Superman Returns

Calling all Leaguers!

Melbotis (Mel-boh-dis) Perkins is a 116 lb. golden retriever dedicated to Truth, Justice and the American Way.

The League of Melbotis welcomes all likeminded individuals willing to use their unique abilities for the betterment of mankind.

Comics, superheroes, giant robots, doggies, space ships, movies, personal journal, schadenfreude.

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    Friday, June 23, 2006  
    Comic stuff to come back to League of Melbotis

    Several months ago I pitched the idea of a collaborative comics review site to several folks, all of whom more or less shrugged, said something about "I don't actually read comics," and then more or less started wandering off.

    Undeterred, Jim and I teamed up for a new pitch, and many of the players were roped back in by the promise of a media review site where you could talk TV, movies, comics, whatever...

    I think we gave it a good shot. I really do. I have weeks and months worth of comic reviews, several movie reviews, and some TV commentary. But, to be honest, outside of the contributors, I'm not sure if anyone else was reading the site.

    Meanwhile, I've been neglecting the actual comics side of things which actually spawned League of Melbotis. So, long story short, I'm going to be bringing comic reviews, commentary, etc... back to the League. It seems sort of hollow to write a 300,000 word treastise on the importance of continuity in comics when all of your other posts are about how you and Jamie spent the weekend cleaning out your toe-jam.

    Bringing reviews back to LoM is intended to keep the reviews from feeling like work, which is exactly what it became over at I felt I couldn't go to a movie or read a comic without mentally outlining how I was going to be snarky in the review.

    In the end, nobody was reading the gawl-durn reviews, anyway.

    The League's gameplan is this: We will not waste time talking too much about comics that are average or bad, unless the comic is so bad, I feel I must vent. We will try to sell you, the Loyal Leaguer, on comics we felt were worth the dough. Meanwhile, expect all the rest of the usual mundanity you've come to expect.

    We also will attempt to return to a use of the Royal "We", which was employed for so long at LoM, but which seems to have drained away with the need for expediency in blogging.

    We will also, hopefully, be profiling cool comic characters, and generally improving upon the old "Suggestions for Further Reading" bit, which we hope you once enjoyed.

    Movie commentary will show up here again as well.

    The bottom line is this: We don't really want to spend time managing two blogs. It's a lot of work. The League will not become completely about comics. It never was. I just hope you'll keep coming back (or reading your RSS feed or whatever) and read some of the comic-related material, as well as whatever else is the reason you keep popping back in here.

    I'm feeling good about this choice. Hopefully you will be, too. My thanks to all nano contributors. We gave it a shot.

    In the meantime, for the love of Weisinger, go pick up All-Star Superman #4.

    9:27 PM |

    Thursday, June 22, 2006  
    Summer of Superman: Not a hoax, not a dream....

    No matter how bad Superman Returns may be as a film upon it's release June 28thish, The League will still be happy to know that they tried. It's been a long time in the works, this movie, and there have been innumerable directors, casts, budgets and plotlines associated with the film. 95% of those rumors and ideas had The League totally freaked out.

    Imagine, if you will, an all new Superman movie directed by Mr. Slow-Mo McG, starring Justin Timberlake as Superman and Cameron Diaz as Lois Lane, in which Krypton never exploded and Superman spends the duration of the movie learning that he is the prophesized "chosen one", destined to save Krypton. Leaguers, this movie almost happened.

    Or a Superman who has no powers, but derives them from kick ass body armor, and who weilds knives...

    Or a middle-aged Nick Cage in a hair piece in the supersuit, exploring the "darker" aspects of Superman with Tim Burton?

    Ashton Kutscher "dude-ing" his way through the movie as a cross-eyes Clark Kent (am I the only one who ever noticed Kutscher is cross-eyed)?

    Beyonce Knowles as Lois Lane?

    Brett "I Have No Idea How to Structure a Movie" Ratner trying to re-tell the origin?

    Lex Luthor as a Kryptonian FBI agent?

