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49 (and change).

§ March 16th, 2018 § Filed under jack kirby, obituary, old, smallville, superman, television § 13 Comments

So one of the victims of my part-week blogging break was no birthday post. Yes, that’s right, your pal Mike just began his last year of his forties this past Tuesday…the warranty’s long expired, the creaking frame continues to bow, and the decay continues apace. I did mention the occasion on the Twitters, however, and received some very kind response there (as well as wishing birthday-and-blogging-brother Andrew a happy day).

The Bullest with the Mostest, Bully the Little Birthday Bull, worked up a bit of magic:

You can find the original image he used on this page of nightmare fuel. Oh, and by the way, now that I can make GIFs I may need to revisit that last pic.

Oh, and Tom Spurgeon over at Ye Olde Comics Reporter also noted the occasion, as he does every year. Thanks, Tom!

Another reason I kinda skipped out on the birthday post this time around is that I had my heart set on a particular panel, but could not find the thing, which has me wondering if I’m remembering the right comic, or if my age-addled brain has it confused with another comic, or if I didn’t just make up the whole thing out of thin air. Anyway, I’ll mention it here in case it rings a bell with any of you fine folks:

What I’m remembering is a panel from a Star Trek comic, maybe in the first DC series, or possibly the second run, where mention is made of Captain Kirk’s 49th birthday. However, and the reason this has stuck with me all this time (assuming I’m remembering it correctly at all) is that the “49th” in the comic had very obviously been relettered just prior to going to print, and almost certainly read “50th” originally. I mean, that was my presumption, in that they probably wouldn’t be making any kind of big deal out of a 49th birthday for story purposes. I remember guessing they were likely saving a 50th birthday story for some bigger event, or someone at the main Trek headquarters decided that they didn’t want Kirk to be that old, or some darned thing.

I hunted through my Trek comics for the scene, and couldn’t find it…I still have full runs of both series (didn’t give ’em up to my store!) plus all the specials and minis and whatnot, so if it actually exists, it’s in there somewhere. But, like I said, at this point I’m even sure it was in a Trek comic and involving Kirk. If you know, please share your knowledge!

• • •

So this week, DC released a freebie funnybook tying into the imminent Superman-prequel Krypton series appearing on the SyFy cable channel:

My immediate reaction to seeing that cover is “…Tom? Tom Welling?” but that’s likely because I watched all ten seasons of Smallville and I’m still recovering. But it didn’t help when I looked inside the comic at the “meet the characters” section and Superman’s grandfather is dressed like this:

…which all the world looks like the get-up Clark was wearing in the latter seasons of Smallville:

I mean, that has to be deliberate, right? Aside from all that…despite my initial skepticism regarding the show (“It’s about Superman’s grandpa?”) I’m actually intrigued, particularly now that I know about the time travel element and the inclusion of DC’s classic space hero Adam Strange. I may be one of those “wait to binge it on streaming” guys, since I’m way behind on everything as it is, but I’ll at least try to catch the first episode. …There better be at least one Thought-Beast on the show, that’s all I’m saying.

This tweet from Twitter pal Joe sort of got me thinking about that Smallville-esque comparison, though Joe’s point of contention/admiration was more for the “Fight Like El” tagline, which is admittedly both amazing and appalling. And if you’re wondering, yes, the entry for the Zod family character has a reference to kneeling, because that’s just a Zod thing now and you better be used to it. (“Fight Like El” reminded me of these somewhat confrontational DC bookmarks from a while back.)

Oh, that World of Krypton comic, by the way, is a reprint of the first issue of the mini-series of the same name from the mid-ish 1980s by John Byrne and Hellboy creator Mike Mignola. If you’ve never read it, it’s not bad…and if you like it, the entire series has been very conveniently reprinted in a World of Krypton trade paperback released just a week or two ago (along with other Krypton-based stories).

• • •

Oh, and there’s going to be a live-action New Gods movie…you know, no big deal. That of course means…LIVE ACTION SLEEZ:

Well, okay, maybe not. But the director of A Wrinkle in Time, Ava DuVernay, is signed on to direct, and given what I’ve seen of the visuals for that film (which I haven’t had a chance to see yet, despite really, really wanting to) gives me a good feeling about her take on Kirby’s Fourth World. Also, to quote my hopes for this film from Twitter, only with the stupid typo in the original corrected:

“I want this New Gods movie to be the Kirby-est thing that’s ever Kirbied. I want to SEE the quotation marks around assorted words in actors’ dialogue.”

I mean…right? Yes, yes, I know Thor: Ragnarok was very Kirby-ish, but New Gods was straight out of Kirby’s head, no Stan Lee required. I want everyone in their original costumes (yes, even…especially…Black Racer), I want dialogue quoted from the comics, I want that opening bit preserved in its entirety (“THERE CAME A TIME WHEN THE OLD GODS DIED!”), everything. I don’t care if movie audiences are ready for it. Let the studio paraphrase Jack himself on the movie posters: “DON’T ASK, JUST WATCH IT!”

Alas, it comes too late for the Don Rickles cameo:

…though it was suggested having one of his old movies/TV appearances on a television screen might be a good reference for those in the know.

But…c’mon, a New Gods movie. I can’t wait.

• • •

Mark Evanier reports that comics writer Michael Fleisher passed away last month at the age of 75. He was probably most famous for his Spectre and his Jonah Hex (and, ’round these here parts, the amazing Hex), but this is what I’ll remember him for the most:

I wrote a bit about that book a couple of years back…man, I spent I don’t know how many hours perusing that tome. And there it still sits on my bookshelf today, nearly forty years after I first acquired it. Thanks, Michael, for all that entertaining information you provided a young me, just beginning to learn about Superman’s history.

