John Romita Jr’s Superman May Be The Coolest Thing Ever

john romita jr superman

Superman just became awesome again.

I will admit that I’ve grown away from Superman as a character. At one point he was definitely one of my favorites; I loved the whole Dan Jurgens/1990s era of the character when they were putting out four tightly knit Superbooks a month. But over the years, I wound up losing interest, especially all of the undoing of the John Byrne post-Crisis aspects and replacing them with a more Geoff Johns/Richard Donner theme.

The Superman in the New 52 books has peaked my interest on and off, mostly due to Jurgens’ involvement on the title. Fast forward to the recent announcement that there was going to be a new Superman series with Geoff Johns at the helm and I wasn’t that excited. But with them announcing that John Romita Jr. would be drawing Supes with Klaus Janson on the inking side, suddenly this is something I want to read.

This is the first DC work that JRjr has done and having it be on one of their–if not the–highest profile characters certainly is exciting. Color me optimistic.

Batman/Superman #1-2

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I know I’ve been kind of harsh on some of the New 52 stuff that DC has been putting out, but I was pleasantly surprised after I read Batman/Superman #1-2. But then again, anything that combines Jae Lee’s art with a Greg Pak script will be great.

This series starts out with the two meeting for the first time, shortly after Clark Kent is investigating Bruce Wayne for an article he is writing. After a costumed encounter, they realize each other’s extracurricular activities and there is a lot of fun super hero battling. This newly found friendship/alliance has them take on the mysterious shape-shifting Trickster and eventually sends them to Earth 2 where they encounter alternate versions of themselves!

It is a bit of a complicated read, with all the shape-shifting and multiple versions of the same characters, but it’s definitely worth sticking with. Pak is a great writer and I’m sure it will all make sense at the end. And for Lee’s art, it’s just awesome.

So I give this a thumbs up. It was a pleasant surprise that I wasn’t necessarily planning to check out.

Superman and John F. Kennedy

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Did you know that today is the birthday of former United States President John F. Kennedy? Did you know that JFK was able to count Superman as one of his close and personal friends?

The first time JFK and Superman got together was back in Action Comics #309. The president helps Superman out of a bind by stepping in to play the role of Clark Kent. The timing of this book was extremely unfortunate, as it came out the week after Kennedy’s assassination and was too far into the printing process to recall the issue.

DC had another Superman/JFK crossover in Superman #170, which was pushed back to spring of 1964 out of respect to the Kennedy family. The story behind it was pretty interesting, and Dial B For Blog explains it in great detail.

Superman #64: Metropolis Mailbag

superman-64With Christmas rapidly approaching, let’s look at some great comic books dealing with the holiday. Our first stop is Superman #64, which has the man of steel trying to make some Christmas miracles for the people of Metropolis.

Dan Jurgens sets up this story by having Superman at the post office reading all the mail that gets sent to him over the course of the year.

Although much of the letters he receives are praising him for what he has done to help the world, many of them of how he inspires everyday people. But some of the letters are asking for his direct assistance. So Superman does the only thing that’s natural to him.

He helps people. Whether it be helping reunite elderly Holocaust survivors or hitting up a certain wealthy Gotham City business-man to fund an event for poor city children and their families, complete with Santa Claus and a flying reindeer sleigh.

The story is a perfect reminder of why Superman is such a great character. He may be the most powerful person on the planet but what makes his so super is how dedicated he is to helping others.

Friday Fights #17: Marth vs. Martha Kent

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With today’s events, today seemed like the perfect day to do a more lighthearted Friday Fights. Today we are going to take a look at two of the best mothers (or motherly figures) in comic books: I’m talking about Spider-Man’s aunt May Parker and Superman’s mom Martha Kent. Who wins this battle to be the mother superior?

Aunt May is such an important part in Peter Parker’s world. She’s unwavering in her support and love of her nephew and would do anything in the world for him (as well as his girlfriend/wife/whatever Mary Jane is considered in this continuity). There’s a great issue during the J. Michael Straczynski/John Romita Jr. run on Amazing Spider-Man where she finally finds out that her nephew is a super hero. She takes supporting Peter to a whole other level, taking it upon herself to argue with internet comment posters who aren’t in support of Spider-Man. She really loves Peter and it shows.