    And this is going to irritate some people, but Kevin Smith's script is pretty bad. I don't care how many copies of "An Evening with Kevin Smith" he's sold, his feel for the material is clunky at best, and sort of comes off like an episode of SuperFriends with violence.

    I'm not sure what relationship producer Jon Peters now has with the project, but it was interesting to see the guy who had held the purse strings for so long appear in the recent documentary "Look! Up in the Sky!" admitting he had no idea what Superman was about for years and years of development.

    It could have been a very goofy/bad movie indeed that never even tried to live up to the legacy. It could have been a hack job by a bunch of people who thought the movie just wasn't a good idea in the first place.

    Thank goodness, then, for Avi Arad understanding the potential for a serious comic movie franchise, Bryan Singer and his X-Men movies, Sam Raimi and Spider-Man, and the Salkinds and Richard Donner for showing us nearly thirty years ago the way it can and should be done.

    For the whole, ugly history, go here.

    8:08 PM |

    World Cup Update: US loses to Ghana. Yankees go home.

    That's right, we lost to a country where the GDP is less than some American individual's personal income. No, seriously, it was $5.9 billion in 2002. That's what Americans spend on onion rings in a year.

    Unfortunately, Mexico was one of my picks for WC finals contention, and they're playing like they've been hitting the biergartens and eating too much schnitzel. All I've got left is Argentina. Come on, you Nazi-harboring bastards!

    11:11 AM |

    Wednesday, June 21, 2006  
    Getting to Know the Man of Steel

    So I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "League, i've already pre-purchased my tickets online. I'm camping out front of the theater. What else can a Superman fan such as myself do to get prepared?"

    In this installment, I shall suggest some fun Superman media you can consider enjoying to enhance your Super Summer.


    Superman: The Movie

    Perhaps the definitive comic-to-film adaptation, Richard Donner's 1978 film Superman: The Movie busted open the post-1960's camp Batman idea of what comic characters were about. The original 500 page script handed in by Mario Puzo (that's about 350-375 pages longer than most scripts, Leaguers) served as the template for the epic films that Donner and Co. would produce between Superman I and Superman II.

    The film remains visually stunning with practical effects that today's film-makers wouldn't have the cajones to consider, let alone pull off. A terrific love story, a diabolical villain, space opera, romantic middle America... there's a little something in this flick for everybody.

    And it redefined what Superman would be in comics and television for the next 30 years.

    Superman II

    "The problem with Superman" we are repeatedly told, "is that you can't come up with a reasonable threat." Try three Kryptonian supervillains hell-bent on subjugating the Earth.

    The film lacks the epic resonance of the first film and interrupts it's spectacular action sequences with some hammy comedy, but there's a lot to like in this sequel. Questions abound whether the replacement of Donner and subsequent reshoots by Richard Lester made for a lesser film, but we'll have some of the mystery solved this December with a restored "Donner Cut" of Superman II coming to DVD.

    I personally like Lois in this film, even if her feminine whiles convince Superman to give up his mojo and have some seriously weak blow-dried hair. It's all worth it, int he end, to see Superman pop open his can of whoop-ass.

    Superman: Man of Steel by John Byrne

    Post Crisis on Infinite Earths, John Byrne re-told the origin of Superman and re-established the Superman mythos in a model which both reflected the movies and openly rejected other concepts. Krypton took on a new design, but mirrored the cold society of the films. Meanwhile, Clark Kent was no longer portrayed as a goof, instead he was an accomplished journalist and author, and a believable foil for Lois. Luthor was no longer just a scientist, but a corporate mogul using others to do his dirty work (perhaps a combination of Robert Vaughn's villain from Superman III and Hackman's Luthor).

    Wonderfully drawn and briskly paced, really the first Superman comics to turn me on to the character.

    Superman: Peace on Earth by Paul Dini and Alex Ross

    A beautifully told story of Superman's attempt to assist the Earth in overcoming hunger and need. Expertly written by Paul Dini and perfectly rendered by Alex Ross, this heart-breaking tale may be one of the most human stories ever told of The Man of Steel.

