Just a perfect kick-off right there, and the rest of Superman Adventures #33 is just terrific.
Just a perfect kick-off right there, and the rest of Superman Adventures #33 is just terrific.
Everyone likes to go dancing with their friends, but when a famous DJ comes to Metropolis’s biggest after-hours “rave” party, Jimmy Olsen becomes…Lost In The K-Hole!
Superman’s Girl Friend has traveled through time and space, seeing things that nobody else could imagine, but is even she ready to join the newest outsider movement and become Lois Lane: Cyberpunk Princess?
Superman has his hands full thanks to an automotive club where thrills are more important than safety and a quest to finish first leads his pal to the other side of the world in Jimmy Olsen: Tokyo Drifter!
Your mom and dad sure wouldn’t “get” the new wave of girl groups cropping up around the country, but one reporter gets in deeper than she expected when she fronts up and coming band L7! Find out what happens when Lois Lane Joins…The “Riotgrrl” Movement!
Being Superman’s pal has made Jimmy Olsen the most famous teenager on the planet, but is even he prepared for the fireworks when MTV comes to Metropolis and Pauly Shore Steals Lucy Lane?
Superman finds himself with a new rival for Lois Lane’s affections when the future of law enforcement joins the Metropolis police department! Can the last son of Krypton compete When RoboCop Comes To Town?
With all of the recent hullabaloo over New Krypton, it seems like the set-just-after-One Year Later story Camelot Falls has been forgotten completely. This isn’t that surprising, really, as DC decided to release the story very slowly with their now-standard hardcover-to-paperback program that means that for a while, you could get the softcover version of Volume 1 of the story with the hardcover of volume 2. Despite being pretty interested in the contents, I opted to be my usual stubborn self and waited until this week’s release of the second half in softcover. Great job, everyone involved! Get that last half out while any interest in the book is a dying ember, alone in the dark night.
In Camelot Falls Busiek’s straightforward, mannerly scripting works very nicely with Carlos Pacheco’s classically-nice art while the plot reminds me of an extended riff from the Superman books of the mid-70s, with the titular character fighting a threat that falls outside of the normal punch-them-until-they-stop oeuvre and dealing with the some previously-unknown repercussions of his arrival on Earth. I really like how Busiek balances his comics in general and he’s doing his best in this one, managing to make the huge (the villain Khyber and the ramifications of his battle with Superman) and minute (Jimmy Olsen getting bawled out by Perry for taking pictures of birds when they’re at lunch) work side-by-side very effectively. It’s a lot of fun and doesn’t require an intimate knowledge of the Superman mythos to get into. In that way, it reminds me of what I like about Up, Up, And Away – any trivia you might know about the DC Universe adds to the experience, but not knowing it doesn’t detract from the story being told one bit.
So, Jeff Robinov, president of the Warner Brothers Pictures Group, tells reporter that they’re going to make Superman “darker” in their upcoming new film that they hope relaunches the franchise.
“Darker” isn’t necessarily something I associate with Superman.
However, “complex” is, and I get the feeling that Rubinov may have conflated the two.Â Superman’s strength as a character, once you get past the Depression-era common-man power fantasies and Silver Age weirdness, lies in the fact that he is actually hampered by the fact he can do almost anything.Â His ethical center (and all-American upbringing, natch) forces him to be restrained.Â While he could easily take over the world and rule with an iron fist, he doesn’t – he provides a touchstone, a guidepost for us.Â (And the other heroes in a shared comics universe, but let’s switch over to the single-character, movie-friendly take.) He’s also bound to a morality that forces him to work within the law, unlike Batman or even Spider-Man, and has to take the high road, which is likely to be very difficult when you can shoot lasers from your eyes with an offhand thought.
This connects with Superman’s biggest villain and best cinematic rival: Lex Luthor. While the Luthor/Superman conflict may be a bit played out on film at the moment, I could argue that the core of their animosity makes for a compelling central point that the movie audience could relate to with very few changes from the source material. Luthor’s a regular human being who is convinced that this alien has to have an ulterior motive – that no one is as perfect and ethical, as good as this man appears to be. He may be a criminal, true, but it takes Superman to drive him to the outlandish lengths he goes to, as seen in comics like Action 510-512, where the man brainwashes himself and becomes the Kryptonian’s BFF just so he can betray him. I feel like the hammy, if enjoyable, performances by Hackman and Spacey probably should be left behind and remembered fondly and replaced with something a bit more reserved and mannered, where the nastiness comes across as that much more brutal.
