Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Here there be monsters

I've not been around much, but I couldn't let Halloween go without an update. I love Halloween. Girls dress all skimpy like, I get free candy and I get to hang out with my friend's kids who are my two favorite people in the world.

In celebration of my second favorite holiday, we take a look at a Superman adventure featuring his crazy clone and a famous monster.

God bless Otto Binder for creating Bizarro so we get stories like this.

Our tale begins with a brief explanation of how things work on Htrae, the cube shaped Bizarro World. Things are all crazy like; they celebrate Christmas in July, they build their skyscrapers all crooked like, and so on. Bizarro Number 1, that's the original straight up flawed copy of Superman, is sitting around watching television with Bizarro Lois and the little Bizarros. A comedy comes on and the kids start crying, a horror movies shows they start laughing. Then it happens. An ad for a new Frankenstein film comes on declaring Frankenstein's monster the scariest monster ever. Well our pal Bizarro don't take to that, he thinks he's the scariest monster ever and sets out on his way to Earth to prove it.

Before going to Hollywood to show those fools making the film what's what, Bizarro makes a quick stop to practice his scaring and confirm he's still the champ. By freaking out a yeti. Which is so damned random and hilarious I have coined the new word randlarious to describe it.

By sheer coincidence, Superman is in Hollywood filming a public service announcement to get kids to brush their teeth because hearing it from Supes will convince them. Thing is, they're not hearing it it from Superman, they're hearing it from a puppet of himself he's using instead of saying it on camera himself. Why Superman felt they needed him for that I don't know. Whatever, I'm sure there's a reason for it, Superman's got a super-brain, I don't pretend to be able to understand its amazing thought processes.

Any way, Bizarro finds where they're filming the new Frankenstein flick, and promptly tosses the guy playing Frankenstein out the nearest window. Now you see a lot of crazy stuff on Halloween, but this year you get to say you saw a monster with learning disabilities in a Superman costume throw Frankenstein out of a window. That is my gift to you.

Bizarro then goes on a rampage terrifying every one into realizing he's the number one monster in town. Well, he tries. Poor guy. Things just don't work for him. First he tries to scary some pretty ladies, but...

It seems the girls were under the impression that it was Supes wearing a monster mask as a publicity stunt for the Frankenstein film, so they loved him.

That didn't work out so well, so he'd try again the next movie set over, a western.

I think this may be my single favorite panel ever. That's just freaking funny. Man, those cowboys are jerks. Poor Bizarro.

So why didn't the cowboys panic at the site of Bizarro? You're gonna love this one. Them cats was stoned.


Yeah, Supes, I bet that's why they were chewing it. Bizarro's desperate to get a scare at this point, and at the most politically incorrect point in the comic, he fails to frighten a pair of small children.

"They weren't scared because they're used to looking at fuglies like you, Bizarro!"

Bizarro finally gets his scare when he breaks onto another set and Superman uses static electricity to make the hair of the people there stand on end and playing a sound effects record full of screams. Convinced that's he's proven he's the scariest monster, he goes home to traumatize his children. After all, on Htrae it's December 24th, Halloween eve.

Now go beg for candy and find the most sincere pumpkin patch you can.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

I know, I know

I updated multiple times a day for something like a week and then disappeared. Sorry, I just had one of the worst weeks I've had in a long time. I'll start posting again soon. Until then, Zhinxy said I should play the happiness meme. So I'll do that. Some random things that have made me happy, and in the interest of not venturing off topic, as many will be Superman related as I can think of.

After wanting him for months I finally, FINALLY, have the pain in the ass to find Cyborg Superman figure, finishing up my collection of DC Superheroes Superman characters.

Busiek's Superman. So damned good.

The recent Johns/Powell Bizarro world arc in Action Comics 855-857. Great art! The return of Htrae! Superman vision! I really had fun with that arc.

The recent batch of comments I've received that have said "I love your blog, and I don't even like Superman."

My nephew gave me a cool Superman sticker that I put on my wallet.

Wal-Mart had Superman and Batman place mats on sale for 59 cents so I bought one to use as a giant mouse pad. It's pretty great, I feel.

I went digging through my comics and found a complete run of Reign of the Superman. I may live blog my reading of them so you can experience my horror/joy in real time.

I'm not sure I want to tag any one else, I think I'd feel like I was putting them on the spot.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Guest Poster Mondays: Vibe Is Cooler Than Superman

I've decided that SIB is way too much of me declaring myself lord and emperor of all things right and proper in Supermanland, so for as long as I get them, Mondays will be dedicated to posts contributed by friends and readers for the sake of offering differing views. (If you'd like to contribute, I've love to see what you have to say. Comment here or drop me an email.)