    The Superman Chronicles #1

    DC Comics and Marvel Comics are no dopes when it comes to milking the fan base for more coin. DC has a prestige collection of books, printed in hardcover on archive paper, and dubbed them "Archive Editions". I love these books. But I cannot afford them.

    In 2005 DC launched the "Chronicles" editions of their reprints, which are paperback collections, in color, on half-way decent paper. (The lowest tier are the "Showcase Presents", printed on newsprint in black and white. But also $16 for 550+ pages of comics.)

    Superman Chronicles has only seen one release, but it's the origin of Superman told in order, reprinting classic Siegel and Shuster work. This is the "circus strongman" Superman, clearly designed to look like an aerialist with a cape, and who spends a lot of time making jokes at crooks' expense while dangling them from atop telephone wires.

    Also, Lois is one brassy dame in these comics.


    The Adventures of Superman with George Reeves, Noel Neill, etc...

    The thrilling 1950's-era TV series which brought a new kind of adventure to a medium in it's infancy. The half-hour program featured the adventures of the crew at the Daily Planet as they uncovered gangs of mobsters, out of control robots and shady mining operations. Fortunately, no matter the danger, Superman is always near-by to save our team of erstwhile heroes.

    Superman: A Superman for All Seasons by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale

    A story set in Superman's earliest career and including scenes from his youth in Smallville. A fantastic take on Superman coming to terms with genuine evil in the world. Sale's art is a wonderful compliment to nostalgic story.

    Superman: Birthright by Mark Waid and Leinil Yu

    A recent re-telling of Superman's earliest days in Metropolis, meant to bring Superman back into line with Smallville and certain Silver-Age elements. A bit confusing how it fits into continuity, but beautifully rendered and well told.

    Superman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told by various

    A collection of some of the best Superman stories of the past 70 years, pulling from all eras in DC's extensive publishing history. A terrific snapshot of Superman through the years.

    Superman/Batman: Public Enemies by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness

    Probably a good place to check out an all-out action story with Superman and Batman against the world. If you aren't sure how Superman and Batman would work together, here's a good place to check out the World's Finest at their best.

    Leaguers, there's 70 years of material out there. I'm sure you can find something to enjoy.

    10:12 PM |

    I don't talk about work all that often, but occasionally, sometimes, you know...

    So in a meeting yesterday for my organization's new website someone decided we needed to begin PodCasting. In higher ed, PodCasting is considered the second coming. I don't necessarily have anything against PodCasting, but I don't really see what it brings that a .wav file provides. And nobody ever said a .wav file was going to save higher ed.

    As these things tend to do, the idea mushroomed, and then we were discussing video clips of faculty, which, honestly, I think does a better job of what we were discussing in the first place.

    So today we sat down and were discussing THAT as a separate project, and it suddenly grew to be 1.5 minute produced videos. Which I am also fine with, and would honestly prefer. But I'm an RTF geek, and so I believe it's all about the pre-production. I started talking about storyboarding, and outlines of scripts, blah blah blah and was met with blank stares and some derision.

    My co-worker at the end of the table paused for a moment, repeated pretty much exactly what I'd just said we needed to do, and suddenly everyone was in agreement.

    I have no idea why my pitch was so unattractive and his was met with all but cheers, but it took all I could muster not to stand up and shout "HE'S SAYING EXACTLY WHAT I JUST SAID!!! I JUST SAID THAT AND YOU ALL THOUGHT I WAS CRAZY!!!!"

    As I've learned, you just let it slide, because nobody remembers who came up with what, anyway. And since the guy is on my team, heck... I can take pride in our team scoring points for taking the project under control. Also, the important thing is that we're all in agreement moving forward.

    I think I must occasionally make absolutely no sense in meetings.

    9:19 PM |

    Monday, June 19, 2006  

    Reviews are trickling in of press screenings of the upcoming Superman Returns film.

