Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Classics - Action Comics #584

Those of you who were reading comics in 1986 remember the impact when John Byrne did something that had (to the best of my memory) never been done before: he rebooted a long-established character.

And they don't get any more established than Superman.

With the Man of Steel mini-series (launched right after the universe-changing events in Crisis on Infinite Earths), he retooled everything about Superman, managing to get back to the basics, while at the same time modernizing the characters, the settings, and introducing new challenges and menaces.

After the mini-series, Byrne took over writing and drawing two titles: Superman (which got a new first issue) and Action Comics, which maintained its numbering but changed format and became a team-up comic.

Being no man's fool, Byrne immediately stacked the deck for his first issue by teaming Superman with DC's most popular title, the Teen Titans.

The issue leaned on a beloved Marvel sensibility, as the Titans were forced to fight a Superman who was apparently deranged.

It's a fast-paced, action-packed issue that allows Byrne lots of room for dynamic art (wonderfully embellished by the legendary Dick Giordano), some nice character moments and a couple of good plot twists.

He loses a point for loading a bit too much text into a single preachy panel at the end, but that's easy to forgive since it makes some important points.

But overall, it's a fantastic start to Byrne's rein on the comic that started it all.

Grade: A



Anonymous said...

It seemed like such a big deal at the time, but it's been a quarter of a century(!) since Byrne did his Superman thing, and DC has put the Last Son of Krypton through the wringer a few times since then, undoing (or ignoring) a lot of what JB introduced. I'm reading Larry Tye's SUPERMAN book just now, and it makes me realize that while Byrne and others get their turn at bat, the Superman franchise just keeps on season after season, good times and bad, and we long-time fans can only look ahead and see what the next big thing (in this case the upcoming movie) will do to add or detract from the legend.

Sam Kujava

Chuck said...

Sam, it was surprising to look back at this series and realize that it was the first "aboveboard" reboot (as opposed to minor tweaks to the character). Of course, it's very common now. I don't really mind - I think the continuity can become a burden after decades. Marvel's about due for a full-fledged reboot - I wouldn't be surprised to see one in the next few years. DC seems to be settling into a cycle of reboots every 10 years or so. Sometimes it's a force for good, sometimes not.