Showing posts with label Superman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Superman. Show all posts

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

So long, Superman!

About three and a half years ago (that's roughly 25 years ago in blog years), I posted what I felt was more or less my statement on WHY I'm a fan of Superman.

You can read it here.

I'd also pointed to my Superman collection at the time, which has only expanded in the intervening years. At that time, I did not have replicas of five shades of Kryptonite, a toy Kryptonian Battlesuit, etc... Were there time and my office in any condition to show, I'd have put up a few images. But its not, so... you're just going to have to stop by some time. Tours are $2.

I'm fairly sensitive to criticism of the Superman character, primarily because Superman has taken on this odd, avatar-like role for the squeaky-clean image of heroism that's fallen out of favor but which is mostly a gross oversimplification.

I talked about that here.

At another point I tried to address what I would think are limitations of Superman (and superheroes) here.

I get a lot of blowback from readers when I bemoan the misconceptions, and am told "well, its what the public thinks that matters". But I also am aware that the public perception is shaped by articles exactly like the ones Loyal Leaguers gleefully forward me (which is shockingly often). That's not to say that you can't criticize Superman as a character, but the thing is: John and Jane Public in this case are getting sold a bad bill of goods. And I've always felt that wasn't quite fair to DC Comics, John and Jane Public, people like myself who actually bother to read the comics, watch the movies, cartoons, TV shows, etc... and certainly to a figment of a teenager's imagination whose done little more in 70-odd years of existence but be the good guy.

There are different visions for how the story of Superman might end. Ends are how we can judge characters, after all. Alan Moore's closeout of the Silver Age with "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" is tragic, but ends on the right note. DC One Million suggests Superman sort of goes on forever. I like the ambiguous wrap-up to All Star Superman, with Superman toiling at the heart of the sun, having given up his Earthly life to save the world, and lifting from the page of all mythic heroes, with the promise that he will one day return.

I've made no secret that part of why I embraced Superman was because the franchise/ series/ character/ whatever DID have that weird, funhouse aspect of "oh, Jesus. What now?" that I still cackle about when a new editon of Showcase Presents Superman hits the shelves or I find just the right back issue. And its certainly a big selling point for me when I pick up an issue of Jimmy Olsen. I like that this same character is responsible for amazing comics like "Kingdom Come", "Peace on Earth" and many, many more... But its also the same character that spawned Beppo the Super Monkey.

Often, Superman can be a reminder of how short I feel the vision is of humanity. Sometimes I believe that its a lack of belief that a person wielding such power would turn it to the good that makes us flush with rage when the story does not become one of betrayal, petty abuse of power, and instead, page after page chooses to show us a man struggling with the choices before him.

In his own story, of course, Luthor is the hero. He's the brilliant mind who turned genius to profit and power, and who cannot imagine that someone so gifted would not want to cap and trade his own power. Superman must be waiting for something, and while we hiss and boo Lex, we're envious of him.

There's, of course, a personal and a quite literal financial stake in all this. I've got something invested. But I also started elsewhere with comics, with superheroes, with action and science fiction heroes, with all the same stuff we all pass through. n the end, I landed on Superman. Somehow, the constant striving to do the right thing didn't seem like such a bad thing. And maybe even the "taking it a step further" that happens when you want to be better than who you really are.

And that's what I read when I pick up those comics, and watch those movies. All those powers, and Superman still so rarely saves the day. I know I can do better, and I so often fail to do so. I do okay. I do well enough, but I don't do enough.

In the years of this blog, its unlikely I've turned a single person into a fan of the Man of Steel. I know I've probably shared more about the character than even one of you ever cared to read. That's okay. You people have no idea what Jamie lives with, here in our Fortress of Solitude.

I haven't forgotten that JimD obtained a theatrical print of Superman: The Movie for what was practically a personal screening, getting Randy to come down to join us, and setting us up in a magnificent theater (The Jefferson in downtown Beaumont). Or that Peabo and his wife drove out there with us to watch the movie.

And I haven't forgotten the endless viewings Jamie suffered through of Superman movies, TV shows, cartoons, etc... Nor have I forgotten the Super-related items folks have shared or given to me as gifts. All of that winds up as part of the package of what I think of when people ask "So you're a Superman fan?".

At the end of the day, I like the idea that there's this alien who came to Earth, and because he was raised to believe in Truth and Justice and The American Way, those things we're all supposed to believe in, that he decided not to use the power for himself, but to do the right thing. Whether its saving a space plane from crashing or standing between a shooter and their victim, that saving the day is the right thing to at least try to do.

It doesn't hurt that he can bend steel in his hands, that his eyes shoot lasers and that he's got Lois, Perry and Jimmy around.

Or that he's got a dog that has all his powers that's a superhero, too.

As I mentioned in previous parting posts, I am aware that Superman is and has been an odd sort of crutch when I needed hours to fill and something to focus on outside of the day-to-day. But I've also been able to look at Superman as metaphor, as inspiration of a sort, and as distraction during some of our most challenging days. A fictional Superman cannot eliminate ill-health, or want, or distress. All the character can do is appear in stories where someone tried to do the right thing, often against obstacles that seemed literally impossible, enough to defeat even a Superman.

