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I imagine several passages in this post will sound like I’m suffering some kind of head injury if you weren’t familiar with comics.

§ November 21st, 2019 § Filed under death of superman § 17 Comments

Ah, the return of the “Death of Superman” post-tag, the category that, ironically, never dies. Well, neither does Superman, usually, so I guess it’s not that ironic.

Anyway, Tales from the Dark Multiverse, which is part of DC’s Marvel-esque publishing initiative to take something of theirs that was popular, that Dark Nights: Metal series, and indefinitely extend it with spin-offs and tie-ins and whatnot, presents an installment based around that best-selling comics event from nearly 30 years ago:

…And, it’s fine. Kind of an Elseworlds/What If kind of thing, only it “counts” because it’s part of an established extended multiverse that includes the “real” DC Universe. And there’s a throughline here, too, with a “host” introducing each story, the Watcher Watchernaut…excuse me, the Tempus Fuginaut, and I imagine a lot of the characters being established here are planned to turn up in something-or-other later.

This one [SPOILER] involves Lois getting disillusioned with the superhero community and its inability to prevent Superman’s death. She eventually gets super powers from the Eradicator and, in true What If fashion, purt’near everyone dies, mostly at Lois’s hands. Again, like I said, it’s fine, exactly what it says on the tin, plenty dark for anyone who wants it. It actually is a bit of an effective horror piece, particularly in relation to Lois’s fall and the reactions of others to it. Horror is not a genre that fits easily with Superman, but when done at least reasonably well it can be very effective. (See Steve Gerber/Gene Colan’s Phantom Zone mini-series for the best example).

I will note that the first Dark Multiverse special, based around the “Knightfall” event, sold okay, but not great at my shop, but this Superman one blew off the shelves. Like I said before, I suspect one of the reasons for this Dark Multiverse series is to toss out a bunch of parallel-universe origin stories for new villains to face our main universe heroes, and hope another Batman Who Laughs emerges.

I do like that Lois’s chest emblem is the “Bloody S” logo from all that original Death of Superman marketing. That’s kinda funny.

Enough about “The Death of Superman,” here’s more about “The Death of Superman:”

The Death of Superman: The Wake trade paperback came out this week, collecting a digital-first (I think) mini-series telling stories revolving around, well, you know. Interestingly, it’s the New 52 Superman, the one with the worst costume, and I can still remember early on during that publishing initiative wondering if, in that continuity, the events of “Death of Superman” had even happened. Eventually, we learned they did, as there was some interminable “Doomsday Plague” or whatever follow-up storyline that ran through all the Super-books, mostly notable for the jumble of subtitles and chapter numbers and such slapped on the covers.

But I think this story is the first time we’re directly, more or less, seeing the events of the Death of Superman in the New 52 continuity…which is kind of a moot point now, admittedly, as Superman’s continuity has now been twisted back into some semblance of the post-Crisis/Zero Hour but pre-New 52 version. And even the Death of Superman, as originally presented, doesn’t exactly match up with the DC Universe we have now, which reminds me a bit of how I used to wonder how Crisis on Infiniite Earths played out in the New DC There’s No Stopping Us Now universe that was born from that event. Did the heroes remember it* as “Crisis on Just This One Earth,” with the Anti-Monitor threatening that single universe that existed post-Crisis? If I recall correctly, there was a brief scene in…a Secret Origins, I’m pretty sure, where the Anit-M was going to destory everything with a universe-bomb or some damned thing, the implication being that’s what the Crisis was in “new” continuity.

That’s a lot of typing about a book I haven’t even really read yet…I read the first chapter on the DC streaming app, and kinda flipped through it now to see what was going on. But I do intend to read it, despite not seeing any sign of Lex’s red-headed Australian son who’s actually Lex in a cloned younger body. I’ll just have to overcome my disappointment.

* Yes, I know at the conclusion of Crisis the point was made that all the heroes remembered pre-Crisis continuity despite existing post-Crisis. That…was kinda left aside pretty quickly.

As opposed to the 50-something smart-ass I am now.

§ September 2nd, 2019 § Filed under comic strips, death of superman § 2 Comments

Okay, look, we gotta talk about the biggest comic news of the week — nay, the century — and that news is the B.C. comic strip is finally going to have proper names for their female characters. You know, the ones named “Cute Chick” and “Fat Broad.” I mean, even the ants had names in this strip, but not the two human ladies? Good gravy.

It is so about time. The strip’s only been running since, what, sometime in the 1800s, attitudes about women have changed slightly since then. And don’t get me wrong…I’m glad it’s happening, as I’ve always had a soft spot for B.C. thanks to all the paperback reprints I read in the 1970s. I think a lot of it still holds up, despite…you know, the whole “changing attitudes” thing, with some jokes not aging as well as others. But overall, I think it’s a fun strip. Okay, maybe things got a little dicey during the “Born Again” phase of the strip, but when I last checked in and read a bunch of recent strips in a row, it held up as pleasantly humorous enough. Not quite as bonkers as it was in the early days, but still a respectable strip.

