Action Comics #900 released today, plus a look back at previous anniversary issues

Today sees the release at comic shops of “Action Comics” #900, an anniversary issue of the long-running Superman-starring title.

A few other sites are taking a look at noteworthy or anniversary “Action Comics” issues. Thus, I thought I’d do the same, as shown below.

Action Comics #100 (September 1946)

Cover: http://www.comics.org/issue/5304/cover/4/

Plot: A “sleuth who never fails” is convinced Clark Kent is Superman, and tries to reveal Clark’s secret identity.

Comics.org’s description of this Golden Age story claims it’s the basis for many of the “Lois tries to prove Clark is Superman” stories of the late Golden Age through Silver Age. While I’ve yet to read this story, it certainly sounds like a possible prototype for such.

Action Comics #200 (January 1955)

Cover: http://www.comics.org/issue/11797/cover/4/

Plot: The son of a Native American chief asks for Superman’s help in getting his father to pass a series of tests set up by an evil medicine man.

Comics.org says this one’s a rewrite of a plot from the 1950s “Adventures of Superman” TV show. The cover is reflective of the 1950s’ obsession with Westerns in any way, shape or form.

For DC multiverse fans keeping score, this one presumably takes place on Earth-1 (though it could’ve taken place on Earth-2, or on both Earths). The general dividing line is the first appearance of the Martian Manhunter in November 1955. However, several other sites seem to agree this one’s an Earth-1 adventure.

Action Comics #300 (May 1963)

Action Comics #300
Action Comics #300 (May 1963). Art by Curt Swan.

Cover: http://www.comics.org/issue/17634/cover/4/

Plot: Superman is tricked by the Superman Revenge Squad into breaking the time-barrier and traveling a million years into a future. There, Earth’s sun has turned red, rendering him powerless. He’s left stranded on an Earth without any humans left.

This one’s one of the all-time classic Silver Age Superman stories (and deserving an anniversary issue), complete with a distinctive cover. This story takes advantage of the then-recently introduced idea of Superman getting his powers primarily from the “ultra solar rays” of a yellow sun (like Earth’s). Since Krypton had a red sun, Superman has no powers under a similar environment.

Other stories from the Silver Age (even through today) make use of Superman being forced to visit red-sun-orbiting worlds, villains using devices that emit “red sun radiation” to drain Superman of his powers, etc.

Action Comics #400 (May 1971)

Cover: http://www.comics.org/issue/24204/cover/4/

Plot: Superman plays caretaker for an alien child with bizarre shape-shifting powers.

I haven’t read this one. However, it doesn’t seem too noteworthy to me. It also seems to pale compared to the more interesting storyline going on in the “Superman” title at the time, the popular “Kryptonite Nevermore”/Sand Superman story.

Action Comics #500 (October 1979)

Cover: http://www.comics.org/issue/33724/cover/4/

Plot: Superman recounts his life story at the Metropolis World’s Fair while Luthor uses the occasion to hatch his latest scheme.

This anniversary issue retells the Silver/Bronze Age (or Earth-1) version of Superman’s life story. Of course, there’s later series that added to this issue’s account, including the 80s Superboy series and the “World of Krypton”/”Phantom Zone” miniseries.

Action Comics #600 (May 1988)

Cover: http://www.comics.org/issue/44391/cover/4/

Plot: Several stories about various adventures involving Superman’s supporting cast and friends.

This one’s the first post-Crisis anniversary issue. It offers several stories involving Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, Wonder Woman, and others.

Action Comics #700 (June 1994)

Cover: http://www.comics.org/issue/55156/cover/4/

Plot: Lex Luthor’s plans to destroy Metropolis come to a climax, as he, well, destroys Metropolis. (Yes, it gets rebuilt, via magic… don’t ask…).

This one was a part of the “Fall of Metropolis” storyline, which at the time seemed OK. However, I suspect it wouldn’t hold up as well upon re-reading.

Action Comics #800 (April 2003)

Cover: http://www.comics.org/issue/125286/cover/4/

Plot: “In a mix of different flashback sequences, we see who inspired Superman to be a hero, and what an inspiration Superman is for other people.” (Quoted from comics.org)

I haven’t read this one, but it apparently wasn’t a part of an ongoing storyline, surprisingly enough for a modern superhero comic. Though this apparently came not long after Dan DiDio came on board at DC. (And also just before he brought about an endless number of nonstop year-long crossover storylines.)

Action Comics #900 (April 2011)

Cover: http://www.comics.org/issue/824281/cover/4/

Plot: Several stories are in this one, though the one that’s gotten the most attention is this one: Superman renounces his US citizenship in favor of being a “citizen of the world.”

In the Silver and Bronze Ages, several stories showed that Superman has honorary citizenship in all United Nations member nations. This was an honorary gesture by the countries of the world for all he’s done. While I’m not sure if this carried over to current continuity (I suspect not), I thought it was an interesting plot idea. It acknowledged even back in the Cold War that Superman’s a hero (and cultural icon) of the world, not just the United States.

Not following the current Superman books, not sure how this modern version of “Supes as a global citizen” will play out. Following backlash against the idea of Superman dropping his US citizenship, this story was pretty quickly ignored. The New 52 reboot in September 2011 also rendered it moot. Of course, since the Fortress of Solitude’s located in the Arctic, I suppose that’d make Superman a Canadian resident/citizen…

(Updated 10/5/17)

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