April 18th, 1938 was a day that forever changed comic history. On that day, Action Comics #1 hit the newsstand and the superhero genre was born. That day was more than a book or character who changed COMIC history, Action 1 and Superman changed world history. Can you imagine the movies with superheroes? What about the toy aisle of any store? There’s no way you can go to a mall and not see something with a superhero logo on it. Superheroes are pervasive and iconic around the world and it all started with Action Comics #1.
By June of 1939, Superman had his own book at a time when all comic books were a mix of stories and characters. Within two years Action Comics was selling a million issues PER MONTH! Action Comics #1 sent other publishers scrambling to create their superhero. Within 3 years, the cascading effect of Action #1 would encourage the creation of a plethora of other heroes.
|Crimson Avenger||Detective Comics #20||October 1938|
|Batman||Detective Comics #27||May 1939|
|Sandman||Adventure Comics #40||July 1939|
|Comet, Shield||Pep Comics #1||January 1940|
|Flash, Hawkman, Johnny Thunder||Flash Comics #1||January 1940|
|Captain Marvel||Whiz Comics #2||February 1940|
|Fantomah||Jungle Comics #2||February 1940|
|Hour-Man||Adventure Comics #48||March 1940|
|Robin||Detective Comics #38||April 1940|
|Atom, Dr. Fate, Green Lantern, Spectre||All-Star Comics #3||Winter 40/41|
|Captain America||Captain America #1||March 1941|
|Starman||Adventure Comics #61||April 1941|
|Aquaman, Green Arrow, Speedy||More Fun #73||November 1941|
|Wonder Woman||All-Star Comics #8||December 1941|
In the days when newsreels were talking about the German Blitzkrieg invading Poland and the threat of another World War, superheroes were created. Kids and adults needed to escape the brutal reality of war and the insidious fear. So many of those early 1940’s issues of Action Comics show Superman fighting in the war effort against a tank, battleship or a soldier. Here are a couple examples
When the war was over, Superman became a product of the optimistic 50’s with innocent, silly stories. When the turmoil, marches, and protests started in the late 60’s Superman stayed in safe 1950’s. In those days, his powers were unbeatable and somewhat ridiculous. Then at the end of 1986, John Byrne reworked the Man of steel into someone more believable. This started in the Man of Steel mini-series but spread to the other Superman titles, including Action Comics.
After Action Comics reached issue 600, the book became an anthology, featuring several characters. That lasted until Action 641 when DC realized that Action Comics should feature Superman and not some random dude named Wild Dog. Good idea.
Doomsday made his appearance in Action Comics 684 but Superman’s death would happen in Superman #75. After his funeral, all Superman titles were halted for three months to build suspense. Four replacements for Superman arrived to protect and serve. One of them, the Last Son of Krypton with the mega sweet yellow visor, stole the body of Superman and took it to the Fortress of Solitude. In the regeneration chamber, Superman, the real Superman was back.
I know people complain about Superman dying and coming back but he came back with a MULLET. Come on, that has got to be worth something. It’s business in the front and a party in the back. Check out Action Comics #692 to see Sups wicked sweet mullet.
Superman has had several wardrobe changes over the years. He’s had the iconic red and blue, a white costume, a black costume and the current one which is mostly blue. He lost the red underwear on the outside of his tights in Action 904, which was October 2011. Word on the interweb says that issue 1000 brings back a version of his original costume with the red skivvies.
It’s irrelevant whether you love Superman or hate him because he is more than a superhero. He’s the reason you have Batman, Wonder Woman, Human Torch, Black Panther, Wolverine, Storm, and the rest. His symbol is iconic on all sides of the globe, or just one side if you’re a flat-earther. His story still hold power because a lot of people feel like they don’t fit in, like someone from another planet. Plenty of people want to believe the best in people. Whether you’re a Superman fanatic or are ambivalent, buy Action Comics 1000 for the love of everything superhero.