I have a favorite memory, of Jamie getting better in the hospital, and me knowing she was getting better when I was able to show her pages from one of those fat "Showcase Presents" Superman albums and say "this is completely insane! Look at this!" I believe it was Superman accidentally finding himself with the head of a lion, and Jamie and I having a good laugh. That's just good stuff.

I'll miss talking about Superman with you guys.

Sometime, pick up a Superman comic. I'll be around to make suggestions, if you like.

I just hope that a few of you, when you see the red cape and boots will know a bit more than "John and Jane Public", and nothing would please me more than finding out you'd won points at trivia by naming Superman's dog (hint: its Krypto).

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

Superman Returns: The Extended Cut?

The 2006 film "Superman Returns" clocks about 2.5 hours, and by many viewers' standards, its a pretty long viewing experience as it is. Its not much of an action movie, and isn't for everyone, but...

People following the production closely noted that there were a lot of missing pieces from the final product that we'd seen in previews, stills, etc...

In many ways, I believe it may have resulted in a loss of context in favor of a run-time short enough to get more butts in seats. My understanding is that the final cut was approved and managed by director Bryan Singer, but there have long been stories around Superman Returns that Singer somewhat lost control of the production. So was the 2.5 hour version what the creators intended?

Superman Homepage has posted a story that several Super-Geeks have put together a petition for an extended cut, which they're calling "The Bryan Singer Cut".

Supposedly this version includes more footage of Kal-El's visit to the remains of Krypton, the interior of his spaceship, a lot more in Smallville, and probably other footage I don't know about. There's supposedly a new relationship between the windowed Martha Kent and Ben Hubbard, a guy mentioned in a single line (but never seen) in the first Superman movie.

I would love to see this version of the movie, and given that fan pestering resulted in the release of Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut, its possible WB could work with Donner and Co. to put together a lengthier version of "Superman Returns".

So... If you want to help out Supes, The League and the weirdness of Superman Fandom, you can click here to learn more. Beware: there's a blast of Super-Music when you click the link.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Green Lantern & Superman Recent Issues

Last night I read the last two weeks worth of Green Lantern and Superman titles, and...

I am enjoying the heck out of all of these books right now. Which is absolutely awful for my pocketbook, but makes being a DC fan a lot of fun at the moment.

Some of the Batman books are enjoyable, such as Morrison's "Batman & Robin" and Rucka and JH WIlliams III's stunning "Detective", but the line isn't holding in the same way here as it has been for me for the extended "New Krypton" storyline in Superman, and certainly not the way I have been grabbing every darn comic with a "Blackest Night" tie-in on the cover (I was "meh" on the Batman Blackest Night, but actually sort of enjoyed the Titans tie-in).

If you read the internets (and I do), then as a comic fan, you're not supposed to like anything that smacks of a tie-in/ cross-over/ event. The funny thing is, this sort of thing is more or less what's keeping the Big 2 alive right now. Fans have consolidated around a few core concepts, and they seem to be more than happy to keep pace with events either to know what's going on (and hate every minute of it), or because readers enjoy this kind of storytelling in numbers greater than what it takes to sustain individual titles.

My guess (and you know I've got one) is that it's nice to know that the story you're reading isn't filler or won't be ignored completely and has seemingly built out of something as part of the greater architecture of the shared universes that can sustain these sorts of events.


I'm not really supposed to say "I'm enjoying Blackest Night", but I am. It feels like its got gravity, there's a massive threat that seems undefeatable, its wrapping in characters I enjoy, and seems to be setting itself up as a watershed event that will affect things for years. Not just because its a big event, those get swept under the rug all the time, but because its not an arbitrary idea thrown into the middle of other ongoing stories, and which builds on what's been happening in the DCU for a while.

I might also point to the way the Superman books are handling the current storyline to create an environment in which events are building upon one another and each issue is a chapter in a larger story (and has been since 06 or so). Its practically unheard of in monthlies at the Big 2, and is usually only seen in book at Vertigo, etc...

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Fist bump for the common welfare!

Apparently, CNN is endorsing the "fist bump" as a means of preventing us from spreading H1N1. Intriguingly, they point out that greeting each other with terrorist fist bumps will save lives as its less likely to spread contagion than the traditional handshake.

As The League could really do without H1N1, and also really enjoys a good dap, we're taking up the fist-bump as our new greeting.

But not only does the leader of our fair nation endorse the fist bump (although I think when Michele Obama tells you to fist bump, you darn well better fist bump), someone we all like, who may not divide us down party lines, would also like for us to greet in a hipper fashion for better health.

Superman is your friend, H1N1 is not

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Barely a new look and Krypto

You may have noticed I changed the banner.

I was trying to relearn some Photoshop, but actually wound up using the, a free imaging software.

We're not taking a vote on whether to keep this look or not. It's just a banner. I don't know if I want to really monkey with the thing a whole lot more. So expect to see Krypto up there (our patron saint of dogs and comics here at League of Melbotis) for quite a while.

I considered having a Jimmy Olsen image up there, but, man... I wasn't sure Turtle Boy Jimmy or Elastic Lad was where we wanted to be every day for the next year if you visit the site.

The Alex Ross painted image is of Superman's dog, , from the cover of Superman issue 680.

Krypto was introduced way back in Adventure Comics #210 in 1955 as a pal for Superboy.

