Archive for June, 2013

Go read this blog

Posted: June 18, 2013 in Uncategorized
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A friend of mine recently talked me into firing this blog back up and pushing more content out there. I just wanted to thank her by telling anyone who likes my site to go check out her blog. Monique Jones has created a great blog site that discusses pop culture, movies and Archie comics through the lens of race and culture. It’s a smart place to read lots of smart things. Also, keep an eye out for some of my stuff to be featured there and vice versa. You can also follow her on twitter and facebook.

http://moniqueblog.net/2013/06/book-to-check-out-why-mommy-loves-the-rain/

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Man of Steel has come and gone. And while reaction has been mixed it was apparently successful enough for WB to fast track a sequel and jump start those Justice league rumors again. I won’t review the film here but suffice to say I really enjoyed it. It cuts close to the core of the Superman mythos while still managing to be something new and exciting. It also delivers the best action sequences in a superhero film yet. It’s very exciting but has just enough heart underneath to give it some real weight.
But whether you loved or hated the film, chances are you have some strong feelings about Superman. So, in no particular order, here are three stories that can scratch your krypton itch.
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Superman: Birthright
This Mark Waid written and Francis Yu penciled story, like Man of Steel, is a retelling of Kal-El’s origin story. This 12 issue story opens with Clark traveling the world as a freelance journalist. I love this angle, particularly as its executed here, with Clark spending some time in Africa and writing about tribal disputes, injustice and identity. There is some fantastic dialogue to be had here, particularly about masks and having a place to call home. I also like how all of that builds into Clark’s decision to become Superman. There is far more focus on his humanity than on his alien birth.
Also of interest is Clark’s relationship with his parents. Waid and Yu deliver what I think may be some of the best interactions between Clark and his adoptive parents ever committed to the printed page. It really nails it. Martha is a super supportive mom, always pushing her son to be the best he can be. She becomes a bit obsessed with finding out where Clark comes from, getting involved in UFO searches and constantly watching the skies. Jonathan is his typically inspiring self himself for much of the story but also has some of that overprotective, even jealous  vibe that Kevin Costner portrayed so well in Man of Steel. The other relationships throughout the whole arc are just as nuanced. I love Waid’s take on Lex, full of sadness, pride and a zealous obsession with all things extraterrestrial.  And every single panel involving Lois, Perry, Jimmy and the rest of the Daily Planet staff feels classic, appropriately cheesy and fun. The secret identity issue is addressed here too ( glasses, slouching, acting!) in a way that makes sense. I could write about this story all day but we still have to discuss four more stories!

Short version: Birthright delivers an excellent origin tale that was clearly the inspiration for large portions o the movie. I sincerely hope the next on screen Luthor mirrors this one.

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All-Star Superman
Everyone’s favorite Superman story( for good reason!) was created as an out of continuity tale by superstars Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, possibly the best team in comics today. Unlike Birthright, this story mostly features a very experienced and very powerful Superman. One that solves monumental problems quickly and takes just as much time to stop and encourage everyone he meets. Morrison has a unique voice in comics and really brings Superman to life in a way that is inspiring and immensely entertaining. Phantom Zones, Doomsday, crazy Jimmy Olsen stories, the 5th dimension, Bizarro world and super dates are all here. Morrison throws so many great ideas into each issue of this series that one read through just isn’t enough. And it’s all beautifully illustrated by Frank Quitely in a style that is immediately recognizable and iconic. The basic plot is that Lex Luthor has managed to give Superman a form of super-cancer and the man of steel has to come to grips with his imminent death and put his affairs in order. All while saving the world, or in some cases just one lonely person from various crazy threats. It’s a colorful book that flirts constantly with the fine line between Sci-Fi and superhero storytelling.

Short Version: This is probably the definitive take on the Last Son of Krypton. When I think of Superman, this is what I want to see. Inspiring in its content and execution. It’s damn close to being the perfect comic book.

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Superman: Last Son
Last Son makes it into this list for several reasons: it delivers a great version of Man of Steel villain General Zod and its penned by fan favorite Geoff Johns and the director of Superman 2, Richard Donner. It’s also illustrated by the fantastic Adam Kubert.
Last Son is notable because it features a married Lois and Clark, something we don’t get to see anymore thanks to the New 52 (although I like the Wonder Woman/Superman couple too). Lots of old stories feature comic’s greatest couple but none of them really push the story forward like Last Son. That’s because they become adoptive parents of a mysterious Kryptonian child that falls the sky. Both Lois and Clark react to this forced parenthood differently and it delivers some great drama. I really like Lois as she is written here, Johns pushes the character forward by letting her feel fear, not at falling out of buildings or getting shot at but of growing up. It’s as if Lois is finally forced to grow up and this romance with an all powerful alien just got very real. But of course she matures as the issue progresses and comes to terms with this new responsibility, which makes the ending all the better.  Adam Kubert draws some great fight scenes between Superman and various other Kryptonians. It also features Bizarro and that’s always fun to see. Richard Donner’s presence can really be felt in this story. Krypton, Zod and the Phantom Zone feel very reminiscent of Superman 2  while still allowing for updates to the mythos and a fresh take on Zod and the Phantom Zone, a little of which seems to have influenced Man of Steel’s depiction of everyone’s favorite militant Krypton. This is as close we will get to a decent continuation of the old movies and it delivers everything you want in a Superman story.

Short Version: This is classic Superman and it delivers some excellent character drama while introducing a few new things to the mythos. This was an in continuity tale at the time so it feels like its connected to a bigger DC universe but manages to avoid the drawbacks that come with that.

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BONUS: Superman Unchained #1

This newly launched New 52 series features the best Superman we’ve seen since DC rebooted it’s publishing line two years ago while still feeling new and exciting. The series is penned by one of my favorite writers in the industry at the moment, Scott Snyder (currently making Batman one of the best comics on the stands). Snyder doesn’t hold back at all in the debut issue, bringing his background as a history professor to bear and exploring some new ideas for Superman. Clark’s narrative voice is better here than I’ve seen in a long time as it feels folksy and heroic at the same time. A tough balance to find. Snyder’s great script is brought to life by the excellent Jim Lee, now a legend of his own thanks to decades of fantastic work. Lee draws what is probably the best representation of Superman in the modern age and it’s great to see him back on the character. His sense of scope is epic too and the massive fold out pages in the book will blow you away yet he handles smaller moments as well, as we get to see Clark and Jimmy Olsen share a moment and we see Lois being herself in a fashion that is very entertaining. Like everything else in the New 52, this story is different from the others listed here. It’s a new continuity for everyone in the DCU and that means that some old stories never happened and some things just are not the same. Clark doesn’t work for the Daily Planet, he and Lois are not together and Superman’s life and attitude are different here. But none of that holds the story back from being an eye catching, well written take on the man of steel. Check it out now and get on the ground floor of Superman’s newest adventure.