Just when I thought I’d never use the “SMALLVILLE” category tag again.

§ February 9th, 2012 § Filed under retailing, smallville, watchmen § 12 Comments

So I was just going to leave this post (and my smartypantsiness on the Twitter) to be my comment on the whole “Before Watchmen” prequel thing, since that’s been discussed to death by everyone already. But (and you knew there was a “but” coming), I did have someone come into the shop a couple of days ago to buy a copy of the Watchmen trade paperback, telling me the specific reason he was buying it was because of the prequels announcement. “The prequels look interesting,” he said, “and since I never did read the original, I thought I’d better get it before those prequels started coming out!”

Now, for us, sales peaked on the Watchmen trade just prior to the movie’s release, then dropped to almost nothing as soon as it was out. (You know, as usual with comic book movies.) We used to reorder the book every week prior to the movie ever being a factor, ordered tons of the book when the movie was a Big Deal, and now if I reorder the book more than once every few months, I’m surprised. The local market may just be saturated after the big movie-inspired sales bump, on top of the fact that we’ve been selling the darn thing for twenty five years and most comic fans who had even the vaguest interest in giving Watchmen a go have already went.

On the other hand, we may be experiencing a Howard the Duck event, in which the reputation of a once highly-regarded comic has been supplanted by the reputation of a not-so-regarded film adaptation. Any new customers spotting Watchmen on the shelves will think “oh, yeah, that dumb weirdly-violent movie,” not “hey, isn’t that the ground-breaking deconstructionist comic about the state of the superhero genre as it stood in the mid 1980s?”

I’ve no idea how sales on the Watchmen trades have been overall. I can only go by how things are doing at our shop. Maybe its sales haven’t dropped as drastically everywhere else as they did for us, but this is a quarter-century old comic that’s been consistently available for sale, and it wouldn’t surprise me if it isn’t moving like it used to.

So there you go: the Watchmen prequels could very well get those last few stragglers who haven’t picked up Watchmen to maybe try it out, bumping up interest in an item that may have hit some rough times in its post-film adaptation era. I’m basing this entirely on the single data source of our store, and on one customer transaction, but I’ve written posts for this site on shakier foundations, so why would I stop now.

But of course it’s promotion to help keep one of DC’s most famous evergreen graphic novels alive, but going from one famously self-contained graphic novel to, eventually, a shelf of eight graphic novels could be more of an imposing detriment than a long-term sales boost. I guess we’ll see.

Now speaking of which…I have no idea how to order on these prequel mini-series. I’m hoping DC will make the first issues of all of them returnable, so I can order high in case these really take off, but not get stuck if they receive the “check this out, comics based on that crappy movie” reaction. Yeah, yeah, I know everyone online threw a huge shit-fit when “Before Watchmen” was announced, but if actual sales were tied to online reaction, All Star Batman and Robin wouldn’t have been the best-selling comic on our shelves in any given month it deigned to come out.

I suspect they’ll sell reasonably well, but I don’t expect they’ll have the life expectancy of the original, which probably didn’t need to be said but I said it anyway. At the very least, however, it’ll hopefully get a few new people gaining an appreciation for Moore and Gibbons’ Watchmen…even if it’s only by comparison.

I realize none of this gets into the moral or artistic issues of whether or not DC should be doing publishing new Watchmen comics. There are already plenty of other folks arguing about that right now, and maybe I’ll discuss it in a later post, if I feel like getting more grey hair.

For another look at this whole prequel hoohar, here’s the presumably-pseudonymous Sleestak with the article “Controversy as Advertising.”

• • •

In other news, I was looking at DC Comics’ site to check some info on the Watchmen stuff, when I saw this headline:


OH GOD NO…oh, wait, it’s just a Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8/9-esque comics-only follow-up. I hope it’s just page after page of never quite showing heavily photo-referenced drawings of Tom Welling in his Superman suit…like, he’s always in shadow or behind potted palm trees or something.

And then there was that time I watched Smallville for 10 years. (SPOILERS ahead!)

§ May 15th, 2011 § Filed under smallville § 20 Comments

“Hi! I’m wearing a costume!”

I was going to open this post by saying “man, it’s hard to believe it’s really been ten years since this show started,” but then I realize, no, I’m pretty sure I felt the slow passage of all ten seasons of this “no tights” (except for all the other superheroes) “no flights” (except for all the other flying superheroes) series about Clark Kent’s meandering journey into Supermanishness.

But it’s finally over…a show that, despite its awkwardness, and its goofy plotting, and its overreliance on head injuries, and that whole season about magical tattoos (don’t ask), and its weird vacillating between coyness about being too comic-booky and straight-up giving us Hawkman, still managed to keep me tuning in week after week, partially due to an appealing cast but primarily due to the possibility that Annette O’Toole might pop up on screen at any moment.

As for the finale itself:

  • I did really like the moment Clark finally, finally acquired the power of flight via Jor-El’s “flashback vision” review of Clark’s super-abilities. A bit corny, perhaps, but Superman is always best served with a little corn worked in.
  • Speaking of that scene, Zombie-Lionel-Possessed-by-Darkseid was good ‘n’ creepy. Yeah, I was a little disappointed that we didn’t have full-on Darkseid as Darkseid fighting Clark, but 1) hey, it’s Smallville, why would they start giving people what they want now? – and 2) there’s now precedence for the Fourth World characters moving in our world via avatars (thanks to Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle and Final Crisis), but I think we can thank the show’s budget for that decision.
  • Okay, the show’s premise, as originally stated, was “no tights, no flights.” We weren’t going to get Clark in costume because, hey, he’s not Superman yet, and we weren’t going to see him flying, because…it was too superhero-y, I guess? So way back when I figured, when the show finally ended, the final scene would be Luthor about to do something nefarious, when, suddenly, he turns to see behind him (and we see at the side of the screen) a flutter of red cape, and perhaps a boot, and then THE END.

