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Howard Mackie, Ron Marz, Bob McLeod, David Michelinie, Jerry Ordway, Mike Royer, Bob Schreck, and Bob Wiacek Head to Baltimore Comic Con

The Baltimore Comic-Con returns to the Inner Harbor’s Baltimore Convention Center on October 18-20, 2019. The Baltimore Comic-Con is excited to announce the additions of comics luminaries Howard Mackie, Ron Marz, Bob McLeod, David Michelinie, Jerry Ordway, Mike Royer, Bob Schreck, and Bob Wiacek to the 2019 event. Tickets are available now.

Howard Mackie first gained attention as a writer in 1990, launching a new Ghost Rider title for Marvel, co-creating Danny Ketch as the new host of the Ghost Rider. He wrote Ghost Rider / Wolverine / Punisher: Hearts of Darkness and Ghost Rider / Wolverine / Punisher: The Dark Design, and took over writing duties on Web of Spider-Man. He would remain on various Spider-Man titles through the Clone Saga. In January 1999, Mackie became writer on relaunches of Amazing Spider-Man and Peter Parker: Spider-Manseries. Mackie wrote for the X-Men line, including X-Factor and Mutant X. He also wrote several mini-series featuring Gambit, Wolverine, and Rogue. Mackie co-wrote the six-issue Spider-Man: Clone Saga miniseries, based on Mackie’s original notes for the 1990s crossover. At DC Comics, Mackie wrote The Ravagers as part of the “Second Wave” of The New 52. Of late, you can find Howard working for Zenescope Entertainment, writing titles such as Grimm Tales of TerrorJasmine: Crown of Kings, and Robyn Hood: Outlaw.

Ron Marz has been writing comics for more than two decades, starting his career with a lengthy run on Silver Surfer for Marvel. Since then, he has worked for virtually every major publisher and compiled a long list of credits, including stints on Green Lantern for DC, Star Wars and Conan for Dark Horse, Witchblade for Top Cow, and as a staff writer for CrossGen Comics. Among Marz’s recent work is the rejuvenation of the Top Cow publishing line, including his historic run on Witchblade and the launch of the acclaimed event series Artifacts. He also currently writes the Skylanders series for IDW, John Carter: Warlord of Mars for Dynamite Entertainment, and The Protectors from Athlitacomics, working with NFL player Israel Idonije to develop and launch the concept. 

Marz’s creator-owned series include the all-ages tale Dragon Prince at Top Cow, the historical adventure Samurai: Heaven and Earth, the science-fiction story Pantheon Cityat Dark Horse, and the vampire tale Shinku at Image. Marz and acclaimed artist Stjepan Sejic also have teamed for Ravine, a series of creator-owned fantasy graphic novels from Top Cow/Image. In addition to his comics credits, Marz has worked in the video-game industry on a number of Activison titles, including the Skylanders franchise, and writes a regular column for Comic Book Resources, the #1 comics-related website.

Bob McLeod is best known for co-creating and illustrating The New Mutants for Marvel Comics. He began his career with Marvel’s Crazy magazine, penciling and inking movie and TV satires and the Teen Hulk strip. He has penciled or inked all the major characters for Marvel and DC, including Spider-Man(most notably Kraven’s Last Hunt), The X-MenSupermanBatmanWonder WomanGI JoeStar WarsThe HulkConan, and many more. Bob also wrote and illustrated a children’s alphabet book, Superhero ABC, published by HarperCollins, which received starred reviews. He edited and wrote articles for Twomorrows’ Rough Stuff magazine and taught art at the Pennsylvania College of Art & Design for many years. He’s currently doing occasional variant covers for Marvel and commissions for his fans, along with occasional freelance jobs and personal projects. His web site is www.bobmcleod.com

David Michelinie (appearing Saturday and Sunday only, courtesy of The Living Corpse) has been a professional writer for over 45 years. He has written more than 600 comic book stories (Iron ManAmazing Spider-ManAvengers, etc.) in which he created or co-created numerous characters (Venom, James “Rhodey” Rhodes, Scott Lang) that have been featured in major motion pictures. 

His comic book efforts have spanned genres from westerns to war to horror to super-hero. In addition to comics work, David has published two novels, has had short stories published in anthologies (Werewolves: Dark Moon Rising) and periodicals (Spider-Man Magazine), and has written scripts for the Nicktoons animated series, Iron Man Armored Adventures. His comic book biography of Mother Teresa won the Catholic Book Award for Best Children’s Book, and his work on the acclaimed Iron Man “Demon In A Bottle” saga was awarded a Certificate Of Merit from a prestigious anti-alcoholism foundation. His most recent work has been in the field of independent comics, and includes The Living Corpse: The Hexx Files.

After an initial foray into fanzines, Jerry Ordway found work at DC Comics as a result of a talent search at the 1980 Chicago Comicon, starting on anthology titles such as Mystery in Space and Weird War Tales. An artist in his own right, he is renowned for his inking work at DC Comics, including the industry-changing Crisis on Infinite EarthsZero Hour: Crisis in Time, and Countdown, as well as runs on SupermanWonder Woman, and JLA, as well as writing and painting The Power of Shazam! OGN and writing the monthly series that followed.

