Action Comics: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Action Comics
Action Comics #1 (June 1938), the debut of Superman. Cover art by Joe Shuster.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
Schedule Monthly (Weekly 1988-89)
Format Ongoing series
Genre Superhero
Publication date June 1938 - present
Number of issues 883 (+ #0 and 1,000,000 issues, as well as 12 annuals)
Main character(s) Superman
Creative team
Writer(s) Current:
Greg Rucka
Artist(s) Eddy Barrows
Creator(s) Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
Collected editions
Superman Chronicles Vol 1 ISBN 1401207642
Superman Chronicles Vol 2 ISBN 1401212158
Superman in the Forties ISBN 1401204570
Archives Vol 1 ISBN 1563893355
Archives Vol 2 ISBN 1563894262
Archives Vol 3 ISBN 1563897105
Archives Vol 4 ISBN 1401204082
Archives Vol 5 ISBN 1401211887

Action Comics is an American comic book series which introduced Superman, the first major superhero character as the term is popularly defined. The publisher was originally known as Detective Comics, Inc., and later as National Comics and as National Periodical Publications, before taking on its current name of DC Comics, a subsidiary of Time Warner.


Publication history


Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster saw their creation, Superman, aka Kal-El (originally Kal-L), launched in Action Comics #1 in April 1938 (cover-dated June). Siegel and Shuster had tried for years to find a publisher for their Superman character (originally conceived as a newspaper strip) without success. Superman was originally a bald madman created by Siegel and Shuster who used his telepathic abilities to wreak havoc on mankind. He appeared in Siegel and Shuster's book Science Fiction.[1] Siegel then commented, "What if this Superman was a force for good instead of evil?" The writer and artist had worked on several features for National Periodical Publications' other titles (Slam Bradley in Detective Comics, for example[2]) and were asked to contribute a feature for National's newest publication. They submitted Superman for consideration, and after re-pasting the sample newspaper strips they had prepared into comic book page format, National decided to make Superman the cover feature of their new magazine[3].

Hiatus, name changes, publication changes, and special numbering

Cover of Action Comics #800 (April 2003). A modern take on the cover of Action Comics #1
Art by Drew Struzan.

Action Comics is the second-longest running DC Comics series after Detective Comics; however, it cannot claim to have had an uninterrupted run, due in large part to two separate occasions on which the title was put on a three-month hiatus. The first of these occurred during the summer of 1986, with issue #583 bearing a cover date of September, and issue #584 listing January, 1987. The regular Superman titles were suspended during this period to allow for the "post-Crisis" revising of the Superman story through the publication of John Byrne's six-issue The Man of Steel limited series.[4] Publication was again suspended between issues #686 and #687 (February and June 1993) following the "Death of Superman" and "Funeral for a Friend" storylines, before Action Comics returned in June with the "Reign of the Supermen" arc.[4] (The two "Funeral for a Friend" issues, #685 and #686 featured the cover announcement of "Supergirl in Action Comics" highlighting the passing of Superman.[5])

In 1988, DC Comics tried unsuccessfully to return the format of the comic to an anthology and publish it on a weekly basis. After May, 1988's landmark issue #600, issues #611-615 all bore August cover dates.[4] The Action Comics Weekly experiment lasted only until the beginning of March 1989, however, and after a short break, July's issue #643 brought the title back onto a monthly schedule.[4] (However, the temporarily increased frequency of issues allowed Action to further surpass the older Detective Comics in the number of individual issues published. It originally passed Detective Comics in the 1970s when that series was bi-monthly for a number of years.)

Another departure from a strict monthly schedule were the giant-size Supergirl reprint issues of the 1960s (published as a 13th issue annually): issues #334 (March 1966), #347 (March/April 1967), #360 (March/April 1968), and #373 (March/April 1969).

An issue #0 (October 1994) was published between issues #703 and #704 as part of the Zero Month after the Zero Hour crossover event and issue #1,000,000 (November 1998) during the DC One Million crossover event in October 1998 between issues #748 and #749.

Starting with issue #875, Thara Ak-Var and Chris Kent, two characters introduced in the New Krypton story arc, took Superman's place as the main protagonists of the comic, while Superman left Earth to live on New Krypton. These are written by Greg Rucka with artist Eddy Barrows, who left the art duties on Teen Titans to pencil Action.[6][7]

Early anthology

Originally, Action Comics was an anthology title featuring a number of other stories in addition to the Superman story. Zatara, a magician, was one of the other characters who had their own stories in early issues. (Zatanna, a heroine introduced in the 1960s, is Zatara's daughter.) There was also the hero Tex Thomson, who eventually became Mr. America and later the Americommando. Vigilante also enjoyed a lengthy run in this series. Sometimes stories of a more humorous nature were included, such as those of Hayfoot Henry, a policeman who talked in rhyme. Gradually the size of the issues was decreased as the publisher was reluctant to raise the cover price from the original 10 cents, so there were fewer stories. For a while, Congo Bill and Tommy Tomorrow were the two features in addition to Superman (Congo Bill eventually gained the ability to swap bodies with a gorilla and his strip was renamed Congorilla), but soon after the introduction of Supergirl in issue #252 (May 1959) the non-Superman-related strips were crowded out of Action altogether. Since then, it has generally been an all-Superman comic, though other backup stories such as The Human Target occasionally appear.

Action Comics Weekly

For slightly less than a year in 1988-1989, the publication frequency was changed to weekly and the title became Action Comics Weekly, and was an anthology format series; this change lasted from issue #601 to issue #642. During this time, Superman appeared only in a two page story per issue; however, he was still the only character to appear in every issue of the run. Due to going weekly for this period, Action Comics was able to surpass the issue total of Detective Comics, despite that title being older by a year.

