world in Action Comics #1. Their idea took the world by storm and gave birth to a character that has evolved from being a fictional superhero to an immortal idea. To mark the first superhero’s 1000th comic book issue as well as its 80th anniversary, DC Comics unleashed this beautiful, bulky and eye-opening collection featuring some of the Man of Steel’s most iconic moments throughout this comic book run. Interspersed with several commentaries from award-winning writers, this deluxe edition firmly states how Superman is the archetype of mankind at its pinnacle.
One of the most astounding observation you’ll inevitably make with this collection is the evolution in the artwork. Sorted in a chronological order, the featured stories not only highlight Superman’s first encounter with some his villains as well as quintessential elements of his lore (such as his Fortress of Solitude or the introduction of Supergirl), but it also shows how all the different writers and artists envisioned the might and majesty of the character. The artwork started off with an abundance of eye-catching primary colours in the background of each panel, a very photographic sequence of events and a lack of attention to details. Over time, characters started to get more defined with more attention given to facial expressions, character movement and colours. The boldness in contours and the thickness of the colours for characters were put aside to make more room to minute details and an artwork style that is much softer to the eye. This evolution in the comic book industry is beautiful and is what has led us to all the various designs and styles in recent years.
What’s even more noticeable is the story-telling. In the earlier issues of Action Comics, everyone preferred a more “show” rather than “tell” approach. This greatly impacts the way a story is appreciated as a lot of potential is sliced off from the start. Some stories could even get extremely wordy with very little artwork doing any of the story-telling. Over the years, with Superman quickly becoming a character that everyone would know about, as if they were born with the idea itself, stories started to assume that the reader had a pretty solid idea of what Superman is capable of, and if not, to discreetly show rather than tell. The beauty of it is how much more room is given to the artwork to speak for itself. Nowadays, pictures are worth a thousand words as all you’ll need is to see Superman carry a spacecraft with his sheer strength to understand that you don’t want to get on his bad side.
Throughout the collection, there are also a couple of two-page commentaries from certain writers who help us further understand the history behind Superman’s character, his impact on society and the story behind the creators. The words they had to share gave a nice insight into Superman and helps destroy anyone’s firm conviction that Superman is an overrated character with cliché powers. Sure, there are stories that are pretty cheesy, but it’s not about the complexity of those stories that matter, it’s what Superman represents to the reader. In fact, it’s how he shines as a beacon of hope for mankind and gives each and everyone of us a reason to believe that there is good in anyone if only they decide to believe in themselves. Throughout this character, people find the power to fight off their own demons and to come out as the strongest version of themselves. Even if he’s an alien who has come live among humans, he remains the honorary example to follow.
Action Comics: 80 Years of Superman is a history lesson in the form of comics books. You won’t find the most exquisite stories ever told in the medium, but you will find at its core the reasons why the Big Blue Boy Scout is the first person you’ll think of when asked about superheroes. With stories introducing some of the mythos behind Superman, essays by famous writers, and artwork from way back in the Golden Age all the way to today, this beautiful deluxe edition is a must-have for any fan of Superman.
Lashaan | Blogger and Book Reviewer
Official blog: http://bookidote.wordpress.com
This is a book that should get five stars – it's not just a thing worthy of a flippant paragraph or two, it's a cultural event, something that should be marked with approval and sheer happiness at being around to see it. 1000 issues of Action Comics, who'd've thunk it? Except, too much of the contents here are more than a bit naff. You take the rough with the smooth as ever, with DC – and the very first story is indicative of that. Yes, the first episode ever seemed a perfectly readable introduction to Superman, even if it's half of a woolly two-parter taking us from the shocking sight of him duffing up a car he's picked up, to mangling an airplane's propellers, midflight. It's all in the aid of pointing out the pointless, inane and meaningless nature of two sides duffing each other up (and how different the history of DC would have been if they had risen above using just that as a sole plot point about 60,000 times over the last 80 years). The naffness continues through other characters from Action Comics being introduced, the Toymaker featuring for the first time, and a pathetically exposition-heavy, but very of-its-time, welcome to the Fortress of Solitude. But it goes on – Supergirl is meh to a modern sensitivity, doing some super-housekeeping and sending an SOS in a bottle to a bloke with the hots for her; and jumbo issue #800 is distinctly ropey, acting as it does as a moping Eurorailer's journal, interspersed with fictionalised memories of his existence.
Highlights here in the book are slight on the ground, including the inked artwork of a saved-from-the-furnace short story, not ever finished nor seen in this form, and some commentary from key players in the DC world (of which there deserved to be more – and of which there deserved to be a female representative). The "dang it, Lois, I've a secret to tell you" episode wins, not because of how notable and momentous it is, but because of the everydayness of it – a bland, forgettable baddie, helped by a very minor character, and copious editorial notes to stories passim to prove it's nothing special. It's when the creators sought the entertaining, as opposed to the Officially Memorable and Commemorative, that the pages come to life. Only recently, it seems, have people (even Grant Morrison) realised that we have seen it all before, so don't try for the flash-bang epic, just keep the ball rolling another couple weeks til the next issue. That way you don't hinder yourself seeking the superlative, you maintain something that could, with a prevailing wind, last 80 years. Sure it's unlikely, but the results are better.
Still, it was a privilege to read this, alongside the actual, echt, #1000. This jumbo-sized issue brings us many different little tales, and benefits from it. No, the buyer of this celebratory book at hand needn't worry, as the sample from #1000 compiled in it is by far the worst DC could have chosen, but what the purchaser of both gets is a multitude of snapshots of an iconic entity, that doesn't try to be too iconic. (It also acts as a major plug for the Next. Big. Iconic. Event., which kind of deflates my argument, but there you go.) I love Superman, and always have as far as I'm aware, but I also reserve the right to dismiss the grandiose in the way he's published; others may find exactly the opposite their taste, but it all goes to prove in a nutshell that we all can find our own appealing Supes, thanks to generations of creatives.
