Four-Color Bullet: Action Comics #1000! Black Hammer: Age of Doom #1!

Hey, everybody!  Welcome and thanks for joining me for another edition of “Four-Color Bullet!”

This time around I’m focusing the spotlight on two books: the first a milestone in any genre, and the second, the next chapter in the evolution of a fantastic new title.  In many respects, if not for the first book, the second probably would be around.  If you think about it, the comic book collecting hobby that we’re all a part of probably wouldn’t be around as we know it today.

This edition’s titles: Action Comics #1000 and Black Hammer: Age of Doom #1

Okay, is everybody comfortable?  Okay, let’s give it a go:

 

COMIC BOOK MILESTONE EVENT:

 ACTION COMICS #1000
Scripts: Various
Pencils, Inks, Covers: Various
Colors: Various
Letterers: Various
DC Comics

Wow!  Just…

Wow!

As a distant planet was destroyed by old age, a scientist placed his infant son within a hastily devised space-ship, launching it toward Earth!

– Action Comics #1, Panel 1, June 1938

Eighty years ago, that sentence opened the first story that would launch a dynasty of characters, be the cornerstone for a major publishing genre and industry, inspire numerous imitators, toys, movies, and so much more.  Today, Superman is one of the five most recognizable characters in the world, and has inspired millions in the course of the last eight decades.  I know the character has helped me to strive to be a kind person, a sensitive person, a person who reaches out to help when I can.  I never had to wear a cape and tights, though at one point I did beg my mother to buy me a red bath sheet to tie around my neck (the red bath towels just weren’t big enough).

Superman showed me that being good and kind was pretty cool.  And I can tell that the creators who contributed to this issue were deeply touched and inspired by Jerome Siegel and Joe Shuster’s Last Son of Krypton, as well.

This issue has nine variant covers, each reflecting the different decades of Superman, from the 1930’s (Steve Rude, above) to the 2000s.  It includes nine fine stories and three pinups.  A few standouts for me in this issue:

“Never-Ending Battle”
Story and Words: Peter J. Tomasi
Art: Patrick Gleason
Colors: Alejandro Sanchez
Letters: Tom Napolitano

Superman is forced to travel through hypertime by Vandal Savage, (to our eyes) reliving various incarnations of Supermans of the past:

“Metropolis.  The 1930s.  It felt like I’d been there before, but that would be impossible.”

Gleason’s version of the iconic Frank Miller picture of Superman being hit by a lightning bolt (The Dark Knight Returns) was particularly amazing, and overall this was a fine farewell story for this creative team.

“An Enemy Within”
Original Story: Cindy Goff, Curt Swan and Butch Guice
Script: Marv Wolfman, Bob Rozakis
Pencils: Curt Swan
Inks: Butch Guice, Kurt Schaffenberger
Colors: Hi-Fi
Letters: Rob Leigh

Curt Swan WAS the Artist of the Silver Age of DC comics.  In many respects, Curt Swan (“The Norman Rockwell of comics”) was to Superman and DC comics what Jack Kirby was to Marvel.  Vastly different styles to be sure, but when you see Kirby you instinctively think Marvel.  When you see Swan, you think Superman.  This story has Maggie Sawyer front and center, unknowingly dealing with someone possessed by Brainiac.

“The Car”
Story By: Geoff Johns and Richard Donner
Art: Olivier Coipel
Colors: Alejandro Sanchez
Letters: Tom Napolitano

This story is amazing in the fact that it takes place shortly after the famous car smashing shot on the cover of Action Comics #1!  Although Superman’s characterization is a bit more of a modern take than how the character was in that first story, it makes perfect sense and it WORKS!  Bravo to this creative team.  And yes, he’s THAT Richard Donner.

“Actionland!”
Script: Paul Dini
Pencils: José Luis García-López
Inks: Kevin Nowlan
Colors: Trish Mulvihill
Letters: Josh Reed

José Luis García-López!  Mr. Mxyzptlk! Gspie!  Yz! Zook! Bat-Mite!  No, nothing is wrong with my typing.  Look up the names if you wanna.  You know, I would have bought this book just for García-López alone!  The 70s kid in me almost screamed with joy seeing my favorite Superman artist drawing him once again!

 

NEW ON THE SHELVES:

BLACK HAMMER: AGE OF DOOM #1
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Dean Ormston
Colors: Dave Stewart
Letters: Todd Klein
DARK HORSE COMICS

“We’re the monsters and the ghouls.  The misfits and the delinquents.  The gifted and the damned… we’re all the weird ones, Love.  And now you’re one of us.”

Do yourelf a favor, if you haven’t done so already, and pick up the two Black Hammer trade paperbacks, read them, then buy this book.  Are you a Harry Potter fan?  Then maybe Lucy (the new Black Hammer) Weber’s experience might remind you of Harry’s trip to Knockturn Alley.

Trust me – this is really good!

 

NEXT TIME, “FOUR-COLOR BULLET” REVIEWS:

  • Barrier # 1 and #2
  • DC Nation #0
  • Justice League: No Justice #1

Oh!  Before I go, let me hear from YOU!  Please drop me a line and let me know where you buy YOUR comics.  I’d love to check it out (travel distance willing,) and maybe mention YOU and feature the store in a future column.  Thanks!

Until next time …

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