He's still kicking around DC Comics and Superman comics (and in the newly relaunched Adventure Comics). And if you want to know why Superman is my kind of superhero: He has a super dog, with no sense of irony. While, yeah, the idea of a super powered dog is silly and fun, there's a certain logic to Krypto (he's a Kryptonian test subject, like Laika). Sure, its kitschy and old school, but I like that DC is finding ways to keep Krypto around.

And for us people who love our dogs and our comics, I tip my hat to Ross for a painting of Krypto the way I tend to think of the character in the context of today's Superman comics, as sort of the world's coolest dog.

That said, I'm a fan of Amanda Conner's portrayal as lovable super-powered goof, too.

Anyway, when there isn't room for Krypto in comics because somebody decided that Krypto wasn't "cool" enough or whatever, I'm not sure I'm going to want to read my Super-comics anymore.

I've also long ago adopted Krypto as my IM and comment icon of choice, and I guess, being a bit brand conscious, I figured we might as well go-Krypto across the board. Heck, back in Arizona, I dropped $20 on a vanity plate that read "KRYPTO". No, its true. I'm not ashamed.

In the end, Krypto is up there because Melbotis and I could always agree upon the necessity of Krypto in the Superman comics, and so, as a tribute to my pal, and his taste in the finer things, we're shaking things up a tiny bit.

Mel always approved of dogs in capes

By the way, I've asked Scout, jeff and Lucy about who they would nominate.

Lucy: Apparently a fan of Proty II from Legion of Super-Heroes
Jeff: a fan of Starro the Conqueror

Scout: Ace the Bathound

Friday, October 02, 2009

These are a few of my favorite things...

Thank you, anonymous YouTube poster with too much free time on your hands. You've made this chubby nerd very happy.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Jill's kid started a Bird-Watching Blog

So, young junior naturalist Arden H-W has started a blog all about his bird-watching hobby.


The League is impressed. That kid is going to be the next Audubon. His blog posts are also already five times more coherent than anything you're likely to find here at League of Melbotis.

I look forward to seeing what bird he covers next.

So Where Are the Kents in the Silver Age?

Fans of Silver-Age and Bronze-Age comics will note that the Kents are alive when Superboy is a lad, but by the time he becomes Superman, they're MIA.

Well, at some point, DC decided to address what happened. And somehow, this is the story they put on the page.

And, honestly, this sort of story makes more sense than 85% of what you're going to find in the typical Silver Age Superman story.

Mad Men

Did everyone get the important tip for office safety in this week's episode of Mad Men?

Not picking up JSA anymore

For the record, I'm agreeing with Simon and dropping JSA in December, if not before. Makes League cry, but... this just doesn't look fun.

Schwapp! sums it up nicely

Also, the perspective or something is completely off on the ocver to JSA All-Stars #1. Without getting too much into it, as an example, Cyclone (front right) looks like she was drawn in at the last second by an 8th grader who doesn't know how big parts are, or where they really need to go.

sometimes it helps to look at your drawing before inking and coloring it

Comic Previews and My Precognitive Abilities

A few days ago I was going through some Superman back issues and stumbled across a cover with 70's-era Superman buddy/ foil, Vartox, the character with the worst design in all of comic-dom. I paused and said to myself: they should really find a way to bring this guy back, without changing a damned thing.

Well, not change anything other than how seriously a reader in 2009 is likely to take ol' Vartox.

Vartox, by the way, is most likely what a very drunk comic artist decided was acceptable after seeing Sean Connery in the worst costume of all time in Zardoz.

Well, ask and ye shall receive. DC December 2009 Solicitations were released Monday.

Power Girl #7, coming in December:

The fellow on the ground is Dr. Mid-Nite. He is cool.

I am really growing to like this Power Girl comic.

It Could Have Been Worse

I'm probably too forgiving of the 2006 feature film "Superman Returns". It has its flaws, primarily in the story department.

But I think we can mostly agree that Brandon Routh made a fine Superman in his blues and reds.

Many people don't know that Superman Returns, despite pulling in $200 million domestically, was considered a flop not just because it didn't set the world on fire, but because it had to also make back the money spent on about 20 years of WB kicking around Superman ideas. Some 10's of millions.

One of the many ideas of the 1990's that blew through all that dough was that WB decided lightning should strike twice, and so gave the franchise to Tim Burton. This was probably not a great idea. Reportedly Burton didn't think too much of Superman, did not like Superman, and so was looking to just make his own movie, anyway. And just call it Superman so they'd give him $150 million to realize his fever dream of a superhero movie.

I'm not sure exactly what happened, but thanks to the success of movies like "Con-Air" (which is a stupid @#$%ing movie. Seriously.) Nic Cage became attached to the project.

Interestingly, Nic Cage is a Superman fan, as evidenced by the fact that he named his kid "Kal-El". No, really. He did.

This all occurrd in the depths of what is now referred to as the Chromium Age of comics, which will make sense to non-comic people if you remember the 90's "EXTREME!!!!" movement. It basically meant comics became very stupid, very violent, and Superman had a mullet from about 1992 to 1998. No, really. He did. It also meant comics were sort of aplace where if you were trying to make sales, you had carte blanche do whatever made the character "dark", a dumb and meaningless term that Hollywood always wants to apply, for some @#$%ing reason, to The Man of Steel.

