By Garrett Hanneken
Hope is important, it pushes us towards something better, and it can make a meaningless life meaningful. We hope for a better future, but we also, as poet Robert Frost points out, hope that the past turned out all right for what it was.
Superman is celebrated after 80 years in comics. He is a symbol of hope. He can be an icon of the future, but most importantly, he can be an emblem of the past. Across the many tales told in this giant-sized comic, the main theme is, and you guessed it, hope. This optimism is portrayed through Superman, but also through the citizens. Because it is not only Superman who provides hope to the citizens, but it is the citizens who provide hope to Superman.
As I mentioned before, the past is an important factor in hope and one of the key elements in this comic is the embracement of the past. This can be sentimental depending on who the writer is, in which the comic excels, but it can also be tawdry when it is handled by other writers. However, this juxtaposition between sentimental and tawdry may show us how comics and Superman have matured, but this is not to say the latter is a negative aspect. If anything, the tacky side of Superman in his red trunks is a reminder that he is a character that has endured, and it is through his perseverance that we have come to admire him.
Another element in this comic is Superman’s human side. It is not only Superman’s ability to care for his family but his sincerity for his foes that proves to make the character an endearing idol. It is through his actions of giving convicts a second chance that makes us realize that a man with so much sanctimonious power still sees good in the insincere and lowlives. This belief is a reminder that maybe there is still good in the people you would least suspect.
Through the many stories, the artwork proves to work in unison with each. If the story felt more modern in regards to dialogue you will find a more serious tone and if the story felt a little outdated then you will find a more cartoonish tone. The past and present are both portrayed in the art and it enhances another theme: respect the past, embrace the future.
With that said, you may still find some stories better than others which are to be expected in an anthology comic. However, not every story will be entertaining as I can see some readers becoming bored as they may feel bludgeoned by the idea of hope. Sure, the comic plays with this theme throughout, but some writers will find a way to tell it in an interesting manner. It is the writers who prove that Superman is compelling that make this comic worth the money.
Action Comics #1000 shows two sides to the character’s spectrum: the old-fashioned and the contemporary. Celebrating both the past and present, most stories will be heartwarming, but others may miss the mark. Fortunately, it is the last story by Brian Michael Bendis that proves Superman is in good hands.
Action Comics #1000