The small catch here is that the names still come across as gendered appearance-driven jokes, with “Cute Chick” now “Grace” (as in “graceful”) and “Fat Broad” is now “Jane” (as in “Plain Jane”). Intentional? Maybe, maybe not, but regardless it’s still some improvement, in that they actually have goldurned names now. I will admit to a good laugh at Jane’s “quote” in the news item linked above.

Said news item also mentions a B.C. movie is being worked on, which I’d bet your yearly salary is the main reason for this renaming happening now.

• • •

Say, remember that one time I wrote about the “Death of Superman?” A couple of you had comments that I wanted to address:

  • JohnJ has this to say:

    “How many people did you have to correct when they asked for ‘the last Superman comic?'”

    I’m sure I wrote about this before on the site, but since coworker Rob and I were unapologetic 20-something smart-asses, we created a window display for the day of its release featuring all the previous “Superman Dies!” stories we could find.

    Not sure it had much effect, as we still fielded plenty of “he’s really dead!?” comments from the mile-long parade of customers passing through the shop. I tried to reassure some folks that they’ll likely bring him back sooner rather than later, they’re not going to get rid of one of the most recognizable fictional characters in the world, but I’m sure eventually I got worn down to “yeah, he’s totally dead now.”

    But we did try to let everyone know that there were still more Superman comics to come, and as it turned out, lots of folks got hooked on the story, which even carried through to the beginnings of the “Return of Superman” story. That was surprising because there was a two month hiatus in publishing the regular Superman comics after the “Death/Funeral” story was completed, which nowadays would be a huge brick wall in front of any sales momentum.

    And as you all recall, for decades afterward I’d have people pop into the shop, see a Superman comic on the shelf, and ask in a half-confused fashion “…I thought he was dead?” So kudos on that all-too successful publishing event that convinced a large portion of the public that your flagship character was no longer around. In a way, people asking for “The Last Superman Comic” were, from a certain point of view, right.

  • Follow-ups? Adam had ’em:

    “I am here to tell you that the sound effects are indeed props for the dolls.”

    UM, EXCUSE ME ADAM, BUT THEY ARE COLLECTIBLE ACTION FIGURES, NOT “DOLLS,” SIR. …Aside from that most egregious of errors, Adam does helpfully link to this video review of the set where, as God intended, the sound effects are part of the accessories. Oh that I’ve lived to see such sights.

  • Turan, he ran so far away, with this:

    “I am not going to bother counting, but I would not be surprised if there have been more worrying at the death of Gwen Stacy than the death of Superman. The death of Bucky Barnes, also, but that was not actually a “big comic book event” (it occurred in a flashback).”

    You ain’t wrong, my friend…the Death of Gwen Stacy cast a long shadow over Spider-Man, and has been revisited again and again. I’ve been trying to think of other examples…not just redos of old adventures, like when they did the whole Superman Red/Superman Blue story in the ’90s, inspired by the ’60s original. I mean, as Turan put so well, just constant “worrying” as a long-ago event that keeps bring brought up or impacting new stories or being retold or expaned upon over and over. Like, no one’s bringing up Millennium or Secret Invasion any more (I think…I’m way behind on current comics still) but boy we sure do dip into that “Death of Superman” well again and again.

    So…any ideas? Any other Big Events or Plot Occurrences from many years in the past that just keep coming back to haunt us? I mean, aside from Crisis on Infinite Earths…like I said last time, pretty much the Current State of the Superhero Comics Industy is a callback to that one.

  • James dared to say

    “The moment they announce The Death of Swamp Thing, I am leaving the internet for a five month vacation in Very Northern Canada where they have no internet nor (allegedly) swamps.”

    Pretty sure I mentioned this not long ago, but when Alan Moore’s first issue of Swamp Thing came out, where our Swampy hero was shot through the head and felled at the end of the issue (um, SPOILER), teenaged me was all “they…they just blew out Alec Holland’s brain? HOW’RE THEY GETTIN’ OUT OF THIS ONE?” So I had my “Death of Swamp Thing” moment, despite only having to wait a month for my “Return of Swamp Thing” storyline. And not nearly as many replacement Swamp Things. Those would come later.

Death of who now?

§ August 30th, 2019 § Filed under death of superman § 4 Comments

So J. Caleb sez on the Twitters, he sez

And yeah, ain’t that the truth, and if you don’t believe it, make with the clicky on that “death of superman” category link at the top of this post here. Longtime readers, and even shorttime readers, know I’ve been yapping about this stupid thing almost since Day One on this site, and just like clockwork, if said clock runs a little slow and the alarm is kinda sad and distorted, I’m back on my blogging nonsense about it every few months or so. I won’t say it’s me working out the trauma of having been behind the counter of a comic shop at the time of the original release of that DoS funnybook, purt’near 30 years ago, but it did something to my brain.