    Now, had the show only run three or four years, that might have been fine. But the show kept stringin’ folks along for ten years, and during that time we discovered “no tights, no flights” only applied to Clark, as we started seeing more and more superheroes and supervillains pop up who violated both rules. (And even Clark himself took a flight once in a while, kinda sorta.) And I figured, okay, after all this time, surely the last episode will just be full-on Superman action, as a reward for all the folks who stuck around for all this time.

    Well, no, not exactly.

    I’m not complaining, as such…it’s not as if there’s any shortage of Superman movies or TV shows already, so it’s not as if the world is suffering a loss in potential Superman action. But after ten seasons, I was kind of hoping for more than just…a fluttering cape, and extreme close-ups of Clark’s face while he’s wearing the costume (as shown above), and bits of CGI that were hardly more than what we saw in this flash-forward. But I understand the decision: this is a show, at least as originally imagined, about Clark, not Superman. I still would have liked at least one shot of Clark in the full outfit just as a final payoff, though. And it’s not like they didn’t have Clark in other superhero suits prior to the red ‘n’ blues…giving us a good look at Clark as Superman would have been a nice counterpoint to those other outfits we’ve been having to put up with over the last couple of years. At least we did get him ripping the shirt open to reveal the “S” at the end of the show.

  • So did anyone else think that the Ghost of Jonathan Kent was some kind of projection sent by Jor-El? Especially when he started telling Clark “hey, you need to go back to Jor-El and have him help you out?” I mean, it seems like all the clues are there.
  • Also, I may need to rewatch the series (NOTE: I’m not actually going to rewatch the series) to figure out when Jor-El made the transition from “enemy of humanity” to “tough-love computer dad prepping his son for superheroing.” Wasn’t there a whole subplot about Clark possibly being sent to Earth to conquer it on behalf of Jor-El? How did that get resolved…it’s been so long, I don’t even remember.
  • I also don’t recall the exact point in the series when Lex finally turned from “put-upon friend who knows there’s something up with Clark” to “evil arch-nemesis.”
  • Okay, back to the finale: offing Tess seemed like an awfully dark way to go with that character, but I guess we needed to reestablish that Lex was a bad dude, or something?

    And speaking of Lex…I was sure they were going to allow Lex to retain his knowledge of Clark’s powers. The conversation in the burnt-out Luthor mansion felt like it went a long way to establishing an adversarial relationship that would be just between them, and while it was never explicitly stated Lex would keep the secret, it sort of felt implied. Or maybe I was just reading too much into it. But it’s a moot point anyway.

  • The resolution of the “Apokolips drawn to Earth by people infected with the Omega symbol” plot went a different way than I expected as well. Given that Clark can dispel the Omega symbol simply with the powers of Concerned Onlooking and Being Inspirational, as he did with Ollie during this episode, I figured they were leading up to having Clark finally show up in the Superman outfit, inspire the people of Earth with hope in the face of destruction, and thus all the Omega infection would pfffft disappear. Okay, he does say that he can’t do for the entire planet what he did for Ollie, but I thought maybe he was just being modest.

    Instead, of course, he just flies up and pushes Apokolips away, which doesn’t appear to be any big deal, and all the Omega symbols vanish. Another Smallville-style simple resolution!

  • So I wonder when I’m going to get my first request at the shop for this Smallville comic that appears in the episode:

    Maybe I can direct them to these.

    And frankly, that comic’s very existence within the Smallville milieu raises more questions than it answers.

So anyway, Smallville…probably overstayed its welcome by a season or five, but I think I’m going to miss it now that it’s gone. …Well, there is that one episode I missed, where Lex marries Lana, which originally aired in the middle of a bunch of weeks of reruns, so I’m not quite done yet. …Is there no escape?

“I’ll appreciate some of you a lot more once I get this 12-foot-high electrical fence built around my house. Ha ha.”

§ February 13th, 2011 § Filed under smallville § 8 Comments

So it looks like Michael Rosenbaum is returning to Smallville to reprise his role as Lex Luthor for the series finale.

Well, good…while the Lex/Clark conflict did wear out its welcome sometime in season 3, it would have been disappointing to have the series conclude without some “closure” (as such, given this is the beginning of the lifelong Superman vs. Luthor enmity) to this particular relationship which drove so much of the series. I realize they could have had another actor portraying Luthor, but it wouldn’t have been the same, really. I mean, the guy I talk about here, or someone like him, would have been okay, but…yeah, it’ll be nice to have Rosenbaum back. The handful of times he was allowed to be a full-on scenery-chewing villain were fun, and gave the show a bit of spark that it was missing.

Of course, being Smallville, I fear they’ll find a way to louse this up somehow, but we’ll see soon enough, I suppose. Still hoping for at least some screen time for Clark finally as Superman, but there’s still the possibility of Tom Welling in the red-‘n’-blues just for the final closing shot. Boy, wouldn’t that just honk some people off.

Speaking of people and the honking-off thereof, I did like this quote from the linked article:

“I appreciate all of their passion, their relentlessness, and even their threats. Ha ha.”

That’s one sarcastic “ha ha” at the end there. You know the dude was getting some serious better-turn-these-over-to-the-police emails from the crazier fans, especially after it had recently been reported he wasn’t coming back to the show.

So anyway, Smallville: usually fun, generally dopey, but it’s mostly been entertaining, and the actors are appealing, and I’ll actually miss the show once it’s gone, I imagine. Well, I won’t miss that season with the magic tattoos. What was up with that?

