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Honestly, I was just kidding about asking you to buy this for me…

§ January 15th, 2014 § Filed under superman § 4 Comments

…but one of you did, taking to heart the subject line of this post and sending me my very own copy of the Superman Annual 1983 from the UK. Big thanks to longtime reader, the spectacularly-if-possibly-filthily-handled “Suckmaster Burstingfoam.” Here is a scan of the back cover of the very item he sent me, since you already know what the front looks like from the previous post on the topic:


See, it’s entirely different.

Here are the endpapers:

And as expected, there was some slight editing required with the dropping of the flashback pages in this collected edition. In the original DC Comics Presents #29, the full-page flashback sequence in which Superman recounts the events of the previous two issues is followed by this panel at the top of the following page:

With the flashback page gone, the panel undergoes some minor editing:


It’s a minor skip in the storytelling, and the other missing flashback page creates even less of a gap, so the whole thing flows together fairly well, more or less (aside from this glitch described by BobH a couple of years back). There is a Superboy reprint (“The Slay-Away Plan”) inserted between parts two and three, as well as a two page history of Luthor in the comics and the movies.

It’s a nice item, and I’m very grateful to Mr. S.B. for sending it my way. Thank you!

I suspect it was cigars ‘n’ wine all around the office when they came up with the name “Kru-El.”

§ December 20th, 2013 § Filed under superman, the eBay § 11 Comments

So I was looking for something else on the eBay the other day (the Man of Steel prequel comic, if you’re wondering) when this particular item caught my eye:


It’s one of those “Choose Your Own Adventure”-type books, but with that Super-fella I’m sure some of you have heard about. I ended up buying it, primarily for three reasons: first, I am a Superman fan, and this kind of oddball thing is right up my alley. Second, pal Andrew has his Choose-Your-Own-Adventure Tumblr You Chose Wrong, and I figured I could contribute some endings from this book for his site. Third, I could write about it on my own site. And thus, here we are.

I’ve only done one read-through, following a couple of different branches here and there when it was pretty obvious when a decision was going to lead to an unfortunate ending.

AN ASIDE just in case you don’t know about this kind of book…it presents a narrative in which you are asked at certain points to make a decision about where the narrative should go. You are then directed to another page in the book which continues the narrative until you either reach another branching decision point or an ending. The decisions are usually in the format of “If you decide to go into the dark, foreboding cave to investigate the growling sound, turn to page 57. If you decide to run the hell in the other direction like a sensible person, turn to page 99.”

In the narrative line I followed, Superman ends up going with Lex Luthor to fight it out on another planet with a red sun, nullifying Superman’s powers so that they can engage as physical equals. If he didn’t do so, the missiles Luthor has aimed at Metropolis would activate, destroying the city. At various points you are given options to knock out Luthor (which sets off the missiles, automatically activating when Luthor is disabled), or even to straight up let Luthor get killed (very unSupermanly, resulting in an appropriately bad ending for Supes).

As you can see on that cover, there are other villains that turn up along the way, such as the Toyman and the Phantom Zone villains (General Zod and Faora, of course, but also the fabulously-named Kru-El). The book helpfully includes a couple of pages of villain fact-files, which you are invited to turn to when the villain(s) first pop up in whatever narrative thread you’re following.

“FORTRESS FACT FILE #3 – FAORA HU-UL: This female Phantom Zone villainess is crazy! Her hatred of all mankind makes her the most dangerous of all the Phantom Zone foes! Do not approach Faora without a weapon, or you will have no chance of surviving!”

Well, sure, why not.

Hold on, only reading one line of narrative before writing this post doesn’t seem right. Let me go through again and see what happens. Be right back.

[TEMPUS FUGIT]

Okay, so this time Superman encounters a nine-foot-tall yellow monster wreaking havoc, and one thing leads to another, the monster tells Supes that he came to Earth to ask Superman for help, but the oxygen-rich atmosphere disoriented him and made him act all crazy ‘n’ such. He wants Superman to go back to his planet, but (turning to page 24) Superman decides to take him back to the Fortress of Solitude to run him through his super lie-detector to make sure it isn’t some kind of trap. Once there, the monster notices the Fortress Zoo and asks to see it. (Turning to page 34) Superman agrees, but while in the zoo, the dreaded Bravado Beast, who hates the color yellow, breaks free of its pen and charges at the monster, breaking cages and freeing other creatures in the process. The rampage continues into Superman’s Kryptonite storage room, which exposes some of the deadly rocks:

“‘Help me!” Superman shouts to the creature.

