Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Superman Unchained 9, originally released November 5th, 2014.
What do you want to be when you grow up?
Patrick: As I sit down to write this piece, the clock on the wall above my desk reads 11:00pm. It’s the end of a long day that’s been packed with all the various activities with which I busy myself. I worked, I ran, I improvised, I saw a show, I socialized. I talked to my sister on the phone, I explored the new podcasts on the Wolfpop network, I listened to that Nintendo Direct (Mario Kart DLC on November 13!), I even found some time to read a few comics. All of my interests were active all day, occasionally shifting in immediate priority so I could focus on completing one thing. This is the only way I know how to live my life — I don’t have much of a plan for my future, because I cannot predict which of these things is going to be / should be the most important thing to me. My enthusiasms revise themselves as opportunities and proficiencies wax and wane, and I’m constantly in fear that this maleability will rob me of genuine perspective. How can a writer have a voice, or a point of view, if they’re not any one thing consistently? In his spectacular finale to Superman Unchained, Scott Snyder posits that adaptability trumps consistency, and that Superman’s lack of defining ideology is his greatest strength. Neither Superman nor Patrick Ehlers stand for any one thing — and that’s what makes us mighty. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Superman Unchained 8, originally released September 10th, 2014.
Patrick: I’d never really considered how strange it is that we refer to the biggest global political players as “super powers.” It’s…weird, right? That’s a phrase taken from our capes and cowls, our frequently immature power fantasies, and applied to governments. It might be comforting to think of the United States as Superman, swooping in to altruistically save the day, but the truth isn’t so clear-cut. How can a government take altruistic action when there is no “self” to sacrifice? One body makes a decision, another carries out the action, and a third has to deal with the consequences. Heroism comes from that internalizing the whole process, from decision-making through the consequences. With Superman Unchained 8, Scott Snyder suggests that Superman can (and should) be that singular entity. Continue reading →
Today, Shelby and Scott are discussing Superman Unchained 7, originally released July 2nd, 2014.
Shelby: On the surface, the phrase “fight fire with fire” doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense. I mean, what are you going to do, set the fire on fire? That’s not going to get you anywhere. While it’s come to mean “taking extreme measures in the face of extreme threat,” its origin is actually fairly logical. As an early fire-fighting method, people would set small, controlled fires to burn up potential fuel and prevent larger, far more damaging fires from spreading. It’s logical until you consider how easy it is for a controlled fire to turn on you, however. In the end, no matter how you use the phrase, ultimately you’re just going to end up getting burned, a lesson learned by General Lane and Wraith in the latest installment of Superman Unchained.
Today, Shelby and Patrick are discussing Superman Unchained 6, originally released March 19th, 2014.
Shelby: Comic books have to be one of the most restrictive forms of media out there. As a writer, you’re stuck dealing with characters with 70-odd years of history hanging around their necks like a lodestone. Deviate too much, and millions of voices cry out in anger before you find yourself suddenly silenced (creatively speaking). But if you don’t deviate enough, you find yourself with a story that is at best seen as a cliché and at worse doesn’t make any sense because there’s no way to make sense of that much backstory. I have a lot of respect for the writers who walk that line, and walk it well; I don’t envy them the choices they have to make. While I have lauded Scott Snyder in the past for his treatment of Batman’s origin story in Year Zero, his take on the Man of Steel falls a little too close to territory we’ve tread before for me to really enjoy it.
Today, Mikyzptlk and Spencer are discussing Superman Unchained 5, originally released January 1st, 2014.
Mikyzptlk: Since the beginning, Kal El has been a man caught between two lives: Clark Kent and Superman. Sometimes, these two lives are shown in conflict, while other times they are shown in harmony with one another. No matter what though, these lives are a part of the Man of Steel. In Superman Unchained 5, the other superman, known as Wraith, attempts to use Kal El’s dichotomy to get Superman to see things his way. Continue reading →
Today, Mikyzptlk and Spencer are discussing Superman Unchained 4, originally released November 6th, 2013.
Mikyzptlk: Superheroes and the concept of death have a…complicated relationship, to say the least. No matter how a particular hero has died, and no matter how long a character has been six feet under, there is no way to be certain that they will remain dead forever. Bucky Barnes was dead for 50 years before Marvel shocked us all with his resurrection. In the end, all it takes to bring a hero back from the grave are some creative pen strokes and an editor’s approval. With that, the concept of dying in a superhero comic has been diluted to the point of near meaninglessness. Superman Unchained 4 talks a lot about death, more specifically the death of Superman. Of course, we all know that Superman isn’t really going to die, and even if he did, he’d just come back later anyway. So, while Scott Snyder doesn’t actually have me worried about Superman’s fate, he certainly presents one hell of a foreboding issue. Continue reading →
Today, Patrick and Scott are discussing Superman Unchained 3, originally released August 21st, 2013.
Patrick: As problematic as Superman’s powers are for a narrative, Clark Kent’s moral purity proves even more bothersome. Mind you, it’s much easier for writers to dial down Clark’s ideology to bring him in line with modern heroes than it is to de-power him in any way: if Supes can’t stop a bullet with his chest, fans will cry foul; but if he starts making unscrupulous choices, only the purest purists will grumble. Plus, how else should Superman writers obey the mandate to make the characters younger and more relatable? Personality flaws, and plenty of ’em! It’s fascinating then, that when Scott Snyder trots a bigger, more powerful version of Superman, he also doubles down on reason and civility. If the goal of Superman Unchained is to put the concept of Superman on trial, then we’ve actually got to put both versions on trial: the invincible boyscout and powerful alien protectorate alike have to answer for their sins (even if they’re only sins of omission).
It’s a great time to be a Scott Snyder fan. Between the continued success of his run on Batman, his well-received new series Superman Unchained and The Wake, and the hotly anticipated American Vampire Anthology, there has never been more Snyder on the shelves. Drew caught up with him at the Boston Comic Con to discuss all of his current projects. Continue reading →
Today, Mikyzptlk and Drew are discussing Superman Unchained 2, originally released July 10th, 2013.
Mikyzptlk: The concept of the superhero is obviously a very compelling one. There are stories of superpowered beings throughout all of recorded history, but the idea of the colorfully clad, modern myths that we know of today have been going strong for 3 quarters of century. There is no question that these heroes and their powers are fun, and hell, who wouldn’t want to have a superpower of their own? As amazing as these powers can be though, they can be equally terrifying. Superman Unchained 2 explores what happens when enemies and allies begin to express their fears of the Man of Steel. Continue reading →
Today, Drew and Scott are discussing Superman Unchained 1, originally released June 12th, 2013.
Drew: When DC began its New 52 experiment in 2011, they made a point of putting their best foot forward. The first issue (and ostensibly their flagship title), Justice League 1, featured one of comicdom’s most popular writers paired with one of its most popular artists. It’s a bit strange that they would repeat the same big guns formula (even going so far as to tap Jim Lee again) for an entirely new title in Superman Unchained. Of course, the way the title features the standard Superman logo with “unchained” incongruously typeset below suggests that this isn’t so much a new title as it is the Superman DC wishes it could publish if it weren’t tied (chained, if you will) to Scott Lobdell. But here I am reading between the lines on the cover. What about what’s inside? Continue reading →