Action Comics is considered the birthplace of the superhero genre based upon the debut of Superman in its first issue (cover-dated June 1938); it remains one of the most significant titles in the comic book medium. Originally published by Detective Comics , a predecessor of DC Comics , the series began as an anthology featuring several heroic characters, such as explorer Marco Polo, adventurer Tex Thomson, cowboy Chuck Dawson, reporter Scoop Scanlon, prizefighter Pep Morgan, and magician Zatara.
Included among these standard archetypal figures was Superman,
the first super powered crime fighter in popular culture. Superman had been created several years earlier by Jerry Siegel (writer) and Joe Shuster (artist) in the hope of selling the character to a newspaper syndicate. That effort proved unsuccessful, but the Man of Steel was eventually accepted for possible inclusion in the forthcoming Action Comics . Siegel and Shuster cut their sample newspaper strips apart and reformatted them for the comic book page. Publisher Jack Liebowitz discarded the originally advertised cover drawing in favor of the now iconic image of Superman hoisting a car over his head. Only 200,000 copies of Action Comics #1 were published and Superman did not appear on the cover again until the seventh issue.
Within the first months of publication, customer surveys revealed that Superman was attracting a legion of new readers. Monthly sales of Action Comics skyrocketed to nearly a million. Th e popularity of Superman led publishers to introduce countless other costumed superheroic characters and, thus, a new genre was born.
Today fewer than 100 original copies of Action Comics #1 are known to exist. Action Comics #1 introduced many enduring elements of the Superman mythology, including Lois Lane, Clark Kent, and Th e Daily Star newspaper (later changed to The Daily Planet ). Superman’s archenemy Lex Luthor debuted in issue #23 with a full head of red hair. He was followed by
other villains who made their initial appearances in Action Comics, such as Ultra- Humanite (issue #13), Prankster (issue #51), Toyman (issue #64), and the evil android Brainiac (issue #242). Another landmark issue is Action Comics #252, which features the introduction of Supergirl.
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