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Oh, right, remember Miracleman?

§ July 8th, 2020 § Filed under self-promotion, superman, this week's comics, x-men § 4 Comments

So a couple of days ago I asked you all for a little help regarding my eyeball-related medical treatments and associated bills via a GoFundMe campaign. I was thinking at best I’d reach the goal amount, which would cover some outstanding bills, a couple laser treatments to hopefully, finally stem the constant bleeding in my eyes, and a few follow-up visits (likely requiring more injections).

Well, you really came through for me. The goal was reached within twelve ours, and folks are still contributing. Any extra money I receive will continue to go to medical bills and debt. If, with any luck, I finally get through this eye stuff and money is left over, I’ll find a worthy charity to give it to.

I said this on the GoFundMe page, and I’ve been blathering about it on Twitter…but I have been very moved by this enormous outpouring of help from everyone. I just couldn’t believe so many people care about some dude who sells comics and also types too much about them on the internet. I can’t possibly thank you all enough for what you’ve done.

• • •

Okay, so this week’s new issue of Superman reminded me a lot of the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League series from the ’80s, and I’m sure having that series’ artist Kevin Maguire on this new book helped a lot.

It was mostly a light, funny read except, of course, when it wasn’t, as Superman and Dr. Fate try to work out whatever problems Supes is having. More something that’s essentially talking heads (what, in a Bendis book, who would’ve guessed) it remains compelling reading as Superman works through his feelings on recent events in his comics. It’s not often you see your mainstream superhero books tackle the emotional impact of whatever super-shenanigans they were responsible for. And here you do, and somehow it’s interesting.

Plus I forgot we had a new Dr. Fate, which is from…I don’t know, two or three reboots ago, right? So I didn’t know if that new Fate was still around or if we were back to the original dude. If the new guy’s turned up in other stuff recently, I don’t know, since I’m still behind on just about everything. I’m catching up, though, one comic at a time!

Now this one I was interested in, as, hold onto your hats, I’ve never actually read the original graphic novel! In fact, my primary memory of God Loves, Man Kills is when I somehow managed to catch some religious TV show in the early 1980s looking at some then-recent comic books, including that very volume. I can’t remember many specifics about what the panel on this show had to say, except they weren’t entirely thrilled with the imagery of Professor X being crucified, and that the ended the discussion with “this cost $5.95? I remember when they were ten cents!” (Also, they talked a little about Thor, and his being the “God of Thunder” which was also apparently a problem.)

Anyway, I finally have my mitts on at least half the story, and since this is the “extended cut,” there are a few new introductory pages of what I’m presuming to be a framing sequence (with the other part of the frame in #2), featuring Kitty Pryde. Oh, and it’s by Chris (excuse me, “Christopher”) Claremont and Brent Anderson, the folks what did the original book. You know, that’s kinda neat. And there’s some back matter, too, interviews and such about the making of this story.

The story is pretty much Peak X-Men, with all the characters you’d expect, hanging out in the mansion, getting persecuted for being mutants, all that sort of thing. I mean, when I think “X-Men Comics,” this is what I think of, down to being written by Mr. Claremont, back before the 1990s arrived and the X-franchise was splintered and more-or-less destroyed. Well, okay, maybe the endless array of never-ending subplots aren’t as involved, but you can’t have everything.

And it turns out, it’s a good story, in case you hadn’t heard about this here graphical novel. A Falwell-type religious leader has it in for them mutants, successfully taking them on in the media, and meanwhile, some bad people are going around killing mutants, and The X-Men Are There to put a stop to all this. A nice point that’s made is that in a televised debate between said religious leader (Stryker) and leader of the X-Men, Professer Charles Xavier, it’s Stryker who comes out the clear winner, being charismatic and convincing and knowing ahow to play to the cameras, while our Professor X, who doesn’t know how to deal with the media, comes out a bit off-putting. A nice comment on how “truth” and “facts” can get easily steamrolled.

