by Drew Baumgartner, Michael DeLaney, Patrick Ehlers, and Spencer Irwin
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
“From the City that Has Everything”
Drew: Superman changed the world. That’s obvious enough in-universe, but it’s just as true of our world. Action Comics 1 created (or at least codified) the superhero genre, a genre that came to define both the 20th and 21st centuries, and is still growing as Action Comics rings in its 1000th issue. It’s a singular achievement, but celebrating it as such might not be in the spirit of Superman, for whom humbleness is as much a part of his character as heroism. He’s not one to take compliments easily, let alone brag, so any efforts to do so on his behalf run the risk of feeling crass. Most of the stories in this issue opted to ignore lionizing Superman outright, aiming instead to illustrate what it is that makes him so laudable, but in the issue’s opening chapter, Dan Jurgens came up with a way to address the issue with Superman himself, providing a commentary on the whole exercise of a huge anniversary issue, and offering a justification that even Superman can get behind. Continue reading →
Today, 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 →
Today, Drew and Scott are discussing Superman 32, originally released June 25th, 2014.
Drew: When I was five years old, I told my then four-year-old cousin that he was adopted. Nobody had told me that he was, and certainly nobody told me that I wasn’t supposed to tell him, but he was immediately distraught, running to his mother to assure him I was lying. A young kid’s relationship to his parents is his whole world, and the thought that there might be something unusual about it is understandably upsetting. Totally unintentionally, I put my aunt in an incredibly awkward position, forcing her to confront a truth outside of her terms, when her son was already distressed by the idea. Complicating the issue was that his brother is not adopted, which only creates more potential for feelings of alienation. Superman has long been the poster child for adoption, but what if his adopted home had its own “last son” that seemed to be every bit as “super” as he is? Might Clark grow a chip on his shoulder about being “the adopted one”? These are exactly the questions Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr. set up in Superman 32, stopping just shy of showing us the answers. Continue reading →
Between the commercial success of a near-constant stream of Marvel Studios Avengers movies and the critical success of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, there are impossible expectations for Man of Steel. Expectations like reigniting the public’s love for Superman; expectations like launching a blockbuster film franchise; expectations like being any good in its own right. Zach Snyder’s Superman slug-fest has a lot to accomplish. Does it achieve any of that? Welcome to the Chat Cave.
Drew: Like many comics fans, I was incredibly excited by the teaser trailer for this movie. In spite of the trailer’s own prominent reminder that Zach Snyder directed both Watchmen and 300, it felt like this movie got Superman. Indeed, the trailer trades in Snyder’s standard embarrassing music cues and slow-motion punches for meditative statements about Superman’s power as a symbol. Between story credits by Dark Knight Trilogy scribe David S. Goyer and director Christopher Nolan, I dared hope that Man of Steel might be to Superman what The Dark Knight films were to Batman: an operatic drama that understands the defining nature of the hero.
Shelby: It’s the holidays again, which means we must all learn the lesson: families are hard. As an adult, visiting your family forces you back to the person you used to be when your were a child. Sometimes, that’s a hard thing to reconcile with the person you’ve become. I’m super lucky; my family understands I’ve become my own person, and respects the choices I’ve made. I know there are LOTS of people for whom that isn’t the case. Clark Kent, on the other hand, is super unlucky in this regard. He spent all of his life thinking all his family was dead. Suddenly, he’s got a cousin who hates everything he loves and an adopted brother who not only hates everything he loves, but is also hell-bent on destroying it. Oh, and a clone. That makes for a real awkward Christmas dinner.
Patrick:Poor Superman just doesn’t belong in the 21st century. As readers and audiences grow more sophisticated, the desire to see an invulnerable man of infinite strength and unquestionable morality has waned. Hell, even the modern James Bond gets his ass kicked from time to time. So when Scott Lobdell starts his first proper issue of Superman with Clark bench pressing the Earth, you’ve got to wonder what he’s aiming for. And it’s in the wondering that Superman 13 gets interesting.
Today, Peter and Shelby are discussing Action Comics 0, originally released September 5, 2012. Action Comics 0 is part of the line-wide Zero Month.
Peter: I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Grant Morrison. Sometimes he has very crisp writing that really delves to the point of the story and the characters. Sometimes it’s full of meta references and allusions that overwhelm the story he is trying to tell. Sometimes it’s good, and sometimes it isn’t. Really it boils down to how well does Grant Morrison fit into the work he is writing. I mean the man can write just about anything, but does it actually work? The fundamental question is of pairing a writer with a specific character or book; what makes a good match?