And now a thing that only bothers me.

§ October 18th, 2010 § Filed under smallville § 10 Comments

A couple of things that occurred to me as I was watching the most recent episode, #200, of Smallville (SPOILER WARNINGS):

  • Since this is Smallville‘s tenth season, that means the show has been running for nearly 1/7th of Superman’s existence. Pretty weird, huh? (That’s the kind of insight that keeps readers comin’ back!)
  • Now this next thing reminded me of a strange feeling of…I don’t know, oddness, I guess, that I’ve had regarding this series since it began. At the beginning of the show, we get a reminder at the Smallville High reunion, via a banner, that the “present” of the show takes place in the year 2010. Okay, that’s no secret, but it does provide a timeframe for comparison when Clark is thrust into the future, and sees this date on a copy of The Daily Planet:

    Also, we learn, along with Clark, that not only did the gang pick up a replacement Jimmy Olsen along the way (if you don’t know, don’t ask), but that by this point, Clark is openly acting as Superman. Well, not “openly” in that people know Clark is Superman, but you know what I mean. (Also, we, the viewers, know he’s been doing it for at least four years, since the last flash-forward to some Superman action was to 2013.)

    The reason I bring that all up…when I was but a young Mikester, I grew up with the idea that Clark was Superboy first, then Superman later. The Superboy stories took place “in the past,” while Superman stories took place in the present day. Now, “in the past” was this nebulous period that ranged from the ’30s to the ’70s, depending of course what period of Superboy you happened to be reading.

    This is probably what is creating this odd sense of dissonance I have as I’m watching Smallville, which is, for all intents and purposes, “The Adventures of Superboy.” Suddenly, “Superboy” is the present-day storyline, while “Superman” is a thing that, while we’re aware it’s going to happen, won’t be happening for a while yet. (Okay, it’ll probably happen in a few months, at this end of this season, but this has been the tone for the series since the beginning.) Not having Superman as the present day, current version of the character feels…I hate to say “wrong,” because it’s not, it’s just a new interpretation of the character, but to this old fanboy who’s read more comics than is probably good for him, this alteration of the traditional Superboy/Superman temporal relationship to the real world calendar does stir up strange responses in me. And the most strange response is actually typing the phrase “alteration of the traditional Superboy/Superman temporal relationship to the real world calendar” for which I have no excuse.

    Anyway, that’s been bugging me for a while, so there, it’s finally off my chest and onto my weblog. Where it belongs.

  • The very brief snippets of Superman-type action we’ve seen over the years makes me wish we’d get more than, maybe, the one episode we might actually get of full-on Superman adventures in this series. I’d particularly like to see more of 2017’s no-nonsense Clark Kent that we saw all too briefly.

    Would I want another season of (let’s call it) Metropolis, focusing on Superman, from the same folks? …Maybe if they dialed back the “emo” a bit.

This post contains minor spoilers for the first two episodes of Smallville Season 10.

§ October 4th, 2010 § Filed under jack kirby, smallville § 7 Comments

So I’ve finally caught up on the new season of Smallville…yeah, I was a whole week behind, boo hoo…and the first episode ends with Darkseid showing up. And we’ve had an obnoxious radio talk show host referenced on the program by the name of “Godfrey,” who is clearly supposed to be Glorious Godfrey, another of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World characters.

Now, I love all this Fourth World stuff. It’s Kirby completely unfettered, with pretty much every crazy idea getting slapped down on a page, and all of it, somehow, working. The very idea of live-action renditions of these characters showing up in the prime time TV series is fantastic, though I’m sure we’re not getting full-on in-your-face 100% accurate translations of Kirby’s designs. But, um…that CGI Darkseid from the end of the first episode looked pretty darn close.

But, you know, what the hell? Why not Kirby it up? It’s the last season…it’s not like they have to be afraid of getting canceled or anything. What’s the worst that can happen…viewers might accidentally be exposed to something awesome?

And there’s incentive! As I promised on my Twitter thingie, I would give the producers of Smallville three whole dollars, in genuine American currency, via PayPal, personal check, or money order, if they give us a live action version of the Fourth World’s embodiment of Death, the Black Racer:

And I don’t mean “This week on Smallville, Clark and Lois visit a ski resort and encounter a young man with strange powers” and it’s a dude in a red and blue ski outfit, with yellow gloves and a stylized wool ski mask that kind of looks like a knight’s helmet. I mean, I want a guy, in that armor, wearing that helmet, and freakin’ flying.

I will accept no less.

Plus, if we’re opening up Smallville to Kirby’s Fourth World stuff, that means the way is finally cleared for this show’s long-awaited special guest star…Mr. Warmth himself, Don Rickles:

(If you want a little background on why and how this even happened, here you go.)

A couple of other notes about Smallville:

  • I think I would have been on board with Old Clone Lex being the new replacement Lex Luthor for the show, which even kinda sorta follows what happened with Lex in the comics that one time, if you squint a little:

    Frankly, giving us a Lex that ain’t afraid to leave some toothmarks on the scenery is what this series really needs. Of course, given what happens in the story, this option is kind of out of the question.

    More likely, Young Kid Lex Clone, rescued from the labs, will probably age-accelerate into the show’s previous Lex, actor Michael Rosenbaum, assuming they can throw enough money at him to get him back on the show, shave his head, and reprise his role for an episode or three. (I understand why maybe he’d not want to, but it seems like it’d be bit of a disappointment not to finally get our Superman Versus the Lex Luthor Who’d Been Around for Most of the Show’s Run confrontation.)

  • You know how some folks were wondering…well, how I was wondering, anyway, about how they were going to resolve the secret identity situation, given the fact that Clark’s been toolin’ around for ten seasons with no glasses, and that when he finally puts on the Superman costume, everyone he knows is going to look at him and say “hey, Clark, what’s with the get-up?”