Another interesting bit in this half of the story involves Kitty, and the aftermath of her fight with a fellow dance class student who thinks Stryker’s got the right idea about getting rid of mutants. Kitty, a mutant herself, clearly objects to this, and her classmate refers to her as a “mutie-lover.” Following a brief scuffle, the instructor of the class, Stevie Hunter, a Black woman, tries to calm Kitty down, to which Kitty responds how Ms. Hunter would have responded if the other student had said “n*****-lover” instead.

The N-word is not censored in the comic, which I wanted to address, if only because not that long ago, in Marvel’s Miracleman reprints, the same word was censored, when it wasn’t in the original. I suspect the difference is context, in which the X-Men usage is simply making explicit the X-Men’s allegorical themes regarding racism and bigotry, while in Miracleman it’s a Black man using the word to describe himself in a derisive manner. Both uses are about the racist treatment of Black people, but the X-Men example is a little more obvious in its purpose. …Or, you know, just different editors making different decisions, and I’m just reading too much into it, which, you know, I never do. Regardless, it was still a bit of a shock to see, particularly in the current questioning of whether white people should even be using that slur in any context, no matter the point being made. Look, I don’t even like typing the censored version here.

I am glad I finally read this, or at least half of it, after all these years. It’s definitely a product of its time, with evil folks using religious as a weapon against the oppressed. Whew, thank goodness that doesn’t happen anymore. Anyway, maybe I’ll get around to reading that New Mutants graphic novel next. Nobody spoil it for me.

Oh for the days when I used to be referred to as “Get on Down Disco Dynamite.”

§ February 14th, 2020 § Filed under legion of super-heroes, superman, what § 5 Comments

So pal Brook (the very one who clued me in to the Hulk single) dropped by on Wednesday after perusing the vinyl record selection at the weekly flea market a town or two over. One of this acquired goodies was the following item, courtesy the year 1978:


And behold the back cover, if you dare:


A closer look at the back cover blurb:


…and if the song title “Lois Gets on Down” didn’t get you to buy this record, surely the idea of “Superman grooving out of sight” would do the trick.

Brook was good enough to let me borrow the record for the week, and…yes, it’s pretty amazing. A number of the songs are disco versions of movie theme music (and I didn’t realize there was another disco version of the Star Wars theme aside from Meco’s, though thinking about it I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised…and the two versions are awfully close). And if you’re wondering, “Mountain Funk” is a disco-ized version of “In the Hall of the Mountain King.”

I’ve linked to a couple of the songs on this record already, but here’s the main attraction…the disco-enhanced recording of the John Williams theme from Superman: The Movie. You’re welcome. And be sure to stick around for the weird vocalizations (surely done by those kind women on the album cover).


Also, if I may add, speaking of that cover…Twitter pal Rob pointed out that the nice young lady on the right of the image bears some semblance to Saturn Girl and her ’70s swimsuit costume, and darned if Rob’s not onto something. And I’d bet one can of Billy Beer that there was someone at that same disco dressed like Grimbor the Chainsman.

The movies are a whole ‘nother matter.

§ January 6th, 2020 § Filed under superman § 8 Comments

Well, so far this holiday/post-holiday season appears to be “Mike’s short on blogging-time” season as well, which is one of the reasons I didn’t post last Friday. By all rights I shouldn’t be posting for today, and instead sleeping the sleep of the just, but I decided not to let the site lay fallow for that long, ain’t you lucky.

So anyway, a couple of updates…a few days ago I asked for your help in getting my friends the Beckners reach their GoFundMe goal to stay housed and fed through the month. And…they made it, thanks to all of you, and my pals on the Twitters. That means a lot to me that you all were able to chip in, and it certainly means a lot to them as well. Thank you very much.

I also wanted to leave one last reminder that I’m still taking your 2020 comics industry predictions before I start looking at how y’all did with your 2019 predictions later this week (hopefully)! 2020 is only a few days old (and what a few days those have been, sheesh) so get your forecasts in before it’s too late!

I would like as well to respond a bit to something Daniel said in the comments to my last post:

“The fact that people are more concerned with Superman having red trunks than with making the character interesting and compelling for a 21st century audience tells you everything that is wrong with DC Comics these days.”

