Book Review: ACTION COMICS: 80 YEARS OF SUPERMAN

WITH DUST JACKET

ACTION COMICS: 80 YEARS OF SUPERMAN THE DELUXE EDITION
April 2018
DC Comics

From the DC Comics page on the book:
“Join us for the 80th anniversary celebration of the most important comic book in American history: ACTION COMICS #1, featuring the first appearance of Superman! It’s an extraordinary party as we revisit stories from across the decades, featuring the debuts of not just the Man of Tomorrow, but also Supergirl, Brainiac, the Fortress of Solitude and more! See the work of generations of top writers and artists on the original superhero! Enjoy sparkling essays from literary wizards who have won Pulitzer Prizes and hit the 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 And as a bonus, don’t miss a previously unpublished 1940s Superman tale believed to be written by Jerry Siegel with art by the Joe Shuster studio, salvaged fifty years ago and hidden away until now!”

In 1938 Action Comics issue 1 hit the stands and changed the comics world in big ways. Introducing Superman to the world, a character who to this day is one of the most icon symbols of modern times. My guess would be that comics fans or not 9 out of 10 people in the US would recognize the big “S” and Superman. Hell, across the world the numbers would likely be at least 7 out of 10.

WITHOUT DUST JACKET

Action comics has been publishing for 80 years. That is whole generations of fans and I know in my family my father and his brothers were fans (my Dad was born in 1938 as well) and I have passed Action comics to all the younger people in my life. In addition to 1000 issues of Action comics the character of Superman has spun off into other comic books, radio plays, TV shows, movies, video games, novels and thousands of toys and products. Superman also help spawn the superhero genre which is still growing to this day.

As a comic fan who has been buying comics with his own money since the late 60s I have always read Action comics. Batman is one of my favorites but Superman was always the character who brought hope and light. He’s the one who would stop and rescue a cat in the tree and then stop a war. His moral center is what I think we’d all like to aspire too. Action comics continuing to be published for this length of time shows this to be true.

Jerry Seigel and Joe Schuster originally came up with the idea to have a comic strip in newspapers with Superman. That plan didn’t work out as the syndicates who oversaw the comic strip weren’t interested. Eventually the publisher which would become DC Comics said yes. The two young men from Cleveland wrote and drew the tales for years. Over the last eighty years hundreds and hundreds of people have continued to tell stories of this visitor from another planet. With each new reader of Action comics and each new artist and artist to work on the comic the character of Superman became more and more “OUR” hero and as the legacy continues to grow each new story adds to the mythology.

I have favorite issues, a lot of them from the early 70s as that is when I had summer free to sit outside and read comics all day. The covers jumped out at me full of bright colors and the promise of adventures. Everyone has a favorite period od Action comics. The wonderful thing for me is that while comics changed and Superman did go through some changes he is still at his core the hero dreamed up back in the late thirties in Cleveland. The latest run on Action comics has been amazing and it’s the first comic I read each time I get home with my new comics.

ACTION COMICS: 80 YEARS OF SUPERMAN THE DELUXE EDITION is a beautiful book. There are twenty-one stories going back to issue one and up to April 2018. What I like about the collection of stories they picked is that these are not necessarily game changing tales but instead a reflection of the times in which the stories were written. The John Byrne run was a lot of fun and the story here makes me want to go back and reread it all. Also included are some early stories from Action starring Zattara and Vigilante. I think this is a perfect collection.

I also enjoyed the essays written for this book. A forward by the awesome Paul Levitz, an introduction by Laura Siegel Larson (Jerry Siegel’s daughter) and other pieces by Jules Feiffer, Tom DeHaven, Marv Wolfman, David Hajdu, Larry Tye and Gene Luen Yang. There is also a section with cover highlights and full biographies at the end.
I’ve been reading action for almost 50 of it’s 80 years and this book shows off the best of Action and why I still read it. At only $29.99 it’s a bargain and a book you will go back to many times.