So, take a heaping, helping of Tim Burton, the 90's Extreme Movement, people getting their first computer in the 1990's, Nic Cage's Con-Air era popularity, and shake...

This almost happened.

So shut up about Superman Returns.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Some Comics Bits from Loyal Leaguers

We always appreciate it when folks send us links to comics-related items. (a) It's nice to know that we're being thought of during your work day, and (b) it's instant blog material. Shazam!

The Hall of Justice is located in Cincinnati?

Baby, did you ever wonder? Wonder whatever became of me? I'm living in the Hall of Justice. Which is located in Cin-cin-nat-ti.

NTT sends this item along. Apparently, the Hall of Justice which 30+-year-old Leaguers may recall from the Super Friends cartoon as the majestic headquarters of the Justice League, is based on a train station.

I did not know that.

The article is here.

New Clip From Superman/ Batman Animated feature

Shoemaker sends along this link. It's a video clip from the upcoming home video release of "Superman/ Batman: Public Enemies".

I am anxiously awaiting the release of the DVD. The original story from the "Superman/ Batman" comic was a fun, big screen adventure-ride, even if the story never made a whole lot of sense. It wrapped the multi-year arc featuring Lex Luthor as the President of the United States and siccing a legion of super heroes and villains on The World's Finest.

The comic also featured art by Ed McGuinness. I confess I'm not sure either the story or art will translate perfectly, but you have to have hope that DCU Animated knows what its doing.

Superman's Birthplace Now a Landmark - Siegel Home Restored

Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were living in Cleveland at the time when they brought Superman to the company that would become DC. Its one of my favorite parts of the history of comics that Superman was cooked up by teen-agers that were working with a gumbo of influences and didn't know the rules enough to think that Superman wouldn't sell.

The neighborhood where the Siegel house stood has changed, and the house itself fell into disrepair. The Shuster house was torn down several years ago.

Novel and comic author Brad Meltzer has done more in the past two years than the city of Cleveland has ever done to turn the house into an historical landmark and ensure the structure's future (which is somebody's house, I should mention).

JimD sent this. Which links to this page, featuring a video demonstrating the work done.

While this project may not be as important as many, its great to see that Americans care enough about the source of what's become an American icon to preserve a part of its history (and improve someone's living conditions as part of the deal).

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Changing habits of the longtime comic fan

So this weekend, Austin Books had their Big Annual Sale, where I wound up spending my fair share of coin. I picked up several Superman, Action Comics and Jimmy Olsen back issues.

I also picked up this issue of The Flash. Because when one sees issue #177 of The Flash, one BUYS issue #177 of The Flash.

This is what you put on a cover when you're trying to grab The League's attention

You may not know this, but they recently raised the price of about half the line of comics at DC, while increasing page-count with back-up stories. Detective now has back-up stories featuring "The Question", Action now has back-ups with "Captain Atom" (a move I fully endorse). Best of all, Booster Gold has "Blue Beetle" back ups.

I'm not sure what it means to my pocket book as I would most assuredly pick up a Question, Blue Beetle and Captain Atom series from DC. But many comics I'm buying now cost a full dollar more. That's not chump change, week in and week out. So I'm reducing the number of titles I pick up. I'm mostly looking at core titles from DC, and I'll pick up Sherlock Holmes while its running, and Buck Rogers. But everything else...?

DC operated on the "WTF?" model for their covers for about three decades

Well, Boom is still putting out good comics (seriously, Irredeemable is phenomenal. As is "Poe").

But I've dropped the Project: Superpowers books from Dynamite, and I only look at Cap and Dardevil at Marvel these days (a world in which I'm not interested in Spidey. It's a frikkin' crime, I tell you).

There are literally hundreds of comics which hit every month, so while you may believe that this superhero/ comic fan has his eye on the industry, I tell you that's near impossible. And at some point, you begin to see the same things popping up on cover after cover, month after month, from upstart companies, new talent, etc... And like any other form of entertainment, 90% of it is dreck.

Somehow the confluence of rising prices and my disinterest in a lot of what's on the shelf has meant I'm becoming increasingly keen on reprints and back-issues these days.

Back-issues are those bagged and boarded comics someone else was saving, believing they'd pay for a car or semester of college at some point. "Old Comics", I guess, most of which are worth nothing, others are worth more. Reprints are collections of that same material.

Oh, Jimmy Olsen, what freakish bull@#$% are you up to this issue?

It may also be a time issue. In Arizona, I genuinely DID have time to scour the internet and find new comics. Less so these days, so when I do stumble across something cool, like "The Stuff of Legend", I'm far more impressed and surprised. And part of me knows my tastes are also getting a little more focused as I try to figure out (sigh) even more about Superman comics.

I know.

There's 70-odd years of the stuff out there now. And that's not a bad thing. That just gives me something to do for a couple of decades while I catch up, both by reading reprints, and by filling out my own Superman collection of original print issues (which, yes, I do read).

And, no, I have absolutely no idea how many Superman stories I've read in my lifetime. Let us say its been lots and lots. But there are literally thousands more out there, when one considers two major Superman titles and the ancillary titles that each had long lives of their own (Superboy, Supergirl, Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, Adevnture/ Legion, etc...). So there's plenty to keep me busy.