Well, my friend, let’s not be too hard on folks here. First, regarding the costume…I’ve written here and on Twitter about the…inappropriateness of the New 52 Superman costume. The weird armor-style texture to the suit seemed unnecessary, the lack of the trunks left the solid blue of the suit unbroken in an unaesthetically-pleasing manner (giving the impression in a way that he was “naked,” kinda sorta), and the worst offense in my eyes was that collar. The raised collar had an almost regal feel to it, which had the effect of further setting Superman apart from the people he was protecting.

Now one of the things that would make a person like Superman bearable to regular folks is his aligning himself with the ordinary populace. Yes, okay, he’s still in a fancy costume, but the traditional Superman suit is an old-timey circus strongman costume plus a cape. It’s humbling, it comes from lowbrow origins and yet still has a colorful, dymaic flair. It’s fancy on a relatable scale. Once you start throwing in armor and that collar, the overall impression becomes one of being above and ruling the masses, rather than fighting with them.

So the trunks, I think, are kind of a big deal, at least on a psychological level. Their return is symbolic of the discarding of the unappealing, ugly costume and the ugly, unappealing feeling that it represented. Sure, we still have the collar-cuffs holding over, and frankly I’m surprised they’re still drawing those in even now, but those are a fairly minor offense.

To Daniel’s larger point, the need to “modernize” Superman for today’s audiences, is much trickier, and certainly not something that’s going to get cracked in a late-night blogpost by your pal Mike. The problem is that if you change Superman too much, it no longer feels like Superman (see, for example, the majority of the New 52 relaunch). Or you can update his supporting cast (a little more feasible) and/or his setting (which they do anyway…current Superman comics don’t take place in 1938, after all).

The main way to update Superman is through more modern storytelling techniques, which, like it or not, we’re getting now via Brian Michael Bendis’s tenure on the titles. For all of BMB’s…quirks, it feels like a modern Superman comic. Not to everyone’s tastes, perhaps, but it’s a step in that direction. It reminds me a little of the post-Byrne reboot Superman titles from the 1980s, where they expanded the ensemble cast, depended more on continuing subplots, etc., differentiating themselves from the simpler, more standalone stories prior to the reboot. Not to say there weren’t stabs at issue-to-issue ongoing character bits in the earlier Superman books, but that form of subplotting felt more tacked on then, versus being a more intrinsically weaving into the fabric of the stories post-reboot (and even now).

One could argue that something was lost in the transition from the more classically-styled Superman tales versus the soap-operatic style that replaced them. One can’t deny that Superman sales jumped enormously following that change, whereas one can argue, still, whether the character of Superman itself benefits best from this form of modernization. Being compelling for today’s audiences is a struggle not unique to Superman but faced by pretty much any current comic published by Marvel or DC. It’s a difficult balance to find, keeping what’s special about each property while adjusting it for today’s market. Superman’s managed to make it this far, where so many haven’t, so I wouldn’t count Big Blue out just yet.

Second time’s the super charm

§ December 16th, 2019 § Filed under superman, this week's comics § 5 Comments

When we last met, I was about to go under the knife for another eye surgery. Well, I’m happy to report things went swimmingly, I was in and out of the operating room in a flash (not so much the waiting room, which we sat in for quite a while) and my eye seems to be healing up nicely. The end result is that I now need glasses for pretty much any close-up lookin’, as the replacement lens in my left eye is meant for distance vision, but that’s okay…at least it leaves me able to drive.

Anyway, I’m fine, and once my other current eye issues settle down to the point of being able to get real glasses, versus the array of dollar-store cheaters I’ve been depending on, everything will be just dandy. Or at least as dandy as my eyeballs will allow.

And it turns out I can still read comical books, which I tested by getting caught up on the last several months’ worth of Superman, culminating in this issue:

[SPOILERS for said issue ahead]

…Okay. I’m fine with this turn of events, just as I was the last time this was done with Superman, near the end of the New 52 run just a few years back. I thought then that the public revelation of Superman’s dual life as Clark Kent made for an interesting twist in the ongoing comics, one we hadn’t really seen before in the mainline continuity as an extended storyline. That was kinda the last hurrah for that particular version of Superman before he was replaced by the return of the post-Crisis/John Byrne reboot/married to Lois/has a son version that had been the main Superman for the 30 years prior to the New 52. (Look, I know that’s a lot to absorb if you’re not familiar with Superman’s publishing travails over the past decades, so take a moment if you need one.)