“‘I can’t!” the creature replies in terror. ‘The Bravado Beast has me in its clutches — and it won’t let go!”

“‘Then this,’ Superman gasps, ‘is…’

“THE END”

I’m a lousy Superman, it seems. Also, you can see the Bravado Beast itself in this article about Superman’s zoo.

One more point about this book…on the very first story page, Superman is referred to as “Earth’s Mightiest Mortal,” which I’m pretty sure was solely Captain Marvel’s tagline. That Superman, always horning in on Billy Batson’s action.

In case you’re in need of a last-minute gift idea for your pal Mike.

§ December 18th, 2013 § Filed under superman § 5 Comments

Perhaps you remember all the way back to Monday, when I was discussing the Superman Vs. Mongul trade paperback and its lamentable omission of the concluding chapter for a three-part Superman story from DC Comics Presents (which I confirmed, by the way, once I had the book in my hands on Tuesday while breaking down the latest Diamond shipment). Well, whilst perusing the Grand Comics Database to see if those stories had ever been reprinted under one cover (well, in color, anyway), I discovered the existence of this item:


…a UK color hardcover annual, under a swell Brian Bolland cover, reprinting all three issues of this storyline!

There is a minor caveat, in that the reprintings of parts two and three omit the second page of each story, in that they were pages of exposition reminding readers what had occurred in the previous chapter(s). Here’s the second page of the third issue as an example:


…and there must have been some relettering and recaptioning involved in this annual, since at least in the original issue #29, the first panel of page three directly continues from the second page flashback:

But despite the loss of a couple of pages of Starlin art, it’s nice to know that the (mostly-)entire story from DC Comics Presents #27-#29 was collected together at some point in its own little package. But man, it would be worth owning for the cover alone. Just look at that thing.

EDIT 12/19: Bob has more to say about the production issues of this particular item in this post right here!

Frankly, I’m not sure that’s even entirely true about Adam Sandler movies.

§ August 22nd, 2013 § Filed under collecting, dc comics, retailing, superman § 4 Comments

So I was asked, in response to my post on Monday in regards to DC’s 3D cover allocations, which title was the one I’m getting more copies than what I originally ordered. I probably should have noted it at the time, but, you know, how do you keep a blog reader in suspense? I’ll tell you Thursday: it was the Darkseid issue of Justice League, and I don’t entirely understand DC’s mix of numerology and voodoo in determining how many copies of each comic that each retailer gets in relation to the actual number of copies DC ordered, but apparently they thought Darkseid was going to be A Big One and set print runs accordingly.

I mean, I have no idea how true that is. DC’s allocation formula is apparently based on each retailer’s ordering history for the titles, or something like that, so maybe the comic publishing stars aligned in just the right way for my Darkseid orders to be increased rather than decreased. The mileage of other retailers may, as they say, vary. At least I’m getting all the copies I ordered of that Joker issue, which apparently means DC also anticipated demand and ordered a forest-leveling amount of them. Anyway, in conclusion: 3D covers! I’m looking forward to never talking about them again!

In other news, comic collections, like buses and taxis and Adam Sandler movies, seem to come all at once, and in the last week or three we ended up with about three collections of ’80s and ’90s indie comics, resulting in yet another copy of Yummy Fur #9 in our possession. As you may remember, that was one of the big missing links in my collection that, after a decades-long search, finally was acquired a few months ago. So now here’s another one, mocking me with its availability so soon after I finally found a copy. Sigh…it’s MacKenzie Queen #5 all over again. Please note my accurate prediction regarding current events in that post.