Drawn to Southern California, spring 1965, by the lure of a career in Comic Art, Mike Royer spent his first 14 years in comic books, comic strips, and TV animation. Beginning as Russ Manning’s assistant on Magnus, Robot Fighter and Tarzan comic books and then inking and penciling for Western Publishing (Gold Key). His drawing assignments were on TarzanSpace Ghost, coloring books, puzzles, and more for Western, and doing layout on network animation series like Spider-Man. At Gold Key, he wrote/adapted and drew Speed BuggyButch Cassidy and the Sundance KidsTarzan, and Magnus, and designed and executed covers for Hanna-Barbera TV Adventure Heroes, etc. Mike contributed to James Warren’s CreepyEerie, and Vampirella magazines, and began drawing the comic panel Crusin’ record album covers (over 2 dozen to date), many of which he’s scripted. For East Coast firms, he is best known to comic fans for his decade as letterer/inker for legendary Jack Kirby at National and then Marvel. From late spring 1979, Mike spent the next 14 years on staff with the Walt Disney Company in the creative department of their Consumer Product/Licensing division, addressing the areas of book publishing, comic books and strips, and all forms of theme park and licensed merchandise as a character artist/product designer, performing as idea man, concept and final line artist, and sometime inker. At Disney, Mike designed and art directed the Dick Tracy and 3-D Rocketeer comic book Music Company read-alongs. He created the “new look” that launched the massive Winnie the Pooh licensing program in late 1993. Featured in a 43-minute video (How To Draw Pooh) sent to over 40 licensees, Mike takes no small amount of pride in the fact that Pooh soon (and still) outsold Mickey Mouse worldwide. In June 1993, Mike left his staff position to spend the next 7 years full-time freelancing for The Disney Store’s creative group, becoming their “Main Pooh Man” and creating 3-D products utilizing Disney characters. Since the spring of 2000, Mike has functioned as an Art service, doing pencil work on a wide variety of projects, including creating character Orthographic Turns and environment “floor plans” for computer game animators, Digimon products, on-screen icons for Fox Family Channel and Fox Kids Network, Reader Rabbit workbooks, Rescue Heroes toy packaging, and more. Spring 2001 found Mike and Laurie, his lovely wife and concept collaborator, returning to his birth state, Oregon, settling in Medford, and in the process returned to his career roots. And in the last few years, he’s found time to ink such luminaries as Steve Rude and Eric Larsen, to name a couple. Mike continues to create Disney character art for limited edition collector pin sets and does “recreations”. He strongly believes that his passion, attention to detail and accuracy, and his commitment to integrity will keep him at the board for a long time to come.

Bob Schreck is an award-winning editor who has worked in comics since 1975. His publishing career began at Comico in 1985. By 1991, he joined Dark Horse and was the editor of creator-owned titles and the Legend line, where he shepherded Frank Miller’s Sin City and Dark Horse Presents, among many others. In 1997, along with Joe Nozemack, he launched Oni Press, best known for Kevin Smith’s Clerks comics. 

In 1999, Schreck joined DC Comics, becoming Group Editor of the Batman franchise. He shepherded projects including DK2Batman: HushSweet ToothBatman: Year 100Daytripper, and Green Arrow. After working briefly at IDW, he landed at Legendary Films as Senior VP-Editor-in-Chief. He has served as the editor for such talents as Neil Gaiman, Harlan Ellison, Bernie Wrightson, Fiona Staples, Frank Miller, Jeff Lemire, Guillermo del Toro, Lynn Varley, Paul Pope, Len Wein, Amy Reeder, Dave Gibbons, Scott Morse, Grant Morrison, and many others. Currently, Schreck is semi-retired, doing freelance editing and consulting and living in Oregon with his husband, Randy, and their dog, Bandit.

Bob Wiacek has worked with many great talents such as Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, Gene Colan, John and Sal Buscema, Walter Simonson, Frank Miller, Barry Windsor-Smith, George Perez, Jerry Ordway, Paul Smith, Dave Cockrum, John Byrne, Don Heck, Ron Garney, June Brigman, Colleen Doran, plus many others. He has inked Mike Grell on The Legion of Super Heroes #220 and Al Milgrom on Marvel Presents #7-The Guardians of the Galaxy for Marvel. From that time on, he has inked every major title for Marvel, including The X-MenSpider-ManThorIron ManCaptain AmericaHulkShe-HulkMan-ThingStar WarsSilver Surfer, and Fantastic Four just to name a few. At DC, he worked on SupermanBatmanGreen LanternBrave and the BoldThe RayBatman FamilyJustice SocietyShazam, and Challengers of the Unknown, which is a small sampling as well.

As far as independent publishers, he did work for Dark Horse, Image, Relium Media, Archie, and Valiant, where he worked on Archer and ArmstrongBloodshot, and Solar. He has inked noteworthy issues in titles including Uncanny X-MenX-FactorStar WarsIron ManBatman, and Bloodshot. On the Iron Man 2020 project, he co-plotted with Walter Simonson and penciled and inked the book (with an able assist from Will Rosado). Of late, Wiacek has helped out inking All New Wolverine and a JLA General Mills comic, which was available in different cereal boxes. He has also inked Badger #1 for First Comics, Stars End #2 from Insane Comics, pencilled and inked the cover to ZaZa the Mystic, and will be working on an Indie project soon with Ron Wilson and Arvell Jones. Outside of comics, he starred in a commercial with rap group G-Unit in 2003, and has a small part in the independent film Manos: The Rise of Torgo, for which he did the poster.


