Wednesday, May 30, 2007

You know, you could market the book to young girls.

For the last couple of years, Supergirl has looked like this:

Soon she will look like this:

Like an actual healthy teenage girl. It's so crazy it just might work! You can see more of Renato Guedes' great work here. I swear, if the writing is anything short of outright suck, I'm buying every issue for my niece.

Thank you, DC.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Perry White went all funny in the head in his later years

Folks who know the score: Mark Millar

I'm generally not a Mark Millar fan, but when he does Superman, I love him like me dear old mother. Most of Mark Millar's work on Superman was with the Superman Adventures title. He wrote twenty issues or so, and most of them have been collected in little digest sized books available on the cheap, so you should definitely get them. Most of them are single issue stories that, more than anything else, are clever and fun. They feel a lot like the Silver Age Superman despite being the powered down animated version fighting a business man Luthor. Millar understood what made the Silver Age version of the character work and carried it through to his work on this version while playing within the rules given him.

Millar also did some co-writing on the regular titles, but unfortunately those were hampered by all of the titles being tied together too closely and to be honest, an editor who made a lot of bad choices. He never really got to be Mark Millar on Superman there, if you take my meaning.

His most famous work with the character, and one of the most popular Superman stories of the last 20 years. Red Son takes Superman from Kansas and puts him in the USSR at the height of the Cold War. It doesn't change who Superman is though. He's still a hero, and he still just wants to help. It's really good, and the ending is perfect. My favorite thing in it is the Luthor we see here. Beyond brilliant and absolutely obsessed. This is a perfect Luthor.

Millar's not really done a straight up Superman story, and he's still managed to knock it out of the park multiple times. That is very impressive, and really makes me look forward to when he can do a Superman story featuring all the classic elements in place.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Farrell backwards is Llerraf

The latest in my series of sculptures by artist extraordinaire Mr Farrell.

He makes me laugh. Which is exactly what he is supposed to do.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Folks who know the score: Kurt Busiek

Busiek's not done what I'd call a lot of work with Superman (though he's spent the last couple of years with him, so that's changing). Secret Identity, his post-Infinite Crisis work on the main titles, his JLA work; that may be it, I'm not certain. But those were all very much a Superman that I knew. He's confident, he's no one's fool, and he's got a certain grace about the way he handles his power. He realizes he's an outsider, but he's not detached. Honestly, more than anything, what makes me appreciate Busiek's Superman is that he's just a likable guy.

One of Busiek's most popular works with Superman is Secret Identity. A kid in the 'real world' named Clark Kent discovers one day that he has the powers of his comic namesake, and learns what it means to use those powers to help others. I'm not doing it justice in that lame little summary, but it's one of those rare stories you hear a lot of comic fans say, "I don't usually like Superman, but I really liked that."

The ongoing Superman titles are the best they've been in a very long time, and Kurt's a big part of that. He wrote one of my favorite Superman/Luthor confrontations ever. Superman comes back after a year and finds Luthor being Luthor, and calls him on all his boasting which, in short, went something like this, "You said you could cure diseases, make the world a better place, but I was in the way. Well I was gone for a year, what have you done?" And the way he wrote the Parasite in Superman 657-658 will break your heart.

Oh, you know what else Kurt did? He made the Prankster an interesting character without betraying what he's always been. The Prankster! He made him cool! Without taking away what makes him silly and fun! Obviously, that leaves only one conclusion to draw about Kurt Busiek.

He's a witch.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Folks who know the score: Otto Binder

There is no way to nail down one definitive version of Superman. Comic writers, film directors, voice actors and just about every other kind of artist you can think of have added something the character and his world. I think the best way to enjoy Superman is to take all the bits you like best and make your own. There are lots of creators who have a hand in 'my' Superman, and I'm going to go on about them frequently.

I love beat up old comics

I grew up in the 80s, a time when superhero comics were taking themselves pretty seriously. Fortunately, I was reading comics that weren't afraid to be fun; beat up old Superman funnybooks printed in the 60s and 70s. They were full of concepts that were crazy and silly and completely impossible for a kid to not love. And Otto Binder was responsible for so many of my favorite ones.

There are few creators in all of Superman's 70 years that have had a hand in the creation of so many of the key elements of the Superman universe. With various artists, (usually Curt Swan, Kurt Schaffenburger, or Al Plastino) Binder created; Krypto, Supergirl, Beppo, Bizarro, the Legion of Superheroes, Zod and the Phantom Zone, Elastic Lad, Brainiac, Kandor and a ton of other things.* He was also there at the beginnings of Lois and Jimmy's solo titles.