And in variant cover news: why, hello there awesome Jim Starlin variant for Superman Unchained #3:


I enjoy Superman Unchained well enough as is, but baby, like I wrote about at the end of this post, I would much rather read the comic this cover is selling me. (Take a look at this oddly creepy yet amazing Brian Bolland variant, too!)

Gone zooin’.

§ August 5th, 2013 § Filed under low content mode, superman § 6 Comments


Hopefully I will be at the Los Angeles Zoo today, taking pictures of buff-cheeked gibbons and pointing imprudently at the mighty mandrill. In the meantime, all of you behave yourselves and also try not to think about why, why Superman would keep these innocent creatures in such inappropriately tiny cages.

UPDATE: Alas, the trip is postponed. The mandrills are safe…for now.

 
 

image from DC Special Series #26 (Summer 1981) by Roy Thomas, Ross Andru and Romeo Tanghal

Let me save you the trouble: “no, Mike, it’s just you.”

§ July 12th, 2013 § Filed under retailing, superman § 5 Comments

So pulled off the shelf from our stack of Superman Unchained #1 was a copy that had a translucent blue strip of tape that stretched around from the front of the cover, across the spine, and across the back:


…but still cut off at the edges so the book could be opened and read normally. The tape is applied straight and evenly, so it’s not like it was just dropped on there by accident. My guess, knowing nothing about the actual details of comic printing and production, is that a pile of unstapled covers was taped together for storage/shipping and that the cover with the tape stuck to it at the top of the pile wasn’t removed prior to assembling the whole package.

Or someone at the distributor is exacting revenge upon me for some long-ago slight, randomly affixing pieces of tape neatly to comic covers prior to packing them into shipping boxes destined for our store. I WILL HAVE MY REVENGE, PHANTOM COVER-TAPER!

In somewhat related news…I had told myself I was going to drop all the Superman titles following the end of Grant Morrison’s entertaining run on Action, making that my first break from regularly reading those titles in over 30 years. But, well, you know how funnybook fans are, and I kept going despite myself…only to find that Superman has been improving, and Action managed to keep my interest after Morrison’s departure. Overall, I feel like the storytelling on the titles have been…loosening up, I guess? Less concerned with trying to establish the New 52 status quo for Superman, and more focused on having a little fun, I’d think. Yes, there’s the stuff with Superman’s relationship with Wonder Woman that nobody’s particularly happy about (and to be fair, they did provide some in-story evidence for this particular turn of events being a bad thing, forthcoming Superman/Wonder Woman ongoing series notwithstanding). And that new costume is still terrible.

In general, though…I’ve been liking the Superman books lately. The first issue of Batman/Superman wasn’t bad, and the first issue of Superman Unchained, taped cover or not, was definitely a Big, Fun and Loud Superman Adventure…your big-budget Superman movie on paper. I don’t really want a half-dozen ongoing Superman books…Scott Snyder and Jim Lee taking over Action Comics would have been just as good, but of course wouldn’t have received the attention and sales the Brand! New! First! Issue! did. But there are all those comics anyway, and at least they’ve been mostly readable, he damned with faint praise.

So anyway, have any of you folks noticed an upswing in the Superman titles lately? Not saying they’re perfect, or outstanding examples of the medium…they just seem…a bit improved. Is it just me?

And then there was the time the Amazing Randi accused Superboy of being a fraud.

§ June 25th, 2013 § Filed under superman § 8 Comments

Well, okay, it’s “Indra the Incredible,” not the Amazing James Randi, but, you know, we see what you’re doing there, E. Nelson Bridwell:


Scientific thinking and skeptical movements have enough trouble gaining traction in our real world, where UFOs and psychic powers and Atlantis are all a bunch of hokum. Any skeptics in the DC Universe don’t stand a chance: “ATLANTIS IS A MYTH!” “Hi, I’m Aquaman!” “mumble mumble lousy superheroes mumble”

There is Doctor Thirteen as sort of your token DCU skeptic, but talk about your uphill battles. But perhaps there are some fringe groups who think superheroes are just some kind of overblown media hoax, despite all evidence otherwise, who are probably regarded on the same level we hold those folks who think lizard people are secretly running world governments. …I’m pretty sure in the DC Universe the lizard people proponents have government funding and support and are hailed as freedom-protecting heroes.