Today's guest post is the first in what's been threatened as a series of pieces about characters superior to Superman by my good friend (mentioned here in the past more than once) Mr Jesus Torres.



Superman, the Man of Steel, the Man of Tomorrow… able to leap tall buildings and rock the spit curl and all that good stuff. Superman's cool, especially now that he's not super at EVERYTHING, but he's not that cool. You're going to have to dig just a little deeper if you want "cool."
Vibe, giving Supes a moment to shine


Vibe was born Paco Ramone, a Puerto Rican kid growing up on the mean streets of Detroit. Having the ability to emit shockwaves, this kid was destined for more than just running a petty street gang and (along with fellow C-listers Vixen, Gypsy and the white Steel) became a key member of the Detroit-Era JLA. Highlights of his many adventures include not only surviving Crisis on Infinite Earths but playing an important role in helping to defeat Despero in issue #10. Vibe would ultimately meet his demise during the Legends crossover at the hands (heh) of one of Professor Ivo's androids.



So why is Vibe cooler than Superman? Well, aside from the gritty origin and inherent street cred (despite the garish costume!), Vibe's got style and that distinct Latin "smooth".


Vibe's so smooth he's even won over the eternally-stoic Batman…! (Sorta.)


…but apparently not so smooth as to avoid future cranky-old-man Green Arrow's haymaker.


Though currently dead, Vibe's memory lives on in his brother Armando, also known as the similarly-powered Hardline. Intense googling failed to come up with any decent shot of Hardline, but I guess he's somewhere on this cover, probably the dark haired dude trying to avoid Fire's Jersey Girl 'do.


(Special thanks to Wikipedia.org and the Internets for the vast majority of this post.)

Friday, October 19, 2007

I'm gonna keep sayin' it

Until you start believin' it.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

I really just want them to wait 10 years and start over.

From this interview (which I found through house of el, who does an AMAZING job of keeping up with in-development Superman productions in non-comics media):

Gregory Novak, the fella what goes back and forth between DC and the WB:
And in the middle of it all, you’ve got Bryan going off to make another movie, which was a passion project of his. When he comes back, we’ll dive right in to Man of Steel. We’re scripting and it’s going to happen. We’re not going to make it until the script is great, but we’ll get there one way or the other and it’s not going to take nine years.
Not making it until the script is great, huh? That didn't stop you from making Superman Returns.

Oh snap! No he di'n't!
Oh yes he did!

SIB's first reader poll

As suggested in the comments of the last post. Who's responsible for the worst Superman stories, Byrne, Jurgens or Austen? Poll runs through to Saturday afternoon.

(If you read SIB through and RSS or some such, click here to go to the main page and see the poll)

EDIT WITH FINAL RESULTS:

25 votes distributed thusly

Byrne - 2
Jurgens - 3
Austen - A whopping 15 votes
Wasn't SIB meant to celebrate Superman (read: quite whining so much) - 5

I am legitimate journalism!

Some one sent me a press release! That has nothing to do with this site's content! Obviously it's getting around that if you want to get the word out you come to me and the probably a dozen readers who come here for my terribly droll observations about how much the super-mullet sucked.

I liken my style of op-ed to the following:



I swear to god replace "Luthor" with "Byrne" and you have every other post here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The gall of Dan Jurgens

A follow up to my last post. DC did a back up feature in their weekly series 52 called the history of the DC universe, where an overview of major events in the new continuity is given. Unfortunately, Jurgens felt the need to use half a page to declare how great his past story lines were:


The Superman/Lois marriage i don't object to, but Jurgens feeling his crappy short lived Titans revamp was of note to any one but him, and that his electric smurf Superman was as successful as the previous incarnation, I find as ridiculous as the idea that Dane Cook is actually funny.

The 10 Worst Moments in Superman History, a series

"This is thing. I hate comics and the people who read them. So this what I'm going to do, I'm going to give Superman the stupidest costume i can think of, make his powers electrical in nature, and then I'm going to double the suck by splitting him in two."

Superman #123 (May 1997) - Superman Forever (June 1998) (That's right, this crap lasted over a YEAR.)













Are there any lawyers reading this out there? How hard would it be to get a court order keeping Dan Jurgens 500 feet away from any materials used in the creation of comic books at all times?

