There were so many great moments in Action Comics #1000, honestly not a single bad story in the bunch. But the one I want to talk about is “The Car,” written by Geoff Johns and Richard Donner, drawn by Olivier Coipel, and colored by Alejandro Sanchez. The title refers to the green car that Superman holds above his head, smashing into bits in the famous pose from the cover of Action Comics #1.
First, a preamble:
Last night, on the eve of Superman’s 80th birthday, I decided to read to my kids from the very first Superman story ever published in Action Comics #1. Now, the kids are familiar with Superman. The animated series and Christopher Reeve movies are a staple at our house. But what they hadn’t been introduced to was the sort of rough and tumble sensibility of Superman in his debut adventure.
They’re used to a Superman who is defined as much by his kindness as his strength, but that wasn’t so much on display in Siegel and Shuster’s original tale. That story was about a bruiser who was in it for the thrill of the fight and didn’t mind hurting people, as long as they deserved it. Like when he trashed the bad guys’ car after they’d already been caught, then left one of the goons stranded atop a telephone pole.
With “The Car,” Johns and Donner provide a much-needed epilogue to that story, blending the events of the past with the hero we’ve come to know since. I don’t want to give away too much, but what Superman does or says isn’t as important as the fact that he came back, to help. It speaks to how far the character has come, and what qualities we associate with our heroes.
I was glad to be able to show my kids tonight when storytime came around again that, look, Superman came back. He didn’t just leave the guy hanging there. Because he cares. Superman cares about everybody, even the least of us. Even the worst of us. He knows we can do better, that true strength is never giving up on someone. True courage is getting up every day and trying again, even when we are enemy.