Here’s young Clark Kent relating some of theories he’s heard about himself on Coast to Coast AM:


Ma Kent has some valid concerns:


…considering in the year 2013 some folks still flipped their lids because they were briefly exposed to a mixed-race family in a cereal commercial.

Anyway, it all works out for Superboy, at least…word on his Kryptonian origin gets out, and most people are cool with it. Hope that’s not a spoiler.

 
 

images from The New Adventures of Superboy #12 (December 1980) by E. Nelson Bridwell, Romeo Tanghal and Kim DeMulder

“As good as you’d expect a court-ordered Superman movie to be!”

§ June 17th, 2013 § Filed under movie reviews, superman § 19 Comments

…And that was my slightly-facetious reaction to the Man of Steel film I posted on the Twitter soon after getting home early Sunday morning (and referring to circumstances explained in the beginning of this Wikipedia article).

I do have to say, though, I now understand the reactions I was getting as described in this other Twitter post from Friday afternoon:


There is certainly a lot to like in the film…it’s well-cast, the film itself is beautifully shot, and the weaving of the Smallville flashbacks into the narrative was effective, I thought. As for the action sequences…well, whatever else you can say about director Zack Snyder, he can certainly deliver an action sequence that’s easily followed, as opposed to other films where “action” means “zoom the camera in close and shake it around a lot,” which too easily bamboozles my addled brain.

As for the other stuff…well, I’ll be getting into big ol’ SPOILERS here, so if haven’t seen the film, skip the text that immediately follows this shot of fiery-hot Henry Cavill, and continue reading after you see the pic of Supes and Lois holding hands:


Certainly a lot has been said about the sheer amount of destruction in the film…when the Daily Planet staffer tells Superman “you saved us!” after we just watched a huge chunk of Metropolis smashed into rubble, surely at the cost of more lives than you’d care to think about, one can almost be convinced that was intended as an ironic joke, a commentary on just how horrible it would be to live in a world where there were super-powered people flying around and fighting out their grudge matches through soft, watery citizens and balsa-wood buildings. Bully has a thoughtful commentary on this film’s devastation of Metropolis that I suggest you read…the idea that so many folks seemingly died in a Superman film, with Superman unable to save them, seems incompatible with the very idea of a Superman story. Not that you can’t tell good stories about such a thing — this Hitman story is one example — but…well, it just didn’t feel right, you know? Yes, this is Superman’s first big challenge and he’s not quite learned the ropes yet, and yes, Superman had to choose between saving billions versus saving thousands, but…well, one would have hoped Superman would have found a way to save everyone.

That’s the “reviewing the movie I would have preferred” versus “the movie I got” trope, I realize, but, man, my Superman would have saved them all.

(Jeff Parker notes in his review that this amount of collateral damage is a “stock convention of superhero stories,” and that “if they want you to think a lot of people died, you see footage of dead people.” And, you know, fair enough. Seeing it in live action, in this amount of detail, as opposed to looking at it on a comics page, makes it a little more difficult to suspend the disbelief, but I can see Parker’s point.)

The other Big Troubling Moment in the film, one that was in fact spoiled for me by someone’s casual retweeting of someone else’s comment upon it — oh, the dangers of the social Internet — is, of course, the killing of General Zod by Superman. It did bring to my mind the last time Superman openly killed anyone, in this comic here where he executes Phantom Zone villains responsible for the deaths of billions, acting as Krypton’s last arbitrator of justice. That was bit of a controversial move at the time, but it was shortly after the mid-1980s reboot of the character and it was intended, as memory serves, as the impetus for Superman’s code against killing, a long-standing tradition for the character.

Again, I’ve seen the argument made that the event in the film is a formative moment for Superman, that this will lead to his unwillingness to take a life ever again, particularly given the anguish he expresses in the moments afterward. And in the larger “journey of the hero” context, like the destruction of Metropolis, I can understand and even, for the sake of the story, accept the choices made here, but the old fanboy in me wants the Superman who doesn’t want anybody to die, and won’t let anybody die.