However, if there is one thing against May, it would be that she always seems to cause some sort of huge distraction for Peter, like when the fact that she is a frail, elderly woman seems to be a common distraction in many Spider-Man comics. Aside from Uncle Ben, she also doesn’t have the best taste in men. Remember, at one point she wound up being married to the villainous Doctor Octopus, and certainly made things awkward by marrying J. Jonah Jameson’s father and making many awkward family get-togethers for Triple J and Peter. 

Marha is an awesome mother. She took in an alien baby, raised it as her own and he goes on to be the most important/powerful man in the universe. Living far away from Superman, she rarely gets too involved in his life, although she’s always willing to lend an ear to talk about things ranging from relationship problems to career goals to even how to stop the Parasite. Plus, she puts up with all the wacky things that Clark gets into like providing housing for his Kryptonian family members like Superboy and Supergirl from time to time.

The only thing that you can knock Martha for is that she’s too perfect. She’s like the Martha Stewart of super hero mothers; she does everything right and nothing bothers her.

So who is the winner in this battle of matronly awesomeness?

The winners are Peter and Clark, as these women have shaped them into kind, responsible adults. Go moms!

Superman #7-8: Superman vs. Helspont

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Aliens Attack!

As much as Rob Liefeld and the rest of the Image Comics gang made a mark on my comics reading during the early 1990s, but so did Superman. Between my brother and I, we had every issue of the four Superman monthly series till right around the Death of Superman era. So needless to say, a comic book story having Superman face off against Helspont would get my attention, but with art by Dan Jurgens (who was THE Superman artist during that period but in my mind) this was definitely something I had to check out.

The story is two-fold. Superman has to deal with being abducted and harassed by Helspont. This evil Daemomite seems to have been elevated to big time player in the New 52, between this and all of his exposure in other books.

Helspont is trying to appeal to Superman in attempt to join forces; having the last Kryptonian on his side would make his plans for domination much easier.The villain also brings the point up that eventually mankind will betray him, as they fear his power and the threat of his rule. And this leads to a moral debate between the two, with Superman turning down the offer as he loves the people of Earth. I guess it shows that for all the differences between the past and the modern DC universe, Superman is still the same, costume changes be damned. The humanity that Ma and Pa Kent taught him really shaped his values. Superman’s life is destined to walk among the humans, helping them when he has to because he’s the only person who can help them.

As Superman is fighting for his freedom, there are some subplots going on with Clark Kent’s coworker friends at the Daily Planet. He was supposed to pick up Lois Lane’s sister Lucy at the airport, but the whole Helspont ordeal had him preoccupied. At the same time, Jimmy Olsen is moving into Clark’s apartment on a temporary basis, as his place is filled with bedbugs.

What you had in these two issues was a Superman that I was really familiar with. Jurgens knows how to draw and write a Superman comic book. So does his co-writer Keith Giffen, as he certainly knows how to write compelling super heroes outside of their costumes; see his JLI/E/A stuff for example. The result is a Superman that is still very new, but completely familiar at the same time.

New Man of Steel Trailer

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Move over Rudolph! There’s something else to get you glued to your television (or YouTube viewer of choice) with the latest trailer for Man of Steel. So what did you think?

Well for one, it makes me feel old. Seeing Kevin Costner and Russel Crowe cast as Superman’s respective human and Kryptonian fathers is a little alarming. I remember it wasn’t too long ago when both of them were always on the top of Hollywood’s most beautiful celebrity lists. And now they’re old enough to play old parents. Eep. But anyway, I like the look Zack Snyder picked for the film. I just hope the final film is more about what it’s like being Superman than Superman fighting everything in his path.

Friday Fights #14: Bizarro vs. Faker

There’s only one more He-Man/DC battle that I can think of right now; I’m talking about Bizarro fighting Faker. These two have a bunch in common, with them both being evil versions of beloved super heroes.

Bizarro is the opposite version of Superman from an alternate reality where everything is backwards, having the same powers and abilities as Superman. Faker was created by Skeletor to be a duplicate of He-Man. So would this be a repeat of the He-Man/Superman battle?