I love the prestige reprints, such as the new "DC Comics Classics Library", but would point you first to the super-affordable "Showcase Presents" format, which collects 500 pages of comics for about $15. That's a whole hell of a lot of whatever character you want to check out, and they've covered all sorts of characters, from the obvious (Batman) to the less so (Elongated Man). Not bad when one considers the cost of those back issues (36-48 pages) ranges from $2 - $250,000.

Anyway, all this talk is inspired by the issues I was able to pick up and some Flash reprints that showed up in the mail last week. So I'm going to go read some comics.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Cleaner Office

The League considers how much Windex he's going to need

I hadn't cleaned my office in roughly a year. It was in pretty bad shape.

It's still not, technically, clean. But it is straightened up. And for Leaguers who've been to League HQ, you know that there's a certain domino effect in that office.

Anyhoo... it's at a point that I'd like to maintain until the Holidays, when I get several days off and can actually get out the lemon oil and whatnot and get the Fortress of Ineptitude (as Jason calls it) polished to a high sheen.

The thing is, I actually really like cleaning all of this stuff. It gives me a chance to actually look at what I consider to be a fairly decent collection of superhero whatzits. These days, I don't get to spend nearly the time I once did. That's in comparison to our sojourn in Arizona, when polishing my batmobile collection was much of what I did do with my weekends. Here there is actually stuff to do, and I have friends who aren't in the Justice League, and so time is a different sort of commodity.

the basic layout at League HQ

All of this to say, I posted twice this weekend. Read that. Nothing this evening.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The McRib, Donating to Medicine, Superman Rights, and... Really, America?

I was just looking through some e-mail, and realized I had not posted on any of the following items. Many of these things were sent my way by Randy.

The McRib Flowchart

I have taken some good old fashioned McRibbing over my annual pilgrimage to McDonald's for the McRib sandwich. The McRib is a sort of pressed pork patty which McDonald's decided, during the coked-up early 1980's, in a form which was actually rib shaped. For whatever reason, the circular nature of the hamburger (no doubt also from a press) is seen as the natural shape for all the parts of a cow you'd never consume normally. But forcing those same unspeakable parts into a shape resembling something from nature... draws the ire of both God and man.

But I like it. Really, its the sauce, onions and pickles I like, and maybe the big bun. And I am not alone. Apparently there are McRib fanatics who McDonald's appeases with the annual, month-long release of the McRib, usually right around the Holiday Season.

Anyhow, did a pretty good bit on The McRib. I invite you to check it out.

Sent by both Randy and Jamie

Glenn Beck is right!

Glenn Beck has founded his 912 Project, which I am just really enjoying.

Principle 7 is one I am really, really going to get behind.

7. I work hard for what I have and I will share it with who I want to. Government cannot force me to be charitable.

Which is why The League of Melbotis supports:

Leaguers, nothing makes me sadder than a stripper with low self-esteem. How can a sad-eyed stripper feel a sense of real worth in this world unless she's swinging some DD's? bridges the gap between those unfortunate, modestly busty souls and the folks who really want to believe in a bustier world. Also, those same boob-lovin' folks can buy credits to get an opportunity to speak to the women whose boobs they are embiggening.

This is the free market at work, Leaguers, and why I say thee nay when it comes to healthcare reform in the U.S. If our penniless strippers can make it work, then so can YOU.* That is, if its not just girls doing the old mail-order bride scheme with twist.

By purchasing those credits, you're not just handing a stripper a pile of cash, they're sort of working for it. By maybe talking to you. Which, you know, they would normally never do.

All this right-thinking Americanism just brings me back to principle #1.

1. America Is Good.

You took the words right out of my mouth, Glenn Beck.

Thanks to Randy for the link. The "free implants" link, not Glenn Beck.

Superman Rights to Siegels

JimD, Nathan C. and Randy all sent me links to news regarding a recent ruling that decided that material in Action Comics up to issue #4 was not "work-for-hire" by Siegel and Shuster, and so rights to a few more elements of the Superman property are reverting to the widow of writer Jerry Siegel and his daughter.

By way of explanation, Joe Shuster was the artist who co-created Superman. He has passed, leaving one heir, who also subsequently passed, leaving the Shuster's possible portion of the rights unclaimed.

The decision is a pretty big deal, honestly. Short article here.

The court ruled, for the most part, that the Siegels successfully recaptured most of the works at issue, including those first two weeks of daily Superman strips, as well as key sections of early Action Comics and Superman comics. This means the Siegels, repped by Warners' nemesis Marc Toberoff, now control depictions of Superman's origins from the planet Krypton, his parents Jor-El and Lora, Superman as an infant, the launching of the baby Superman into space and his landing on Earth in a fiery crash.

But Krypto still belongs to DC, you conniving Siegels! And without him, you have nothing!!!


(cough cough wheeeez)

I have very mixed feelings in regards to the entire issue. I do feel that National/ DC/ Warner Bros. didn't handle things as smoothly as they could have for decades. That's fairly well-documented. On the other hand, from a business standpoint, its not too hard to see how and why DC thought they were doing the right thing.

Unfortunately for Siegel and Shuster, they were kids with no legal expertise trying to get their foot in the door.

I recommend reading "Men of Tomorrow" for a much better account of the whole story. To keep it short, Siegel's wife and daughter have every reason to bear a grudge regarding what happened to Jerry.