In short, when someone asks me if I liked Man of Steel, I suspect will lead my answer with a pause. There’s a lot to think about here, not the least of which is the contrast between the Superman I picture in my head versus the Superman that works onscreen, that works for the vast majority of people who haven’t been reading Superman comics for the last few decades. The audience I saw this with applauded at the end of the film, so clearly they were happy with it, though I did notice some…ambivalence? shock? certainly some quiet whispering in reaction to Zod’s death. So, you know, it wasn’t just me.

A couple of other brief comments: I liked the brief glimpses we got of the evolution of young Clark’s friendship with Pete Ross, I enjoy the new dynamic in the Lois and Clark relationship (no “I wonder why I never see Clark and Superman together” here!), Laurence Fishburne makes a great Perry White, and holy cow, we get Faora (Horo-Kanu and all!) and Steve Lombard! And I do have to admit, Fanboy Mike very much appreciated the moment when the military stood down and realized that Superman was on their side. That was nice.

Plus, I think they probably should have animated a giant red arrow pointing from the stained glass window Jesus to Clark in that one shot, just in case no one got the symbolism.


In addition, I came out of the movie with the most firm of convictions that Sears is the place to go for massively destructive fight scenes and for vans to throw at supervillains. That’s some effective sponsor placement!

But seriously, there is a lot to ponder in this film…it’s easy to dismiss as “not my Superman,” and I can understand that. There’s a part of me that even kinda sorta feel that way myself. There is still a lot here to appreciate, I think, as a valid reinterpretation of the character, and that there is so much discussion and debate over the film…that’s preferable to a forgettable film that inspires nothing.

However, you guys out there trying to convince us there are Aquaman references in Man of Steel? C’mon.

In which Mike rambles on about comic sales, and also simultaneously laments and looks forward to new Superman comics.

§ June 3rd, 2013 § Filed under dc comics, retailing, superman § 10 Comments

So I noticed that All Star Western received a slight bump in sales over the last couple of issues, thanks to Booster Gold’s guest-appearances. I suppose this currently storyline may put out a Jonah Hex purist or two, but let’s face it, Jonah Hex is part of the DC Universe, and if the occasional crossover from that universe helps to keep a DC title on the stands that isn’t yet another variation of a Batman, Superman or Green Lantern title, then crossover-away, sez I. Plus, if you’re a fan of a certain age, the certainly deliberate evocation of the mid-1980s Hex series may inspire a nostalgic twinge or two…assuming you were a fan of that Hex series in the first place, but of course, why wouldn’t you be?

An interesting note about my old post that I linked there…I make a brief aside that we never learn how Jonah Hex returned to his own time from that future, that maybe it’ll be a plot point in some future Booster Gold story or something. Well, given that Gold is in the current Jonah Hex comics now, and that we know that Hex ends up in the present day DC Universe at least briefly…so maybe I kinda sorta foretold the future there. Well, not that it’s the same continuity or anything, but that’s close enough for me to toot my own horn for a few dozen words in a blog post.

Speaking of Green Lantern, in that I wrote the words “Green Lantern” in the first paragraph, I’ve noted that the special extra-sized “so long to Geoff Johns”/”so long to Geoff Johns’ storylines” Green Lantern #20 is being taken as a good jumping-off point for a few of our customers, which has me wondering about future sales on the franchise. DC did it to itself, really…it was able to grow its Green Lantern line into four heavily-linked core titles so long as interest in the ongoing storyline in those titles was strong. It was a rare case of reader reluctance to pick up yet another related series being overwhelmed by desire to keep up with the franchise. Not that there was a one-to-one correlation in sales…the main GL book usually outsold the others by about 2 to 1, but there were still some customers buying all the titles. However, now that the story, or at least Geoff Johns’ iteration of the story, is “done,” as much as an ongoing superhero comic can be done, the impetus to follow all the GL franchise books is diminished, particularly with the turnover of creative teams on all the books occurring simultaneously.

Okay, it’s not like Green Lantern sales are going to dry up overnight, but I am expecting some dropoff as folks reconsider whether they need to follow four ongoing GL titles a month.

