Action Comics 958

Alternating Currents: Action Comics 958, Drew and Mark

Today, Drew and Mark are discussing Action Comics 958, originally released June 22nd, 2016.

Drew: What kind of themes do you expect of a Superman story? Morality? Alienation? Hope? Love? Over his 75+ year history, Superman has come to represent many ideas beyond that handful of suggestions, but those might serve as a reasonable starting point for the character, describing at least the ballpark he tends to play in. With Action Comics 958 — an issue by its very numbering necessarily recalls a good chunk of Superman stories — Dan Jurgens and Patrick Zircher make a compelling case for voyeurism as a key element of the Superman mythos. Continue reading

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Superman: American Alien 5

superman amer alien 5

Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Superman: American Alien 5, originally released March 16, 2016.

Patrick: You don’t really think of Superman having a learning curve of any kind. He’s basically invincible, faster than a speeding bullet, and stronger than, like, anyone. But there’s more to being Superman than just being a perfect physical embodiment of heroism. Like anyone, Clark needs to decide what he stands for and how he stands for it. These early days of “The Black Cape” (or any of those awful names) demonstrates just how much the character needs guiding principles. Hell, one of the biggest problems publishing this character is that the guiding principles need to be compelling on their own — the action doesn’t make Action Comics, as it were. Max Landis and Francis Manapul’s supurb Superman: American Alien 5 explores the origins of those guiding principles by emphasizing the “man” over the “super.” Continue reading

Superman: American Alien 4

superman amer alien 4

Today, Michael and Mark are discussing Superman: American Alien 4, originally released February 17th, 2016.

Michael: When people ask me why characters like Superman and Batman work so well, my answer typically boils down to: they were the first ideas of their kind and in this case they were the best. The idea of Superman is incredibly simple and yet incredibly amazing. What a lofty goal it is to dream up the most powerful hero around who is a champion for good. Superman: American Alien 4 continues that trend of big dreams and hopeful ambition from all sorts of perspectives. Continue reading

Superman: Lois & Clark 3

superman lois and clark 3

Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing Superman: Lois & Clark 3, originally released December 30th, 2015.

Spencer: In any comic storyline lasting more than two or three issues, it’s the middle chapters that are usually the weakest. Openings can rely on the excitement of starting a new story, penultimate chapters generally benefit from a big twist, and conclusions, of course, seem to matter the most simply because they’re the end of the story. Those middle chapters, though — third and fourth issues specifically, if it’s a six-issue arc — tend to blend together, existing only to “move the story forward” without really gaining an identity or having a complete, satisfying narrative of their own. Issue 3 of Dan Jurgens and Lee Weeks’ Superman: Lois and Clark fits this description to a “t,” and is a weaker installment because of it. Continue reading

Superman: Lois & Clark 1

Lois and clark 1

Today, Michael and Mark are discussing Superman: Lois & Clark 1, originally released October 14th, 2015.

Michael: Many of my early pieces for Retcon Punch consisted of me complaining about The New 52 and comparing it to the old DCU that I knew and loved. I’d often go off on tangents about the way DC does business and neglect the book I was actually covering. I loved and missed the pre-Flashpoint DCU and I still do. Enter a book like Superman: Lois & Clark 1, which allows me to cheat by writing about the old DCU and the book in front of me. Continue reading

Superman 44

superman 44

Today, Michael and Mark are discussing Superman 44 originally released September 30th, 2015. 

Michael: Modern superhero tales have a troubled history with placing too much emphasis on the “how.” How did they get their powers? How did they become a superhero? How would this actually work in the real world? As always, there are exceptions to the rule, but many creators often spend too much time focusing on the “how” instead of placing the emphasis on what happens next. Case in point: Gene Luen Yang and John Romita Jr.’s Superman 44. Continue reading

Justice League of America 1

jla 1

Today, Michael and Spencer are discussing Justice League of America 1, originally released June 17th, 2015.

Michael: I’m having a difficult time managing my expectations with this new direction that DC is putting out. Curiously, I’m being overly optimistic that these new books will be excellent and do away with the New 52ishness of recent memory. Basically, I’m falling for DC’s sales pitch hook, line, and sinker. While Bryan Hitch’s Justice League of America 1 has some trappings of the New 52, I think he’s trying to blaze his own trail with DC’s trademark team. Continue reading

Convergence: Superboy 2

superboy 2 conv

Today, Shane and Spencer are discussing Convergence: Superboy 2, originally released May 13th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence last week, click here.

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Shane: Once upon a time, I wanted to be an actor when I grew up. There wasn’t anything in particular driving this dream, I just knew that I wanted to be an actor, and I made that pretty well known to anyone around me. My parents, to their credit, did what they could to further that dream, enrolling me in acting clubs, community plays, and the like. This passion helped define me as a child, expressing itself in a general sense of theatricality that still, in some ways, exists in my personality. In a similar (albeit more extreme) vein, Superboy’s desire to become Superman that defines him, instilled in him from “birth” as his sole purpose in life. A driving force in virtually every Superboy story, it remains prominent in this Convergence miniseries set so early in his life. As he goes up against heroes from the Kingdom Come universe, he battles with all of his power, even against all odds. Continue reading

Convergence: Superman 2

superman 2 conv

Today, Mark and Drew are discussing Convergence: Superman 2, originally released May 6th, 2015. This issue is part of Convergence. For our conversations about the rest of Convergence last week, click here.

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Mark: I really dislike Zack Snyder’s 2013 Man of Steel. It feels like the filmmakers fundamentally do not understand what makes Superman special. Strip away his Kryptonian background and all of his super powers, at the end of the day what makes Superman super is that he stands as an example for good. And while New 52 Superman wasn’t bad, there’s just no comparing to pre-Flashpoint Superman. This is a lived-in Superman, an older Superman. Perhaps overpowered by the end, but the emotional connections he had with other characters, especially Lois Lane, were rich. All of that history may have driven to narrative dead ends, but as a character this Superman is basically the best, and having Dan Jurgens back for a proper send off makes Convergence: Superman 2 one of the few highlights of Convergence last week. Continue reading

Superman 37

superman 37Today, Spencer and Mark are discussing Superman 37, originally released December 24th, 2014.

“Humankind cannot gain anything without first giving something in return. To obtain, something of equal value must be lost. That is Alchemy’s First Law of Equivalent Exchange.”

Edward Elric, Fullmetal Alchemist

Spencer: Equivalent Exchange isn’t just applicable to alchemy (or anime) — it’s a principle we all follow every day. We exchange our time for money. We exchange money for goods. We can even (metaphorically) give our hearts in hope of gaining affection in return. The point is, nothing comes for nothing, and the more we hope to gain, the more effort we have to put out to obtain it. This is even true of Ulysses’ Great World — it turns out that the price to maintain its “perfection” is five million human lives. Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr.’s Superman 37 finds Superman and Ulysses debating the morality of the Great World, and in doing so, they draw some compelling parallels to our own lives. Continue reading