The third story in the epic 1000th issue of Action Comics, An Enemy Within, is a Superman story where Superman doesn’t save anyone. Written by Cindy Goff and Marv Wolfman, with art by Butch Guice and the late Curt Swan (to whom the story is dedicated), An Enemy Within uses an unusual framing device: though narrated by Superman, he is nowhere to be seen. While the Man of Steel is off in Japan battling drones controlled by Brainiac (also mentioned, but not shown), he uses his super senses to monitor a police stand-off in Metropolis, where the seemingly deranged principal of a local high school is holding children hostage.
The story shows us that we can’t always wait for someone else to solve our problems. Each one of us can and must take action in the face of evil. Superman, here a stand-in for any authority, may have bigger fish to fry, which is why we, or in this story police captain Maggie Sawyer, need to step up and do our part to make the world a better place. Sawyer and her team rescue the students by taking out the principal, but they do it with rubber bullets. It turns out the man was being controlled by Brainiac after all and, in acting as Superman would, the police manage to avoid two tragedies. They save the children and, by using non-lethal means, spare the man’s wife the pain of losing her husband.
The artwork by Swan, from a previously unpublished story, looks good but seems to be from a comic unrelated to Superman. The grittier feel of the police pages stands in contrast to the classic four-color splash page that closes the chapter, previously published in Superman: The Secret Years #2. The letters, done by Rob Leigh, are attractive and clear.