In addition to on-site CGC grading, this year’s confirmed guests for the show include: Neal Adams (Detective Comics), Arantza (fantasy artist), Art Way Alliance, Brian Azzarello (Batman: Damned), Marty Baumann (Disney/Pixar), Carolyn Belefski (Curls), Ziggy Blumenthal (Operation Pajama Pants), Harold Buchholz (MST3K), Mark Buckingham (Justice League Dark), Cullen Bunn (Harrow County, courtesy of AfterShock Comics), Greg Burnham (Tuskegee Heirs), Jim Calafiore (The Mike Wieringo Tellos Tribute), Joe Carabeo (The Legettes), Richard Case (Doom Patrol), Christa Cassano (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Freshman Force), Castillo Studios, Jacob Chabot (Ziggy Pig – Silly Seal Comics), Howard Chaykin (Hey Kids! Comics!), Frank Cho (Harley Quinn), Amy Chu (KISS: The End), Matthew oClark (Injustice: Ground Zero), Steve Conley (The Middle Age), Steve Conte (Action Figure Kingdom), Katie Cook (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic), Jamie Cosley (Star Wars Insider), Kristina Deak-Linsner (Vampirella: Roses for the Dead), The Deans Family (La Moo Du Chocolat: A Shakes Adventure), Steve Ellis (The Only Living Girl), Tod Emko and Piggy (A Piggy’s Tale), Garth Ennis (The Boys, Friday and Saturday only), Rob Feldman (Cyko KO), Chris Flick (Capes & Babes), LJ and Kayla Fowlkes (The Adventures of CHIBIWONGTONG), Shea Fontana (DC SuperHero Girls), Ramona Fradon (The Mike Wieringo Tellos Tribute), Franco (Superman of Smallville), Julie Fujii Sakai (Usagi Yojimbo: The Hidden), John Gallagher (Max Meow), David Gallaher (The Only Living Girl), SL Gallant (Magic: The Gathering: Chandra – Tales of Alara), Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (DC Nation), Mitch Gerads (Mr. Miracle), Gerhard (Cerberus the Aardvark), Chris Giarrusso (Hashtag: Danger), Jimmy Gownley (Disney Zootopia: School Days), Garth Graham (Star Power), John Patrick Green (Kim Possible Adventures), Dawn Griffin (Zorphbert & Fred), Juanjo Guarnido (Blacksad),  Laura Lee Gulledge (Will & Whit), Bob Hall (West Coast Avengers), Cully Hamner (Batman Beyond), N. Steven Harris (Michael Cray), Dean Haspiel (Bloodshot Rising Spirit), Greg Hildebrandt (Old Man Logan), Javon and Tarik Holmes (The Adventuers of Waffle Boy), Adam Hughes (Superman), Jamal Igle (Wrong Earth), Klaus Janson (New Challengers), Justin Jordan (Reaver), Kata Kane (G.F.F.s Ghost Friends Forever), Chris Kemple (The Mike Wieringo Tellos Tribute), Matt Kindt (X-O Manowar), Sharlene Kindt (Dept. H), Tom King (Batman), Greg Land (Hulkverines, courtesy of Hero Initiative), Jim Lee (Batman: Hush, Saturday only), Jeff Lemire (Black Hammer), Joseph Michael Linsner (Red Sonja), Howard Mackie (Ghost Rider), Mike Manley (Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Comic), Chris Mariano (Claire Lost Her Bear at the World’s Fair), Mark Mariano (Puddleton Farm: Ewing! What Are You Doing?), Ron Marz (Turok), Xavier McLaren (The Bubbler), John McCrea (Hitman, courtesy of Hero Initiative), Bob McLeod (New Mutants), Carla Speed McNeil (Twisted Romance), Pop Mhan (Raven, Daughter of Darkness), David Michelinie (Amazing Spider-Man, Saturday and Sunday only, courtesy of The Living Corpse), Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez (Ricanstruction: Reminiscing & Rebuilding Puerto Rico), Mark Morales (Justice League), Jamar Nicholas (Leon: Protector of the Playground), Kevin Nowlan (Black Widow, courtesy of Hero Initiative), Jerry Ordway (Archie Meets Batman ’66), Rachel Ordway (FTL, Y’all!), Greg Pak (Star Wars), Dan Parent (Archie: The Married Life – 10th Anniversary), Paul Pelletier (Aquaman/Jabberjaw Special), Mike Perkins (Swamp Thing), David Petersen (Mouse Guard), Mark Poulton (Koni Waves), Andy Price (My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic), Livio Ramondelli (Transformers), Ron Randall (Trekker), Tom Raney (Dog Days of Summer), Afua Richardson (Run), Rafer Roberts (Grumble), Don Rosa (The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck), Craig Rousseau (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Dimension X), Mike Royer (New Gods), Arsia Rozegar (Man Plus), Stan Sakai (Usagi Yojimbo), Stuart Sayger (KISS: The End), Bob Schreck (Batman: Hush), Greg Schigiel (Pix: One Weirdest Weekend), Erica Schultz (Xena: Warrior Princess), Bart Sears (Turok), Jeff Shultz (Archie Jumbo Comics Digest), Bill Sienkiewicz (New Mutants: War Children), Louise Simonson (Death of Superman), Walter Simonson (Ragnarok), Andy Smith (Demi-God), Brian “Smitty” Smith (The Stuff of Legend), John K. Snyder III (Killers), Allison Sohn (The Art of Red Sonja, Volume 2), Charles Soule (Curse Words), Brian Stelfreeze (Rise of the Black Panther), Jim Steranko (Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.), Karl Story (Star Wars: Age of Rebellion – Han Solo), William Stout (Fantastic Worlds – The Art of William Stout), Ty Templeton (Marvel Super-Hero Adventures, courtesy of Hero Initiative), Michael Terracciano (Star Power), Billy Tucci (Shi), Gus Vazquez (Big Hero 6), Emilio Velez Jr. (The Dodgeball Teens), Robert Venditti (Hawkman), Doug Wagner (The Hard Place), Mark Waid (Avengers: No Road Home), Adam Wallenta (Punk Taco), Adam Warren (Empowered And Sistah Spooky’s High School Hell), Todd Webb (Mr. Toast Comics), Lee Weeks (Batman), Bob Wiacek (Iron Man), Marcus Williams (Tuskegee Heirs), Javier Cruz Winnik (Puerto Rico Strong), Marv Wolfman (Raven: Daughter of Darkness, courtesy of Hero Initiative), Rich Woodall (Electric Black), John Workman (Riverdale), Kelly Yates (Torchwood), and Thom Zahler (Star Trek: Waypoint Special 2019).

