DC Comics will celebrate Superman's 80th anniversary on Wednesday by releasing the landmark Action Comics #1000. The must-have issue will go on sale with not one, not two, but nine variant covers saluting the iconic superhero’s various looks throughout the years.
And while this ultimate Man of Steel collector's item may sell out online faster than a speeding bullet and leap off store shelves in a single bound, HowardStern.com is giving comic book fans a chance to win all nine variant covers in the Stern Show's Action Comics #1000 Giveaway!
Three grand prize winners will each receive a set of the following variant covers: 1930s by Steve Rude, 1940s by Michael Cho, 1950s by Dave Gibbons, 1960s by Michael Allred, 1970s by Jim Steranko, 1980s by Joshua Middleton, 1990s by Dan Jurgens and Kevin Nowlan, 2000s by Lee Bermejo, as well as a traditional cover by Jim Lee.
This giveaway has now ended. Congrats to our three lucky winners!
DC Publisher Jim Lee and renowned comic creator Brian Michael Bendis recently spoke to HowardStern.com, sharing their thoughts on a variety of topics, including the evolution of Superman, adding Stern Show references to their creations, and Howard’s influence on the comic book industry in general.
The Importance of Superman and the Significance of Action Comics #1000
Brian has been one of the biggest names in the business over the past few decades. Before joining DC Comics in 2017, he worked on some of Marvel’s most iconic properties and helped create characters like Miles Morales and Jessica Jones. However, he tells HowardStern.com Superman has been a part of his life for a long time and that working on Action Comics #1000 has been "surreal” as well as one of the greatest honors of his career.
“Like Jim, I’m a little Jewish boy from Cleveland,” Brian said. “If you’re from Cleveland, Superman is a very big part of the local popular culture. Cleveland is very proud of Superman and rock ’n’ roll. As a comic book creator, I was at a very significant age when John Byrne made his move from Marvel to DC and took on Superman. I know what that felt like as a fan and I think about that as we make our book.”
“When we started talking about me coming over, [DC Publisher] Dan Didio called and said, ‘I don’t want to get too excited, but if you want to do Superman, Action Comics #1000 is right around the corner,'" Bendis continued. "It really made it feel like a perfect place and time.”
Brian's big move has wound up working out pretty well for DC Comics, too "It's a seismic game changer for us," Jim explained. "Not only because he’s such a massive, creative innovator but because he’s incredibly disciplined and prolific and respected and a lovely collaborator. He’s able to drive the DC mythology in ways that few others can."
"Just watching him work his magic on a character like Superman who has been around for 80 years and yet introduce bold, exciting new elements and backstory to this iconic character is an amazing thing to behold," he continued.
Jim went on to explain why the Man of Steel means so much to him. "Superman was the introduction to superheroes to me," the DC Publisher explained. "I’ve said it in countless interviews before but I remember watching the old, classic Max Fleischer-directed Superman cartoons back when I was just a four-year-old kid growing up in Seoul, South Korea. I didn’t realize it, of course, but that was the start of a very long journey to this very historic moment."
Howard and the Stern Show's Connection to DC Comics
Both Jim and Brian lauded Howard’s love of comic books, praising the King of All Media for letting “his nerd flag fly” long before it was cool, as Brian put it.
"It’s amazing to know there is a kindred spirit in Howard—a true fan who read and loved superhero comic books as a kid and embraced them later as an adult—and did so unapologetically way before superheroes became the popular, pop culture defining phenomenon they are today," Jim said.
The comic book creators also revealed how Howard’s public commentary about the industry may have inadvertently wound up shaping it. “Howard has made many excellent observations about Superman and Spider-Man over the years that I have taken to heart and have often quoted in meetings with big people,” Brian explained. “His best comment about Superman is why in the movies is he always fighting Lex Luther when there are so many other excellent A-list Superman villains who have not made it to the screen yet. I think about this. I think a lot of us do.”
Jim also offered an explanation of sorts for a question that has plagued Howard for years: Why doesn't the Last Son of Krypton just vanquish all of his enemies with the laser beams he shoots out his eyes?
"Maybe if there was a stun level to his heat vision, Superman would use it more," Jim explained.
Howard celebrating the world of comics is of course not a one way street. As Stern Show fans have no doubt noticed, the pages of several DC Comics properties are frequently lined with show-related references and shout-outs, whether it's Suicide Squad member Harley Quinn wearing a "Hit 'em With the Hein" t-shirt or a "Dark Knight III" character getting inundated with a Baba Booey bomb.
Brian and Jim discussed the litany of references they've made over the years, even revealing which ones are their favorites. “I think Jim has made more, but I’ve made some pretty outstanding high-profile ones and major Marvel events," Brian said. "Jim likes to 'Hit them with the Hein.' I like more esoteric references, like quoting the Gary tape in throwaway dialogue as often as possible. Superman: 'My professional life is a nine.'"
Jim agreed he does like to include a lot of Stern Show shout-outs, but he also explained that his reasons for doing so might not be what everyone assumes. "I usually put one or two in each run of a book I work on so every five to six issues. So definitely not every issue, but whenever there’s an appropriate and opportune moment I 'Hit 'em with the Hein.'" he explained. "The goal is not to ingratiate but rather subversively show support to the [Stern Show] and appreciation for all the decades of laughter and entertainment."
He went on to say that his all-time favorite Howard reference didn't happen in the pages of a comic book, but in "Batman: The Enemy Within," a video game inspired by one of Jim's comic book covers. "I think [my favorite is] having Telltale Interactive actually have Harley Quinn say the line ‘Hit em with the Hein’ in their Batman game which was set up of course by my 'Suicide Squad' cover depicting Harley Quinn wearing a shirt with that same battle cry emblazoned across her chest! And then of course Howard and the show referencing both those moments!"
"It’s not quite the same level as yelling ‘Baba Booey’ at the Masters," he added, "but it’s close."
Brian revealed his new favorite Stern Show shout-out is "Jim throwing a 'Hit 'em with the Hein' reference into our Action Comics 1000 pages." He continued: "I wanted to do a Stern reference but didn’t know how to broach the subject to Jim on such an important occasion. He just did it anyhow."
Superheroes and Villains of the Stern Show
The comic book creators even went so far as to imagine a universe—strange as it might be—where Stern Show staffers and Wack Packers alike could become super-powered heroes and villains.
“I think Gary would make an excellent Green Lantern. He seems to be a very determined good person,” Brian said. “[The best] villain would be Jason. I see him as a modern-day Kingpin or Lex Luthor. And I would immediately declare the Wack Pack the Legion of Substitute Heroes. Let them all pick their own names and power sets and never turn the cameras off while this is going on.”
Jim had a slightly different take. "As far as staffers, I think Memet and Brent’s feud is reaching near DC arch-nemeses levels, but who is the hero and who is the villain?" he wondered. "Those are the best kids of stories! And as much as I feel for Brent’s loss to Memet in the I.Q. challenge—the ‘kissing of the boot’ moment would make for an amazing comic book cover."
"As far as Wack Packers ... I always felt Eric the Actor’s line to Johnny Fratto, 'You know what to do,' succinctly and coolly personified best the nefarious spirit of a true DC super villain," he continued.
Action Comics #1000 hits shelves on Wednesday, April 18. Enter to win all nine variant covers (above).