My feeling about the New 52 version of the public revealing of the secret ID is pretty much summed up by my post about a story just prior to that, when Superman revealed his ID to just Jimmy Olsen. In short, it was fun to read, scratches bit of an itch, but these twists to the Super-formula don’t have the impact they should have had because it’s still this weird not-quite-Superman version of Superman DC was foisting off on us as part of their rushed-into-existence New 52 line-wide relaunch.

But now, we have…well, as close to the “real” Superman back in comics as we’re going to get, without Siegel/Shuster/Swan/Schaffengberger/Boring/Plastino etc. coming back from the dead to do more stories. I think Bendis has been doing a relatively decent job writing a recognizable Superman that falls in line with the Superman comics of the past, while still feeling like a “modern” comic. I mean, there’s the occasional rough edge, or some Bendis-istic quirk, but by and large they’ve been fine.

Thus, the repeat of the plot of “Superman Reveals Himself!” (ahem) so soon after the last time they did it still feels somewhat…new and fresh and interesting, because now it’s “really” happening to the “real” Superman, and not some What If — er, excuse me, “Elsewords” — version. It reminds me a little of [hold on…SPOILER ALERT for Batman: Hush, of all things] that time when it looked like Jason Todd had come back from the dead, but it turned out to be Clayface, which kind of honked everyone off, so Jason Todd really came back later on and though the shock of the return was just slightly muted by the previous fake-out, it was still a surprising twist that grabbed attention. Okay, that’s not a 1:1 analogy, but I think you get the idea.

Back to the current comic, here…yes, I think this will make for some interesting stories. And yes, I’m sure this will eventually result in some reset-button putting of the worms back in the can of restoring the secret ID (and hopefully not yet another reboot). But I’m willing to see where this goes, especially with the idea stated in this issue that Superman will continue living and working as Clark Kent. If that doesn’t result in someone shouting at him “WHY ARE YOU SITTING AT A KEYBOARD…PEOPLE ARE DYING IN ACCIDENTS ALL OVER THE CITY” in every issue…well, I don’t know what to tell you.

I also have a vague memory of one of the Elliot S! Maggin prose novels from decades ago — Miracle Monday, maybe? — where Superman’s ID is revealed, and someone discusses how weird it would be if he continued as Clark Kent, that it would be kind of perverse for him to continue acting like a normal human when everyone knew that he was an alien superbeing. I’m getting details wrong, I know, it’s been many years since I’ve read the book, but it’s something like that. But that message still colors my perceptions of what Superman still hangin’ out as Clark post-revelation in the comics would be like. It’d just be…uncomfortable, if realistically depicted.

On the other hand, the more modern interpretation of the Clark/Superman dynamic, as Byrne tried to firmly establish in his reboot, was that Clark was the “real” persona, whereas Superman was the “disguise.” That’s a difficult thing to do, given that the star of the comics, the guy that puts butts in seats, is Superman, so by default he’s the “main” identity. However, if one does keep in mind that Clark is the real person, then him continuing his life as Clark should feel less peculiar than how that long-ago Maggin book would have it. The end goal is probably something along the lines of “Hey, it’s Tony Stark! That’s the guy who occasionally does stuff as Iron Man!” instead of “Hey, it’s Superman pretending to be one of us, just a slob like one of us!”

This is all based on one single issue of the storyline, by the way. Bendis could very well be planning to address some or all of this in his comics, so I’ll just read it and see. …I did want to point out a couple things about this issue that…didn’t ring true for me. A couple of those quirks I may have mentioned earlier in the post.

First, Clark tells Perry White he’s Superman, and Perry gives him a hug. Okay, I can buy that, because they’ve been friends for years, but it’s not followed by Perry immediately firing him from the Daily Planet for years of journalistic fraud. Okay, it’s comics, suspension of disbelief and all that, but it’s a bit tough to swallow. Again, future storylines may address this, but just in this issue as a standalone story, it still felt wrong.