Anyway, there it is. And the reason I’m bringing it up yet again for you to read is, no, not because you lost a bet, but because there’s more Death of Superman stuff a’comin’. Yes, I said new stuff. How many big, specific comic book events can you name that have just kept on keepin’ on, with comic creators going back to that same well again and again for story inspiration, references, remakes, what have you? The Dark Phoenix Saga, maybe? For a while it felt like they were picking at that scab in every issue of X-Men, back when there was only one X-Men title. Infinity Gauntlet, to some extent? I suppose Crisis on Infinite Earths, in a way, as pretty much everything going on at DC now stems from dealing with how Crisis and creators responding to Crisis made things even more complicated, with more and more Big Events piled on that original one as “fixes.”

I mean, whatever, people build on what’s come before in these shared superhero universes. But the “Death of Superman” goose has continued to supply golden eggs of varying value in the nearly three decades since someone at the Superman plotting retreat finally got that “yes!” to their regular suggestion to off Big Blue.

One thing I discovered quite by accident was The Death of Superman: The Wake, a trade paperbck solicited in the August orders:

I was just browsing the digital comics on the DC Universe streaming service when I spotted Chapter One of this story, which it turns out was a 12-page digital-only mini-series. Well, digital-only until they were all collected in this paperback. It relates “what happened before, during and after the battle with Doomsday that cost Superman his life!” the solicit info says. From what I read of that first chapter, it looks like events may be tweaked slightly to match current (or semi-current) continuity. Those of you holding out hope that the Lex-Luthor-disguised-as-his-own-Australian-son storyline will hold true may find themselves disappointed.

Now here’s the title J. Caleb singled out in his post:

Speaking of comic stories that go back to a specific well, that DC Metal series is the gift that just keeps on giving, what with featuring the Dark Multiverse and all. Specifically, this story goes into how the Death went down on Evil Earth or whatever they’re calling it. I’m guessing “a lot more shadows,” but we’ll see.

And then of course what kid doesn’t want to play with the more cheery superhero action figure playset of all time:

Unclear if those sound effects are extra little props that come with the figures. In a good and just world, they would.

This of course isn’t the first action figure set commemorating the Superman/Doomsday battle, but, with doing no research into the matter whatsoever, it may very well be the first set with an alternate Dead Superman head:

…or maybe he’s just sleeping, they’re your figures, play with them how you’d like. That’s kind of what he was doing in the first place. …Oh, SPOILERS, by the way.

“This popular pet is the number one threat to your comic book collection!”

§ July 22nd, 2019 § Filed under death of superman, retailing, television § 4 Comments

So over thge years I have heard many, many times from folks who wanted to sell me comics that the items they were offering were “in mint condition, still in their bags.” And of course, while a comic bag certainly does offer better protection for the funnybook contained within than no bag at all, it’s obviously no protection from bending, stabbing, being set on fire, being chewed on by the pet llama, whathaveyou. (And no, even the addition of a backing board to your comic’s security may not be enough to help.) I’d say the vast majority of comics I’ve received “still in their bags” are nowhere close to mint.

Basically, what I’m saying is that it takes more than just sliding a comic into a bag and/or board to preserve its condition. It takes proper handling, storage, and distance from the previously mentioned pet llama. You can keep a comic inside a bag all you’d like, but that’s not a bulletproof container. And it’s not going to magicallly undo whatever damage you did to it prior to its placement in a bag.

This is all a roundabout way to talking about the comics pictured above, Superman #75 and Adventures of Supermnan #500 (and, by extension, other comics packaged by the publisher inside sealed opaque polybags like these). When it comes to pricing/grading these for in-store sale, there’s no real way to gauge the condition of the comic therein if the polybag is still sealed and, from all appearances, still new-looking and intact.

Emphasis on “looking.” Like the standard clear plastic bags used for comic storage, these polybags won’t protect from bending or creasing or the like, but if they are sealed, you aren’t going to be able to directly check the comic for any damage done. I mean, you can kind of feel along the spine and maybe along parts of the cover (working around the various trading card and poster inserts and such, of course) and determine if there is any phyiscal harm. But, again, without visual confirmation, it’s hard to nail down a grade.

So long as the exterior of the bag looks new, and if the item is sealed (and no damage is immediately detectable within the package) I generally just mark these as “MINT – SEALED.” In a way, it’s like Schrödinger’s Comic…so long as that polybag stays sealed, we have no exact idea what’s going on in there. It’s not ’til we open it up that the reality is solidified and we get a comic that’s, I don’t know, actually in FVF or whatever.