On the topic of franchise books, there’s that Superman Unchained comic that’s headed our way soon…a comic being ordered in such hideously large numbers I actually had one of our distributor reps ask me “why are people getting so many of these?” The answer is…well, a bazillion variants based on sales plateaus (a Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez one for me, thank you!), plus the fact it’s written by Scott Snyder, who’s had some success with that Batman series, and illustrated by Jim Lee, which is kind of a big deal, but yeah, there’s going to be a lot of copies out there in the marketplace, making this the 1991 X-Men #1 of the 21st century (or the Shazam! #1 of the 21st century, for those of you old enough to get that implication).

I am looking forward to the book, and I do suspect it will sell well, though probably not at the numbers everyone is ordering. I have enough interest locally in the variant covers to help subsidize the order I placed, but still…sheesh. DC cast out the line, they successfully reeled me in. But Scott Snyder and Jim Lee on a Superman book…I think this will be the series that gives us a New 52 Superman that actually feels like a big ol’ Superman comic, unlike most of the attempts at trying (with varying success) to reestablish Superman since the whole New 52 relaunch was dropped on us. And that Greg Pak/Jae Lee Batman/Superman series feels promising, too. We’ll see soon enough.

Anyway, what your pal Mike is saying is that he wants to enjoy good, new Superman comics. Like that Adventures of Superman…it’s not New 52 Superman, which I imagine is a selling point for a lot of you, but it’s swell to boot, so thankfully the hoohar around that title all worked out for the best.

Skip past the second image to avoid minor spoilers for the third Iron Man movie.

§ May 13th, 2013 § Filed under cartoons, movie reviews, superman § 2 Comments


So Iron Man 3 was better than Iron Man 2 and neither are a patch on Iron Man No Number but Is Now Referred to As Iron Man 1, but all in all, like I once said about the X-Men film franchise at a time when there were only three X-Men films, that we got three watchable and generally likable Iron Man movies at all is relatively miraculous.

I did have the same problem with this film that I did with the previous installment, that too often during the film I found myself thinking “why am I being shown this when I could be seeing Iron Man doing stuff instead” — particularly during that middle “Tony Stark, Action Spy Detective, Goes to Tennessee” segment of the film. But, I can’t say I wasn’t entertained, and you end up getting more Iron Man armor action than you can handle during the film’s climax, with too brief glimpses of the dozens of different armored suits Stark apparently assembled between sequels.

Okay, the “not enough Iron Man action” is kind of a terrible complaint…Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark carries the show whether he’s in armor or not, and I did enjoy the film. And it’s not as if I was expecting beginning-to-end Iron Man fight scenes…I realize there’s such a thing as “pacing.” When you get right down to it, the amount of Iron Man action was exactly the amount and of the correct quality for the story they were telling, he said as if anyone cared what he thought. I guess the old fanboy in me wanted more Iron Man in action at the height of his powers, outside of struggling against both technological and psychological failures, but I guess that’s what the Avengers movies are for. That this film, along with Downey’s portrayal, makes us like and care about the “civilian” identity as much, if not more so, than the superhero identity, is its real strength. Tony’s a cool dude that sometimes wears super-armor and his movies are fun…what am I complaining about, really?

Also, it’s nice that Bruce Banner was played by the same actor in more than one feature film. The lack of MODOK is points against, however. And, as always, not enough Miguel Ferrer, which is my gripe about pretty much every film.


In other news, I saw the new direct-to-home-video-disc Superman Unbound film, adapting that “Superman meets the REAL Brainiac” story that ran in the comics a couple of years back. …Well, that was certainly a Superman versus Brainiac story, with some neat visuals and an interesting subplot about Superman’s overprotectiveness of people in his life. Plus, the story ends on a big life-changing decision, which would probably have an impact on the sequel they spend time setting up at the very end of the film (a scene placed during the credits, actually) should one ever come, which it won’t.

It was fine, but honestly, though, I wish DC would just straight up adapt some classic Silver Age stories for their direct-to-DVD film program for a change…it’ll never happen, but it’s nice to think about. …At least the Batman: The Brave and the Bold cartoon took care of that need for a few years.

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