A Look Back at Action Comics #544

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I just love it when comic book creators really pushed their creativity and bold concepts to make an anniversary celebration comic book fun, engaging and memorable. As seen in the history of American superhero comics, such great comic books become essential when their concept sets a new standard of quality or when it sets its series (and its featured superhero) to a new and well accepted direction (which then opens up many opportunities to keep the series and the superhero fresh creatively).

Such greatness was achieved by DC Comics and its creators with Action Comics #544 published in 1983.

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The cover.

As seen in the cover above done by artists Gil Kane and Dick Giordano, Superman in the background could do nothing but be surprised to see his two foes Lex Luthor and Braniac presented in doubles reflecting a change of design – Luthor getting his now iconic powered suit of armor and Brainiac having a more robotic design.

So you must be wondering…how is the quality of the story and art of this particular comic book that celebration Superman’s 45th anniversary?

We can now start with my retro comic book review of Action Comics #544.

Early Stories

This special-sized comic book features not one but two separate Superman stories titled “Luthor Unleashed!” (written by Cary Bates and drawn by Curt Swan) and “Rebirth” (by Marv Wolfman and Gil Kane).

“Luthor Unleashed!” begins with Luthor already down on the ground hurting from the crash of his aircraft and with Superman present. Even though Luthor’s already helpless, Superman flies away to an unknow destination confident that the super villain will still be there once he returns. However, Luthor got assisted by a robot of his who took him to a secret lair and rode a spacecraft going into deep space. Luthor arrives on the planet called Lexor.

“Rebirth” begins with Superman saving a lady and dog from getting hit by a car on the city street. Afterwards, he flies into space and arrives at a computerized planet that Brainiac created. Just nearby, the star of Epsilon 4 is about to go supernova which prompts him to do something so that many lives will be saved.

Quality

Visually, the art of both stories, respectively done by Curt Swan (arguably the most memorable artist to draw Superman during the pre-Crisis age) and Gil Kane is still good to look at. Both artists knew how to frame the action in interesting ways, put enough details on the people and environment surrounding Superman or Luthor or Brainiac.

When it comes to the storytelling and characterization, not only were both stories really well written, they succeeded in humanizing Luthor and Brainiac. In “Luthor Unleashed!”, the portrayal of Lex Luthor as a family man (he has a wife and a child) as well as a highly revered leader among the citizens of Lexor was excellently done. By just reading that story, it really looked like Luthor could have been a great contributor for the good of the DC Multiverse had he not been a super villain. What writer Cary Bates made clear was that Luthor’s hatred for Supermen was deeply embedded within him.

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Lex Luthor the husband and father.

The story of Brainiac meanwhile was very engaging. Marv Wolfman really went all-out on portraying the death and rebirth of Brainiac who got reshaped in the form of a futuristic robot armed with his own octopus-like spaceship. What is great about this cybernetic form of Brainiac was that he not only looked more sinister but also proved to be a more dangerous super villain than before. Also, Superman’s first encounter with Brainiac in his new form is very memorable.

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A great debut for Brainiac in his new form.

Conclusion

While Action Comics #544 is a celebration of Superman’s 45th anniversary, it is truly a showcase of the two classic super villains who not only got new looks but also went on to become more challenging to Superman on a new and higher level. Before he got his iconic powered suit of armor (designed by the great George Perez), Luthor was not much of a physical challenge to Superman. Before he got his robotic body, Brainiac was not as deadly and had much less resources to be cause chaos to Superman and others. To say the least, this comic book is a true classic of superhero literature!

If you are a collector, be aware that as of this writing, a near-mint copy of the newsstand edition of Action Comics #544 is now worth $77 while its other edition’s near-mint copy is worth $39 at MileHighComics.com.

Overall, Action Comics #544 is highly recommended. This great comic book also has another thing of value: great inspiration and references that Warner Bros. should use when making a new Superman movie with Luthor and Brainiac as the super villains.


Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com

To Warner Bros. and the Filmmakers, Please Have Superman (Henry Cavill) and Black Adam (Dwayne Johnson) Clash Together on the Big Screen!

