Posts Tagged ‘Superman’

braak

For Dramaturgery this time, I’m going to forgo dramaturgering Man of Steel, since plenty, PLENTY of people have already worked on it, and Holland has already stolen my gimmick title.  INSTEAD, I am going to use my INVINCIBLE ATOMIC INTELLECT to put together a treatment for the sequel to Man of Steel (Man of Steel 2: Man of Steelier), one that both continues with the plot and characters established in the first movie, but also solves all of the problems that those guys created by maybe not thinking very hard about Superman.

[Bear in mind, before we continue, that this is me thinking my way through it.  This is less a treatment than it is a sort of off-the-cuff hypothesis about what the first draft of a good treatment would maybe look like.]

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Holland

So you’re walking out of Man of Steel, and you think to yourself, “Boy, I’d really like to read some actual Superman comics!” HAHAHA I’m kidding that almost never happens, no matter how much the comics Superman 1industry might hope to the contrary.

But if it DOES! I thought I’d take a moment to offer some Superman comics recommendations, but probably just as importantly, mention a few titles to steer clear of – particularly those a lot of other websites (like those fancy-dans over at Entertainment Weekly and what have you) might try to confuse you into thinking are good.

RECOMMENDED!

Superman: Birthright – Mark Waid’s “Superman Year One” story is heartfelt, insightful, and – as with most things Waid – action-packed and funny, too. I feel like it’s too easy for Superman comics to slip into The Importance Of Being Superman that it forgets comics about brightly-costumed do-gooders should probably be entertaining, too.  (more…)

Holland

(…but still kinda fun.)

Injustice 1The new fighting game Injustice: Gods Among Us is the answer to the question, “What if a Mortal Kombat video game starred Superman and Batman?” That is, of course, if you found the first answer, Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe, to make too much basic sense and also not have hideous costume designs.

It’s fun and pretty easy to play, as Mortal Kombat games tend to be, and the ability to interact with the backgrounds leads to some surprising and often hilarious injuries (seriously, watch out for jet engines, guys). And the two-trigger super-move means you get to enjoy a fatality-style animated finishing sequence without having to memorize a complicated code.

There are a few hinky issues in the battle gameplay – mostly that you don’t automatically win just because you’ve selected Batman, which to me is a glaring and confusing flaw, but I suppose that might be more my problem than the game’s.  (more…)

I may not agree with the internet’s current collective conclusion that Man of Steel will be terrible for some reason (apparently “At one point Clark Kent has a beard” is just too “out-there”?). But I can see why people would be at least very guarded in their enthusiasm.

Because let’s face it, this is still Warner Bros., the company that heard Brian Singer pitch a sequel to a 30-year-old movie where Superman doesn’t really do anything other than lift heavy things, Superman Flyby1bail on Lex Luthor’s court date letting him to go free, and stalk the ex-girlfriend he left pregnant five years ago. They heard that pitch and said, “Of COURSE that is the movie we should be making.”

And then there’s the news that the announced Justice League movie is going back to the drawing board, for the silly little reason that no director will sign onto it because the script is some kind of abomination.

(I don’t even know how that could be – I mean, we TOLD them how to make a perfectly good Justice League movie. It’s like they didn’t even listen!)

Also not helping: the possible Kickstarter-funded documentary reminding everyone of every ridiculous, wrong-headed idea for Tim Burton’s Superman Lives project that flamed out just before America could get a load of Nicolas Cage in a rubber electro-suit and laugh along with Braniac’s sassy gay robot sidekick.

So look, I get it. The odds of a Really Good Superman movie are, at this point, not terribly great. But even if it’s not a great movie – if it does not even surpass Superman Returns somehow – it is still not the biggest misfire we could get.

For that, we can look to J.J. Abrams’ script for Superman: Flyby.   (more…)

It’s taken for granted that the artifacts of our culture are barometers for the zeitgeist, but just how true is it?  Are Superman’s portrayals in the comics indicative of changing national attitudes towards power, criminality, and patriotism?  Is Superman’s popularity as a character directly correspondent with social conservatism, or a liberal foreign policy?

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My recent purchase of a Nook Tablet (and waiting for the xda developer people to hack the stupid thing so ImageI can access the entire Android Market) has gotten me more excited than ever at the prospect of digital comics.

And my enthusiasm got jacked up a little more with the Marvel’s announcement at South By Southwest (oh yeah, apparently Marvel Comics makes announcements at SXSW now) that they were kicking off a new digital comics initiative, starting with a weekly series by TQP favorites Mark Waid and Stuart (Nextwave) Immonen.

Waid’s been particularly vocal about revamping the idea of “webcomics,” in particular breaking away from the rigid page-and-panels format of a print comic that’s ultimately not necessary (and in many cases, detrimental) to reading comics on a tablet.

But if we’re really being honest here, I’m actually a little more excited for another recent announcement: Smallville Season 11.