Now it’s possible the polybags themselves could do harm to the comics inside eventually. I’m pretty sure that’s not archival material used in the packaging, there, but on the other hand…I opened my personal copies of these when they were new, and just kept everything, comics and inserts and all, still inside those opened polybags and then inside one of your standard comic bags…and far as I can tell, no damage done by those wrappings yet. And if you remember that overflowing case of Adventures #500 I got a while back…people who’ve bought copies of thoese from me and opened ’em up didn’t find any problems.

If you’re really concerned, I guess you can just store the comic and its polybag in separate bags. As I somewhat recall, in the ’90s during the real heyday of publishers prepacking their comics in bags with goodies like trading cards and pogs and such, the price guides, of which there were many at the time, had to set down rules as to what would preserve the collectibility of these items. I think it was Overstreet which put its nickel down on the comic still being considered “mint” or whatever so long as the opened bag and contents were all present. And I think our attitude at the shop at the time was “okay, fine, but sealed copies are still going to sell for more than opened copies,” and lo, it is still true to this day. I don’t have my current copy of Ovewrstreet right in front of me to see if they still hold that position, if in fact it was them.

Anyway, just something I think about every time I get these in collections and have to price ’em up. I’ve written before, somewhere and at some point, about how a lot of those Superman #75s were purchased by folks who didn’t normally collect comics, so I suspect a large number of them had been stored improperly and damaged, or just outright discarded, over the years. There may not be as many sealed copies of this still around as we assume, so getting them at all is welcome. And they do still sell.

• • •

In some brief non-Death of Superman news, it was announced over the weekend that the DC Universe streaming service’s Doom Patrol series has been renewed for a season 2, to be produced in conjunction with Warner’s forthcoming streaming service HBO Max. The story says the new season will show simultaneously on both services, so that, along with the news of the DC Universe exclusive Young Justice series also getting a renewal, that this streaming channel will continue to be its own thing. The fear was that DC Universe would be folded into the HBO Max service, and sure, that could still happen eventually, but it looks like it’s still operating on its own for now.

By the way, I just sold another copy of the black-bagged Superman #75, in case you’re wondering if those still move.

§ June 12th, 2019 § Filed under death of superman § 5 Comments

So the other day a fella dropped by the shop and said he had a few things destined for the local thrift store, but was willing to leave them with me instead. I said “sure, I’ll take a look,” and that’s how your pal Mike ended up with over a case of Adventures of Superman #500, the white-bagged edition, in his possession. Something like 140 copies, I believe was the count? Anyway, there they are in all their glory.

This gentleman and I spoke about that early ’90s Death of Superman era, how most stores were caught short on the initial black-bagged Superman #75, and tried to make up for it by making darn sure to order plenty of Adventures #500, the “return” (or the beginning of the return) of the Man of Steel. He said he had at one point 26 cases of the book…not sure if he’d sold most of those, or traveled the country like Johnny Superseed planting those boxes at comic shops hither and yon, but it made me feel a bit better about the one sealed case of them we still had back at the previous place of employment.

At any rate, I don’t mind having these around. I get to take a picture of them and show ’em off on the interwebs, I’ve been selling them for $1 each at the front counter (“Are those reprints?” “No, they’re the real original thing.” “WHAT.”), and if all else fails, maybe they’ll make a good Free Comic Book Day giveaway next year. But if you want one, better pop in quick…supplies are (relatively) limited!

There was also a small pile of Youngblood Strikeforce included with these, that you might be able to see there on the counter next to the box. Well, sure, I guess I’ll take those too. Can’t beat the price.

And now, the thing to which I alluded in the title of last Wednesday’s post.

§ September 3rd, 2018 § Filed under death of superman Comments Off on And now, the thing to which I alluded in the title of last Wednesday’s post.

Here is DC’s “holy crap, thanks for ordering a boatload of comics” message in the retailer booklet Coming Comics for March 1993…it’s a long’un, so pack a lunch:

A couple o’things:

1. I can’t, for the life of me, recall if we sent away for that platinum edition of Superman #75 offered free to retailers in this article. If I had to guess, I’d say we…didn’t, somehow? Just in all the craziness it got overlooked and we never sent away for it? I can see that happening, but I can’t honestly remember. I’ll have to ask Ralph if he did send away for it and decided to keep it for himself. And if so, if I can talk him out of it and sell it in my shop.

2. I sort of got jumbled on the timing of this particular catalog initially, but it appears when this edition of Coming Comics was released, the actual release of Superman #75 had not yet happened. These solicits must have been put out just before Superman #75 came out on November 17th, originally solicited in the catalog for items with January cover dates…gee, I’m beginning to figure out why the timing of all this is confusing.

