Friday, November 18, 2005


Superman People

I am a huge geek. I have no illusions. But that fact is never more apparent than when I see things like this, the trailer to the forthcoming Bryan Singer-directed Superman Returns.

There are two kinds of people: Batman-people and Superman-people (well, I'm sure there must be those who are neither, but who has time for them?). I have two friends (for the sake of convenience, let's call them "John Picacio" and "Lou Anders") who are Batman-people. When the trailers for Batman Begins first started airing, they wouldn't shut up about it, analyzing the things frame by frame, debating the relative merits of casting, costume, lighting and score. My response was a measured, "Looks interesting, I'll go see it." The movie opens, it was good, I had no complaints. I even went to watch it a second time when Jim Minz came to town (who, having an actual job and a baby at home hadn't had a chance to see it yet, poor bastard). But they wouldn't stop going on about it. (Don't believe me? See for yourself.)

Now, it's my turn. I'm Superman-people, people. I see a guy in a red cape, hovering in low-Earth orbit above a city at night, before swooshing off in a blur of blue and red, and all I can say is "Fuck yeah!" Look, I'm enough of a Superman fan that I suffered through the entire fourth season of Smallville, for which I should have received hazard pay. And watched most of the first season of Krypto the Superdog, for fuck's sake. Between now and next summer, I'll have ample opportunity to go on at length about casting, costumes, lighting, and score. I'll bore them silly, comparing and contrasting this new incarnation of the character with the old Fleischer animated shorts, the Donner film, the Bruce Timm-Paul Dini Adventures of Superman, the best executed of the comics (inarguably the all-too-rare Alan Moore "pre-Crisis" Superman stories, though the new Grant Morrison-Frank Quitely All Star Superman promises to be the ur-Superman text we've been waiting for, all these years), the character's origin as portrayed in Smallville compared and contrasted to the recent Superman:Birthright ... As I said, now it's my turn.

If you'll excuse me, I'm off to watch the trailer again.

If it doesn't have Vartox and Terra-Man, I'm not interested in seeing it. Nope, not gonna.

Oh, who am I fooling? I'm there.
I'm with ya, man. I've always been a big fan of the Last Son of Krypton. Looking forward to all the super-posts!!!!
Jess, I'm a Vartox fan from way back. But the only way that the character could be appropriately realized on screen is if he were portrayed by Sean Connery, circa 1974 (and preferrably directed by John Boorman). Barring that, I'd prefer that they not bring him to the screen at all.
Mahesh, I'll try to keep the Superman-related posts to a reasonable minimum, but I make no promises...
I'm not a Superman person, most of the time. Mostly, that's because Supes is damn hard to do well, whereas Batman has had numerous quality books.

Right now, though, I'm excited about Superman. The trailer, for all of its religious tones, looks great. And heck, it's Bryan Singer doing Superman. It can't not rock. And Morrison doing Superman in a continuity-free book? Golden, even though I'm not a fan of the Quitely Chin.

ps. Since Jess and Chris are both here - I just bought The Encyclopedia of Fantastic Victoriana as a birthday gift for a friend. Haven't gotten it yet, but from the bits I've seen and the reviews and mentions it's getting it looks soooo gooood.
Hey, Chris, I say don't hold back. :)
Didi, I was just mentioning to two friends today (let's call them "Lou" and "John") that Superman is a character that's really always been better in concept than in execution (a lot like Doctor Who, in that regard, we decided). To my way of thinking, the character never had it better than under the pen of Alan Moore, most notably in "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" and "For the Man Who Has Everything," but both of those depended almost entirely on the reader being fairly well versed with the details of Silver Age Superman continuity. Conversely, you could hand anyone a copy of Frank Miller's "Batman: Year One" and they could get in on the ground floor. Even something like John Byrne's "Man of Steel," as much as I liked it at the time, almost served more to differentiate this "new" Superman from the pre-Crisis version he replaced, rather than introducing a whole new character.