Well there are a few differences between the two. Bizarro is as smart as a box of rocks. He’s really, really dumb. Faker isn’t as powerful as Superman, but nothing to sneeze at.

So who would win in a fight?

I think I would give Faker the nod, only because he’s not a moron like his opponent. WINNER: Faker. It’s not that difficult to outsmart Bizarro, and that is how he would win the battle of the counterfeits.

 

Showcase ’95 #6: Lobo and Bibbo Play Cards With Dogs

Poker Night in Metropolis

Showcase ’95 #6 features two of my favorite characters from the DC Universe of the 1990s. By now you know how much I like Lobo. But this story puts him alongside longshoreman turned bar-owner Bibbo Bibbowski!

Bibbo showed up in Superman comics as an all around nice guy, kind of like a calm version of Popeye. He was always willing to lend a hand in the community and was Superman’s self-professed number one fan.

In the Bibbo/Lobo story, the bar is visited by Bibbo’s alien friend Raof. When you hang out with Superman you get to meet all kinds of interesting people.

The reunion is kind of short-lived, as a gang of alien dogs lead by Skruffy have come to Earth to enslave mankind as pets for their children puppies. Just when you thought the story couldn’t get any sillier, it does. Bibbo and Raof challenge the dogs to a high-stakes poker game where the winner gets earth. And there is an amazing two-page spread of Bibbo and the dogs playing poker that I would love a print of for my wall. The dogs realize Bibbo is cheating and thankfully Lobo saves the day. It involves a giant fire hydrant, and that’s all I’ll say. This story was written by longtime Superman editor Mike Carlin, and is worth checking out.

The other two features really didn’t do anything for me, as they were about the Legionnaires and the Science Police. I’ve never been into any of the Legion of Super Heroes. The characters and the concept just never did anything for me. The one cool thing was that the inker on one of these stories was Jim Mahfood, who has gone on to do a lot of really cool projects.

So basically Showcase ’95 #6 is good if you enjoy Lobo or the Legion, and really good if you happen to like both. However, if you don’t have any interest in either, you can skip it.

Superman Family Adventures #1

And we’ll finisher our Art Baltazar/Franco day by talking about Superman Family Adventures #1. There’s really not too much to talk about with this, as it was a collection of gag strips involving the Superman characters in the style of Tiny Titans.

That means if you are not looking for silly super hero stuff you can skip reading this. But if you are looking for a bunch of jokes about the concept of Superman and his history, then you will enjoy this.

 

Friday Fights #12: Superman vs. He-Man

And we’re thankfully back after Hurricane Superstorm Sandy! More on that later, but tonight’s battle pits two of the strongest beings ever in fandom: Superman and He-Man. The two of them are pretty much the strongest things in their respective universes, so they cancel each other in the battle of strength. Let’s take a look at the rest of the tail of the tape.

WEAPONS:  Superman doesn’t carry weapons. So in that regards, He-Man wins by default. Not only does he always carry that wicked battle-axe and shield, but there’s that pesky Power Sword to deal with. It can deflect energy attacks, is broad enough to swing it like a club and cut through things, cause, you know it’s a sword. Advantage: He-Man

SUPER POWERS:  Superman wins this one hands down. He can fly, enhanced sight and hearing, heat vision and cold breath, and that whole trick everyone with a simple disguise. But He-Man from the original cartoons might be a better disguise artist; all it took was wearing clothes to convince people that he and Prince Adam were two separate people. Advantage: He-Man.

So who would win? This is a pretty evenly matched tussle. I would have to go with Superman, as he’s got way too many tricks in his super powered toolbox to use on the Prince of Power. However, if He-Man can sick Battle Cat on the Kryptonian, that might be enough of a lead in for Superman to get beaten. WINNER:  It’s a draw.

Grant Morrison’s Action Comics

Who is the best writer currently at DC? I’ll give you a hint; tt’s not Geoff Johns. It’s Grant Morrison, and his re imagining of Superman in the new Action Comics is just another example. 

This isn’t the first time we’ve read a Morrison-ized version of Superman; we first saw that starting in 2005′s All Star Superman. In his latest project, he does something completely different.