    I think I finally figured out the producers’ solution. They’re just going to make sure all of Clark’s friends already know about his super powers, and that any folks outside his circle of friends don’t really care about Clark enough to notice that the guy in the blue suit and red cape is him.

    That’s gotta be better than my previous assumption, that since Smallville and now Metropolis are apparently the Head Trauma Capitals of the World, the subsequent brain damage everyone has by being knocked out by the Bad Guys of the Week will block their memories of Clark’s dual identities.

    Sure, why not.

  • For more Smallville commentary, Chris Sims and David Uzumeri will be reviewing every episode this season, starting here. God speed, my friends.

I realize I’m also contributing to the advertising, but at least I’m not really paying anything to do so.

§ May 20th, 2010 § Filed under smallville, Uncategorized § 9 Comments

So the Season 9 finale of Smallville aired last week, and the prologue for that episode featured a flash-forward to the year 2013, where Lois is a full-fledged reporter for the Daily Planet, Perry White is the Chief, and Clark is off to a super-rescue, diverting a plane from a collision course with the Planet building:

A closer look at what’s going on in the reflection, there:

And enjoy it, because that’s probably all we’ll get of Clark Kent in the costume until, as has been stated by folks on the show, the very end. An end that’s finally in sight, as the news is now out that the show is wrapping up next season.

What I am hoping for is that we get an episode or two (or maybe a two-hour series finale) of some honest-to-goodness Superman action rather than just a closing shot of Clark finally donning the familiar togs. That would be, I think, the proper payoff for 10 years of meandering and teasing and hints at his “ultimate destiny.” It’d be nice if Michael Rosenbaum would come back to reprise his role as Lex Luthor for the last episode, but I suspect they couldn’t pay him enough to shave his head again.

And while the show did improve a bit in the last couple of years…yeah, it’s goofy, but it’s a fun goofy, but I think enough’s enough at this point. It was probably enough several points ago. Plus, after this last year with Zod as the primary antagonist, I don’t think I ever need to hear the phrase “kneel…before Zod” ever again. Sorry, General.

Actress Allison Mack, who portrays the popular supporting character “Chloe Sullivan” (who has never made an appearance in the regular Superman comics, despite the occasional announcement), is apparently scaling back her participation in the final season, which may disappoint the folks who made this commercial.* I remember very early on thinking the eventual reveal would be that Chloe, to separate herself from her tabloid-esque beginnings, would change her professional name to “Lois Lane.” Luckily I don’t have a day job doing psychic predictions, though my accuracy rate is about the same.

So anyway…sorry to see you go, Smallville, but not too sorry. It is going to be a bit strange after next season to not have Smallville to kick around anymore, though I imagine there are plenty of people out there who probably thought it ended years ago.

Another superhero show that’s shuffled off this mortal coil is Heroes, which will not be returning next season, and nobody seems particularly torn up about it. Well, I suspect the cast and crew aren’t terribly pleased. And it is a bit of a shame, I think, since this last season was actually pretty good, with a creepy and occasionally oddly sympathetic antagonist (which resulted in this lawsuit, by the way).

I liked the cast, I like the interactions of the characters, and while the plots and events were pretty familiar to anyone who’s ever read a comic book ever, it was still fun to see it all played out in live action. There’s maybe a slight chance of a wrap-up movie to conclude everything, which would be nice (and probably would help the chances of continuing DVD sales, if people know there’s an actual conclusion to the story), but I’m not holding my breath.

• • •

Max Huffman, creator of the most excellent webcomic Mocktopus, needs help, as the laptop he uses to produce his comics has kicked the bucket, and needs a new one to continue gifting us with his art. If you go to this Kickstarter page, you can contribute to the cause and, for your trouble, get cool stuff! For a ridiculously low $5, you’ll get a signed custom sketch! (I’m totally asking for Swamp Thing.) So go help the kid out…he’s a good guy who does funny comics, and I’m sure we’d all would like to read more of them.

* I may have also contributed a bit of commentary about the commercial to pal Dorian‘s News Briefs over at the Bureau Chiefs site.

This is only just barely a spoiler post for last week’s JSA episode of SMALLVILLE.

§ February 10th, 2010 § Filed under smallville, Uncategorized § 23 Comments

So young Clark Kent, who is now apparently a man in his 30s and an established reporter for the Daily Planet but still isn’t Superman yet, is in the dilapidated former headquarters for the long-disbanded Justice Society of America. Wandering about the main room, he pulls covers off of old display cases and the JSA meeting table, and from this painting:

Well, let’s consider this for a moment. One, this means someone in the Smallville universe actually dressed like Mr. Terrific, whom you can see on the end there, “FAIR PLAY” on his belt an’ all. But, you know, that’s okay, because all things considered, we probably shouldn’t be splitting hairs over who has the goofiest costume. And at least he had a proper superhero costume, Clark.

Second, the Spectre is on the team. The ghostly incarnation of the Wrath of God. All-powerful, entirely horrifying. Turns people into wood and cuts ’em up with chainsaws. Okay, that was more ’70s Spectre than JSA-era, but still, a superpowered ghost who acts as an agent of the Almighty exists in the Smallville universe. Though, as I noted on the Twitter last night, I really kinda hope the Smallville version of the Spectre is just a guy in white body paint and green Speedos who runs around shouting “WooOOoo! I’m a ghost!”

