Thursday, July 16, 2009

Issue #64: Comic Books For The Week Of Wednesday, July 15, 2009 & Is Superman Too Old Fashioned For DC Comics And Warner Brothers?

Action Comics #879 (DC)

This week I wasn't able to go to my local comic book store at Acme Comics . I had some other things I had to do and didn't have time to go this week. If I don't make it on Saturday I'll have to wait until next Wednesday.

This week I thought I would take this opportunity to comment on some quotes by DC and Warner Bro's. executives from the recent court ruling in the ongoing Siegel family lawsuit against DC Comics. I won't quote them directly here, they can be found on any comic book news web site. Their comments seemed to suggest that they felt that Superman was a little outdated, too optomistic for today's entertainment market. Part of their reasoning may have been to present their case in a more favorable light, but if this is their honest opinion, it is very pitiful.

To me, this is another example of the entertainment industry's race to be first to be second. It's easy to understand that dark and gritty super hero movies, like The Dark Knight, are popular, but some executives, like a WB executive earlier this year, seem to think that "dark" heroes are the only in thing with comic book movie adaptions. While Iron Man had some dark scenes, it had some comedic and light moments, due in no small part to to Robert Downey, Jr. as Tony Stark / Iron Man.

As for the earlier comments by a WB executive about Superman, he seemed to think that the next Superman movie would need to be as dark as the character would allow. With Superman, the character can't be made very dark before he stops being Superman and becomes just another nameless dark and gritty character. Part of the problem with Superman Returns (spoiler alert) was that the film strayed from the classic Superman. Producers felt his traditional colors were too bright and created a costume that sported darker hues. And scenes showing the Man of Steel using his x-ray vision and super hearing to spy on Lois Lane, and then sneak into her home to look at his son. That was too much of a departure for many Superman fans.

That is not to say that a Superman movie cannot be made showing him in a darker world. Superman may be very powerful, but you can break his heart and vex his soul. That would be a way to make a "dark" Superman movie without straying from the classic character, and please trend following movie executives. Showing Superman overcome the conflict of a darker world without compromising what makes Superman the Man of Steel would make an original story, instead of playing to the trend of "dark" comic book movies.

It's not Superman that is the problem. DC and movie executives who seem to want to make Superman not be Superman are the problem.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Issue#63: Comic Books For The Week Of Wednesday, July 8, 2009:

The Mangalicious Tick: The Rise Of The Setting Sun #1 (of 4) (New England Comics)
Superman: World Of New Krypton #5 (of 12) (New Krypton #32) (DC)
After Watchmen ... What's Next?: Tom Strong #1 (America's Best Comics/Wildstorm/DC)

The Mangalicious Tick: The Rise Of The Setting Sun #1 (of 4) (New England Comics) * * *

I have always been a fan of The Tick comic book, animated and live action series, so it was a pleasant surprise when I saw this title on the shelf at Acme Comics ( I missed seeing it on the new release list this week at http:// . The story is about someone dressed in ancient Japanese samurai armor poppint into the city from a time or dimensional portal. The Tick seems to be sucked through a portal to ancient feudal Japan while Arthur has to deal with the samurai warrior. The art is drawn in a manga style. The quality of the art reminds me of the crude style of Ben Edlund's earliest Tick comic book stories. I'm not much of a manga reader, but the art seemed a little too crude for my taste. But I'm such a Tick fan that I will be getting the other issues. What I do like is that New England Comics has collected all of the Tick mini-series in five paperback volumes. I have the complete Edlund series in several volumes, and I look forward to getting the others. I have only a few issues of the other series. Something I can put on my wish list for birthday or Christmas.

Superman: World Of New Krypton #5 (of 12) (DC) * * * * *

Kal-El and one of his subordinates are on trial for treason, prosecuted by General Zod, in a switch from the Superman movie. This has seemed inevitable since Superman resettled on New Krypton temporarily (?). What made this issue such an enjoyable read was that, as familiar as we have become with these characters and New Krypton, creators Robinson, Rucka and Woods have thrown several plot twists into this issue that I did not see coming. That is the mark of great storytelling. And the last page of the issue was the most shocking of all. It's a great time to be reading Superman comic books.

After Watchmen ... What's Next?: Tom Strong #1 (America's Best Comics/Wildstorm/DC) * * * * *

While I have heard of Tom Strong, as well as the other Alan Moore creations, I have not had the pleasure of reading any of these stories, other than Watchmen and some of Moore's regular DC stories. If it's Alan Moore, it's bound to be good, to borrow an old advertising slogan. Of course I was not disappointed. Tom Strong reminds me of the old pulp character Doc Savage. The introduction, drawn in a cartoony style, of a boy getting his Tom Strong Fan Club membership package in the mail, before he goes to school, was a fun way to begin the story. He reappears between sections of the origin story, reading the comic book while he rides on public transportation. He reads along, blissfully unaware of the adventure happening just outside his wondow. After reading this issue this title is going on my list of titles I have to one day read in trade paperback, along with all of the other Alan Moore titles.

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Friday, July 3, 2009

Issue #61: Comic Books For The Week Of Wednesday, July 1, 2009!

Terry Moore's Echo #13 (Abstract Studios)
Fantastic Four #568 (Marvel)
From the back issue bin:
Action Comics #484, June 1978 (DC) 40th Anniversary Issue Superman Takes A Wife

Terry Moore's Echo #13 (Abstract Studios) * * * * *

This issue everyone's plans seem to start to unravel. An emergency calls Ivy off the chase of Dillon and Julie, whose sister has escaped the mental institution she had been staying in. The news channels are at the scene of the crater that wiped out the highway and the bear of a man Dan Backer goes to the offices of the HeNRI corporation. He is there to claim the bodies of his four brothers who were killed guarding Dillon and Julie when they were attacked by the crazy old man with the metal covered hand. The heat is being turned up on the entire cast, and it looks like nobody is going to have a good day next issue. Terry Moore is doing an excellent job of crafting a suspensful science fiction adventure story, complete with excellent covers.

Fantastic Four #568 (Marvel) * * * *

Ben's fiance Debbie begins to experience the bad side of being engaged to a super hero who does not have a secret identity. Doom's master spends most of this issue toying with the Fantastic Four and presenting Reed Richards with an impossible choice. Of course Reed says there is a third option, but at the end of the issue he faces a challenge from an unexpected source. Next issue is the conclusion, not only to this story but to Mark Millar and Brian Hitch's run on the FF. They have certainly presented themselves a challenge to wrap up this story, and I can't wait until the next issue to find out how the FF win. Hey, it's their title, isn't it?

From the back issue bins:
Action Comics #484, June 1978 (DC) 40th Anniversary Issue: Superman Takes A Wife!

Since this was a light week for me, I could not resist this back issue I had my eye on for a while. I first read this story on a web site while doing research for an episode of my podcast, Superman Fan Podcast. This story was the original Clark/Superman marries Lois story from 1978. It was not an imaginary story, but the story of the Earth-2 Superman and Lois Lane. Readers of Crisis On Infinite Earths and Infinite Crisis can read this story of how the Earth 2 Superman and Lois finally got together. It is told in typical silver age style, so it may seem old fashioned to younger readers. For older readers like me, who grew up on these stories (even though I never read this story for myself until now) it was one of the better silver age style stories. If this story interests you, in case a back issue is not available, this story was reprinted in the trade paperback Superman In The Seventies.

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