DC Releases ACTION #1000’s 1980s Homage Variant

Joshua Middleton meshes pre-Crisis and post-Crisis Superman.

A couple of weeks ago, DC released its main variant covers for Action Comics #1000, which is due 4/18 — the 80th anniversary of Action Comics #1.

Each variant pays tribute to a different decade in the Man of Steel’s development and you can click here to check out the wonderful covers by Mike Allred, Steve Rude, Dave Gibbons and many others. (Believe me, you want to.)

For whatever reason, one was missing — the 1980s homage by Joshua Middleton, which DC just released:

Middleton’s variant highlights both ends of the ’80s. There’s skull-ship Brainiac and battle-suit Luthor. Jimmy Olsen still looks pretty Bronze Age, too.

Lois, however, looks similar to how she was portrayed by John Byrne in 1986’s Man of Steel #2:

Superman? Superman looks like Superman.

It’s a nice image and Middleton is one of the best cover artists in the business right now and a 13th Dimension favorite.

That said, I gotta say I would have preferred if DC had hired an ’80s artist to do an ’80s homage cover.

I know that Byrne is off the table but Jerry Ordway anyone?


— The Gorgeous Variant Covers of ACTION #1000. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. JL Garcia Lopez, or George Perez would’ve been better choices. Or Brian Bolland.

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  2. Great image though, and I think Lois looks pretty Margot Kidder-like there as well…which Byrne was also channelling at first in MoS anyway.


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    • Agreed. The artist is clearly paying homage to “Superman: The Movie.” Even the style is evocative of Bob Peak’s poster art. Nice work!

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      • Nice call! The colors are really similar to that classic poster. And Jimmy looks a bit Marc McClure now that I look a bit closer…

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        • I think there are echoes of the movie in there but I don’t sense that was the whole thrust of the piece: The Planet, Superman’s outfit and a little of Lois all seem movie-ish. The rest, not so much. But the whole thing is a pastiche anyway.

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  3. What is the story behind Byrne? You mention he is “off the table”.

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  4. It’s a nice cover but I don’t think it captures the 80s era that much. They should have gotten an artist who drew Superman back in the 80s.

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  5. This is my favorite of all the covers! Steve Rude’s primal 1930s Superman-as-Samson rendering is very meta in referencing the character’s origins, and Michael Cho evoked the ’40s with flair. Dave Gibbons and Mike Allred each did bang-up jobs evincing the Superman aesthetic of Curt Swan during the ’50s and ’60s respectively. Dan Jurgens for the ’90s and Jim Lee for the ’10s were natural choices, and their work is fine.

    But Joshua Middleton’s 1980s illustration is superb! It blends the sensibilities of the movies (including illustrator Robert Peak’s poster art colors, design, and light flares!) with likenesses of Superman, Lois Lane, and Jimmy olsen that pay homage to the actors without being slavish. Considering three of the four movies came out in the ’80s, and they all had their greatest resonance in that decade, it’s fitting. Meanwhile, the *new* Luthor and Brainiac designs are the two most outstanding contributions from the comics pre-Byrne, and they pair up well here.

    Our hero is using his most significant power – flight – while demonstrating the defining trait that even the most talented of artists struggle to depict: he’s DETERMINED! By surrounding him with his greatest friends and foes, this beautiful illustration captures the essence of Superman and his world…or rather, his Planet!

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  1. The Gorgeous Variant Covers of ACTION #1000 | 13th Dimension, Comics, Creators, Culture - […] Each one pays tribute to a specific decade, as you’ll see below. (Joshua Middleton’s 1980s homage was not included…
  2. DC Releases ACTION COMICS #1000 Story by Simonson and Ordway | 13th Dimension, Comics, Creators, Culture - […] — DC Releases ACTION COMICS’ 1980s Homage Variant. Click here. […]

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