Third, Hawkman tells Clark that he and his team were active “before they were in diapers.” Er, before Clark and his friends were in diapers, that is. So assuming Clark’s age in the show is — maybe early 20s? — and given the apparent ages of the JSA members, that would put Smallville‘s Golden Age (as it is more or less described in dialogue) in the mid to late 1980s. So we had Reagan (and later, Bush Sr.) as President, Billy Idol, Members Only jackets, Charles in Charge, and the JSA. Sure, why not.

READ MORE ABOUT IT: Relive some of the highlights of Twitter’s “Drunkville” liveblogging at Chris Sims’ website, with special guest star Kevin Church.

This is the last Smallville post, honest.

§ November 11th, 2008 § Filed under smallville, Uncategorized Comments Off on This is the last Smallville post, honest.

Oh, sure, you could settle for reading some lesser comic site, with useless junk like “reviews” and “current news” and “interesting content.” But only I — I — have the courage to dare bring you a third post discussing Smallville. Can your heart handle the excitement?

Joshnunn wishes

“During seasons 2 and three I kept wishing that one of the pay-offs for watching all the way through might be that Chloe gets put in witness protection or something and takes the name Lois Lane.”

I think a number of people thought sort of along the same lines…including me, half-jokingly suggesting that eventually she’d have to take a “pen name” or something (perhaps to separate herself from her tabloid-esque reporting) for the Planet. You know, “Chloe Sullivan” — “Chloe S.” — “Chloes” — “Chlois” — “Lois” — well, that works better speaking it than writing it, but maybe she would have compressed her real name like that, then grabbed “Lane” from, I don’t know, a street sign or something, and vee-ola, “Lois Lane.”

I have a rich fantasy life.

Michael-Sensei is in Japan, and he says he’s a few seasons behind over there (where he just endured the witchcraft episodes, the poor guy). But he also says (and if the the kanji in his comment does strange things to your browser, I apologize)

“…The series is called ‘ヤング・スーパーマン’ or ‘Young Superman’ over here. I wonder if DC’s lawyers thought of that to get around the Superboy thing.”

Maybe that’s part of it (someone more familiar with the ins and outs of what DC does and does not want to do with Superboy can chime in here, if they wish), but I seem to remember hearing that there was some concern whether folks would “get” that this was about a pre-Superman Clark Kent. (A couple of the titles in other countries use the name “Superman” as well). I really don’t know. I do like the name “Young Superman,” though perhaps it promises a bit more than the show itself actually delivers.

Anonymous cracks wise about Superman’s secret identity in the show

“And if all else fails, there’s time-travel, or the Super-Kiss he used on Lois. Can’t wait to see him use it on Lex in the series finale!”

You know, they’ve got to break that sexual tension between Lex and Clark somehow.

Old Bull Lee puts in a third appearance (he’s a trooper!) to explain

“I might be wrong, but I thought Clark went to college for a few months (including a short stint on the football team), then dropped out because decided he needed to help out back on the farm.”

That sounds right. I don’t go back to rewatch the show, and…I don’t recall every single detail. But I’m sure it was something like that. Which reminds me…now that Clark is working at the Planet, who’s running the farm? Is Clark just doing all the chores at super-speed before leaving for Metropolis in the morning, and not worrying about “keeping up appearances,” leaving the neighbors to wonder how the work’s getting done on the Kent farm?

Pal Nat gets in a joke, then says he

“…Stopped watching the show after about season 3”

You know, I think that’s about as far along as I got into Lois and Clark before it just got too dumb. Just thought I’d mention that.

Mr. Allison Blaire is awesome

“I think ‘Smallville’ Clark should start wearing the glasses and fedora in his everyday guise, like the old school Siegel and Shuster version, when he’s making the transition to full fledged Superman. Or maybe he can gel his hair back like Dean Cain”

Oh, God, Clark in a fedora. I’m not going to be happy now until I see this regularly happen on the show. And since Dean Cain’s been brought up…I always thought Cain as Clark and as Superman looked reasonably different enough to make the dual identity thing work. ‘Course, plenty of time in the make-up chair helps, but still….

Ah, Laura clears it up for us

“To answer your college question, Clark dropped out after his dad died. That was season 5.

“Lois didn’t graduate high school, went to college after Clark had Lex pull some strings for her, then got kicked out for drinking or something, all of which happened way back in season 4.”

Ah, okay. Thanks, Laura!

Former employee Josh chimes in

“I’m not sure if you covered this, but any hints that he’s using his super mass hypnosis?”

No, not yet, but I suspect hypnosis of some kind will be part of whatever likely Jor-El-caused “whammy” is going to make the Clark/Superman ID probable, as I mentioned a couple of posts back…assuming this ID thing is even going to be given closure on the show.

Suedenim has some good things to say, including

“Better [revealing your secret to your friends], IMO, than have everyone think you’re this secretive and unreliable weirdo who *clearly* has *some* deep dark secret, but won’t confide in anyone.”

Quite a whole lot of Clark’s problems stem from not being honest about who he is…he has good reason, certainly, but had he owned up to Lex early on, it seems to me Lex might not have gone down his eventual villainous path. The secret-keeping just seemed to feed Lex’s continued obsession, so Clark had a hand in creating his own arch-nemesis…which is in line with the comics (well, the Silver Age version) to a certain extent.

Your (my?) Obedient Serpent corrects me on Clark’s actual position at the Planet (copy boy), and also says

“Aaron Ashmore was BORN to play Jimmy Olsen.”

Come to think of it…physically I think he comes closest in appearance to the classic version of the character. I think Ashmore’s version of the character is a little more together than the one from the comics, however.

Pj Perez sez

“OK, I try usually to avoid reading about any “new” Smallville developments, as I am watching the series fresh on DVD and just now have gotten to season 4, but I enjoyed these comments and your replies nonetheless”

Thanks, Pj! I worried about going on about this as long as I did, but, hey, people seem to be interested in talking about it, and others are finding it good readin’ as well. (But I think this’ll be the last part, anyway…no need to push my luck!)