Evil! Part three, General Zod

If you read my ridiculously long history of General Zod, then you know some times the movies and other media actually make significant improvements to a character. So my favorite Zod moment is one you're probably all familiar with.

Superman II. Not as good as the first in many, many ways, but it gave us something important. Since his introduction in 1961 we'd had Zod. Now we had ZOD! Freed from his prison in the Phantom Zone by an explosion in space, Zod would find "Planet Houston," by way of some astronauts on the moon who met a not so pleasant end. On Earth, Zod realized he was unbeatable, and quickly set about becoming the ruler he knew he was meant to be.

This is the Zod every one knows. Arrogant, powerful, and just melodramatic enough to make you love him. This Zod destroyed cities. This Zod had a cool accent and an immaculate beard. This Zod provided my favorite moment in the character's history. He conquered the US and made the president kneel before him.

"I will kneel before you if it will save lives."
"It will. Starting with your own."

Damn. Straight.

He would learn of Superman from the president, giving us what we all desperately want in a Superman film: Superman in a big ass fight. It's a bit cheesy by today's standards, but it's still fun. Superman would go on to defeat Zod and Co in the bizarre "Where the hell did those powers come from?" Fortress of Solitude scene. It's not really clear what his final fate is, but there's a good chance he's dead.

And because it has to be here,

Come to me, Son of Jor El! KNEEL BEFORE ZOD!



Yes I just cut and pasted that from the Zod profile. Yes I am lazy. But the white house scene is my favorite Zod moment.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Could you do better?

I was asked this. Probably had it coming, as I do complain a lot here.

To be honest, no, I couldn't do better than the crappy comics I complain about. I'm a terrible writer. If you're a regular reader, that's not news. At best, i could do something in keeping with what i think the characters should be. Poorly written, but in character as i see them. And that's how i think you should read everything at SIB, just my opinions and personal preferences. Superman's history and media appearances are way too varied to say "This is the right way to do it, and that is absolutely wrong."

SIB: I don't know art, but I know what I like.










PS None of that applies to At Earth's End, the worst comic ever and I am absolutely right for hating it and Tom Veitch is history's greatest monster. Not opinion, friends. Fact.

EVIL! Part two, The Parasite

The Parasite has the classic comic book origin: some poor schlub gets caught in toxic waste and emerges with super powers. Sort of. It wasn't so much a super power as a need to feed off the lives of others. He drains people of their 'life energies' gaining their memories in the process. Should the person have super powers he gets those as well. He's like Rogue without the annoying accent and the skunk stripe.

There have been two Parasites, one in the silver age, Maxwell Jensen, and one in the modern age, Rudy Jones. They're essentially the same character with different names. This is thing about the Parasite, he's got all the makings of a great villain: he's horribly disfigured, by his very nature he's a killer, his power could rival that of Superman's, and he knows Superman's secret identity. The silver age version was written as a genuine threat to Superman. The modern version's generally been written as a loser who stumbled into the world of super villainy. Both are interesting takes. The new one, when not played for laughs, could be written as a genuinely tragic figure. The guy who could just never catch a break lashing out after he's literally been turned into a monster. I like the Parasite a lot and think the concept doesn't really lend itself to a 'Oh Rudy, you loser,' take. Terrifying or tragic is the way to go with him. And my favorite moment has tragic in spades.

I've mentioned this before, but Kurt Busiek is doing some brilliant stuff in the Superman titles these days. The larger story arc being told in his run involves Superman trying to avert a horrible tragedy befalling Earth in the future and failing. We spend a few issues in that future with some of the survivors who have banded together to make it through. The leaders of this group? Luthor, Jimmy and Lois, with Rudy Jones as their super-powered muscle. Superman is believed long dead, and having absorbed a great deal of his power Rudy does his best to protect Superman's loved ones in his place, because he's absorbed Superman's personality and memories, and unfortunately for Rudy, his feelings for Superman's loved ones. Rudy never had the kind of love Clark and Lois had, but now he has Clark's feelings for Lois. But Lois just sees Rudy. Rudy constantly pleads with Lois to see him as Clark, just for a moment, but she can't. The bits of Clark still alive in him only remind her of what she's lost. The saddest moment in all this? Right before a battle, Rudy says goodbye to Lois.

Rudy Jones had nothing, nothing, so after becoming the Parasite he was desperate to keep anything he gained. So desperate he was willing to die rather than lose something of genuine and lasting value. And that's heartbreaking.

FIGHT!

Monday, October 15, 2007

I didn't know David Lynch used to write Superman

I am going to have nightmares about that panel.