The Clark Kent in Action Comics is more of an every-man than a superman. He goes around stopping criminals, ranging from low street level types to corrupt business and government officials. This mysterious alien vigilante–clad only in a t-shirt, jeans and cape–has caught the attention of a military, especially General Lane (Lois’ dad) who has allied himself with a kindred spirit in Lex Luthor. Both of them have their own reasons why a super powered alien is a menace to society.

All of that changes when a secret deal that Luthor made with Brainiac backfires, and the city of Metropolis is taken by the evil sentient alien. They have no choice to trust Superman. All the while, Clark is having a hard time making ends meet just starting out as a reporter in Metropolis.

What makes this all work is how everything makes sense. Luthor doesn’t want Superman around, as it exposes the deal he made with Brainiac. General Lane has is own reservations, especially since his daughter is following Superman around. Even the origin of the Superman outfit makes sense; Clark finds it (turns out, the suit is Kryptonian battle armor) on board the ship that sent him to earth once he recovers it from the government.

There’s some other shorter stories included in this volume. One of them is Clark Kent meeting the Legion of Super Heroes for the first time with art by Andy Kubert. I really didn’t get into this that much, but mostly because I’ve never been able to get into those characters. But its important to the whole Superboy and future of DC mythos.

Action Comics is just a lot of fun. It’s a different, more modern take on a classic concept. It reminds me a lot of the original Ultimate Spider-Man series. You should definitely check this out.

Friday Fights #8: Juggernaut vs. Superman

A couple of years back, Kanye West re-popularized the phrase “no one man should have all that power” from Spike Lee’s Malcom X film. This week’s battle features two extremely powerful combatants: Superman and the Juggernaut.

As amazingly strong and indestructible as Superman is, Juggernaut is more powerful. Juggernaut can level mountains and throw skyscrapers around; Superman cannot.

And don’t forget that nothing stops the Juggernaut. Remember…he’s the Juggernaut, bitch

Superman does have a few tricks up his sleeve cape.

He can fly, he’s fast. Not to mention, he has heat vision and can freeze things with his breath. Those can only help him hold back or distract Juggernaut.

I imagine this fight would be very similar to the whole “Death of Superman” battle with Doomsday, where Superman fought and fought and fought until both he and the monster were completely incapacitated. WINNER: It will wind up a draw and everything around them will be destroyed. So I would say the real winner would be the clean up crews, as they have guaranteed work for months.

Let’s Talk About The Man of Steel Trailer Teaser

Viewers of The Dark Knight Rises were treated to a trailer for next year’s Zack Snyder Superman film Man of Steel. It really is a teaser, as it doesn’t necessarily tell you anything about the film. It does look like the film is more in line with the Christopher Nolan Batman films then the Marvel Avengers series.

Snyder has been charged with rebooting the character’s film franchise, which has been pretty dormant for about twenty-five years. Let’s face it, the less that is said about Superman Returns is the better. And that wasn’t even a bad film; it just came across as a love letter to Richard Donner’s take on the character.

Man of Steel has to be a good; the fate of the character depends on in. His non-comics reader popularity is at an all time low; Batman, Spider-Man and the Avengers have all surpassed him. But after seeing this, I don’t know I’m excited. The whole point of a trailer–let alone a teaser–is to get the audience on board. Unfortunately, there was nothing really super about this. I’m not sure why, but this just seems kind of bland. Superman literally needed to come back with a bang and not a whimper.

Is it just me?

Man of Steel Movie Poster And Thoughts On New Superman Movie

Big Blue is back!

San Diego Comic Con attendees were able to pick up a poster to promote Zack Snyder’s Superman movie reboot Man of Steel last week. Not only that, but Snyder announced that there was going to be a teaser trailer attached to The Dark Knight Rises.

Color me excited.

Superman’s last big screen adventure was in 2006′s Superman Returns, which was a frustrating affair. I do give credit for director Bryan Singer trying to tie it in with the previous films. The result was unfortunate; the film was glacially paced (no pun intended, even though much of the film took place in the Fortress of Solitude).