Pj also notes, from personal experience, that a college degree isn’t necessarily required to enter a career in journalism, re: my concern over all the folks on the show who didn’t appear to finish college but went on to successful jobs anyway. So I guess Clark and Lois’ positions on the Planet are at least plausible.

Juisarian says

“I think that’s the most Supes we’re going to get in our Smallville for the near future – this show is all about infinitely approaching Superman. It’s a surface tension which they can’t always maintain and still make the show worth watching.”

Yeah…despite my wish for more fun superhero action on the show, actually putting Clark into the suit would violate the spirit of Smallville. It’s not about Clark fighting crime as Superman…it’s about Clark learning how to become Superman. Though I still think as the ultimate payoff for the series, we need to see at least a little Superman in Action…er, action, if only just for part of the last episode.

Tomy, he of the first comment for these Smallville posts, notes

“…I’m more of a fan of silver age Superboy/Legion era, where he picked it all up as a kid and then was suddenly superman. i guess that’s why this transitional phase the show is stuck on grates me a little.”

That’s one of the things that sort of bothers me a little, though I realize the realities of having to fill so many hours of TV each season. I sit there watching the show, and thinking to myself, “boy, they’re making Superman’s origin so unnecessarily convoluted,” with all the crystals and conspiracies and Indian cave paintings(!) and is Jor-El evil or not, and how’d Lex’s father get involved in this, and wait, Green Arrow is a cast member now?

Okay, moving on to one last comments section, from yesterday’s post…I’m only going to note a couple of the remarks, to show you all some mercy.

Suedenim returns with some more info re: the “Smallville” nickname

“The question comes up periodically, and the last time I saw it, it was conclusively shown to have shown up first on the animated show.”

Okay, I Googled it, and over at The Fortress of Soliloquy, there’s this comment going over the history of the name, and agreeing with Suedenim’s note. I could have sworn it appeared in the mid-’80s revamp, but looking through my issues of the Man of Steel miniseries (which kicked off the revamp) I didn’t spot it. Lois did repeatedly call Clark “Kent,” which felt a bit on the harsh side.

But I really do like the nickname “Smallville” for Clark. It’s dismissive in a goofy but not terribly insulting way, and plays into the perceived differences between Clark and Superman.

Patrick C asks

“Would it be worth it to netflix the old seasons and catch up?”

Ooh, I don’t know. Maybe you can pick ‘n’ choose, just watching the ones that look interesting to you. KryptonSite has an extensive episode guide you can check out. Overall I like this show, for all its problems…it’s mindless action entertainment with an attractive cast and only occasionally dips to offensively stupid levels (as opposed to its usual level of inoffensively stupid). Your mileage may vary, as they say. If you do decide to watch all the episodes, at least skip the vampire one. Woo boy.

Okay, and for the sake of my sanity and yours, that’s the last post on the show for a while. At least until they decide to end it, at which point I may do a final wrap-up. So thanks for reading all that, and thanks for your interesting comments and questions and such.

So, aside from Smallville…what’d I miss? Say, I hear that Bat-Manga book is somethin’ else…anyone talking about it out there?

More Smallville talk, Part II in a series.

§ November 10th, 2008 § Filed under smallville, Uncategorized Comments Off on More Smallville talk, Part II in a series.

Okay, as threatened, here’s part II of “Mike Goes On and On re: Smallville and Watches His Web Site’s Traffic Plummet.” But, what the hell, I used to talk about each new episode of Smallville on this site, but fell out of the habit. I guess this is me making up for lost time.

And awaaaaay we go:

Wilfredo hammers

“…The final nail for me was when Lois was insisting calling Clark ‘Smallville’… in Smallville! I’m more than sure I’m not the first that’s noticed that.”

Yeah, that does seem a little peculiar…mostly it just grates a bit that Lois is…well, not that she’s in the show at all, but that she’s in the town of Smallville as much as she is. In the comics, Lana was the quintessential “small town girl” in Clark’s life, whereas Lois was the “Big City Gal,” and the show sort of maintains this. But with Lois being in Smallville so much feels like crossing the streams a bit.

Also, the whole Lois calling Clark “Smallville” thing…that came out of the mid-80s comics revamp, I’m pretty sure.

David Z kids

“Never tried watching Smallville. I never watched the Birds of Prey show, either. Was that any good?”

And yes, as he said, he was joking. But I did want to take the opportunity to repeat my belief that had Birds of Prey received a second season, I think it might have improved a bit. There was potential there…an attractive cast, an interesting premise…but it was just a bit too rough around the edges, a bit too dopey, which was too bad.

Longtime Customer Jo had a lot to say in defense of the show…I’m not going to quote it all, but she pretty well sums up, I think, why people seem to be enjoying this new season a lot more than the last three or four dozen seasons. In short, it feels a lot more superhero-y, and it’s a relief to finally be moving in that direction after years of just sort of running in place.

Jonathan Miller supposes

“Supposedly, this is the ‘last’ season, which would make sense. Which means it’ll get strung out another few years anyway.”

Eight years feels like an enormously long time for this type of show, and I don’t know that this story (and Clark’s putting off “his destiny”) can realistically go on yet another year without driving us all crazy. I’m guessing without spending the fifteen seconds it would take to Google this up that the show’s ratings are still strong, so it’s still making money, so there’s incentive to keep the show on the air.

Pal Tom barks out

“I understand Lana and Lex are gone now. What’s the point of even keeping it going? Please tell me it’s ending this year.”