Binder was famous for his work at Fawcett on the Captain Marvel family of characters and a number of prose sci-fi stories with his brother Earl, but it's what he did for Superman that makes me love him so. If you like a Superman story from the Silver Age, there's a very good chance something in it originated with Binder and his amazing imagination. For me he represents everything that is fun about Superman, which is why I started this blog to begin with.

This is a pretty short entry, but honestly I could write page after page and it would fall short of what he deserves. He is woefully under appreciated.

*Like Brainiac's pet space monkey Koko. Who is awesome and I will hear no different.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Luthor, you cagey so and so!

(click for larger image)

I know I was just whining about writers ignoring the genius in intellect aspect of Superman, but still, that's pretty freaking funny.

Why do so many writers ignore the first one?

Not only is genius there, it's first on the list.

Mr Farrell is a genius

"Has anyone in the DCU ever suggested the story of Rumplestilskin was about a 5th dimensional imp (Rmplstlskn)?

I mean, he's got a "banished by his own name" thing right there!"

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Lost Loves

Some one noticed once that Superman's girlfriends Lois Lane and Lana Lang had the same initials as his male arch enemy Lex Luthor. Then a thousand sick fangirls wrote stories about them having make outs. (Then Smallville came along and validated their fantasies. I swear, any given scene between Welling and Rosenbaum look they're fighting the urge to jump each others bones with every ounce of their being.) But because Say It Backwards has no desire to see Supeman with his tongue in a bald guy's mouth, we're gonna talk about the other LLs.

Lovely Lady
Lana Lang, Superboy's high school sweetheart who was pretty much exactly to Superboy what Lois was to Superman; always trying to win his love and figure out his secret identity. In the original continuity she'd eventually come to Metropolis and become a television reporter where she competed for Supes affections with Lois regularly. After the revamp she loved Clark, but eventually moved on to marry (and divorce) Pete Ross.
Superman felt he couldn't marry because it'd endanger his wife, so she was left pining.

Lovely Lady
Linda Lee, the secret identity of Kara Zor-El, Supergirl. His cousin.
Sadly it took a law to make it happen. Ew.

Lovely Lady
Lori Lemaris, Superman's college girlfriend. When he meets her she's in wheelchair, her legs always covered. They fall in love, and he eventually discovers she's a mermaid. Proving he's the least shallow guy ever, he tells her he doesn't care and is willing to give up being Superman to be with her.
She's a freaking fish.

Lovely Lady
Lyrica Lloyd, the movie star. After some one notices Clark Kent looks quite a bit like Supes, they cast him in a movie about Superman starring opposite Lyrica. He falls in love with her, and even reveals his secret identity to her.
While filming in Africa she caught a "jungle disease" which was killing her. I think Spike Lee made a movie about it.

Lovely Lady
Lyla Lerrol, the movie star from another world. Way back when, Superman used to jump around in time quite frequently. It was like going to the corner store for milk for him. And on one of his trips back to Krypton he met and fell in love with the most famous actress on Krypton, Lyle Lerrol.
She lived in the past on a planet that blew up. Long distance relationships never work.

Lovely Lady
Luma Lynai, the superwoman. Supergirl felt bad that Superman could not be with some one because she'd be a target for villains, so she went out and found some one who could defend herself, a superhero from another world. Who happened to look exactly like her.
The creepy police clamped down on the whole situation. Or she couldn't live on or Earth or something. I don't know, i couldn't get past the super-incest over tones.

Lovely Lady
Lois Lane. You know Lois Lane. She's in all the movies and cartoons. Always chasing after Supes, and Supes always fearing for her life.
They didn't. They got hitched. It's very sweet.

Unless you ask Bryan Singer, but nobody asked you, buddy.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Eric Powell doing Superman is such an odd thought

Powell writes and draws the Goon. It's about a disfigured thug running a mob racket while beating on zombies and monsters and mad scientists. It's one of the few comics I've ever read that has made me laugh out loud. The guy can draw anything and I'm really looking forward to this. His first issue (of a three issue stint) is Action #855, due at the end of August. Written by Geoff Johns and Richard Donner, a team that's doing a fun story that Kubert's gumming up the works on and kicked ass on the Action Comics Annual they did (number 10, if you wanna see for yourself).