Next, Superman gives his press conference (a well done sequence for the most part, I thought), and after telling everyone “hey I’m Clark Kent, I’m married to Lois Lane, okay see ya” he flies off, basically leaving Lois to fend for herself. Maybe it’s not as bad as all that, but it felt odd to me that Superman would just bail on his wife and pals in the wake of this revelation. Or maybe off-panel he told ’em “meet you at Big Belly Burgers after the speech” and they all had some fast food after the issue was over. Hey, why not.

Before I shut off the computer for the night, I’ll add that I really did love the scene of Jimmy Olsen messing with Superman as he tries to convince his longtime pal that he’s really Clark Kent. Genuinely funny.

Okay, that’s that. Thanks for sticking around after my brief hiatus, pals, and I’ll be back soon.

After Swamp Thing, Sugar Plumm, and Krypto the Superdog.

§ July 3rd, 2019 § Filed under superman § 3 Comments

Look, I’ve had a long and troublesome Tuesday, where getting another injection in the eye was one of the few good things to happen, so for today let us just contemplate the fourth greatest character at DC Comics, the dread Kryptonian Thought Beast:


You know why the fans didn’t like that Man of Steel movie? None of these in it.

Have a good Fourth of July, where applicable, and I’ll see you after.
 
 

cover to Superboy #102 (January 1963) by Curt Swan and George Klein

Thank goodness I caught the typo in “makeshift lab,” that would have been embarrassing.

§ May 13th, 2019 § Filed under superman, swamp thing § 9 Comments

So when last we met, I had a lot to say about Swamp Thing comics and their treatment of superheroes, which hopefully you all were able to appreciate amongst all the typos*. I was a tad dismissive, in particular, of the Supeman/Swamp Thing “team-up” in DC Comics Presents #8 from 1979, which I described as a typical Superman comic that Swamp Thing happened to be in, and not reflective of the tonal shift superheroes would receive in the post-Alan Moore era of Swampy’s title.

Anyway, thanks to the DC Universe streaming service (as I’m not really able to read print comics due to my eyeball stuff) I was able to reread that issue for the first time in…gosh, a decade, maybe? And it turns out my memory of that book was just a tiny bit wrong.

I’ll explain, but just so we’re on the same page, as it were, and because there was some minor confusion over this point when I posted about it last Friday, the DC Comics Presents issue I’m talking about is not this one from 1985 by Moore, Rick Veitch and Al Williamson that everyone remembers:


…but, rather, this one from, as I said, 1979, by Steve Englehart and Murphy Anderson:


Now it does, on the surface level, look like a typical Superman comic. Supes is drawn in the traditional way (both inside by Anderson and on that greaet cover by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez), he’s fighting a supervillain, it’s in Metropolis, there’s Janet Klyburn from S.T.A.R. Labs, there’s Lois, etc. Oh, and there’s Swamp Thing, drawn in a style that fits right in with Superman’s world, the one concession to his mystery book origins being the drippy caption boxes:

Okay, and let me get this out of the way. The thing that bothered me about this issue when I first read it sometime in the early 1980s, more than anything else, and way out of proportion to the actual offense, is that Swamp Thing’s thought balloons are colored incorrectly. They’re supposed to be yellow on the inside, with the white outline. His speech balloons (all two of ’em) in this issue are drawn and colored the same way, and not as the jagged orange word balloons from the original comics. …I’m bothered less by it now, as I’ve mellowed in my old age, so let’s move on.

The general plot of the story is that Swamp Thing (who at this point still believes himself to Dr. Alec Holland, transformed by a hideous mishap of science into this muck-encrusted mockery of a man) learns about another swamp creature, Solomon Grundy, running around in Metropolis and causin’ trouble. Swampy wants to get his hands on Grundy and run some tests, hoping to find a cure for his condition, which brings him into conflict with Superman, who would take Grundy away and out of his reach:


As it turns out, there is some chemical hoohar in the sewers of Metropolis that is spontaneously generating dupblicates of Grundy, who are running amuck in the streets, forcing Superman to take drastic measures.

