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Superman's Powerful Statement About Refugees in 1989

In a feature looking at stories from back when comic books weren't political at all, CSBG looks at Superman's take on Middle Eastern refugees!

In 1986, John Byrne rebooted Superman with The Man of Steel. A number of the changes that Byrne instituted were just basic modernizations of the Superman mythos. For instance, Clark Kent was no longer a mild-mannered reporter, but rather a respected character in his own right (Lois Lane found herself just as attracted to Clark as she was to Superman). Another change involved the way that the Superman comics were positioned more as part of the "real world." This was something that the whole DC Universe was doing a lot of at the time. John Ostrander's Suicide Squad, for instance, told a lot of stories about international intrigue based on real life events of the time.

One of the major players in the DC international world at the time was Qurac, a Middle Eastern country that Marv Wolfman had introduced in an issue of New Teen Titans right around the time that Wolfman took over writing duties on Adventures of Superman as part of Byrne's Man of Steel reboot (after Man of Steel established Superman's new origins, Byrne then launched a brand-new Superman series and took over Action Comics while Marv Wolfman and Jerry Ordway did Adventures of Superman).

In a major event during their run, Wolfman and Ordway had Superman deal with terrorist attacks on Metropolis from Qurac and finally, Superman decided to do something about it and decided to essentially neutralize Qurac's military capabilities in a daring one-man attack on the country in Adventures of Superman #428 (he attacked in the previous issue, but it was delayed when he was attacked himself by some metahumans in Qurac)...

I include these stories mostly just to keep you abreast of what the situation was like in Superman continuity when we get to the final three weeks of Roger Stern, Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson's Superman feature in Action Comics Weekly.

In 1988, DC Comics made the bold decision to transform Action Comics into an anthology series that would be released on a weekly basis, in the tradition of British comic book magazines like Beano or 2000 A.D.

The book's initial star was Green Lantern, but DC didn't want to lose Superman outright, so they brought in Roger Stern to do a novel idea. As you all know, newspapers have special "Sunday Funnies" editions of their standard comic strips. However, there are also strips like Hal Foster's Prince Valiant that took place fully in the format of a Sunday comic strip...

Since they didn't want there to be NO Superman presence in Action Comics, Roger Stern and Curt Swan did a two-page Superman in each issue. Stern treated it like a Sunday comic strip, something that delighted the older Swan (who grew up when Sunday comic strips were a much bigger deal than they are today)...

John Beatty was the initial inker on the series but then Murphy Anderson took over, reuniting the legendary "Swanderson" creative team. Stern soon had so many other assignments with DC that he had Tom Peyer step in to help a bit with the stories later in the run. Peyer helped Stern draw his story (about a cult that worshiped Superman as a god) to a close. The only problem was that due to some scheduling issues, Stern actually had another three weeks to fill! Peyer and Stern then came up with a brief three-part story to close out the run in January of 1989 (there was one final team-up issue with all of the characters in Action Comics Weekly before the series went back to a monthly series starring just Superman with Action Comics #643).

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