Anyway, I like the idea noted here that they’re going to include a trading card in the bagged collectors edition that wasn’t mentioned in the original solicitation, which should “help retailers sell-through” all their copies of the comic. Woo boy, thank God that card was in there, otherwise we’d still be stuck with the darn things.

(You see, friends, there was a time when superhero trading cards were hugely popular, and people actually sought out things like “chase cards” and “promos.” As opposed to today, when “superhero trading cards” usually means folks walking into comic shops trying to sell their sets of the first Marvel Universe series. Oh, it was a strange time.

3. That Legacy of Superman one-shot…I mean, it sold well, but we had plenty left over. The people buying “Death of Superman” weren’t necessarily coming back for the follow-ups. I mean, they stuck around for “Funeral for a Friend,” more or less, but the attrition was beginning. Perhaps that would explain the slight overstock folks had on the white-bagged Adventures of Superman #500, the beginning of the “Reign of the Supermen/Return of Superman” thing. JUST PERHAPS.

Oh, and I found yet another Death of Superman thing while looking up stuff for today’s entry, but it can wait ’til next time.

§ August 29th, 2018 § Filed under batman, death of superman § 4 Comments

Reader Allan asks:

“I actually would like to hear your thoughts on the whole Knightfall/Quest/End saga if you haven’t already done so.”

Thiis is of course asked in response to my last post, where I once again talked too much about the death of Superman and wrapped it up with a partial scan for Knightfall pogs…er, “Skycaps.”

For the uninitiated, the whole Knightfall/Quest/End/Epilogue/Sorta-Sequel/Constant-Visual-References-to-Bane-Breaking-Batman hoohar involved Batman, in an event not at all inspired by dollar signs appearing in DC’s eyes with an accompanying “ka-CHING” sound after the Death of Superman took off, getting his back broken by new baddie Bane (pictured in that giant scan above), and then being replaced by Cyborg Superman new sorta-goodie character Azrael while he recovered. And then the whole Knightquest and Knightsend thing was about Bruce Wayne continuing to recover and eventually attempting to reclaim the Batman identity from Azrael, who turned out to not be tempermentally suited for the job, as I recall.

Okay, I don’t honestly know if Doomsday moneymoneymoney goosed DC along into having a similar situation involving Batman, as that scan above came from the same solicitation catalog as all that “Death of Superman” promotional material I featured last time. Granted, that was just introducing the Bane character, and I haven’t any idea if “the breaking of the Bat” was a planned thing at this point, or even planned to be as big a thing as it turned out being, taking over the Batbooks for as long as it did.

But whatever the reason, ’twas the season for replacing superheroes, I suppose, and Classic Batman was knocked out of the picture and New Coke Batman stepped in and that was that. Now, as to what I personally think about it…

…Well, to be honest, I really don’t have the memories or experiences of even particularly the interest in maintaining an informal history of sorts of the Knightfall event, like I’ve been with Superman’s temporary demise. Now, I read at least all of Knightfall (where Bane plans out, and eventually succeeds in, the defeat of Batman), and probably most of the following Knightquest series, but I’m about 97% positive that I checked out before the concluding Knightsend issues of the Batman comics had proceeded too far along.

Now, don’t get me wrong on the “interest” part. I don’t mean “I’m not interested in talking about this,” what I’m trying to say is “I wasn’t that interested in Batman to keeps tabs on or revisit the story.” I’m not even sure I have any particular retailing memories of the Knightfall event. I know the Vengeance of Bane comics still sell. I know this specific issue featuring you-know-what still has significant demand. And this one cover featuring Catwoman is always popular for…reasons.

Basically, most of my thoughts and memories surrounding this event is more involved with the decades-later back issue market aftermath, as well as the current semi-popularity of the trade paperback collections. I can very easily remember events of the day when Superman #75 was released. Couldn’t tell you a thing about what happened when Batman #497 came out. I mean, I know it sold well, but that’s pretty much it. No crazy rumors about issues selling for hugely-inflated prices, or about people buying copies by the truckload, or anything like that.

It’s weird that I’m drawing such a blank on it, but that’s just what happens, I guess. Death of Superman sticks out because that was the first really big EVENT I had to deal with upon entering the high stakes world of comics retail. Well, sure, there was the “vote to kill Robin” weird-ass promotion DC did, which I got behind the counter for just in time…I remember getting calls and questions about that. But that wasn’t a patch on Death of Superman, which was such an unusual event that memories of that were burnt into my brain’s ROM files, while the Knightfall shenanigans were just more high-selling comics in a boom market that lived in my brain’s RAM for a bit, until it got flushed out by the next thing I had to deal with.