That's a great image. The arc's a Bizarro story that has Darkseid in it. I'm very excited. Here, have some promo stuff cribbed from Wizard's web site so you don't have to dirty your browser with it-

“I do try to get that iconic feeling across with him. I don’t try to modernize him or hip him up in any way. I want my interpretation to have a classic feel. He is a timeless character, and I don’t think that should be messed with or [made] contemporary. Remember when they gave him a mullet in the ’90s? Oh, I’m not doubting the rockin’ power of a truly superb mullet...but not on Superman."

“I’m not for the new trend of making characters more real, aka boring, by making them unfantastic. Superhero comics are pulp adventure stories. They are supposed to be a little nutty. So of course I see Lex as a psychopath mad-scientist billionaire hell-bent on world domination."

God bless you, Eric Powell.

I feel like I should warn Donner about possible letterbombs

Because this is a manifesto typed in a secluded cabin some where if I ever saw one. And if you get the reference in how he signed it, you are a giant nerd.*

(This link was sent to me by the always awesome Mr Farrell.) A frustrated nerd sees Superman II - The Richard Donner Cut (which is a fun little novelty that you should check out) and it angries up his blood somethin' fierce, so he proceeds to tell Donner what Donner really meant and make up his own edit of the film.

Thing is, the stuff he's putting together is really neat, and I'd love to see the finished project. But he takes it so seriously, and he's utterly humorless about it. It's like he took the Donner Cut as a personal insult towards several generations of his family.

Still, I wish you Godspeed, Crazy McEditorguy. Godspeed.

*Yes, I realize I have to be a giant nerd to point it out. Shut up.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Stealing from sick kids.

My nephew's in the hospital and whenever he completes his physical therapy they give him a sticker.

I totally stole that one from him.

Well, not really, he saved that one for me because he knows I like Superman. He's a very sweet kid some times.

But I totally would have wanted to steal it.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Doghouse of Solitude.

I love Krypto. When I was a kid the only thing that was almost as appealing to me as being Superboy was having his dog. He's just fun; a dog in a cape who spent his time exploring space, but was absolutely loyal to you and was always there to play with you and help you when you needed him. To me he represents a time when the Superman writers were absolutely unashamed of doing things to make kids love Superman.

Krypto's first appearance was a Superboy story in Adventure Comics 210 by Otto Binder and Curt Swan, two men responsible for so much of the Silver Age Superman mythos. Binder created Supergirl, The Legion of Super Heroes, and even Beppo. Swan, well, he's synonymous with Superman.

Krypto was fired into space by Jor El in a test rocket as a puppy. His rocket was knocked off course, and didn't drift to earth until Superboy was in his teens and Krypto himself was a full grown dog. At the end of that story Krypto leaves Earth to run around in space, but eventually he'd come back. Superboy gave him collar and cape with the S shield on them, and Krypto learned to aid him in helping people. He spent most of his time in space, but he did stay with the Kents occasionally. He had a secret identity, too; the Kents dog Skip who put a big brown spot on his back as a disguise. Which I think is brilliant.

He had human level intelligence and all of Superman's powers; flight, strength, zappy eyes and all that jazz. He even had a super-bark.

Krypto was a member of the Legion of Super Pets and The Canine Space Patrol, both animal crime fighting groups. Things like that John Byrne referred to as barnacles that needed scraping off when it came time to revamp Superman in the 80s. A sense of fun was also a barnacle, it seems, so for about 16 or 17 years there was no Krypto. He was finally brought back into regular continuity as a survivor of a Krypton manufactured by Brainiac. He's appeared in stories occasionally for a while after. Grant Morrison's been using him over in All Star, which is one more reason I love that man to death.

He's been missing in regular continuity stories since the last big crossover mess, but he's still around some where because his absence has been mentioned. I like to think his original origin has been restored since the DC Universe post-crossover is meant to be a whole new continuity. There was a story planned for Superman 659 that featured Krypto and had this great cover-

But it was shelved.

He's got his own show now, though sadly it's not very good. And I don't say that as an old fanboy who expects things intended for children to please me, but as some one who doesn't think kid shows should be dumbed down for kids. They're pretty smart, those little boogers. Still, it's very cool that he even has his own show, I think.

I love Krypto without reserve. I know a lot folks don't, but he wasn't always around, so you can tell your serious stories without worrying about him. Every boy should have a dog. Even a Superboy.

I wonder if is still available is run by Chris Murrin and has lots of cool sketches of Mxy by many artists. My favorite is the one by Amanda Connor.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Some times the rocket lands slightly to the left.