It's not so much a big win for creators that Siegel's family won the rights, as the situation seems so unique, and lawyers became much smarter about this stuff as time passed. But it is a win for Siegel, even if it comes well after his death. Wherever Siegel and Shuster are, I have no doubt they're having a good laugh at Harry Donenfeld and Jack Liebowitz's expense.

My primary concern (and I've said this before) is that the Siegels are probably very good people, but they also haven't spent the past 70 years managing the business of Superman. As much as I hope my Superman purchases alone would put Joanne Siegel in ermine and diamonds (and they could), I think they'd be wise to find some deal to license Superman back to WB, and ensure they get to see the ledger sheets.

I have a sneaking suspicion that DC will find a way to make this work and everyone winds up happy.

The King of Pop at Target

I know that nobody ever proved that Michael Jackson actually molested any of the children he gave wine and had sleeping in his bed, but...

I was at Target today buying some cat food, and couldn't help but notice that (a) the record section had an endcap display full of Michael Jackson CD's, and (b) that the Junior's section had three separate Michael Jackson shirts available.

Sure, its tough talking to your kids about the unsavory business that took Michael Jackson from curiosity of a fading star to pariah. But, you know, we learn from tales such as these. Not by sweeping everything under the rug because a dude passed and your kids just found out about "Wanna Be Startin' Something".

I don't know how things work in Minneapolis, but I am failing to wrap my head around what occurred here at the highest corporate level. But, you know, whatever sells.

*Shake that booty, Jason.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Preview released for "Superman: Secret Origin"

It is most likely that my colleagues who grew up in the 1980's and knew much of comics take it as common knowledge that the reboot of Superman by Marv Wolfman and John Byrne is a superior and better imagined version of The Man of Steel. As with all kids, we looked upon the old with contempt and the new with a belief in its obvious superiority as the new that it may not always have earned.

Unfortunately, the attitudes we pick up as kids are often not reflected upon again in a way that perhaps older eyes might look upon a bit more kindly (and, well, maybe spending as much time as an adult as I pondering upon Superman is not something you do). In the 1980's re-boot, much was lost in regards to the 48 years of comics which had painted a vast history for the Man of Steel. No membership in The Legion of Super-Heroes left the concept of the super-teens of the future adrift. Smallville became an idyll oft referred to, but seemed to hollow out Lana Lang and reduce the point of Pete Ross immeasurably.

And, of course, the 1980's reboot greatly aged Lex Luthor and dropped any notion that Clark and Lex may have known one another in their formative years.

All of this will sound "wrong" to my fellow Gen-X'ers, and that's okay, I suppose. However, there's a kind of mythology the Superman comics began working with, especially beginning in the 1950's, that drove a thousand stories.

Almost as quickly as Wolfman and Byrne had launched their version, the comics began trying to rebuild the mythology, only with the trick of keeping the new rules in place (Lex was older, Superman was the only Kryptonian, etc...).

In 2006, the Superman comics were more or less re-touched once again, with elements of the old and new co-mingling very well. However, no definitive origin ever surfaced.

It was just as well. The origin, told before the creative team had made a few creative stabs one way or another, could have once again accidentally painted DC into a corner from which they could not be free to return to favored ideas, find new concepts, etc...

But three years on, there is a new mini-series coming, once again from one of DC's top-flight talents, and one with no small skill at reinterpreting DC Comics for a modern audience.

The team which brought you "Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes" and "Brainiac" of Geoff Johns and Gary Frank is soon bringing the re-telling of the first days of Superman's career with "Superman: Secret Origin".

Check out some preview pages here.

As much as I enjoyed "Superman: The Man of Steel" as the first Superman reading I ever took seriously, and Mark Waid and Yu's "Birthright", I'm glad that someone will have the opportunity to do what was unthinkable until three or four years ago and restore the classic mythology in a context which will work for today's reader. Just as I sincerely hope that in 20 years' time, the story will be told again for that generation of readers, returning to the bits that work, and making way for new ideas, tweaks to characterization, etc... which will make the story work for that generation of readers.

Super-hero comics are a unique medium, paralleled only by the soap opera, with an ongoing story that depends upon audience engagement to continue. But unlike soap operas, the origins of each character are as important as Arthur's pulling the sword from the stone, Robin returning from the Crusades to discover his land bespoiled, Hercules' parentage, Achilles' propensity to take a dip... Without those elements as moorings, the "why" of the character gets lost, and we wind up with the 2D cartoon cut-outs of geeks in tights that so often make up the public's idea of a superhero.

Superman could have disappeared into the folds of audience disinterest, but his alien origin, idealized Rockwellian childhood and move to the most modern of American cities is a simple enough story (and is often bandied about when the elbow-patch crowd describes Superman as the ultimate immigrant analog). And while those elements re-appear in no small measure in the pages of the monthly comics, its a good idea to return to those roots, to reach back and see the highlight reel.

And we're lucky enough that DC has put a crew of its most talented on the project.

Should be fun.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Keanu, Superboy, Superdogs

Randy Wants For You To See This.

Randy is wise.

Adventure Comics #1

Tomorrow sees the release of the relaunch of Adventure Comics. For decades, Adventure Comics was up there with Action, Superman, Detective and other National/ DC Comics. It carried a lot of stories, but became well known for the Super-Family and Legion stories. Somewhere along the line they ended Adventure Comics, and added the Super Family title and gave Legion its own title.