I am surprised that we haven’t seen DC have a go at one of their animated movie adaptations of the storyline, though if the current “Death of Superman” multi-film series does well, “Knightfall The Cartoon” may not be long after. There was an episode of one of the Batman animated series which featured Bane, picking up some elements from the comics, but that’s pretty much it. Oh, and the live action movies, of course, where he appeared as Poison Ivy’s henchman in one, and then there was that other lesser film he was in.

Hmmm…okay, I probably still have a few more points to cover about all this, but I’m calling it a post for today, I’ll be back Friday with more excessive typing. Thanks for reading it, folks!

I miss Bibbo.

§ August 27th, 2018 § Filed under death of superman, movie reviews § 6 Comments

Bibbo is, of course, the rough-hewn but good-hearted sailor who turns up in the Superman family of books shortly after the Byrne reboot in the mid-1980s. He was a semi-regular member of the supporting cast for quite a while, though his funnybook appearances have declined to a far more sporadic occurrence of late. However, he’s made it into DC’s newest attempt at adapting the “Death of Superman” to animation, in the aptly-named DVD/Blu-ray/digital release The Death of Superman.

Now, as compared to the original animated movie (discussed on this very website a mind-staggering eleven years ago), it hews much closer to the original comics, though seen through the lens of DC’s semi-New 52-ish continuity they’ve been painting onto these direct-to-home-video releases over the last few years. And this is probably the closest we’re going to get to whatever the New 52/Rebirth version of “Death of Superman” is, as it apparently existed in the new continuity (and was referenced in this interminable storyline that I don’t remember anything about aside from the terrible cover designs). Of course, now with the merging of the post-Byrne/pre-Flashpoint Superman with the New 52/Rebirth continuity, the original “Death of Superman” story is probably back in play, more or less, and…ugh, look, don’t get me started.

Anyway, this new cartoon corrects the main error of the original cartoon adaptation, in that Superman dies (um, SPOILER?) and is just straight up gone until the next movie eventually rolls around sometime in 2019, as opposed to his being gone for a few minutes in that first cartoon and then popping back up again. So yes, there will be at least the real world illusion of Superman being “gone” as we all patiently await the sequel. Not quite as effect as with the actual comic book event, where the Superman books continuied without any Superman in them, and even that brief hiatus in publishing his titles for that summer…quite the shocking turn of events after being used to weekly installments for the character.

We’ll also be getting, in that aforementioned sequel, the replacement Supermen (Steel, Superboy, Cyborg Superman, The Guy with the Weird Glasses), so it’s following the comics’ lead there as well. Also, this new movie had regular Lex Luthor, not Lex’s-brain-in-a-younger-clone-body-pretending-to-be-his-Australian-son Luthor which is a real strange artifact of weird subplotting at the time of the original event. (But still amusingly referenced in the film as a disguise worn by Luthoer.)

Speaking of strange artifacts, this costume just gets more and more dated:

…and with any luck maybe the payoff of the sequel will be Superman’s return to his classic costume. It’s so much of Its Time, and will only be remembered when people look back at this era of comics entertainment and say “man, remember that lame costume Superman was in? Who approved that idea?” It’s the Superman mullet of the modern day. Though it would be hilarious if the mullet shows up in the sequel. Would be comics-accurate, after all!

Despite all that, the costume isn’t that much of a distraction. Superman’s innate heroism shines through the story, and that’s the important bit. The movie is very action-packed, though with sufficient character moments to keep it from being entirely a brutal slugfest. And speaking of that, the cartoon certainly conveys just how brutal the battle is, and how outmatched all the rest of the Justice League is in their own attempts at slowing down Doomsday.

Overall, a nicely done film, I thought, and I look forward to the follow-up. But…in that one impact, where Superman slams into Doomsday with Lois Lane standing right there…I mean, that should’ve killed Lois, right? All those shockwaves they showeed and such? Lois was pretty much right there at the point of impact. …Anyway, nitpicking.

The special features are…okay, I guess. I think I was hoping for more background on the actual original event in the documentary, which you get a little of, but mostly it’s talk about the film and adaptation of the story elements from the original comics. Lots of Jon Bogdanove in there. And I suppose the doc on the first Doomsday DVD kinda covered the comics end of things sufficiently.

You also get a preview of the next movie, the one with all the faux Supermen in it, and you get a couple of Legion of Super-Heroes episodes from the TV series, featuring those weird redesigns I didn’t care for.

But enough about “Death of Superman,” let’s talk about…”Death of Superman,” as, due to a bit of fortuitous timing, my former boss Ralph brought me another box or three of old comics promo stuff from Long-Ago Times for me to poke through. And whaddya know, there’s some Death of Superman stuff located within. Such as, for example, these ads for t-shirts from Graphitti Designs (which you’ll have to click to enlarge in order to read ’em clearly):

Where was I? Behind the counter selling the darn comics, or managing the giant line of customers snaking through the store, that’s where I was.