Alternate universe stories are a staple of funnybooks. Things like Elseworlds and Imaginary Stories are used to show takes on the characters that aren't the norm. Sometimes in-continuity stories will have the characters visit a neighboring world where things didn't turn as they did on their own world. Sometimes they're fun, sometimes they suck. But what's cool about most all of them is that they have to take something familiar, make it something new, but still keep it recognizable. Even when the stories suck, I'm often impressed with the design work. So here we have 10 Superman costumes from alternate universes, each more darling than the last.

Just to be nice, we're gonna start off with a good one, Justice Lords Superman. Justice Lords Superman comes from a universe where Superman, fed up with Luthor, finally crosses the line and kills him, his first step towards leading the Justice League into turning the world into a police state. The regular Justice League eventually whoop them down. Man that was a good show. You know why this one works? Because it's simple, and black and white almost always looks cool. And you know it's Superman.

Superman as a Union soldier during the US Civil War. It's okay, I think the "USA" in the shield is clunky and can't help but feel whoever designed really thought they were being clever. The story it's from is pretty dry and has a mild twist towards the end that's supposed to make you think but just seems hacky.

The premise of True Brit was "Wouldn't it be funny if Superman landed in England instead of America?!" The reality of True Brit is "Haha, Superman's drinking tea and his parents are uptight!" John Cleese co-wrote it, they say. He's better than this. The costume's not bad. It's meant to be funny to some degree, but I think it'd only take minor tweaking to make it work as a more straight take on the idea.

Red Son, one of the most popular Superman stories of the last 20 years. I don't like a lot of Millar's work, but he got a lot right in this. Superman's a hero, in the US or the USSR. There were a few artists on this mini, so I don't know who designed this, but it's great. It says Superman and USSR, which is exactly what it should, and it does it simply and effectively. Doesn't hurt that that's a great drawing.

DC can make some very, very poor choices.

"Superman's Metropolis is a DC Comics comic book Elseworlds publication and the first part in a trilogy based on German Expressionism cinema."

It's every bit as pretentious as it sounds. Funny thing about that book, the design work is beautiful and the art is great, they just really, really dropped the ball on Superman himself.

Superman lands on Apokolips and is raised to be a soldier of Darkseid. He wore that armor. It's alright, but you can't see Superman in it, I think.

Superman lands next to the Waynes instead of the Kents, ends up becoming Batman. I like the Batman costume. The Superman one, not so much. And by not so much, i mean not at all. The words 'painfully 90s' come to mind.

One of the most popular Elseworlds ever. An older Superman comes out of retirement after a tragedy to help make the world better again. The costumes only tweaked, no shield on the cape, muted color, black belt and a new version of the shield, but I love this design. It's simple but really fits the world of the story it was in.

Justice Lords was a better take on the Fascist Superman concept, but Brave New Metropolis got there first. Lois is killed, and in his grief Superman cracks down on crime to the point of declaring martial law where he is the dictator and the army. The only thing about this that says Superman is the modified shield and spitcurl, but that's all it seems to need. I think this one is really effective.

This one comes from a universe where Dan Jurgens commits hate crimes against comics and is not punished for it. Sadly, that universe is ours.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

He squeaks when you squeeze him

My mom used to buy me the silliest stuff. I miss her.

The 10 Worst Moments in Superman History, a series

"So this is thing. Superman's a great character and all, but he's missing something. What's that? Guns. Big ones."
Superman At Earth's End

Oooh, Elseworlds. I like those. I've never heard of Tom Vietch or Frank Gomez, though. I wonder what that big metal tumor is.

Is that Superman? He looks very much like my Uncle Bill.

Oh. It is Superman. He's sure become shouty in his old age. And significantly more lungey.

Wait, is he punching some one's guts out while screaming about being a man? Did Frank Miller write this?

My Uncle Bill got like this when he was in his later years. Thought every one with a mustache was his brother Catfish.

Yeah, Bill talked to himself a lot, too.

Batman kept some weird freaking souvenirs.

Uncle Bill repeated the obvious all the time, too. One more of these and my family is suing for royalties.


You know what? Stop it. Stop it right now.

Nazis? Why are there nazis?

If I had a nickel for every time I've had to say that.

Oh, of course. There are Nazis because Hitler and his twin brother are the villains. YOU STOP THIS RIGHT NOW, TOM VIETCH!


Why don't you see if you can find the mortal remains of Tom Vietch's sense of decency while you're in there, Supes.


When did this turn into Republican anti-stem cell propaganda?

Please don't, Superman. Please.

And you did it any way. I SAID PLEASE!

Wait, didn't Superman punch that guys guts outs because they couldn't resolve their ideological differences? Why are you leaving the kids with him?

Yeah, I'd kill myself if I were in this comic, too. Godspeed, Supes.