After several Legion relaunches in the past few years, I am hoping this stabilizes the futuristic "Legion of Super-Heroes", which is contained as a back-up feature.

The main feature will contain stories of the modern Superboy, Conner Kent. And Krypto, the Superdog. And for that, I am very glad.

Add to it, the writing of Geoff Johns and art of Francis Manapul, and this series has as much potential as any new series from DC in years.

Link here.

Also, it's been this sort of week:

Just, you know, with two dogs.

Here's some more Superman stuff, too.

Dog Days - Day 3

Scout is very smart.

We adore Lucy. She is a sweet and loving dog, and she tries very hard, but we've always known that maybe she wasn't going to be getting into dog-Harvard.

But Scout just decided this evening to know how to fetch. Just sort of watched Lucy and decided "well, I can do that". She is learning her name. She knows where we're trying to guide her. She's cluing into the hints of dwelling with the family.

And, knock on wood, she really seems potty-trained. She just stood at the door and waited for me a few minutes ago after sniffling at my hand for attention.

I know that in a week or two, she and Lucy will not be growling at each other. And we'll be able to introduce her to Cassidy soon enough (I need to do some reading on best practices there).

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Entire Run of Superman Animated Coming in one Package!

In the mid-90's, the Warner Bros. Animated department put their much-loved Batman series on ice and turned to Metropolis as their next port of call.

The cartoon became hugely influential on the comics, which had become mired in the John Byrne/ Marv Wolfman relaunch, quickly missing the forest for the trees. I believe at the time of the cartoon's debut, we had Mullet-Superman who the writers and artists had some kind of funny ideas about what made a Clark Kent for the 1990's. In many ways, its shocking that this era of Superman didn't make me go running from the character altogether.

The cartoon (in addition to my pre-Mullet-tude Superman* reading, the movies, and a few other sources) had as much of an influence on my descent into Super-fandom as anything else. Bruce Timm and crew created an interesting mix of modern-Super elements and classic. Many versions of the characters they created eventually became the standards in the comics (including a redesign of Supergirl which found its way into the comics, and led to the current design). A personal favorite of mine was the handling of Toyman, who they made from a sort of obnoxious mad scientist-type into a creepy little psycho in a plastic doll mask.

You can probably credit voice director Andrea Romano for the insanely good voice acting. Many Superfans consider the voice actors for the program as important to the Superman media world as their movie counter-parts. No doubt Tim Daly was a great mild-mannered Kent and earnest Superman, but the rest were of no small note. While its always sad not to be able actually see Dana Delany, her Lois is now iconic, just as Clancy Brown's baritone Lex Luthor exemplified arrogance and malevolence. I was also quite fond of David Kaufman as Jimmy Olsen, Corey Burton as Brainiac, Malcolm McDowell as Metallo... Anyway, this will get boring very quickly.

Bruce Timm imported the same blocky character design he had developed in the later seasons of Batman: The Animated Series. This worked terrifically well during cross-overs with Batman, btw (I highly recommend the "World's Finest" 3-episode run. Just great stuff.). Metropolis was imagined as an art-deco city of tomorrow, with freeways running between the skyscrapers and the ground often not in view, perhaps in homage to Fritz Lang's film "Metropolis".

I know many folks want to draw some parallels to the 1940's era Fleischer cartoons, and there are some similarities in aspects of the background design, but the 1990's Superman series borrows only loosely from those cartoons, mostly in how some of the action is choreographed and the occasional prop, such as giant airplane, etc...

The episodes tended to introduce villains as new and unique challenges for Superman, with recurring villain Lex Luthor at the center of Superman's world. However, DC Animated also brought The New Gods to television with the entire cast of cult characters and in a bit of inspired stunt casting, Ed Asner as Granny Goodness (and Michael Ironside as "Darkseid", but that's kind of a "well, who else are you going to cast as Darkseid?" option).

But the series also introduced Superman's rogues gallery, a group a lot less well-known than Batman's crew of villains. Toyman, The Parasite, Brainiac, Bizarro, Metallo, Mxyzptlk (perfectly cast with Gilbert Gottfried), Jax-Ur, etc... but also created at least one new villain with "Livewire", who has since made her way into the comics.

The show also introduced other DC heroes, including Steel, Kyle Rayner Green Lantern, The Flash, Aquaman and more.

Soon, you will be able to order/ rent/ etc... the Superman Animated series in its entirety. Here.

For those of you with Lil' Leaguers in tow, this might be a fine investment. While Superman doesn't have the pop-culture cache of Spider-Man or Batman, I think the cartoon series makes it pretty clear why Superman is a great character, and not the barrel chested cookie cutter superhero that most people assume.

What's often forgotten is that the series actually had a pretty neat line of toys, that found different gadgets, etc... with which to equip the Man of Steel. I have a small collection of the toys, myself, Bizarro being a personal favorite.

The series didn't last very long (less than 60 episodes, I think), and folded into the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited cartoons, both of which continued the same narrative started in Batman: The Animated series.

*I should point out that the hair wasn't so much the issue as the sort of dull, working-stiff take on Superman that seemed to permeate the post-Death of Superman era. Superman more or less just felt like a stand-in for any generic superhero, only surrounded by the trappings of the Super-verse.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Superman: Cartoons, Commies, Movie Rumor Repeat, Conspiracy!