Eventually, Swamp Thing’s tests (using a makeshift lab he somehow built in the sewer tunnels) revealed what Superman already know, that Solomon Grundy and these duplicates aren’t really alive, but are instead, well…


I believe that would be the scientic term for it, yes.

Thanks to Dr. Klyburn at S.T.A.R. Labs, Superman has something-or-other that will destroy all these Grundy duplicates on contact that he can just fly around at super-speed and apply to them, saving himself the trouble of any more destructive brawls with a creature nearly as strong as he is. But when Swamp Thing hears of this plan:


He rushes to stop Superman from enacting this plan:


…but his attempt at getting the Man of Steel’s attention is futile:


…and Superman flies off and does the ol’ scrubbing bubbles thing on the Grundy menace:


Ultimately, in its way, this story is a definite precursor to the reinterpretations of DC’s superheroes we begin to see in the previously discussed Saga of the Swamp Thing #24. The Superman comics have always made a a big deal out of his code against killing, while also giving him regular “outs” to allow him to, well, kill things when he needs to (“oh, it’s just a robot,” “oh, it’s just some imitation of life,” “oh, it’s distorted weirdness”).

Solomon Grundy not being “alive” seems to be a case of splitting hairs…he moves, he thinks, he demonstrates understanding of concepts like “friend” and “foe” — that panel above, Swamp Thing realizes that it may not be specifically life as we know it, but it’s something. When Superman flies off to do his thing and save the day, freed by his belief that he’s not really kiling anything, the reader is forced, via Swamp Thing’s perspective, to consider that he is possibly (or, rather, probably) doing the wrong thing, that Superman is just straight-up fundamentally misapplying his code against killing, The story is one of failure: failure of Swamp Thing to prevent the destruction of the Grundys, and Superman’s failure to consider the possibility the Grundys may have some form of existence worth preserving.

I put “team-up” in quotes earlier as, while DC Comics Presents is “the Superman team-up comic,” Superman and Swamp Thing’s inabilit to team up is what leads to, if not a tragedy, at least a highly ambiguous ending. Without Swamp Thing’s involvement, if it were just a Superman story where he was coping with the same Grundy problem, the reader would likely think nothing of Superman’s solution. With Swamp Thing’s presence, with his point of view added into the mix, we suddenly get a superhero story where the flaws in the genre are brought forward and examined in the comic itself. This is as much a part of the lineage of the “realistic” takes on superheroes we see throughout the eighties and later as anything Moore or Frank Miller or Steve Gerber et al. have done. My mistake in dismissing this issue as long as I have.

Okay, the thought balloon thing still bothers me just a little bit.
 
 

* While my vision is improving, large blocks of text are difficult for me to process at the moment, and the irony that I seem to love writing large blocks of text is not lost upon me. Anyway, I’m proofreading best I can, but it ain’t easy…even the little squiggly red lines that the browser helpfully provides are hard for me to spot, so please bear with me.

We interrupt our series of Death of Superman posts to talk about one of the artists of Death of Superman.

§ August 31st, 2018 § Filed under superman § 9 Comments

Going back to Monday’s post, the amazingly-handled LouReedRichards has this to say in the comments:

“You mentioned Jon Bogdanove, which made me think of something I’ve wondered about for quite awhile.

“His art seems to be disliked by a large number of fans, at least that’s the impression I’ve always gotten from responses I’ve seen online.

“I’ve always enjoyed his work, it has a life and vitality to it that many artist seem incapable of achieving.

“I never followed him on a monthly series, but I’m always happily surprised when I run across his work.

“His work seems criminally underrated. Is this a misconception on my part?”

As some of you may recall from around this period of Superman comics, there were three (later four, with the additional of Man of Steel) monthly titles coming out, effectively making the Superman books a weekly, with a new issue every seven days. (A fifth quarterly title, Man of Tomorrow, was added to fill the occasional fifth week in a month that would sometimes pop up.)

Jon Bogdanove was the regular artist for that Man of Steel series (with Louise Simonson on writing chores), and of the different teams that worked on each book, his style was maybe the most…non-house style-ish of the bunch? Now, I didn’t dislike his work, but if you asked me early on which of the four books was my least favorite, I probably would have said Man of Steel, partially because it was the odd-man-out in terms of how it appeared, but mostly because I was a dummy who didn’t know how to respond to something outside my narrow expectations.

