The importance of Superman, not just to the DC Comics Universe but to the world at large, is a running theme in the 1,000th issue of Action Comics, which features 11 stories showcasing the Man of Steel’s 80-year history.

Action Comics 1000
Written by Brian Michael Bendis, Paul Dini, Richard Donner, Cindy Goff, Geoff Johns, Dan Jurgens, Tom King, Brad Meltzer, Louise Simonson, Scott Snyder, Peter J. Tomasi and Marv Wolfman
Pencils and Inks by Rafael Albuquerque, John Cassaday, Olivier Coipel, Patrick Gleason, Jackson Guice, Jorge Jimenez, Jim Lee, Doug Mahnke, Clay Mann, Danny Miki, Kevin Nowlan, Jerry Ordway, Norm Rapmund, John Romita Jr., Walt Simonson, Curt Swan and Scott Williams
Colors by Hi-Fi, Jordie Bellaire, Jorge Jimenez, Laura Martin, David McCaig, Trish Mulvihill, Wil Quintana, Alejandro Sanchez, Alex Sinclair, Peter Steigerwald, Brennan Wagner and Matthew Wilson

The first time I even considered Action Comics hitting four digits was when the series hit its 700th issue back in 1994. I started doing the math and realized I’d probably be around to see the book’s thousandth issue. Three hundred issues and 24 years later, and we’ve finally arrived, a little earlier than my expectations, thanks to the twice-monthly schedule of the Rebirth era.

While the 700th issue was a double-sized kick-off to the “Fall of Metropolis” story, which saw a dying Lex Luthor try and destroy the city after Lois Lane printed an expose about his crimes, the 1,000th issue is a supersized anthology book, giving dozens of creators an opportunity to contribute to an historic issue with tales taken from all eras of Superman stories. While this has become a more common practice for the bigger anniversary books, this one felt special. The 11 stories included in this issue were heartfelt love letters to the first superhero and the world in which he exists.

I’m not going to go over each of the 11 stories. For a more in-depth look at all the stories, take a look at this story ranking from BATMAN’S BOOKCASE.

The biggest story in the issue is probably the first DC Comics work of BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS, which is the final story in the anthology. The story, “The Truth,” has art from co-publisher Jim Lee and Alex Sinclair and serves as a precursor to Bendis’ Man of Steel miniseries that debuts next month.

‘The Truth’ by Bendis, Lee and Sinclair

“The Truth” sees Superman getting pummeled by an alien who claims to have been responsible for the destruction of Krypton. Bendis has promised a shake-up to the hero’s mythos, and this is probably what he’s talking about. I’m definitely intrigued based on this little preview, and it was good to see that, through the issue’s supporting characters, Bendis had a good grasp on what makes Big Blue important. Obviously, it’s the red shorts.

Many of the stories in the issue feature homages to different eras of Superman’s history, but the most unique homage comes from the story co-written by Geoff Johns and Richard Donner, “The Car.” Here, we go back to 1938 as Superman confronts the driver of the car he slammed into a rock on the cover of Action Comics 1. The Superman of 1938 isn’t the same hero as the one we have now, but some things never change. Superman talks to the criminal and urges him to find a different way of life than the criminal enterprise that got him stuck up a pole. The compassion and understanding Superman shows here is enhanced by the art of Olivier Coipel and Alejandro Sanchez, who produced a simply stunning short story.

In “Faster Than A Speeding Bullet,” we see a modern-day Superman racing to save a woman who is about to be shot in the head at point blank range. Writer Brad Meltzer gives us the hero’s thoughts as he gives his all to stop the bullet, though he knows he won’t be fast enough. Despite being certain that he can’t actually outrun this particular bullet, fired right next to the woman’s head, it doesn’t stop him from pushing his limits to get there. The woman, however, manages to help her own situation by knocking the shooter off balance just enough for the Man of Steel to grab the bullet with his hand.

‘Faster Than A Speeding Bullet’ by Meltzer, Cassaday and Martin

My favorite story, though, is easily the first one. “For The City That Has Everything” is written by the most recent Action Comics writer, Dan Jurgens, with art from Norm Rapmund. Jurgens once again puts himself on a list of all-time great Superman writers with this story, as the Man of Steel is trying to get out of attending a Superman Appreciation ceremony, because he is concerned about a Khund invasion. Every time he thinks he has an excuse to run off, though, something changes and he is no longer needed, because the Justice League and other heroes of the DC Universe have decided to allow Superman to have his day without interruption.

The ceremony gives us a glimpse of how grateful the people of Metropolis are for Superman’s help, including a former criminal  While Superman’s son doesn’t understand why the reformed crook is allowed to speak, Superman lays it out for us perfectly.

Somehow, Jurgens always manages to give me chills when he writes Superman.

This is easily the best supersized anniversary issue I’ve ever read, and it perfectly encapsulates everything I have always loved about Superman, and it’s something that any Superman fan should own.