80's Superman Cartoon Coming to DVD

In 1988, Ruby-Spears, who was responsible for a lot of the animation folks my age grew up on, put out a Superman cartoon. I've never had opportunity to see it except as clips on YouTube.

It seems that either Austin didn't carry the show, or I wasn't rising early enough on Saturday to catch it. At any rate, the show didn't last long, and has largely been forgotten.

WB's Home Video group must know that the Superman contingency will buy anything with the "S" on it, because they do, in fact, have a steady stream of these sorts of things that have been coming out of the vault since around '03.

According to The Superman Homepage
, the cartoon is getting its due and coming to Home Video in November.

I'm 34 and have a mortgage, so its pretty obvious I should care a lot about this sort of thing, I would think.

Anyway, yes, this thing will find its way into The League's official Superman Library.

Here's the opening for the show.

Italian Commies Love Superman

Apparently Italian Communists have stumbled across Mark Millar's re-telling of the Superman mythos, "Red Son", in which an infant Superman lands in a Stalinist Collective Farm instead of Kansas. Raised in that sort of parallel world of Russia we all learned about from movies like "Firefox" (which was awesome), Kal-El becomes a great Commie Benefactor to his Commie People, fighting off Capitalist Pigs like Lex Luthor (whose wife, Lois, carries a torch for the barrel chested bread-line-stander).

In our actual world, having not learned that Communism failed or turned into N. Korea, the Italian Communist Party (again, this part is real, not a comic) has adopted the Hammer and Sickle Super-Emblem and artwork from the comic for their very own. Luckily, the commies are looking to make a buck off the shirts.

I'd buy that for a lira!

Much more on this here.

It is clear the Commies are failing. They do not offer the shirt in the more prosperous sizes I would need to fit into one of their T's.

Viva America!

Superman Fans Are Panicky Tools

So there's a rumor going around that the next Superman feature will be helmed by the Wachowski Bros., who lost Warner Bros. an untold fortune with the epic fail that was "Speed Racer". Here.

What nobody seems to notice is that this is the same rumor from February. That was debunked back then.

That hasn't kept the Super-nerds from totally freaking out.

Superman of the Muslim Persuasion?

I assure you, if you're a DC fan and don't buy into wing-nut conspiracy theories, this is hilarious.

from our Canadian Friend, Simon.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?

Nathan C. sent me this story from

The article discusses the classic Superman story, "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?", now collected in hardcover by DC Comics.

This will seem odd to folks who don't follow comics, but in 1986, DC decided to "reboot" their comics, believing that the then 50 years of history were a problem for storytelling as well as bringing in new readers to comics.

Editor Julius Schwartz hired an up and coming comic-writer from across the pond by the name of Alan Moore. Moore would set about telling a story about the last battle for Superman. It's an oddly melancholy story, and one of my favorites for many reasons (including Curt Swan's phenomenal art).

Anyhow, you guys probably don't care too much, but I'd remiss if I didn't mention the article as it discusses the reissue of not just a great Superman tale, but the drawing to a close of one of America's original myths.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Coal to Diamond, Marvel does good, Jake Lloyd, Facebook

Can Superman Make Diamonds from Coal?

Thanks to JimD who sent this along:

Legendary question-answer man, Cecil, takes on the old Superman trick of using Super-strength to squeeze coal with so much pressure, it becomes a diamond.

The Straight Dope

While its understandable why one would want to find ways to make diamonds to impress Annette O'Toole (the trick was employed in the Pryor-rich Superman III), this was also done in the comics in the Silver Age. But Superman also used to fly so fast he would travel through time, and regularly destroy landmarks (and super-rebuild them) just to mess with Lois's head. So, you know...

Marvel Does Some Geek Good

Well, this is blowing my mind. In the 1980's, there was a comic on the stands called, alternately, "Marvelman" and "Miracle Man". The character may have the most complicated publishing history in comics, and I highly recommend you read the Wikipedia entry, as its quite fascinating. A knock-off of Captain Marvel for England (as Captain marvel had been a knock-off of Superman from a Mid-Western publisher), the character became caught up in some pretty serious legal disputes in the late 1990's or so, and has been in limbo ever since. This has meant no reprints, and odd stabs from different creators who've claimed they owned bits and pieces of Marvelman to put out product.

Creators with names like Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore have not just made their mark, but had ownership privileges, and its all led to Marvelman gaining a reputation as the best comic many comic readers haven't just never read, but which was impossible to obtain. To actually buy the back issues to read the series is prohibitively expensive.

Or was.

Apparently, Marvel just decided to cut checks to all involved and has purchased the rights to Marvelman.


This most likely means reprints and new material and a bunch of comic nerds in their early 30's and 20's who are now waiting for announcements about the reprints.

Well done, Marvel! I've only been waiting since about 1995 to read these stories.

Here's Jake Lloyd, the guy who played Anakin Skywalker in "The Phantom Menace"

He turned into a bitter nerd kid. Awesome.


By the way, if you aren't a fan yet on Facebook, I'm actually using the thing. There's a bit of what I'd call Bonus Content. Plus, you get comments, etc... from folks who are coming in by way of Facebook.

Anyhow, use that box over there on the left and join up! Facebook is free and mostly not-scary.