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).
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 →
Today, Shelby and Drew are discussing the Action Comics Annual, originally released October 31st, 2012.
Shelby: I was talking with a friend recently about Superman. He had listed Supes as one of his favorite superheroes; I’ve made my opinion of the Man of Steel pretty well-known ’round these parts, so we don’t have to go into great detail. I made the point that I think Superman is boring because he’s too powerful, that there’s no believable source of conflict in a Superman story. He made the very good point that boring Superman stories are the product of lazy story-telling, not a flat character. A good Superman story should not be about making up some even more powerful bad guy to threaten Superman physically. A good Superman story is about a man dealing with the strengths he has and finding a way to use them well: striking a balance between Clark Kent and Kal-El. Unfortunately, the Action Comics Annual doesn’t give us any of that, focusing instead on a cookie-cutter Superman story that starts with kryptonite and ends with a feeble attempt to explain what a hero truly is.