Yes, you heard me. (more…)

I am going to get back to my monster posts soon, I have still got more don’t worry. But I read Justice League #2 and I wanted to just follow up with it. I thought to myself, “Well, I thought #1 was kind of inane, but maybe they’re just getting some stuff out of the way so they can get work, or something you know?”

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I’ve had this one in my back pocket for a while now, because I’m lazy and don’t always feel like searching Google Image for pictures of Ron Troupe. But I wanted to toss this out now before the DC Reboot comes along and suddenly we get to see what George Perez considers essential components of a good Superman comic.

Anyway, here’s the thing: Superman doesn’t need a lot of people to talk to. He’s already got PLENTY. And yet one of the worst choices writers make is to add new characters to the lineup.

Seriously. Don’t do it! As Clark Kent ALONE, he’s got Lois – his wife/colleague/confidante (ed: or whatever she’ll be post-reboot); Jimmy – his buddy; Perry – his boss; and Ma and Pa (depending on your timeline) – his parents. That’s already a pretty significant cast.

Add to that the people he interacts with regularly as Superman. That’s pretty much whoever in the Justice League is useful to a story, periodic visits to STAR Labs, plus occasional Supergirl/Superboy/Steel appearances.

Hell, even Lex should be a significant fixture (even if he’s not the main antagonist).  (more…)

 I’ve been on a bit of a Superman walkabout. Mostly, I’ve been trying to find the essential components – precisely what makes a Superman story feel “right.”

The brilliance of Lex as Superman’s opposite number isn’t that he’s as EVIL as Superman is GOOD (the dichotomy that makes, say, Captain America vs. Red Skull great): it’s that Superman is all the things we want to be (noble, self-sacrificing, dependable, trustworthy, inspiring), while Lex is all the everyday, human behavior we tend to gravitate towards in our crappier moments (vain, self-centered, arrogant, petty, short-sighted, self-sabotaging…).

(I didn’t come up with this – nor did I come up with the idea that Lex should be the Daffy Duck to Superman’s Bugs Bunny – but sadly, I can’t remember who did, so if that rings a bell for anyone,  please chime in.)

Except somehow Lex never picked up that these aren’t admirable traits. He thought being smart and clever and cunning was enough to negate his shortcomings and make everyone see how Great he is.

And if all those things didn’t do the job, hey – being ruthless would surely drive that point home, right?

There’s something so…well, not “sweetly,” exactly, but maybe charmingly?… misguided about that. Like a dog in a pound, Lex isn’t bad…he was just never properly socialized (personal admission: once you own a dog, human psychology seems a lot simpler).

Lex isn’t evil, per se. But he has a blind spot that infects everything else about him, and that blind spot is the (wrong) notion that Superman’s existence makes his own life less meaningful. He panics and takes the exact wrong stance.

“If only you’d use your intellect for good instead of evil.” That’s the standard Superman-line (the one even Jerry Seinfeld quotes when referring to George) – that if Lex would only use his intellect for good instead of personal glory (which is not, in itself, evil), his life, and his mark on the world, would’ve been completely different.

But that’s not quite right.

If Lex had just seen Superman in his first appearance and thought, “My god, we could be that!” instead of “My god – why am I NOT THAT YET?”, would the world be very different? Maaaybe. But…

I think Lex himself knows that, somewhere deep inside. But every act he takes to prove he’s better just makes him hate that part of himself more. And so every act he takes defines himself as “Superman’s arch-enemy” even though he sees himself as so much more.

But through the fortunate fact that he lives in the DC Universe, this attitude actually becomes a boon. Whenever Lex isn’t in conflict with Superman, he’s actually much closer to the hero of the story (see: Paul Cornell’s really fun Lex-centric Action Comics arc). He’s smarter, more disciplined and more goal-focused than anyone around him. And he’s usually surrounded by maniacs and assassins. So he’s always been great at imposing his own, superior will over madness and chaos.

And who doesn’t want to do that in their own lives?

That’s what’s great about Lex, and the reason there should always be a note of sympathy when writing him – even though nobody’s really going to root for Lex, readers might still manage to relate to him (especially comics readers).

Even though they might not always feel good about that.

PS: The major misstep of John Byrne’s “Man of Steel”-era Lex was positioning him as basically a serial rapist. There are too many (meaning: more than none) stories where Lex uses his social status to essentially date-rape employees (one of whom becomes his clone-body “son’s” surrogate mom, EWW), and not only is it not really in keeping with the ideal (and comparatively inoffensive) “Daffy vs. Bugs” power struggle between Lex and Superman, it’s also just a little too “adult” to be ANY aspect of the arch-enemy of Superman, the idol of children everywhere. So…not cool Byrne. Not cool.

DC Comics

Posted: June 3, 2011 in Braak, comic books
Tags: , , , , ,

You may have heard by now (and if you’re Carl, heard and complained by now) that DC comics is doing something daring.  Starting in September, they’re going to restart all of their titles at #1.  This is generally referred to as the DC reboot, but I’m not sure if that’s a completely accurate descriptor.

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