EVIL! Part one, Lex Luthor

Superman's rogue's gallery is criminally underrated. I'm not sure why, I guess because they're frequently used so poorly. Writers forget Superman used to defeat these guys through creative uses for his powers and not punching them constantly. He used his brain. But they feel he should be facing threats equal to him physically. Damn i miss when Superman was smart. That's another rant, though.

As suggested by my good friend Mr Torres, I give you a dozen instances of straight up excellence in evil. These are my absolute favorite moments with each of these characters- badassery, tragedy and comedy each featuring a different member of Superman's excellent and under appreciated rogues gallery. Writing these, they kinda got away from me, so in the interest in not having it be ridiculously long, I give you one a day (or thereabouts) for at least the next 12 days. We start with Superman's greatest enemy, Lex Luthor.

About 30 years before Dan Jurgens and company did it, badly, there was a story called The Death Of Superman. It was beautifully drawn by Curt Swan, and written by a guy who knew a little about Superman and his world, Jerry Siegel. It's one of the greatest Superman stories ever, and in 20-odd pages packs in more emotion than all of the dozens of issues involved in the death and return of Superman in the 90s. I'm going to spoil the hell out of it here, so if you want to read the actual issue not knowing what goes down, you should jump ship now. But it's just as good if you know what's going to happen. So don't let my spoiler filled rantings put you off seeking it out. In fact, you should go read it right now. I'll wait.

The story begins with Luthor in prison. He discovers a glowing rock, which he suspects to be the theoretical Element Z. He convinces the warden that with access to a lab he could use the element to cure cancer, and then he does. No tricks, no false promises. The most hate filled man in the world is responsible for one of the greatest goods humanity would ever see. He's reformed.

Superman, seeing the good in Luthor, testifies at his parole hearing arguing if he's done this great good imagine what else he could for mankind. With Superman's endorsement, Luthor is freed to begin his life helping mankind.

Superman and Luthor become friends, even reminiscing about their past encounters. While helping Luthor gather items from his lab, Superman thwarts an attempt on Luthors life. Many of Luthor's former henchmen and criminal associates have set out to kill him for betraying them by going straight and teaming with Superman. This becomes such a regular occurrence Superman gives Luthor his own signal watch, and when that goes off so often it begins to hinder Superman's other duties, extreme measures are taken.

When even that is not enough, Superman encases the satellite in an impenetrable shield, leaving Luthor a special flare to signal him should that be breached.

It's not long before that signal goes off, and Superman comes rushing to the aid of his new friend and ally. But when he gets there, it's not Luthor that was in danger.

We reach the climax of our story with Luthor's trap. A kryptonite beam awaited Superman upon his entrances to the satellite lab, immediately incapacitating the man of steel. Keeping Superman under the beam, Luthor straps him down and reveals the cruelest part of his plan: he's kidnapped Superman's closest friends and held them prisoner in a room with one window. A window into Superman's death chamber. He doesn't force them to watch, but really, how could they not? That is evil.


It's a great moment and an awesome bit of villainy. He's destroyed the world's greatest hero exploiting and manipulating his trust while the people that loved him most watched helplessly as their hero died. But that's not my favorite Luthor moment ever. No, that comes later in the issue.

The universe mourns Superman, heads of state, dignitaries from other worlds, superheroes, all turn out for his funeral. Members of the Legion come from the future, flags fly at half mast in Kandor.

And the criminals have the biggest party ever. Luthor is their hero. But in the midst of their celebration, Superman comes busting through the wall. Shocked, they don't know if Luthor's failed or if it's a ghost out for revenge. "Superman" rips off his disguise to reveal Supergirl, introducing herself to the world as Superman's successor by bringing his murderer to justice. Because he's killed a kryptonian, he's brought to trial in Kandor, the last surviving Kryptonian city. And this is what leads to my favorite Lex Luthor moment of all time. Lois and Perry testify against Luthor, pouring their hearts out and describing Luthor's act of cold-blooded murder. And what's Luthor thinking?

Ice. Cold. That panel is everything Luthor is to me. That's how he sees every one but himself. Insignificant. Useless. Beneath contempt. The trial doesn't mean anything to him. he's above consequences and the law. In three words Jerry Siegel NAILED the character. I love that.

He follows it up with another great moment. The citizens of Kandor, being shrunk down, longed to be returned to normal size. He was certain an offer to build something that could restore Kandor would gaurantee his freedom, assuming the worst of them, that they were as selfish as he and he would be able to buy his freedom. It doesn't go as he planned.