Preview: Captain America and the Invaders: Bahamas Triangle #1

Captain America and the Invaders: Bahamas Triangle #1

(W) Roy Thomas (A/CA) Jerry Ordway
Rated T
In Shops: Jul 03, 2019
SRP: $4.99

March 1941. Assigned to safeguard President Roosevelt during a fishing trip in the Bahamas, the newly commissioned Cap endures his baptism under fire – while a German U-boat (carrying the Nazi super-soldier called Der Wunderkrieger (or Wonder Warrior) heads for the island chain’s capital! His mission: to kidnap England’s once-king, the Duke of Windsor, and sit him on the throne of a defeated Britain! But others happen to be in that part of the Atlantic as well – the once-bitter rivals the Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch!

Captain America and the Invaders: Bahamas Triangle #1

Exclusive Preview: Archie 1941 #5 (of 5)

Archie 1941 #5 (of 5)

Script: Mark Waid and Brian Augustyn
Art: Peter Krause, Kelly Fitzpatrick, Jack Morelli
Cover: Peter Krause, Rosario “Tito” Peña
Variant Covers: Jerry Ordway, Tula Lotay
On Sale Date: 2/6
32-page, full color comic
$3.99 U.S.

Archie Andrews-MIA and presumed dead! His friends and family-devastated! Don’t miss out on the conclusion of this headline-making comic event!

Archie 1941 #5 (of 5)

Review: DC Primal Age 100-Page Comic Giant

DC Super Heroes in a barbarian world team up for a battle against evil, with the fate of Paradise Island in the balance! DC Primal Age is the new comic book based on the retro-style Funko action figure line.

Toys and comics have had a long history but is this history we need to revisit?

DC Primal Age’s main story is by Marv Wolfman, Scott Koblish. Check out the full line up!

“The Primal Age” (32-page main story) – Written by Marv Wolfman with art by Scott Koblish
“Born on a Monday” – Written and drawn by Jerry Ordway
“Ice and Fire” – Written by Louise Simonson with art by Phil Winslade
“Darkest Knight” – Written by Louise Simonson with art by Brent Anderson
“The Joker’s Wild” – Written by Jerry Ordway with art by Chuck Patton, Karl Kesel and Tom Derenick
“Not a Bird…” – Written by Marv Wolfman with art by Keith Pollard and Jose Marzan Jr.

The comic is available now at Target.

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with FREE copies for review

Enter the DC Primal Age at Target Now

How do superheroes save the world in a universe without technology?

Magic, sword fighting and mystical beasts, obviously!

DC Primal Age—a new comic book based on the popular retro-style Funko action figure line of the same name—is now available for purchase exclusively at Target stores.

DC Super Heroes in a barbarian world team up for a battle against evil, with the fate of Paradise Island in the balance! As Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Superman work together to stop The Joker and King Shark from sinking Themyscira into the sea, Batman must decide whether he can trust the alien Superman long enough to join forces. He’s ready to help, but at what cost?

Then, learn more about these primitive heroes and villains in five thrilling short stories. Wonder Woman rescues a young boy in the forest and takes an interest in his fate. Mr. Freeze faces a fire-breathing dragon in a fight to save his frozen wife! Batman saves a sorcerer who offers to join his battle against evil. The Joker visits a small village, to devastating effect. And Superman goes rogue…or is there another explanation for his bizarre antics?