I was definitely wrong in my stance, but I have a sense was there were others who felt the same way, probably for similar reasons (style doesn’t match the other books, and also people being dummies). No specific evidence for this, other than maybe seeing other fan comments in the ‘zines or perhaps even the lettercolumns of the Super-books themselves.

Now I know I’ve poked some gentle fun at Bogdanove’s work on this site before, with this bonkers Superman promo poster, but let the record show that I did come out in support of the man’s work in a following post. And like I say in that second post, his art is fun, stylish and energetic.

I don’t have the old store’s sales figures for the Superman line to do any comparisons. Yes, I know, logically, if the four (or five) titles effectively functioned as one serialized weekly comic, they should all sell the same, but believe it or not, that’s not how it worked, least not at our shop. (Action was probably the lowest selling, since it’s the one that doesn’t have “Superman” in the actual title.) I don’t remember anyone in our comic saver service excluding any specific Super-title from their lists…if they got one, they got ’em all.

So to sum up…Bogdanove’s work was fine, just (for me) took some getting used to because it looked so different from the other people who were generating Superman content. Actually, you know what Superman artist Bogdanove’s unique and fluid artwork reminds me of?

Joe Shuster.

…I’d say that’s pretty good company to be in.

Is he underrated? Yeah, sure, probably. Lots of comics artists are. That’s practically the definition of “comics artist” 99% of the time. And it doesn’t surprise me his art is getting some static from online commentators…online people don’t like anything.

Maybe some people don’t care for his work…as I said in this long-ago post, that’s fine, not everything is for everybody. But you, LouReedRichards, you and I, we’re Jon Bogdanove-liking buddies, and rest assured there are plenty of other fans out there who love his work as well, on the Superman titles and elsewhere.
 
 

images from Superman: The Man of Steel #0 (October 1994) by Louise Simonson, Jon Bogdanove and Dennis Janke; Superman: The Man of Steel #6 (December `991) by Simonson, Bogdanove and Janke; Superman: The Man of Steel #9 (March 1992) by Simonson, Bogdanove and Janke; Superman #1 (Summer 1939), reprinted in Famous First Edition #C-61 (March 1979) by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster

Your regular reminder that I have to sell these things for a living.

§ April 20th, 2018 § Filed under nancy, pal plugging, retailing, superman Comments Off on Your regular reminder that I have to sell these things for a living.

To follow up on my last post, I appear to have ordered just about the right number of Action #1000s, at least to cover the initial rush of sales. The main cover, the one by Jim Lee, was the first…well, second, after the “blank” variant…to sell out, and I had several more requests for it after it was gone. Luckily, that cover (and the blank one) were still available for reorder, so I have more coming in. The other variants, I did have a request or two for them after they were gone, but by and large people just bought one (or, um, two or three) of whatever variants were left. And, right now, I have one copy left of the 2000s variant as I head into Friday. Ah well, I’ll have more early next week, and I expect this will be a consistent seller for at least a little while. But if I hear “do you have any Action #1000s left?” all weekend, I may have to reassess my “ordered about right” assumption.

Now the question I have is “will any of this translate to sales for when Brian Michael Bendis takes over the Super-books,” assuming people like the little taste o’Bendis they got in #1000. I have to place orders for his weekly Man of Steel mini-series right quick, and I’m not entirely sure what they’re going to be just yet. Not like this slew of new Marvel #1s in the same order form, where I’m about 90% certain that we’ll see a small bump in sales on those first issues, then we’ll be right back where we were before. Except maybe Thor, which has a $5.99 price point on that first issue, so Dedicated Fans Only Please, Sorry New Readers Who Might Have Picked It Up. Sheesh.

Anyway, can you tell I spent a chunk of my Thursday working on the monthly orders? Yessiree, I certainly was.

