Action Comics 500
This issue features "The Life Story Of Superman" by Martin Pasko, Curt Swan and Frank Chiaramonte, and had originally been prepared for an All-New Collector's Edition, but instead found its 64 pages in this special issue instead.
This is the most complete telling of the story of the Earth-1 Superman, covering his life from Krypton, to landing in Smallville, then arriving in Metropolis. So, time to leap into the contents of the issue, as Superman did, by arriving at the Metropolis State Fair for the Superman Pavilion opening with owner J. Robert Arngrim, unaware of the danger that lurked there....
Krypton - Kal-El
Only one scientist, Jor-El, saw this, and had given up his space research to try to save the planet. Jor-El was unable to convince the Science Council of Krypton's trouble (or even his own brother, Zor-El), so, instead, Jor-El put his efforts into saving his family....his wife, Lara, and two year old son, Kal-El.
An early test with Kal's dog failed, as a meteor hit the ship, sending it out of Krypton's orbit, getting the dog lost in space.
Jor-El was unsure it could safely get to its destination with Lara and Kal, so Lara volunteered to stay with her husband to die on Krypton to give their son the best chance at life. Kal-El rocketed to Earth as Krypton exploded...
...an event so scarring it took Superman out of the Mind-Prober Ray he had been using to relive the events, and what of the young boy in a secret lab, being fed these memories by a mysterious scientist?
Smallville - Superboy
The Kents took the boy to an orphanage in secret and hid his rocketship, but came back a few days later to adopt the lad, whom they suspected had extraterrestrial origins, naming the boy Clark Kent. As a young lad, this Superbaby was hard on his clothes, but the Kents used the blankets he was wrapped in to make him an invulnerable suit he could play in, all while instilling their values on the boy, including a sense of duty, that he could use his powers to help others.
Phantom Zone Projector, which Jor-El had used to exile Krypton's most dangerous criminals).
This may have eventually dragged the rocket that Kal-El's dog into space to Earth, so Superboy had a super dog, Krypto, who had the same powers as the lad did. Superboy protected Smallville, including friends like Lana Lang, but, was unable to save those he loved the most, as his parents contracted a Caribbean virus after a vacation there and fell ill. Even with his powers, young Clark was unable to save his adopted mother and father, and truly doubted his ability to become a Superman, as Clark and Superboy moved on from Smallville....(meanwhile, the mysterious scientist directed a young teenager in a Superboy suit through a mock town, mirroring Superman's journey from Superboy to Superman).
Metropolis - Superman
Superman even added a little extra space for his cousin, Supergirl (Kara Zor-El, the daughter of Zor-El), who ended up on Earth later in Superman's career, that trained in secret for a time, before establishing her own heroic career. Superman also reflected on his loves (such as Lana Lang, Lori Lemaris and Lois Lane), and foes (like Toyman, Parasite, Brainiac), but then, was secretly exposed to Green Kryptonite and replaced by another Superman, and fell to the mysterious scientist had been behind the scenes before....Lex Luthor.
Luthor's origin (with the clone telling the story to the crowd, of how Superboy ruined Luthor's life out of jealously in Smallville, upsetting Lana and Lois, getting Lois to head to the exit and trigger the bomb).
100, 200, 300 and 400 with Kal-El's rocket bursting through the center, and a inside front and back cover history of Action Comics by E. Nelson Bridwell, which started with the quote used at the beginning of this article, and ended with "What's coming up for Action Comics? Will we one day celebrate our 1,000th issue? If we do (and right now, we don't see why not), one thing is certain -- it will still be starring Superman!".
A month and a half from now, we will see that issue!