Acclaimed comic book writer Marv Wolfman and artist Scott Koblish tell a 32-page main story featuring an epic battle between the Justice League and The Joker, which is followed by five short stories from fellow legendary comics creators Louise Simonson and Jerry Ordway with artists Phil Winslade, Brent Anderson, Chuck Patton, and Keith Pollard.

DC Primal Age 100-Page Comic Giant retails for $9.99. It includes:

  • “The Primal Age” (32-page main story) – Written by Marv Wolfman with art by Scott Koblish
  • “Born on a Monday” – Written and drawn by Jerry Ordway
  • “Ice and Fire” – Written by Louise Simonson with art by Phil Winslade
  • “Darkest Knight” – Written by Louise Simonson with art by Brent Anderson
  • “The Joker’s Wild” – Written by Jerry Ordway with art by Chuck Patton, Karl Kesel and Tom Derenick
  • “Not a Bird…” – Written by Marv Wolfman with art by Keith Pollard and Jose Marzan Jr.
DC Primal Age 100-Page Comic Giant

Karl Kesel and Tom Grummett Return this April to Section Zero

The award winning team of writer Karl Kesel and artist Tom Grummett return to their fan-favorite, critically acclaimed series, Section Zero. The science-fiction adventure is set to launch from Image Comics and Shadowline Comics this April. 

Section Zero kicks off with Part One: “Ground Zero,” where readers meet a team of fearless adventurers. Together the crew uncovers the secrets behind UFOs, monsters, and lost civilizations in a story that can best be described as, “Jack Kirby does The X-Files.” 

Section Zero will feature alternate covers by super-star artists including Walter Simonson, George Perez, Adam Hughes, Dave Gibbons, Mike Wieringo, and many more! 

Section Zero #1 by Cover A by Kesel & Grummett (Diamond Code FEB190024), Cover B by Walter Simonson (Diamond Code FEB190025), and Cover C by Jerry Ordway (Diamond Code FEB190026).

Section Zero #1 Cover A
Section Zero #1 Cover B
Section Zero #1 Cover C

Preview: Archie Meets Batman ’66 #6

ARCHIE MEETS BATMAN ’66 #6

Script: Jeff Parker and Michael Moreci
Art: Dan Parent, J. Bone, Kelly Fitzpatrick, Jack Morelli
Cover: Michael Allred, Laura Allred
Variant Covers: Joe Giella w/ Vincent Lovallo, Jerry Ordway w/ Glenn Whitmore, Dan Parent, Ruben Procopio, Greg Smallwood
On Sale Date: 1/9
32-page, full color comic
$3.99 U.S.

The United Underworld has all of Riverdale under their control and it’s up to Batman, along with Archie and the Gang, to save their beloved hometown! It’s going to come down to some ingenuity, a few high-tech devices, and the showdown of the century right in the center of town!

ARCHIE MEETS BATMAN '66 #6

Batman and the gang unite in this early preview of Archie Meets Batman ’66 #6!

ARCHIE MEETS BATMAN ’66 #6 (OF 6)

Script: Jeff Parker and Michael Moreci
Art: Dan Parent, J. Bone, Kelly Fitzpatrick, Jack Morelli
Cover: Michael Allred, Laura Allred
Variant Covers: Joe Giella w/ Vincent Lovallo, Jerry Ordway w/ Glenn Whitmore, Dan Parent, Ruben Procopio, Greg Smallwood
On Sale Date: 1/9
32-page, full color comic
$3.99 U.S.

The United Underworld has all of Riverdale under their control and it’s up to Batman, along with Archie and the Gang, to save their beloved hometown! It’s going to come down to some ingenuity, a few high-tech devices, and the showdown of the century right in the center of town!

Review: Action Comics #1000 Captures Superman’s Inspirational Power

In Action Comics #1000, an all-star team of writers, artists, and colorists try and for the most part succeed at getting to the heart of Superman. Some stories touch on different eras of history from his time in the 1930s as a non-flying, slumlord buster and the Mort Weisinger Silver Age sci-fi kookiness to classic comics like Kingdom Come. Others look at his relationships with his parents, wife/co-worker Lois Lane, and his arch-nemesis Lex Luthor. One story even looks far in the future of the DC Universe while another acts as a semi-controversial prologue to Brian Michael Bendis’ upcoming Man of Steel miniseries and his runs on Action Comics and Superman.

To give each story the attention it needs, I will do a short review of each one and score it at the end of the paragraph. A final aggregated score  will conclude this (hopefully not that long) “80 page giant” review.

Action Comics #1000 opens with one hell of a curtain call from writer/penciler Dan Jurgens, inker Norm Rapmund, and colorist Hi-Fi that acts as a victory lap for Jurgens’ DC Rebirth run on Action Comics and his tireless work turning Superman from the edgy, armor wearing New 52 version to his classic role as a heroic hope bringer and a family man too. The story is simple. Metropolis is holding a Superman celebration day, but Superman doesn’t want their praise and adulation and wants to keep saving the day. However, through a little trickery from Lois and the Justice League, he ends up getting his moment in the sun. Jurgens’ writing cuts to the core of Superman and his positivity with a small-time Metropolis criminal named Benning talking about how he got him a job after prison so he wouldn’t keep relapsing and running with different supervillains. His art is a little old school, but that’s not a bad thing, and Rapmund’s inking helps make the crowd shots sharp in a story that shows Superman’s bond with the citizens of Metropolis and the superhero community while not neglecting the family elements that have been a big part of the Rebirth era of Superman. There really wouldn’t be a superhero genre without him.