With the unexpected, massive success of the Joker movie (my review here), the DC Comics brand in the field of movies got strong even though the said film was not related at all with the current DC Comics Cinematic Universe. The R-rated, Joaquin Phoenix-led movie grossed over $1,000,000,000 worldwide (without even a release in China) and already it is one of the most profitable movies this year given the fact it was made for well below $100 million. Also, please take note that less than 100% of each ticket sold gets collected by the movie producer.

The future meanwhile looks very promising for fans of DC Comics movies. 2020 will see the respective theatrical releases of Birds of Prey (February) and Wonder Woman 1984 (June) care of Warner Bros. and its creative teams of filmmakers. The Batman (starring Robert Pattinson and directed by Matt Reeves) meanwhile spearheads the cinematic superhero excitement for 2021.

And then there is the other DC Comics superhero movie slated for a December 2021 release….. Black Adam which was recently confirmed through social media by none other than Dwayne Johnson himself.

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Official Black Adam movie image. Note Jim Lee’s name on the lower-left corner.

“I’m honored to join the iconic #DCUniverse and it’s a true pleasure to become, BLACK ADAM. BLACK ADAM is blessed by magic with the powers equal to SUPERMAN, but the difference is he doesn’t toe the mark or walk the line. He’s a rebellious, one of a kind superhero, who’ll always do what’s right for the people – but he does it his way,” Johnson wrote in his Facebook page’s November 15, 2019 post.

Recently, Henry Cavill (Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman and Justice League) confirmed through Men’s Health that he is not yet done with playing Superman.

“I’ve not given up the role. There’s a lot I have to give for Superman yet. A lot of storytelling to do. A lot of real, true depths to the honesty of the character I want to get into. I want to reflect the comic books. That’s important to me. There’s a lot of justice to be done for Superman. The status is: You’ll see,” Cavill said.

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Henry Cavill is NOT yet done with playing the cinematic Superman!

While there is no clear sign that there will be a new Superman movie coming, I want to express that Warner Bros. and its creative teams should grab the opportunity of bringing Dwayne Johnson and Henry Cavill together on the big screen as Black Adam and Superman respectively.

I’m not saying that Superman should be in the Black Adam movie because I believe that the 2021 movie has its own concept already. Rather they can have the two DC Comics characters together in a future Superman movie with Black Adam as the main antagonist, and have the two fight each other hard.

In the comic books, there have been past battles between the Man of Steel and the Shazam villain. The first was in the 1982 comic book DC Comics Presents #49. Check out the images posted below.

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And then there was the other encounter in 2005’s Action Comics #831.

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Previously I expressed that the next Superman movie should have Lex Luthor and Brainiac together as the main antagonists. With the recent statements made by Johnson and Cavill, there is now hope for them to appear together in a future DC Comics movie. I believe that having Black Adam as the main antagonist the Man of Steel in a new Superman movie is a great concept.

Let’s not forget the fact that Dwayne Johnson is a great attraction when it comes to hard battles on the big screen.

I believe that having Johnson as Black Adam fighting Cavill’s Superman will be a great cinematic attraction. With the right director and the right fight choreographer, such a movie battle will be a lot of fun and make people forget about the disappointing battle of the DC Comics icons in Batman v. Superman (which started strongly but lost energy and its pace worsened). In terms of storytelling, there are enough comic book references to help screenwriters come up with a sensible and believable way to establish a conflict between Black Adam and Superman. Again, there is Batman v. Superman as a cinematic storytelling disappointment to avoid repeating.

Let’s not forget that the movie Shazam was a critical and commercial hit for Warner Bros. and it’s safe to say that we will see more of Zachary Levi reprise the title role in future movies. At the same time, we have yet to see Shazam (formerly called Captain Marvel) face off with Black Adam and have a true, lengthy encounter with Superman.

If you are a dedicated DC Comics fan who wants to see Superman and Black Adam clash together on the big screen, express your support to the filmmakers, to Warner Bros. and also to Henry Cavill and Dwayne Johnson online.

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Thank you for reading. If you find this article engaging, please click the like button below and also please consider sharing this article to others. Also my fantasy book The World of Havenor is still available in paperback and e-book format. If you are looking for a copywriter to create content for your special project or business, check out my services and my portfolio. Feel free to contact me as well. Also please feel free to visit my Facebook page Author Carlo Carrasco and follow me at HavenorFantasy@twitter.com