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A Is For Action Comics

Action Comics #425

Action Comics #425; Cover by Nick Cardy

“Action-Plus with: The Atom AND The Human Target!”

In the running for my all-time favourite comics cover; there was something about the immediate timelessness of this image, one that has appealed to me for almost four decades.

I was a new comics devotee in the early 1970s, and I saw on this cover people reading comics. I immediately could relate.

I was fascinated with the Superman ethos; and here was a little kid, around my age, wearing a blue shirt with a Superman emblem on it, on the cover of the comic, incredulously pointing at his super-hero idol. MY super-hero idol. How may kids of that era wanted a shirt just like it? I know I did.

There was a mother figure in the scene, looking over at her family, or her neighbours, leaning on an open window sill. The colour palette suggested a hot summer afternoon. A dog looking up. And what did he see?

Superman. Up in the sky, flying off—one could only imagine—to the rescue of someone just off screen. Someone who deserved his attention. Someone worthy.

The colours on the cover were primary, and primal; the logo prominent, and separated by a hard line. The scene was a storyboard of an action scene. Like all embellishments or concessions made by all the superior cartoonists in comics, those who distill the mise-en-scène down to its most essential elements, there is artistic license taken in this image, such as the abrupt end of sidewalk, as it meets the late afternoon cadmium sky. It doesn’t matter really; it certainly didn’t matter to this 8 year old marvelling at the stupendous portrait before him.

On this cover, the great Nick Cardy created an iconic masterpiece, in one indelible, balanced, illustration of an alien “everyman,” with the power of a God, off to save the world—to save us all–in a classic cinematic scene forever frozen in our minds, one that will stand the test of time as among the greatest comic covers ever produced.

Originally published in Comix Comix Comix on April 12, 2014, as part of the ‘A-Z Is For’ Alphabet Series.
Editors/Curators: Richard Gagnon, June Kim, Éric Theriault, Michael Thorner