Story: 9.5 Art: 8 Overall: 8.8

The next story “Neverending Battle” from the Superman creative team of Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, and Alejandro Sanchez is a tiny bit philosophical, somewhat historical, and definitely epic as a story only done in full page spreads. It’s about Vandal Savage weaponizing Hypertime to trap Superman in his own history so he can’t get back to Jon and Lois to celebrate his birthday. Tomasi’s writing is a little corny at times with adages like “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and “History repeats itself”, but Gleason and Sanchez’s glorious visuals and the through-line of Superman consistently overcoming great odds wins out just like Superman over Vandal Savage. The first spreads are the most iconic with Golden Age Era Superman punching out gangsters, stopping locomotives, and throwing tanks around with Tomasi commentating on the simplistic, good vs. evil nature of these early stories. But he and Gleason aren’t afraid to get vulnerable with a poignant homage to the scene in The Dark Knight Returns where Superman is weakened after stopping a nuclear explosion that blocks out the sun or a page where he’s trapped in the Phantom Zone. However, despite cunning and powerful enemies and occasionally death itself, nothing will stop Superman from being a hero or spending time with his loved ones on his birthday. Gleason has a strong handle on the moral clarity and goodness behind Superman’s strength and I look forward to his upcoming work as the main Action Comics artist.

Story: 8.5 Art: 10 Overall: 9.3

The third story “An Enemy Within” with a script from Marv Wolfman, Butch Guice and Kurt Schaffenberger inking over recently discovered Curt Swan, and colors by Hi-Fi straddles a thin line between optimism and naivete and definitely falls on the naive side. Superman is too busy fighting Brainiac in Japan so he relies on Maggie Sawyer and the Metropolis PD to take out a mind controlled teacher, who is holding his students hostage. There is an opportunity to address social issues, like school shooting, gun control, police violence, and even homelessness in a scene towards the end, but Wolfman, Swan, and Guice gloss over these issues with a simplistic “humanity is good and will save themselves” mantra and use the mind control plot device to cover their asses. Honestly, your enjoyment of this story will depend on how much you believe in the idea of original sin or your tolerance level for after school specials. Guice’s inks bring an interesting grit to Swan’s usually clean, bright pencils, and honestly, the best part of the story is a solemn Superman pinup at the end inked by the late Schaffenberger.

Story: 4.5 Art: 6.5 Overall: 5.5

Geoff Johns, Richard Donner, Olivier Coipel, and Alejandro Sanchez turn in a stoic, 1930s era Superman story about a small time crook named Butch who gets his car beat up when trying to fight Superman. It’s probably the car from the cover of Action Comics #1. Johns and Donner’s take on Superman is a little rougher and little more stern, but he has a solid moral compass and cares for humanity as shown by his empathy towards Butch, who lost his dad in combat during World War I. Coipel’s art is wonderfully rough hewn and is like Norman Rockwell’s work without the sentimentality, and he even plays the “It’s a bird, it’s a plane…” line for sardonic, silent comedy. His Superman commands the page and is someone who you would listen to and definitely take seriously. He doesn’t smile either. But the ending of “The Car” has an earned happiness and is a little spark of light in a cynical world. Johns and Donner really get that heroism is about the little things and not flying the world backwards or time travel shenanigans.

Story: 9.5 Art: 10 Overall: 9.8

Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque, and Dave McCaig tell a quiet, yet time spanning story about the relationship between Superman and Lex Luthor, and how Superman chooses to see the good even in his worst enemy. The story starts intense with shadow wreathed art and dark colors from Albuquerque and McCaig as Luthor has assembled some powerful MacGuffins to take out Superman. But he’s actually just star gazing at the Smallville Planetarium? Albuquerque’s art is sharper and sadder after that with a nostalgic orange palette from McCaig as Lex tells Superman that the planetarium was an escape from bad weather and his abusive parents. They seamlessly blend past and present as it’s revealed that a young Clark Kent gave Lex’s space laser a little boost and saved his life. Snyder uses this anecdote/flashback sequence to hold out hope for a time when “maybe” the cycle of hero and villain will be broken between Superman and Lex Luthor as the story fades to black.

Story: 9.6 Art: 9.8 Overall: 9.7

Tom King makes a case for winning back to back Eisners for Best Short Story in his, Clay Mann, and Jordie Bellaire’s contribution to Action #1000, “Of Tomorrow”. It’s a tone poem about Superman’s last day on Earth as he says goodbye to Ma and Pa Kent one last time as the Earth is engulfed in the sun with flames and winds that are reminiscent of the last days of Krypton. King writes Superman as an old man wrestling with his past and legacy, wishing he could save more people, and being supremely proud of his wife and son. And it gets deep at the end when he reflects on his father’s blend of science and faith. Mann captures each tiny, beautiful moment in his artwork as he makes art with his strength, tears, and freeze breath: a frozen statuette of Jonathan and Martha Kent like the one of Jor-El and Lara-El in the Fortress of Solitude. Bellaire goes for Earth tones in her colors as Superman immerses himself in his adopted planet before flying off forever. He loves his parents, he loves Earth, but he realizes that all planets die and all story ends. (Except for his comic book for now.)

Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10

Two veteran comics creators Louise Simonson and Jerry Ordway show they still have a lot in the tank in their “Five Minutes” story with colorist Dave McCaig that expertly intertwines Superman’s life as a superhero and Clark Kent’s life as a journalist in five minutes. Simonson’s narration shows that both Clark and Superman’s “powers” come in handy in different situation as Superman is able to dart from a train accident to a hold up and finally to save the city from an asteroid just like Clark is able to write a story and get it in under deadline. It’s a quick, zippy read with a lot of heart and a kind of cheesy “twist” ending, but Simonson and Ordway show how much passion Superman/Clark Kent has for both saving people and reporting. He is precise, efficient, and knows when to fly to next crisis just like a writer juggling different projects. Plus there’s a Bibbo Bibbowski cameo, which will be a treat for Superman fans of the 80s and 90s.

Story: 8.0 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.3

Paul Dini, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, Kevin Nowlan, and Trish Mulvihill turn in a cheeky homage to Superman’s history, Garcia-Lopez’s ability to skillfully render almost every DC Comics hero and villain, and most of all, Mr. Mxyzptlk. Mxyzptlk has the ability to wipe out Superman from the existence in the blink of an eye, but he’s more of a prankster than a coldblooded villain and enjoys toying with him instead. Dini, Garcia-Lopez, and Nowlan also provide a little meta-commentary on how stories involving superheroes in comics never seem to end even after they’re killed off or have passed their mantle to sidekicks or legacy heroes. Probably, because they’re too much fun. This story’s kryptonite is Dini indulging his sleazy side towards the end, but the energy and humanity of Garcia-Lopez’s figures and Mulvihill’s heroic colors more than make up for it.

Story: 7.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 8.0

In a much darker story than the previous one, “Faster than a Speeding Bullet” happens in a very short span of time as Superman tries to stop a domestic abuser from shooting his girlfriend, Lila, in the head. Artist John Cassaday tells the story in a series of freeze frames as you can see the strain of Superman flying to stop the bullet, and the red, yellow, and blue of Laura Martin’s colors as his chances increase. Brad Meltzer starts incredibly dark in his script with Superman running calculations in his head that he won’t be able to save Lila and ends with Superman admitting that he is inspired by humanity as much as they are inspired by him. “Faster than a Speeding Bullet” is a taut, mini-thriller that also captures Superman’s essence and the strength of his and the people he inspire’s resolves.

Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5

The final story in Action Comics #1000 is Brian Michael Bendis’ DC debut with Jim Lee, Scott Williams, and Alex Sinclair doing the art. Lee and Williams definitely put the “action” in Action Comics, and most of the story is a third act of Man of Steel fight sequence with collateral damage galore as new giant sword wielding alien conqueror villain Rogol Zaar crashes all over Metropolis and tries to kill the last two Kryptonians on Earth. Yes, Supergirl has a cameo in this comic and is there to get her ass kicked as much as Superman. Bendis’ writing is quippy as ever and doesn’t really pair well with the disaster movie feel of Lee and Williams’ art. He seems to be going for an “Avengers Disassembled” type of throughline in his approach to Superman by physically breaking him down and also taking shots at his past. Yes, the final page of Action Comics #1000 is a huge retcon for Superman’s character, and hopefully, Bendis has the reasoning and great story to back it up, or Rogol Zaar might just be a Mongul knock-off with a cooler sword.

Story: 6.0 Art: 8.0 Overall: 7.0

 

Story: Dan Jurgens, Peter Tomasi, Marv Wolfman, Geoff Johns, Richard Donner, Scott Snyder, Tom King, Louise Simonson, Paul Dini, Brad Meltzer, Brian Michael Bendis  Art: Dan Jurgens with Norm Rapmund, Patrick Gleason, Curt Swan with Butch Guice and Kurt Schaffenberger, Olivier Coipel, Rafael Albuquerque, Clay Mann, Jerry Ordway, Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez with Kevin Nowlan, John Cassaday, Jim Lee with Scott Williams  Colors:  Hi-Fi, Alejandro Sanchez, Dave McCaig, Jordie Bellaire, Trish Mulvihill, Laura Martin, Alex Sinclair
Story: 8.2 Art: 8.8 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Action Comics #1000

Celebrate 1000 issues of Action Comics with an all-star lineup of top talent as they pay tribute to the comic that started it all! From today’s explosive action to a previously unpublished tale illustrated by the legendary Curt Swan to the Man of Tomorrow’s future-this very special, oversized issue presents the best of the best in Superman stories!

Action Comics #1000 feels like an end, a beginning, and a celebration of a landmark moment, one thousand issues and almost 80 years of Superman. The issue is full of some top notch talent with numerous stories of varied style and quality. All of it though is entertaining in some way.