Brilliance, arrogance and evil personified. That's why Luthor is awesome.

Just a reminder:


At Earth's End is still the worst comic ever.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Playa

You read into this what you will, folks.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Five Superman story devices I don't need to see again any time soon

One of the reasons I love the pre-crisis Superman so much was because the stories were so damn varied. They had to come up with crazy ideas because back then there were up to a dozen Superman stories a month going out (comics had 2 or 3 stories an issue back then).

So while plots repeated back then, they were never lazy. The plots involved Superman as he was, they played the ball where it laid. These days, not so much. There's a handful of plots and shortcuts writers who don't have the imagination to tell Superman stories with have used to make it easier waaay too often. I'm sick of 'em. They can be done well, but they're used so often and so poorly they just bore the hell out of me these days.

Over done device 1: "Oh no! Superman's body has been taken over by some evil force!"
Hacky writer guys says: "Hmm, I can't think of a credible threat for Superman this month, so I'll make it so he has to be defeated by others! I'm a genius! No one's ever thought of that before! I'm really making the reader think about what it'd mean to have Superman around now!"
Thomas says: If you could come up with something to defeat a threat like Superman, why couldn't you have had Superman use that to defeat a threat equal to him? We've seen Superman go rogue before. We know what happens. Batman shows up with a needle of kryptonite and Superman says, "I'm glad some one I trust has that!"

Over done device 2: Turning the staff of the Daily Planet into a soap opera while we get like 3 pages of Superman doing something.
Hacky writer guys says: "Superman's missing that human element, but we'll connect to the readers every day problems through his supporting cast!"
Thomas says: Yeah, we don't care if Ron Troupe can't make his rent this month.

Over done device 3: Superman's depowered to a great degree or entirely so there's some sort of tension then lucks his way out of the problem instead of using his brain.
Hacky writer guys says: "Writing Superman is hard!"
Thomas says: You suck.

Over done device 4: Superman says, "I don't think I've ever been hit that hard!" or "I actually felt that!" Or "That actually... hurt!"
Hacky writer guys says: "Now the reader will know my new villain is the toughest awesomest villain that Superman has ever faced!"
Thomas says: This is the opposite of the last one, and it's all Doomsday's fault. They don't depower Supes, they make a monster as powerful as him. ANd that can work! But Superman doesn't have to stand around saying "Golly, that smarted me good!" for us to think your villain's a credible threat. Superman's been hit harder than he's ever been hit before more times than I can count in the last 15 years. Shouldn't Superman be fast enough to not get smacked around so damned much?

Over done device 5: Superman's marriage is in trouble! Lets tease a divorce!
Hacky writer guys says: "Yeah, I got nothin'. I've no idea how to write a married Superman."
Thomas says: We know they're not getting divorced, okay? Just let Superman have a happy home life. Those do exist, you know.


You know why I want to marry Grant Morrison? He went the exact opposite route with a lot of those in All Star. He didn't depower Superman to make it easier to create tension, he turned Superman's powers up to 11. Jimmy Olsen story about woman trouble? He doesn't he mope, he writes her name on the freaking moon. God bless Morrison's love of the concept "big."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

SIB and EIE gots beef

Batman blogs are dumb. Also, I heard reading them can give you eyeball cancer. And they're usually run by jerkfaced jerks that declare war on my innocent and harmless little blog. People named Zhinxy (if that is your real name which I say accusingly and sarcastically because it's probably not, now is it?) who make fun of your aprons while they go on about how great rich emo kids* who can't even keep a sidekick alive are.

It's never pretty when war is declared. You know why? Because despite things like the Geneva Convention and the UN's best efforts, there are no rules to war. Things get harsh. Lines are crossed. Trailers are posted. Trailers to things featuring Batman and Robin fighting over Uma Thurman in a costume from an elementary school production of Peter Pan while Ahnold tells people 'chillax' or whatever dumb ice related puns he spouted every two minutes.





"Chicks dig the car!" Oh hilarity, thy name is Robin!








This is the thing. The World's Finest team? Superman lets Batman play because he feels sorry for him.
















Superman can do anything! What's he need a guy with a leather fetish and trust issues cramping his style for? He don't.








Look! he's buying crack! Superman's never bought crack!

In closing I would like to add, BATMAN'S A WITCH! BURN HIM!



*I heard Batman cuts himself with batarangs while listening to Fallout Boy and blogging about how lonely he is on myspace.