For years, the best Superman stories have been those set outside the normal continuity, whether as Elseworlds (John Francis Moore's "Elseworld's Finest" springs to mind as being particularly good, and certainly Kurt Busiek's "Secret Identity" is one of the best Superman stories in years) or otherwise separate from the month-to-month continuity farrago. That's one of the reasons I'm so optimistic about All Star Superman: top notch creators, allowed to cut loose on a character that has never been done as well as he should have been, all without the strictures of the ongoing continuity.

re: Victoriana. Thanks, man! I hope you enjoy the book. It almost broke my brain in half, editing that thing, but I think it's a thing of beauty. When, in the far distant future, they finally lay the body of that mutant genius Jess Nevins to rest, on his tombstone it will simply say "HE WROTE THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FANTASTIC VICTORIANA. BY HIMSELF."

Thanks very much! Hope you enjoy the book.
I'm kind of odd. I grew up liking Superman more than Batman as I tried (unsuccessfully) to complete my run of the great Superman team-up book - DC Comics Presents.

However, in the past few years, I've been leaning more towards Batman.

Although if I had to choose, it would be Flash.

That trailer just has me begging for more and I trust Singer to deliver the goods.
I go through phases with Batman and Superman. As much as I enjoy the characters, I have issues with both of their big- and small-screen incarnations, and don't even get me started on the comics!

That's probably why I'm such a big Green Arrow fan. Just in my nature to be contrary. That, and Black Canary. Whoo!
I've got a lot of affection for the Flash, I'll admit. And my passion for Green Lantern is second only to my adoration of all things Kryptonian (imagine my delight as a kid to discover that Kal-El missed out on being the Green Lantern of Sector 2813 but just that much when Tomar-Re failed to prevent the destruction of Krypton). But I've never really had a handle on Green Arrow, I'll admit. I dug him as a partner-in-crimefighting to Green Lantern back in the 70s, and I remember liking the Mike Grell Longbow Hunters mini in the late 80s (though, reading it again years later, I was floored by how unbelievably vicious it was), but I have to confess I've always seen him as more of a supporting character. That said, he's always been a hell of a lot cooler than Hawkeye. (And come on, who would you rather have as your partner, Black Canary or Mockingbird? Yeesh. Fishnet wins, every time.)
This is interesting. Green Arrow is my second favorite character after Batman. The Mike Grell run (picking up after Longbow Hunters)is the best the character ever got.

Odd that both of yours pair with both of mine. Again, we see a division between realism vs. wacky powers.
GL is probably my number 2 DC hero (he says as he is wearing his Silver GL ring). The SHOWCASE volume DC just released is an incredible buy at $9.99 - wacky stories with awesome Gil Kane art.
Lou, I don't know that I'd put the dividing line quite there. The Silver Age Superman and Green Lantern were both science fiction adventure heroes, in the tradition of John W. Campbell's Astounding (though not as much as Captain Comet or Adam Strange, each of which could have walked right off the pages of the old SF pulps). Batman and Green Arrow are masked vigilantes straight out of the crime pulps. It's essentially the divide between Doc Savage and the Shadow. If I were to hazard a guess, I would suspect that the Shadow appealed to you more as a character than Doc Savage, while I'm a Doc Savage guy all the way. That Superman owes as much to Doc Savage as Batman owes to the Shadow is only natural, then.
Rob, the only reason I didn't pick up that Showcase collection is that I already have all the hardcover DC Archives of those GL issues. I don't think that the character really came into his own until the late seventies/early eighties (ever read the "Tales of the Green Lantern Corps" miniseries that came out in 1981? I think it still holds up pretty nicely), as much as I love the John Broome/Gil Kane stuff for the sheer insanity of a lot of those stories. Of course, like so many DC characters, the GL concept was never better than when written by Alan Moore. "Mogo Doesn't Socialize," about the sentient planet member of the GLC, and "In Blackest Night," about Katma Tui's attempt to explain the concepts "Green" and "Lantern" to a new recruit from a world without light (and, hence, no color or lamps) are both nothing short of brilliant. And I'm still kind of creeped out by Qull of the Five Inversions from "Tygers."
Yeah, I've got the "Tales" mini and really like it. I've been trying to track down the specific issues with the Alan Moore GL stores with no luck.

I know DC just reprinted the ACROSS THE UNIVERSE...ALAN MOoRE trade, but I've got just about everything else in there.
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