Oh, right, back to Action #1000. Pal Matt pointed out a strange anomaly in the Bendis story from that issue, where the villain of the piece refers to Supergirl as Superman’s “cousinsister.” I noticed that when I was reading, and my initial two thoughts were “maybe that’s supposed to represent some quirk in whatever translation device the alien is using to speak to Superman” (except I don’t see any other examples of that in the dialogue) and “maybe there’s something going on in the Supergirl comic I’m not reading that justifies this strange combined relationship term.” Or, as Matt suggests, just an editing error, but it seems weird that something this blatant would be missed. I mean, it wouldn’t even get past the spellchecker, you’d think. Or it could very well be foreshadowing for some kind of revelation down the road. Whatever, it’s strange and it stood out and maybe there’s an explanation coming, I don’t know. Maybe somewhere Bendis is laughing at us…”how cute, they think that was a mistake!” he chortles.

While we wait for our answer to that, in the meantime why not read the beginning of a new series of articles by one of the best writers I know, pal Andrew, as he starts his look, in his own inimitable fashion, at the Charlton Super-Heroes. This is gonna be good, pals, so get in on the ground floor, Mike said cliché-ishly.

And in other news, a couple of folks dropped a link in my comments section to this article on people arguing over the new Nancy strips I mentioned. Basically, it’s about people who realize current Nancy is very good, versus people who are wrong. That has been the way of the world for decades, I’m afraid.

And to be honest, I’m not 100% sure of “1,006.”

§ April 18th, 2018 § Filed under dc comics, nancy, retailing, superman, swamp thing § 9 Comments

Yes, it’s Action Comics #1000 week, marking the 1,006th issue of that series, including issues #0 and #1,000,000 from the pre-New 52 series, the second New 52 #0, those four lenticular issues #23.1-23.4, and am I forgetting something else? Yeah, probably, but here we are, a Superman comic with #1,000 on the cover, which ain’t nothin’ to sneeze at. I’ve taken a copy home (as promised, the version with Mike Allred’s 1960s tribute cover) and I’ve read it…it’s a nice anthology book, with little space wasted. And yes, the red trunks are back, in every tale in this issue, though their return is never really explained. It is commented upon in the Bendis story, using a variation of a joke I made here and I’m sure was made by everyone else on the planet as well. I hope they never explain it, any more than “eh, I just felt like puttin’ ’em back on. LEMME HAVE MY SPACE PANTS.”

Now, beyond the content, I’m just worried about how it’s going to sell. I won’t go into it all again (that first link above has more detail, if you’re interested) but I ordered what I think should be plenty. I filled the large number of preorders I had, and now, assuming the normal level of extra interest this would attract amongst my regular customer base, I should have enough, unless everyone decides that they have to have the same specific variant cover and shun the other nine covers…then I might have a problem. Or if there’s a news story extolling readers/viewers “FOR THE LOVE OF GOD GO OUT AND BUY THIS COMIC,” in which case I’m totally not prepared. Well, we’ll see. Hopefully reorders will be available if necessary, because a $7.99 price point is a bit too high a price point to be taking a lot of ordering risks.

• • •

Oh, hey, I guess Steven Spielberg is finally going to be making a Blackhawk movie. Pretty sure he first made some noise about this in…the early 1980s, I think? And while I said on the Twitters that I’m hoping for some War Wheel action, I think you’ll all agree with me that what we really want from a Blackhawk film is WEIRD MUMMY INSECTS:


I mean, do you want Just Another World War II movie, or do you want that? Or this? You’re reading this site, I think I can guess your answer. Or your other answer.

• • •

So a while back I was told a new creator took over the Nancy comic strip, and when I looked then it didn’t do anything for me…but it’s starting to grow on me. I think it’s improving, actually, and this nicely Bushmiller-esque strip from the other day has been making the rounds. Granted, there’s something unnatural about Nancy and Sluggo referencing the internet, but then most of Nancy and Sluggo’s world is nightmarishly unnatural, so, you know, what else is new?

• • •

Oh, almost forgot to mention…Swamp Thing will be appeared in Scooby-Doo Team-Up #40 this July:


My Swamp Thing love is so strong, the actual editor of the comic made sure I heard the news back in January. I am genuinely excited about this.

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.

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