Prior to its launch DC cancelled its ongoing Green Lantern title Green Lantern Corps, and made Green Lantern Hal Jordan and his adventures exclusive to Action Comics Weekly. During the Action Comics Weekly run, a Green Lantern Special was published in 1988, tying in with the events happening in Action Comics Weekly. Green Lantern was soon moved out of the title, with Green Lantern Special # 2 (1989) published concluding the story plots from Action Comics Weekly, and the character was relaunched with a limited series in 1989 (Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn), followed up by a new ongoing series in June 1990 (Green Lantern Vol. 3).

The rest of these issues featured rotating serialized stories of other, mostly minor, DC heroes, as try-outs that led to their own limited series. Characters with featured stories in the run included Black Canary, Blackhawk, Captain Marvel, Catwoman, Deadman, Nightwing, Phantom Lady (Dee Tyler), Phantom Stranger, Secret Six, Speedy, and Wild Dog. Each issue also featured a two-page Superman serial, a feature which, according to an editorial in the first weekly issue, was intended as a homage to the Superman newspaper strips of the past.

The final issue of the weekly was originally intended to feature a book-length encounter between Clark Kent and Hal Jordan penned by writer Neil Gaiman.[8] While Gaiman's story primarily teamed up Green Lantern and Superman, it also featured other characters from Action Comics Weekly including the Blackhawks (in flashback), Deadman and the Phantom Stranger. The story ran counter to DC editorial policy at the time as it portrayed Hal Jordan and Clark Kent as old friends who knew each other's secret identities. This was not considered canon in 1989 (though other issues of Action Comics Weekly implied Hal and Clark were friends) and Gaiman was unwilling to change this aspect of the story.[8] The story was pulled and a different story was run. Gaiman's story was finally published as Green Lantern/Superman: Legend of the Green Flame one-shot in 2000.


After the "One Year Later" company-wide storyline Action Comics had a crossover arc with the series Superman, titled "Up, Up and Away!" and which told of Clark Kent attempting to protect Metropolis without his powers and eventually regaining his powers. Afterward, he leaves Earth and is replaced by the new Nightwing and Flamebird as the starring characters of the book.

Starting in July 2009, Action Comics includes back-up stories featuring Captain Atom.

On February 22, 2010, a copy of Action Comics #1 (June 1938) sold at auction for $1 million, besting the $317,000 record for a comic book set by a different copy, in lesser condition, the previous year. The sale, by an anonymous seller to an anonymous buyer, was through the Manhattan-based auction company[9]

Collected editions

(These generally reprint only the Superman stories from the given issues)

  • The Superman Chronicles
    • Volume 1 reprints issues #1 - 13, as well as New York World's Fair Comics #1 and Superman #1.
    • Volume 2 reprints issues #14 - 20, as well as Superman #2 & 3.
    • Volume 3 reprints issues #21 - 25, as well as New York World's Fair Comics #2 and Superman #4 & 5.
    • Volume 4 reprints issues #26 - 31, as well as Superman #6 & 7.
    • Volume 5 reprints issues #32 - 36, as well as Superman #8 & 9 and World's Best Comics #1.
    • Volume 6 reprints issues #37 - 40, as well as Superman #10 & 11 and World's Finest Comics #2 & 3.
    • Volume 7 reprints issues #41 - 43, as well as Superman #12 & 13 and World's Finest Comics #4.
  • Superman in the Forties reprints issues #1, 2, 14, 23, 64, 93 & 151.
  • Superman in the Fifties reprints issues #151, 242, 252, 254 & 255.
  • Superman in the Sixties reprints issue #289.
  • Superman in the Seventies reprints issue #484.
  • Superman in the Eighties reprints issues #507, 508, 554, 595, 600 & 644.
  • Superman: The Action Comics Archives
    • Volume 1 reprints issues #1, 7 - 20, and summarizes #2 - 6.
    • Volume 2 reprints issues #21 - 36.
    • Volume 3 reprints issues #37 - 52.
    • Volume 4 reprints issues #53 - 68.
    • Volume 5 reprints issues #69 - 85.


Action Comics #687 through 689 were part of The Reign of the Supermen storyline, which won the 1993 Comics Buyer's Guide Fan Award for Favorite Comic Book Story that year.[citation needed]

See also

External links


  1. ^ Gerard Jones, Men of Tomorrow pp82-84 Arrow Books ISBN 978 0 099 48706 7
  2. ^ Gerard Jones, Men of Tomorrow pp120 Arrow Books ISBN 978 0 099 48706 7
  3. ^ Gerard Jones, Men of Tomorrow pp124 Arrow Books ISBN 978 0 099 48706 7
  4. ^ a b c d Miller, J. J., Thompson, Maggie, Bickford, Peter & Frankenhoff, Brent, The Comic Buyer's Guide Standard Catalog of Comic Books, 4th Edition (KP Books, 2005) - "Action Comics", pp. 35-44
  5. ^ Action Comics covers at the Grand Comics Database. Accessed July 18, 2008
  6. ^ Greg Rucka on being named new Acton Comics writer
  7. ^ Greg Rucka: Man of “Action”, Comic Book Resources, March 24, 2009
  8. ^ a b Gaiman, Neil (2000). "Introduction", Green Lantern/Superman: Legend of the Green Flame, DC Comics.
  9. ^ Associated Press via "Superman's debut sells for $1M at auction", Crain's New York Business, February 22, 2010. WebCitation archive.

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address