    There's a bit of weirdness in that the official release date of Superman Returns is Wednesday the 28th, but we've got listed screenings starting AZ time at 10:00pm on Tuesday. I did my best puppy-dog eyes last night to try to convince Jamie we NEEDED to go to the 10:00 Tuesday show, but
    1) Lucy and Mel both do better puppy-dog eyes
    2) Jamie has stupid dialysis at 5:00 Wednesday morning. Apparently she needs it to survive and that trumps her ability to stay up until 1:00 or 1:30 on Wednesday morning.

    So, we're now going on Wednesday.

    I will probably be writing a summary of my experience. I will not be writing a review. To write a review, one must be objective. I find it unlikely that I will be objective.

    We are then slated to head to Houston the week of July 4th, and if I know my folks, we'll be seeing the movie there as well. Possibly on the IMAX. Cousin Susan will be joingin us in Houston and will be fitted with an appropriate muzzle as she likes to let you know when a movie is not meeting her criteria. Susan does not like the superheroes.

    Mom and Dad will ALSO be fitted with muzzles. Apparently around 1999, they decided casual conversation was okay in the theater, officially getting that one step closer to becoming crazy old people. KareBear is all about refusing to follow a movie. The Admiral likes to point out things in the movie and try to tell you then and there how "that type of radio was decommissioned from submarines in 1967. There's no way any self-respecting vessel would have a junky old radio like that" in the middle of Crimson Tide.

    Steanso is quiet. Sort of. He just tends to knock over Cokes.

    Jamie is the perfect movie partner. She's tiny, so I can share an armrest with her, and she is usually willing to do a candy swap in the middle of the movie.

    Will Steanso like Superman? The answer is almost certainly a "yes". I know this, because the movie will contain loud, large explosions.

    Anyhoo, what are you guys doing? Anyone else have plans to see the movie?

    11:02 PM |

    Summer of Superman: Pimping the Man of Steel

    You know, in the comics, practically everybody in Metropolis has at least one Superman t-shirt. To be without is like living in NYC and not having a Mets or Yankees shirt. Of course Superman doesn't make any money off of the shirts, mugs, etc... and asks only that proceeds go to charity.

    We've also seen the dark side of all of this in an issue where DCU huckster Funky Flashman set up a Superman shop in Metropolis, and as he wasn't sharing the wealth with charity, Lois more or less tricked him into bringing the wrath of the supervillain underground down on his head. The moral: share the profits with Captain Cold.

    This summer has seen Superman's face or emblem pastered onto cereal boxes, toothpaste tubes, ice cream pops, and all manner of product in between. Part of me is wildly amused. Part of me is a little overwhelmed. And, in fact, I'd say Jamie is beginning to reach Supersaturation. I'm now making a conscious effort not to pick up Superman-hyping products into the house, turning down items like Superman electric toothbrushes, partly because the vibration from electric toothbrushes makes me want to vomit and partly because I want to stay married to the very sweet lady who has been oh, so patient thus far.

    With every product, I sort of stop and think: Gee, would Superman REALLY want his face on that?

    For example, would Superman want to contribute to childhood obesity by having his symbol on fatty cheeseburgers at a fast-food chain? I think we can assume he would not.

    Would he want kids to drink Pepsi? How about adults? Apparently WB studios thinks so, because Superman and the Daily Planet are adorning bottles of Pepsi at Target.

    Bottled water? I guess so.

    This summer the AMF Bowling Leagues are putting together "Superman Bowling Leagues". I don't know what that's about, but I think you get a Superman bowling ball when you join. And while a Superman bowling ball is tempting, it's just an odd thought to imagine the most powerful man on Earth hanging out and trying to break 200. But maybe, just maybe, it's at least an activity to get kids away from the Playstation for twenty minutes.

    I don't mind a fad of Superman stuff. After all, the Superman emblem has been a bit of a fad with college kids for the past few years, appearing on all kinds of stuff.