The issue opens up with writer Dan Jurgens‘ finale to his latest run with “From the City That Has Everything.” It’s clear from his latest run (and all his Superman material) that he loves the character and this story which features art by Jurgens, ink by Norm Rapmund, color from Hi-Fi and letters by Rob Leigh, is that recognition as Metropolis honors the Man of Steel. It’s a cheesy story but one that is so in a way that a speech from someone honoring someone else might be. Touching and a fine way for Jurgens to wrap up his run.

The second story is a really cool one that weaves a story out of what is essentially pin-ups. It’s a great way to include such a thing in a comic without it just being images. I hope we see more of this and the art is from a who’s who of creators. It involves Superman going through time and gives a way for artists to take advantage to take us readers through Superman’s history, some of his key moments, and different artistic styles we’ve seen. It’s an utterly brilliant story and presentation and a highlight of the celebration.

Marv Wolfman and Curt Swan team up for “An Enemy Within” which feels like a bit of a retro story in both pacing and art. While not bad it’s an interesting reminder of how much storytelling has changed over the years. I don’t want to give too much away but the story has some nice twists involving a hostage situation.

“The Game” sees Superman and Lex Luthor match wits in a game of chess. Paul Levitz and Neal Adams team up for the story and it’s interesting and one you can probably debate about the deeper meaning. It’d be nice to see this story in a longer form as there’s a lot to work but with just a few pages we don’t get a lot of depth, just fun twists that feel like they’re from the 80s and an homage to an Adams classic moment.

Geoff Johns, Richard Donner, and Olivier Coipel come together for “The Car” which has a criminal recounting how his car was destroyed by a mysterious flying man. The art is fantastic and I think some of my favorite work by Coipel who seems to be channeling Frank Quitely. It’s such a simple story but one that really digs into what makes Superman super.

“The Fifth Season” sees Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque come together as Superman and Lex Luthor come together in Smallvill. It’s an interesting story that again explores the relationship of the two characters. Particularly it focuses on Luthor being oblivious to the good that Superman does that he doesn’t acknowledge or is even aware of. It’s another story that can be debated as far as its deeper meaning and themes.

“Of Tomorrow” is Tom King, Clay Mann, Jordie Bellaire, and John Workman having Superman revisit Earth one last time before it’s consumed by the sun. It’s a reminder of the loss of the character and a deeply touching entry.

Louise Simonson and Jerry Ordway come together for “Five Minutes” which reminds us that Superman has a few jobs, hero and reporter (as well as husband and father). It’s a fun story that plays on the speed of the character and that how he can some times mess up one job due to the other. A funny ending that gave me a chuckle.

“Actionland!” has Paul Dini and José Luis García-Lopez focus on our favorite imp who has it out for Superman. It’s the odd story of the bunch with the focus on the villain but is a reminder that like Superman, some of them have infinite power that they hold back due to… something.

Writer Brad Meltzer and artist John Cassaday honor Christopher Reeve with “Faster Than a Speeding Bullet” that has Superman racing to prevent a gun going off and killing a woman. It’s a fantastic story and I had no idea how it’d resolve. Again though, it’s a reminder of some of the things that makes Superman great and boils the character down to his goodness and how he inspires and is inspired.

“The Truth” is Brian Michael Bendis‘ DC debut with art by Jim Lee and what is supposed to lead into the miniseries The Man of Steel which kicks off Bendis’ run. Out of all of the stories, this is the low point of the issue honestly. Maybe it’s the hype but there’s a new baddie who’s out to kill Kryptonians and while Metropolis is getting destroy two civilians are focused on Superman’s underwear? It’s very Bendis and while funny, especially with Lee on art, it doesn’t quite work and honestly lowered my excitement for what he has coming.

There’s a lot packed in here and something for everyone. No matter the era of your enjoyment there’s a story that fits it and this is really a comic that has an amazing amount of talent. It’s truly a celebration of such an iconic character and for the celebration alone it’s a purchase. At times, comics like this are a let down, but this is the exception with every story entertaining in some way and a few that shine. It’s the rare oversized celebration comic that lives up to the occasion.

Story: Dan Jurgens, Peter J. Tomasi, Marv Wolfman, Paul Levitz, Neal Adams, Geoff Johns, Richard Donner, Scott Snyder, Tom King, Louise Simonson, Paul Dini, Brad Meltzer, Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Dan Jurgens, Patrick Gleason, Curt Swan, Neal Adams, Olivier Coipel, Rafael Albuquerque, Clay Mann, Jerry Ordway, José Luis García-Lopez, John Cassaday, Jim Lee
Ink: Norm Rapmund, Butch Guice, Kurt Schaffenberger, Kevin Nowlan, Scott Williams
Color: Hi-Fi, Alejandro Sanchez, Dave McGaig, Jordie Bellaire, Trish Mulvihill, Laura Martin, Alex Sinclair
Letters: Rob Leigh, Tom Napolitano, Dave Sharpe, Nick Napolitano, John Workman, Carlos M. Mangual, Josh Reed, Chris Euopoulos, Cory Petit
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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