Snyder’s over-the-top style will make for a make for a fun film. You can follow the production over at http://www.manofsteel.com. Man of Steel hit the big screen on June 14, 2013.

Jimmy Olsen’s Blues

Did you know that twenty years ago this Spin Doctor’s song was promoted as a single? Their debut album Pocketful of Kryptonite came out in 1991 and this was chosen to be the first single off of the album. It’s chock full of Superman references, vaguely telling the story of how Jimmy Olsen seems to be a little smitten with a certain Lois Lane. Listening to this song and this album brings back memories of middle school.

DIY Thanksgiving Parade?

Whether you missed the Thanksgiving parade because you were out partying late last night, busy cooking your thirty pound turkey or had to get ready for tomorrow’s RETAIL ARMAGEDDON 2K11, don’t worry. I’ve scoured the net to find some great clips of Thanksgiving parades of yesterday, with all of your favorite Ridiculously Awesome stars!

We’ll start out with this great clip from New York City’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade from way back in 1940. About 1:30 into it, the first ever Superman balloon makes his debut. Two years into his existence, the last son of Krypton was already a huge cultural icon.

This clip is from the 1987 Macy’s Parade, which has all kinds of random characters that you would never expect to see in a parade, including White Queen and Luke Cage. Things get really weird when Robocop comes out to make an appearance, and Captain America has to throw the Hulk off the roof! Also, the whole sequence is choreographed to John Williams’ theme from Amazing Stories.

They brought out the Marvel Universe float again in 1989, this time in a really creepy dance number featuring Melba Moore singing “Holding Out For A Hero.” The less said about this the better.

Speaking of Marvel, it seems every year the Spider-Man balloon comes out. Having volunteered at the 2005 Boscov’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in Philadelphia by helping “pilot” a giant sized Pink Panther balloon through Center City, I can vouch for how difficult it really is.

1985 brought us the debut of the He-Man and She-Ra themed Masters of the Universe float. Growing up in the eighties, I can only tell you how awesome this was to a four-year old Chris. “Night of the Valkyries” was never this cool.

The next year, He-Man and company were back, this time with special guest narrator Dolph Lundgren who at the time played the role of our super macho hero in the Masters of the Universe film. Poor Dolph seems to have needed some aquavit to get through this script.

Anyway, I’m off to go play some Mortal Kombat vs. DC! Have a great Thanksgiving!

Politics of Super Heroes

Today, like millions of others across the United States, I’m heading out to my local polling station for Election Day. What if super heroes could Let’s look at the political leanings of our favorite super heroes. Information about the labels used in this article are courtesy of the Pew Institute’s political typology study.

We’ll start our examination with Superman, the first super hero. Ultimately, he’s guided by what he feels is right and wrong, so I think he would be extremely moderate when it comes to the ballot. He always wants to do the right thing, so I can see him reading and making charts comparing the candidates. The main factor in his decision is if it is the right thing to do.

Batman is firmly on the conservative side of the political spectrum. His advanced interrogation techniques, warrant-less investigations and physicality would drive the ACLU nuts! Not to mention the fact that he likes spying on people for no reason (the whole Brother Eye story) and secretly collecting databases on his friends’ weaknesses (in case he ever has to, well, kill them), Batman is a firm believer in national security over personal rights. When he takes the mask off, Bruce Wayne is a billionaire industrialist, so obviously he would be pro-business. Not to mention that he inherited everything through investments, so I would imagine he’s happy with the way the capital gains taxes are as is.

Captain America is the ultimate populist hero, so like Superman, he would be a moderate independent. He would never publicly endorse a candidate. Cap feels that feels that he is the self-appointed guardian of the American dream, so he would vote against anyone who threatened that. At times he might skew a little liberal economically; he’s a product of the New Deal you know! Captain America is also a strong advocate in civil liberties, as his defense of them was a big part of the Civil War event. For more insight into his political beliefs, look no further than Captain America #250, where he mulls running for president.

If you’re looking for a super progressive/liberal type super hero, look no further than Mr. Fantastic. One of the–if not the–world’s foremost scientists, he would absolutely go nuts listening to someone argue why creationism must be included in education. In the current Future Foundation book, he’s empowered a global task force of the world’s greatest minds to fix problems before they get out of hand. He’s an advocate of being a world citizen and thinking globally.