    I guess I'm just concerned about two things: 1) the cheap and shoddy product that WB will agree to in order to make money now on Superman which may not really support the franchise identity, and 2) the oversaturation of Superman, a la Star Wars Episode 1. Remember not being able to hit a fast food joint without Jar-Jar being printed on your napkins?

    Simultaneously, Superman should be out there for the kids. I'd love nothing more than for a dozen Supermans to hit my house this Halloween, to see kids runnign around the park in $4.00 capes and blasting one another with imaginary heat-vision. The cost of keeping those kids in capes can be a bit pricey, so, yeah, sometimes I don't mind the cheaper products.

    In two months, Superman Returns will have come and gone from theaters (barring any surprising Titanic like success, which I am not anticipating) . The Superman product will stick around for a while, see a resurgence at Christmas, and then disappear until the inevitable sequel.

    We'll be the house still sporting the Superman toys scattered about, the comics littered across every flat surface, and the mvoies and DVD's filling the shelves. So I guess I'm trying to enjoy it while I can. Without driving Jamie insane.

    10:26 PM |

    Sunday, June 18, 2006  

    Hey, Leaguers. If you go to the League of Melbotis store at, you will see a few items have been changed to include the official LoM artwork.

    We suggest you get an item for every single person you know.

    Go to the store now.

    9:40 PM |

    Go Maroons!

    I was going to post on this and forgot. See, I took the GRE on Friday, so most everything else sort of dripped out my ears from Thursday until Friday night.

    Austin High Teacher in trouble for topless internet photos.

    Front page of CNN, man. It's hard to keep that kind of stuff on the QT when CNN is splashing it across the front page out of prurient interest. The Statesman ran an article on this last week and included pictures of the teacher. I think it's worth noting that Ms. Hoover appeared qualified to pose topless.

    Art and high school are an odd combination. Despite all evidence to the contrary, high school administrators are in a never-ending battle insisting that they are in charge of children, not young adults with working brains. Parents would like for art classes to be all clay ash-trays and pictures of posies in a vase. The students, meanwhile, are in a crucial stage of self-discovery and expression. We had a photo of a skinny male torso taken down out of our display case at KOHS because a caoch deemed it "gay".

    Now, you sort of have to have a background in art in order to teach art in high school. And that may mean that the teacher may have had an educational background not steeped in the education department while receiving their degree. It may also mean that the teacher has a life outside of the classroom.

    I'm not exactly certain what's contained in the photos of Ms. Hoover, but the description was "topless". At no point was "simulated sex acts" or anything of that nature brought up. Further, according to the Statesman's article, Hoover had no idea the artist would post the photos online.

    I know I know I know... we must protect the children. Whatever. Those kids are going to be adults someday. In fact, the day they turn 18 and/ or graduate from high school, expectations sure do change, don't they?

    I think it's absolutely worth noting that Ms. Hoover was not the one who showed the photos to her students, nor did she participate in them in order for her students to see them. She was a model. It was, in fact, a different teacher who viewed the photos in the classroom with other students present.

    In viewing art, even in public school, students are exposed to nudity. Whether viewing slides of The David or Venus de Milo. And, no, the argument that those are "classic" works doesn't hold up. You either accept all of it as art or you accept none of it.

    Now, with national attention, the district is going to find itself at the center of a lot of controversy regarding the private lives of underpaid school teachers. No doubt, the district's decision to quickly slap Ms. Hoover with her scarlet letter and get her out the door will be applauded by the PTA. I think it's kind of sad that they're quick to fire someone so quickly when they did nothing wrong in the classroom or on school grounds, and which, in all fairness, probably had no adverse effect on any student.

    AISD has been a problem school district for well over a decade, and has much bigger fish to fry than a couple of photos. I'm sure they know this. What I find interesting is that you really didn't hear much about people in the district getting fired for manipulating TAKS scores, but this firing wasn't even in question.

    Still, you gotta protect those innocent, innocent kiddies from the preeeverts.

    10:19 AM |

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