“Wait, we still have regular ol’ Superman shirts to sell! Uh oh, how do we sell ’em?”


[slaps forehead] “Of course!”

Also click to embiggen this, so you can see the tastefully-muted Bloody S:

“The only card line to capture this incredible event…those bastards at Topps tried to get Superman’s death into their hockey cards, but NO GO, AMIGOS.”

While on the topic of tastefulness, here’s a slick provided by the publisher for our advertising convenience:

I wonder if the people I saw with that Bloody S tattooed on their arms still have ’em? (If I remember correctly, at least one celebrity Bloody-S-tattoo-haver had it covered up or removed.)

And here we go, the actual solicitation information from DC Comics for Superman #75, the actual Death issue…first, the blurb from the Coming Comics catalog cover for items releasing in January 1993:

One of the few instances where the publisher wasn’t kidding when they said “oh, yeah, actual real world media may be interested in this, so order lots.”

And here’s the issue’s solicitation itself:

I seem to remember ordering ten times our normal Superman numbers on this…”that should be more than enough,” we thought.

Oh, and here’s DC’s own t-shirt solicitation:

“QUANTITIES ARE LIMITED to however many millions our factories are phyiscally able to crank out.”

The event of course was so big, other publishers referenced it in their catalogs:

So there you go, more Death of Superman stuff than you can possibly stand, the latest installment in a long line of me talking about the same damn thing over and over again. But of course I’ll talk about it again when that second “Death of Superman” cartoon finally comes out, so get ready for that!

Besides, what else am I going to talk about?

I mean, honestly.

The All-New Progressive Ruin #1! (Six months later) The All-New, All-Different Progressive Ruin #1!

§ February 28th, 2018 § Filed under death of superman, market crash, publishing, retailing § 7 Comments

JohnJ Week continues, as he’s left another comment to which I wanted to respond:

“And you only get a month’s rest before you have to decide how many copies of Amazing Spider-Man #800, supposedly a big 80-pages for a whopping $9.99.

“My biggest screw-up ordering comics when I had my store was over the Superman-Lois wedding special. I thought it would sell in the kind of numbers the death of Superman could have sold in if I’d known that was going to be a big news item. But they tried too hard to coordinate it with the wedding on ‘The Adventure of Lois and Clark’ on tv, which really killed off interest in the comic.”

Now for me, Amazing Spider-Man #800 isn’t quite as difficult to order as you might think. Marvel’s past $9.99 books (almost entirely special issues in the Deadpool series) I’ve ordered reasonably okay on, as I’ve got some solid sales history for Deadpool to refer to. Oddly enough, the only $9.99 issue of Deadpool I sort of blew it on was #25 [EDIT 3/11/18: actually, it’s $5.99…still blew that order, though], where I got just a few too many for inexplicable reasons and thus I’ve just kept it on the shelf, selling a copy every once in a while.

Amazing Spider-Man sales of late have been slowly increasing, probably because of the impending 800th issue, partially because of the plotlines, and partially because Marvel sales have been slowly climbing for me just kind of across the board on many of their main books. Of course, that’ll come to an end when Marvel begins their next round of relaunches, killing that momentum, but hey, maybe I’m just being cynical and this eighth or ninth time really will be the charm.

Anyway, getting back on track…even though the increased demand for Amazing Spider-Man has caught a lot of folks off guard recently, after kind of bottoming-out for a while there, I think I may have kind of a handle on orders for it now and can make a realistic guess as to how #800 will do for me. And, historically, and even still today, “anniversary” issues of Amazing tend to sell well even as back issues, so if I still have a few left over on the shelves after the initial sales window is complete, I’m not going to be too worried.

Now, the next part of JohnJ’s comment had me wondering how our own sales on the Superman wedding issues were, back at my previous place of employment. I do remember, after being caught short on 1992’s Superman #75, the black-bagged “Death of Superman” issue, we ordered much higher numbers for 1993’s white-bagged Adventures of Superman #500…and so did everyone else in the country. We sold plenty of that #500, but still were left with a boatload of them in stock. So don’t feel bad, JohnJ…that was our own “b-b-but Superman #75!” foul-up!

By the time 1996 and the Superman Wedding Special came around, we were still trying to recover from the comics crash, and the excesses of the late ’80s/early ’90s were mostly behind us. But our comic sales weren’t doing too badly, and there was still the occasional rush from the general public into shops whenever any particular comic hit the real world news (though, as you noted, that’s not an occurrence you can ever predict or readily depend upon). As I’ve been typing this, I’ve been trying to envision the Superman backstock boxes in the old storage room, and if I recall correctly, we did have some remaining copies of the Wedding Specials (both the white-covered Direct Edition and the John Byrne-covered Newsstand Edition, though more of the former). It wasn’t a lot, and I seem to recall selling quite a few of them on the stands, and continuing to sell them over the subsequent years (at the very least, I do remember having to fish ’em out of the back room every once in a while).