His Fantastic Four teammate the Thing is a bit more conservative than him. Thing takes pride in being a self-made man. What would annoy a 500 pound rock monster of a man? High taxes and ridiculous government spending. You try explaining to him why his tax dollars are needed to build a bridge to nowhere!

So what would everyone’s favorite Green Lantern political type be? Obviously Hal Jordan is too busy with his super hero business and personal life to vote. I would bet money that he probably isn’t even registered to vote. Well, he was registered to vote at one point, but that was probably so he could hit on some girl who worked in the city election office. At least that’s what post Green Lantern: Reborn wants us to think.

Meanwhile, Hal’s BFF Green Arrow is a well-known super liberal super hero. He is a strong advocate for pretty much all of the traditional liberal causes (just remember the Hard Traveling Heroes stories if you don’t believe me).  If he were a real person, he would probably pal around with other progressive billionaires like George Soros and Warren Buffet.

Hawkman is Green Arrow’s longtime political counterpoint in the Justice League. This winged super hero has been portrayed as being a super conservative over the years. He proudly supports the death penalty, is socially conservative and believes that people themselves are accountable for their personal success. No soup for you unless you work for it!

I think that it is universally accepted that Professor X is a card-carrying liberal. He’s a civil rights icon and a strong advocate against discrimination. He would be the first in line to stand up for Affirmative Action.

But Charles Xavier can never run for office, and it’s not because he’s a mutant. It’s because of his immigration scandal. You know the one I’m talking about; look to the right.He brought Colossus, Storm and Nightcrawler into the country 36 years ago with student visas–and they’re still here! Plus, bringing a known criminal illegally into the country in Wolverine?

Lex Luthor seems to skew towards being a staunch conservative. I’m not saying that staunch conservatives are super villains; just look at the facts. Aside from wanting to get rid of Superman and occasional thoughts of world domination, Luthor has been one hell of a business man. The DCU is dominated by LexCorp and its various subsidiaries, and as its owner/CEO, Lex would totally support any candidate who championed less government regulation over the business and finance sectors.

So what kind of political views would the Punisher have? Anarchistic tendencies aside, its anyone’s guess. He would agree to a certain extent with libertarians that the government is too large and ineffective, and that people should have more control over their lives. That works for him; he thinks the legal system is corrupt and spends his days hunting down criminals. Plus they don’t believe in gun control, and the right to carry a concealed Uzi or M-16 is something that is near and dear to his heart. But as soon as they start saying that things like drugs and prostitution shouldn’t considered crimes anymore, you lose him.

Spider-Man’s whole “with great power comes great responsibility” mantra leads me to believe that he would be pretty mad about the country’s current financial boondoggle. Spidey would agree with the Occupy Wall Street crowd’s view that many big businesses have been abusing their financial power. He would probably skew liberal on many social issues, especially education. As a product of New York’s public schools, and later a teacher there, he sees the importance of having a well run public school system.

Iron Man’s family has made its fortune as a military contractor and through inheritance and investment. Fiscally and defense, he is very conservative. But in some ways, he’s also very liberal. The employees at Stark Enterprises are treated extremely well. He’s a big supporter of global welfare and the environment, even if it’s against his business interests. Plus, championing the Super Hero Registration Act to create a new government agency to administer super heroes nationwide only gives the federal government more power. I don’t think you can pigeonhole Tony Stark to a certain ideology.

Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel

We may still be two years away from its debut, but I’m starting to get excited about the relaunch of the Superman film series. Today the good folks at Warner Brothers released an image of Henry Cavill as Superman, and I will say that it looks pretty cool. I do wish they had cast Jon Hamm as the Man of Steel instead. But, again, I’m not a Hollywood bigwig.

What excites me most about this film is that Zack Snyder is directing. I enjoyed his adaptations of 300 and Watchmen. He knows how to translate comics from the floppy to the big screen. I also like that they’ve cast Laurence Fishbourne as Daily Planet editor Perry White.

So what do you think of Man of Steel?