But that Superbrat – boy, he really does test my resolve...
Overall, 80 Years of Superman is a superb chronological anthology of Superman’s exploits throughout the years. It’s evident that a lot of time and care went into celebrating this great milestone for Superman.
Thank you to NetGalley, DC Comics, and all the authors and artists who worked on this book.
Full review can be found here: https://paulspicks.blog/2018/03/06/80...
Please check out all my reviews: https://paulspicks.blog
80 Years of Superman was released by DC in April 2018 as a companion collection to go with the Action Comics #1000. It collects 21 Superman and related stories from different decades, starting from the very first appearance in Action Comics #1 and up to modern day, and it even includes one never before published Superman story from 1945 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the creators of the character. It also includes 8 essays from famous comics people about Superman, his legacy, his origin and his creators.
I was on the fence about getting this collection — after all, I usually struggle with older comics, and more than half of this collection consists of the material written in 30's–70's. That said, the Golden, Silver and Bronze Age comics in this book were actually the comics I enjoyed the most, not only because they show a clear progression of Superman as a character, but because they are also surprisingly fun.
Siegel and Shuster’s original Superman work reads incredibly well for something that was written in late 30’s–early 40’s — it's not extremely wordy, the remastered artwork looks nice, and the stories, while definitely showing their age, are still perfectly enjoyable. In Action Comics #1, Superman's very first heroic feats include stopping a wrongful execution, saving a woman from her violent husband and rescuing Lois Lane who got kidnapped by gangsters. At this time, there was no planet Krypton (though he was an alien from the very beginning), no Smallville, no ma and pa Kent, and Superman didn't have the ability to fly — he could only leap extra-long distances. But right in the first issue there is Clark Kent the reporter, Lois Lane as his rivalling colleague, and the Superman who took no crap from any lowlife criminal. He was much simpler, younger, angrier, but in general, it's amazing how much Siegel and Shuster got right on their very first try. It was also interesting seeing this original version of the character and realising that that's where Grant Morrison's take in his superb but underrated Action Comics run came from. It makes sense to me, because that's the beginning of the road for Clark as a protector of the people — just a young man with extraordinary powers, so fed up by injustice that he decides to do everything in his power to stop it.
In the next couple of decades, Superman evolved into pretty much the character we would all recognise. Golden Age was the time of war, and Superman's adventures were very down to earth — a mobster here, a corrupt government official there, maybe an occasional train heist, and of course the nazis. But as Golden Age passed and Silver Age began, Superman’s adventures became more and more extravagant and sci-fi oriented. He started fighting aliens and mad scientists, he mastered time-travel, started flying to space and visiting other planets, fully explored his Kryptonian past, built his Fortress of Solitude and populated it with wondrous creatures and souvenirs from his incredible adventures. His Super-family began to expand, as well, most notably with the introduction of Supergirl. Different writers and artists started working on the title, too. I especially enjoyed Otto Binder’s introduction of Brainiac in Action #242, an excellent comic from 1958 that reads almost as as well today.
Superman was doing really well up until the 80's, when several things happened to disrupt his popularity. Batman and Superman were more or less always good friends up until then, but Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns put an end to that by making Batman defeat Superman — not only in the comic, but in the eyes of the public, as well. A travesty, if you ask me, but what can you do. Then came the great reboot of the DC universe called Crisis on Infinite Earths, an event that destroyed pretty much all the previous history of pretty much every character — a successful event of its time, but the one that took all the rich history away from Supes. And Crisis led to John Byrne's long tenure writing Superman, which is generally well loved, but you can tell that something has changed — Superman's confidence and heroism faded away, replaced by doubt, angst and insecurity. Superman now had to prove his worth, it wasn't presumed. And the whiff of this sea change is apparent in this collection once stories from the 80's, 90's and 00's start rolling in. Instead of fun Superman adventures from the last 50 years, the comics started to be about Superman himself, and why he's important — through deconstruction, body swapping or role reversal, every writer felt their need to say that Superman was still cool and necessary, but not a lot of people actually could or did write him like that. It's sad to realise that one of the best characters in the history of comics was subverted so much by one very angry writer and a string of unfortunate events.
The collection ends on Grant Morrison's Action Comics #0 from New52. Not the best issue from his run, but a good fit for this collection, and much better than the stories from Byrne, Stern and Kelly that come before it.
The book also collects multiple essays from some of the smartest and most experienced people in comics, literature and journalism, like Paul Levitz, Jules Feiffer, Tom DeHaven, Marv Wolfman (who is also personally responsible for saving that never-published Superman story from 1945 — a fascinating story of how that happened is included in his essay), Larry Tye and Gene Luen Yang. I loved reading all of these because every person knows a bit of Superman's history and has their own unique perspective on him and his influence (for example, Jules Feiffer read Action Comics #1 when it first came out — and it's still vivid in his memory, 80 years since!). Laura Siegel Larson, Jerry Siegel's daughter, also contributes a piece about her father's life and work, and it's such a sweet, inspiring and sentimental read.
This collection won't be for everyone, but it certainly was for me. If you are a hopeless Superman fan and apologist like I am, at the very least this collection will be an excellent educational material. Surprisingly enough though, I also found it to be a great read, because — who knew — Superman was awesome from day one, and nobody will ever take that away from him. Once again, I say happy birthday to my favourite character.