I can remember that, I just can’t recall what our initial orders were…it was a pretty good number, I think, but not so high that we were stuck with an enormous number of leftovers. And I can’t even recall if there was the aforementioned rush of folks who heard about it on the Evening News or wherever. If only I’d known I was going to be starting my comics retailing blog a mere seven years later, I would have kept better notes. Ah well, I’ll be talking to my old boss Ralph soon, so I’ll ask him and see if he remembers.

As for the Lois and Clark TV show fouling things up a bit…yeah, I do distinctly remember when the plan was to separate Lois and Clark in the comics for a bit to forestall the impending nuptials even further, complete with solicitations for future issues to that effect. Then, when the wedding was announced for the TV show, that tail wagged the dog sufficiently to cut short that separation storyline in the comics and fast-track the four-color version of the super-couple down the aisle. You can read more about that in this column by my comic article-writin’ pal Brian. …Thanks, JohnJ, for your blogging-inspirational commenting!

Now let me go back to something I said earlier in this post, regarding the Marvel “Fresh Start” publishing initiative. Perhaps I came across a little…agitated by the whole thing. I thought the recent Marvel Legacy deal was a good idea…trying to wean themselves off the constant relaunches and new #1s, focus on the lengthy histories and runs on these titles, give readers some confidence that they can follow a story without thinking it’s just going to up and restart with a new first issue. And as I said, I was seeing some improvement on many Marvel books…even Doctor Strange and Punisher were slowly climbing in sales. Will those gradual increases carry over into any new relaunched titles featuring the same characters? I sure hope so, but I don’t know.

I think what set me off was the announcement of the “new ongoing” Immortal Hulk, launching with its first issue in a few months. That made me snark a bit on the world’s primary snarking service, Twitters Dots Coms, because honestly, is there going to be an Immortal Hulk issue number, say, 35 on the stands three-something years from now? Or by “ongoing” do they mean like the old “maxiseries,” which would run a fixed 12 issues, in, out, and done? Don’t get me wrong…I’m a longtime Hulk comics fan, and Immortal Hulk sounds fine and I look forward to reading it. But…any reason why this couldn’t have just been done under the title Incredible Hulk? Does relaunching a long-running title with a new first issue still have any kind of extra selling power? Does any kind of sales boost that results stick around for any period of time? Is there a long term advantage to doing that versus just building an audience on an established title without breaking momentum with forced cancellations and restarts?

I’ve said before, I want comics to sell well. I mean, more than just because that’s how I make my living. I want comics to sell well because I like comics. And I want other people to like comics. But every single time there’s a series of relaunches like this, it really does make things difficult. It can confuse and irritate customers, and as has been said so often, jumping-on points are also jumping-off points.

It’s…a weird thing to be concerned about, I realize. It doesn’t really matter what the number is on the front of the comic so long as you’re enjoying what’s inside. Like I said above, I’ve read Hulk comics for a long time, and I’ve read them through, what, a half-dozen restarts and renumberings? But part of comic collecting is the “collecting” part, and it’s hard to escape the issue numbering mindset. These constant renumberings do have an impact, and having a big new “#1 First Issue Collector’s Item!” on the front cover isn’t quite the sales ploy it used to be.


§ December 1st, 2017 § Filed under advertising, death of superman § 4 Comments

Yet another goodie found whilst digging through the piles of promo stuff…this 1993 flyer advertising the then-forthcoming indie comic release Tandra #12:

The flyer alarmed me at first…I’m not overly familiar with the title, though we did carry it at the time, so I thought at first maybe it was a memorial issue for a deceased creator. No, they’re talking about one of the characters in the book. But, if you read between the lines a bit there, and by “read between the lines” I mean “get ready for that incoming sledgehammer to the forehead,” you can probably spot the (cough) implied criticism of the Death of Superman storyline from just prior to Tandra #12’s release.

That last line of “we will not be throwing a party!” is stirring up some vague memories…did DC have some kind of “Death of Superman” memorial event to advertise the storyline? Or were there such events arranged at stores across the country? At our store the only event we had was “wall-to-wall people inside, a giant line down the block outside,” so having a “party” on top of that would have seemed…impractical. But I’m reasonably sure something of the sort happened to inspire that final line in the advertisement.

Well, okay, we did do one special thing at the store to commemorate the event, and that was to make a window display of comic covers from years past showing many different “deaths” of Superman. …We may have occasionally been smart-asses at times.

Anyway, this I think is an interesting artifact of that period showing how at least this smaller publisher reacted to the overwhelming marketplace blitz of the Death of Superman story. That event did bring lots of customers into stores…but I bet plenty of indie publishers probably felt lost in the shuffle.

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