It should end this year, yes, but I suspect we’re getting one more year. But Lana leaving was probably necessary, as Clark makes the transition from young man in Smallville to adult in Metropolis. And Lex…we needed a break from Lex, and the show hasn’t suffered much with his absence. But it feels like the show is building to a big return to the character, and I suspect that the actor not wanting to shave his head for a guest appearance may put the kibosh on that.

Poor Mojo reveals

“I want Clark to man up and develop the morals, intelligence and conviction of character we expect of him.”

It feels like that this is the end goal of this season…we’re taking some small steps in that direction so far, which will accelerate as we approach the end of the season…and hopefully will pay off if this turns out to be the end of the series.

Jim notes

“I like the Remy Zero ‘Save Me’ theme song. And then it’s on to Survivor.”

I like the theme song, too. Which reminds me, we haven’t had as much blatant WB musical product placement this season. I suppose there’s a reason for this which I missed and someone will bring up in my comments section eventually.

Speaking of the comments section (as if I haven’t been), “Anonymous” nags off-topically

“I just found out there’s a “Swamp Thing” still appearing in Ambush Bug!
Is it the purple one of Earth-6 from the first issue, or the real deal?

“******* SCANS, PLEASE!!!!!!”

You’ve posted about a half-dozen of these comments nagging me about this, regardless of whatever the post is about that you’re commenting on. It’s a bit annoying, and I don’t want to ban your IP from the comments section…so please stop it.

Back on topic, Sarah sez

“I know two people who have watched Smallville from day freaking one, and are still watching it. I am kind of in awe of those people. I hit the eject button somewhere in season five. I stand by the sweetness, sense of wonder, and nods to the epic of the early years, despite the clunky writing, but even I can only take so much.”

I am one of those people who watched it from Day One, and…yeah, I probably could have skipped a couple of those dire middle seasons. The novelty of the premise, while causing some consternation at first (“A Superman TV show? Without Superman in costume? WHA–??”), certainly carried the show early on as we saw, as Sarah says, “nods to the epic.” But one can’t help but think “oh, for God’s sake, move on already! Fly! Catch planes!” after a few years of enduring the show.

Brian Smith notes

‘I follow the comics, he follows the show and he sends me a lot of “Did this happen in the comics like it happened in the show?’ e-mails.”

My girlfriend and I sort of go through this, too. She’ll ask me if something in the show happened in the comic, and I’ll go on and on in excruciating detail with issue numbers an’ all and she immediately regrets asking.

Well, I’m not quite that bad, honest. I’ve mostly weaned myself from the “ooh, you’re asking me about comics! Here comes the info dump!” urge. Except here on the site.

Adam Horovitz observes

“Some of [the show’s actors] look older than me, though.”

I think it was Peter David who noted that he was okay with a Clark Kent that looked older and was a foot taller than his high school classmates, because it’s freakin’ Superman. But really, Clark’s gettin’ a bit long in the tooth by this point….

Adam also says

“I’m told season 8 is better, but I’m still not quite recovered from season 7.”

Well, Adam…it’s still kinda dumb, but the overhaul of the cast and the show’s direction does freshen up the program a bit. It’s a bit more light, and seems to be headed in a specific, if distant, direction.

Old Bull Lee returns to say

“…But another thing great about this season is they’ve been largely staying away from the magic crystal/Jor-Ex Machina stories.”

The Krypton stuff is necessary, I think, but yeah, they’ve had a bit of an overkill with it in the series. Plus, it’s a little too much “here’s more stuff and people from that dead planet you came from so let’s chase after them for most of the season.” It’s like an endless series of MacGuffins to string along Clark and keep him occupied for several episodes. It’s a map, a crystal, a “key,” etc.

Philip says

“I drop in on ‘Smallville’ occasionally for some of the ‘Justice League’ episodes. Not interested in a show about Clark Kent getting all Peter-Parkery. I am probably being unfair, but I prefer my Superman punching meteors and fighting volcanoes with his bare hands.”

Yeah, it’s as if the creators of the show almost did their job too well. Smallville was built around the idea of a youthful Clark Kent learning the superhero ropes, perhaps attracting viewers that otherwise wouldn’t be interested in a standard Superman TV show. But I suspect we’re at the point that the fans have had enough build-up, now they want the payoff: i.e. full-on superheroic action.

Baal amazes

“Season six is where I think I’d had enough. I just couldn’t take the formulaic meteor freak of the week, the constant pain of any man’s relationship with Lana, and the limitations of certain cast members’ talent. Seven I sampled the season opener and couldn’t even finish it. This year? Whoa. I am still watching and no one’s more amazed than me.”

Again, I think that’s indicative of the show’s retooling with its Metropolis-heavy setting and reshuffled cast. It feels like a lighter, more fun show, no longer weighed down by subplots and character relationships from seasons past.

Mike Loughlin gives up

“I was ready to give up a couple seasons ago, but they brought in Green Arrow, then Martian Manhunter, my 2 favorite DC characters. With all the crap they flung at the screen, I think the writers actually did a good job with those two. They kept Ollie’s origin the same! And Martian Manhunter is now Detective John Jones, and mentoring Clark on occasion! And there’s a Justice League! And Clark’s starting to be a hero!”

The fanboy in me wishes for the apparently non-existent possibility of Batman and Wonder Woman guest-appearances, but that ain’t happenin’. But I do like that Clark doesn’t exist in a vacuum, that the show is acknowledging a wide DC Universe is out there. So my fanboy side isn’t entirely disappointed.

I am kind of wondering if we’ll ever see the Martian Manhunter in his actual Martian appearance. I mean, we did get a blurry glimpse of his cape a season or two back, but perhaps a big green man walking around Smallville may be pushing the envelope just a little too much.

Hoo boy. There’s gonna be a part III to this, I think. I’m very, very sorry.

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