The irony of an alien representing the best we have, fighting against the worst isn’t lost on me, and hopefully won’t be lost on the filmmakers. If played properly, this struggle would make for drama at least as interesting as the whole baby daddy thing (and the attendant stalkerism) that muted a great deal of my affection for Superman Returns once I got past the atmosphere and feel of the piece.
Mind you, I’d pay non-matinee prices for a proper Superman vs Braniac vs Metallo brawl with lots of destructoporn if it looked like it had half a brain.
I’d also be happy if they went a bit Morrison and reduced the origin story to eight words over a montage and started with Clark Kent walking into the Daily Planet at the start of just another day. I doubt they’ll go that way, as producers and screenwriters and directors love to do “their” take on the origin, but at this point, the audience that’s going to see Superman knows the broad strokes by heart, if not through the comics or the movies, then through Smallville. Spending time on an actual Superman story versus remaking the first (fantastic) hour of Donner’s movie means that the screenplay gets a chance to hook the audience properly and, hopefully, touch on some of the themes I mentioned. (I liked the flashbacks to Kansas in Superman Returns a lot, is what I’m trying to say, and think that’s all the viewers need at this point.)
Finally, I’d really, really appreciate it if they’d cut back the Christ Metaphor stuff a bit. We get it. Also, I always thought the Moses angle worked a bit better.
Attempting to craft a “new” take on the Legion of Super-Heroes is one of those things that only the truly ambitious or overly continuity-mindful writers attempt. This means, of course, that Geoff Johns was obviously raring to go. However, a lot of credit must go to his efforts here. Novice readers who are only vaguely familiar with the Legion will find this story (in which Superman is flung to the 31st Century to help bring order back to the United Planets) remarkably easy to jump into. While having a little bit of Legion background can help, the author (assisted ably by letterer Rob Leigh) provides brief blurbs to get everyone started as quickly as possible. It’s an approach that’s a bit akin to the JLA character rundown at the beginning of each trade paperback from the 1997 series where everybody got the same sort of description with roughly the same number of words, from Aztek to Batman.
Early on in the story, Johns comes up with a neat way to eliminate the usual “Superman could probably take care of this whole mess in a couple minutes” problem by very deliberately removing his powers. While it’s been done before, it’s always nice to see that Kal-El is still fearless and determined, even when he’s no longer invulnerable and able to shoot high-powered death lasers from his eyes.
Gary Frank’s art starts off a bit rough, particularly on the lead, but he soon asserts himself very well after just saying “Fuck it, I’m going to draw Christopher Reeve as Superman.” He’s always been a very steady sort of artist, without any need for too-fancy layouts or much in the way of forced on-page dynamics, but his work here really breaks out quite a bit. There’s some genuinely pleasing moments that are made downright epic thanks to Frank’s on-page choices. He’ll never be a Kirby or Buscema, but his depictions of action feel very right, and work nicely with The Legion, somewhat sympatico with the Giffen era on the title.
Notice should also be given to the costume redesigns, which are well thought-out and actually a quite bit better than Kitson’s, even if I think the boobhatch for Dawnstar is a bit much. (Yes, I know she’s never been modest, but cleavage that’s exposed for no practical reason is dull after a while.)
I always like it when a superhero comic has moments that make me go a bit fanboy, and this managed to do it several times. Braniac 5′s ego is just this side of outright parody for a key scene, and an important reveal is all the better for it. Similarly, a single sound effect “splok” gave a hilarious action scene just the right bit of kickoff. It’s rare that I get that visceral charge from a superhero comic, and Johns has consistently delivered them in the post-Infinite Crisis material that I’ve read, which includes Superman: Up, Up, and Away, The Sinestro Corps War and this1.
That said, Superman And The Legion Of Super-Heroes does sometimes show where Johns is lacking the touch he brings to superhero mythology. There’s a grating amount of hamfisted xenophobia that makes 80s Claremont look practically restrained, down to Nazi-style armbands, and while the villains are certainly good at doing the “threat and menace” bit, they’re very two-dimensional with the exception of the excruciatingly-named Earth-Man, who has a bit more depth because he actually has something to lose if Superman and his pals win.
One could question the need for yet another version of the Legion, but at this point, it’s sort of a wash. Apparently, there’s some big transdimensional hoo-hah that’s going to happen and considering Johns’s place with the publisher, I suspect this edition of the continually-rebooted superteam will be the new status quo, which is fine by me, the one guy2 who likes the Legion but isn’t obsessive about their continuity.
1 Superman: Last Son was flawed (too derivative of cowriter Donner’s film versions, some awkward art by Kubert) but still kept my interest with its assault of Big Things Happening. It was like a Michael Bay Superman film without the 10,000 microcuts in the action scenes.
2 Yes, I know there’s more of you out there.