Robot 6

Grumpy Old Fan | Relaunches, history and Superman #13

Superman, by Kenneth Rocafort

Thanks to creators’ rights issues and the way DC Comics (and its corporate parent) chooses to treat the families of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, a tragic, dissonant pall hangs over discussions of Superman. It makes a minor status-quo change, like the one used to hype this week’s Superman Vol. 3 #13, seem even more trivial. It’s often hard to reconcile the rich and fairly fascinating development of the world’s first superhero with the knowledge that the character’s creators didn’t (and their families don’t) share equitably in Superman’s attendant success.

Because Superman is so long-lived, the events of Superman #13 are a consequence of that success. They arise out of the perceived need to modernize a character who’ll be 75 years old next spring. However, the issue offers more subtle clues that the New 52 Superman may be changing in ways the hype doesn’t directly suggest.  While I cannot ignore creators’ rights, today we’ll look at those clues primarily in the context of Superman’s overall history.

Now, when I say “larger history” I’m not kidding. As you know, Jerry and Joe’s creation debuted in 1938’s Action Comics Vol. 1 #1. Kal-L, son of Krypton’s Jor-L and Lora, was rocketed to Earth from his doomed homeworld, found by John and Mary Kent, and raised as their son Clark. After their deaths, he left his rural home for Metropolis, and as Superman fought there for truth and justice throughout the 1940s.

However, in 1945 the first Superboy stories appeared (pitched to DC by Jerry Siegel), and … well, every time I try to explain this it sounds more important than it is, mostly because I want to use the phrase “alternate timeline.” Here’s the thing: The Superboy stories weren’t entirely compatible with the existing Superman stories, because the latter had Clark becoming Supes as an adult. There is a way around this, used by some fairly recent comics, and it is to say “we just didn’t talk about Superboy for a while.” Indeed, the Superman editors pretty much decided that Clark had always been Superboy, and Superbaby before that, because Superman was well on his way to becoming one of the biggest things ever, and more Super-material was more than welcome.

Accordingly, as the Golden Age faded into memory, the Superman brain trust of the 1950s and ‘60s presided over an explosion of Super-lore: a judicious spectrum of Kryptonite, other Kryptonian survivors like Supergirl, the Kandorians and the Phantom Zone criminals, a menagerie of Super-Pets, comedy with Bizarro and the Bizarro World, trips to the future with the Legion of Super-Heroes, an expansion of the Luthor line (including the planet Lexor), the “double-L” name as a motif, and any number of bizarre Jimmy Olsen escapades. That version of Superman — arguably even further from the original than Superboy might have suggested, and more powerful to boot — lasted some 40 years, until the 1986 relaunch. When the infinite Multiverse was introduced in the early 1960s, he was deemed the Superman of Earth-One, with the original stories assigned to an older counterpart on Earth-Two. (The Earth-Two Supes was first introduced as such in August 1969’s Justice League of America #73.)

It’s worth taking a little time for a brief biography of the Earth-One Superman. Born Kal-El of Krypton, to parents Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van, he was rocketed to Earth as an infant and adopted by Jonathan and Martha Kent of Smallville. The Kents made his baby clothes out of the red, blue and yellow blankets in which he had been swaddled, and because those blankets were from Krypton, they became “super” under the influence of Earth’s yellow sun. They also gave Clark a convenient “Superbaby” costume, and they would be reworked later into his Superboy and Superman outfits. (Clark also used metal and glass from his rocket to make a pair of indestructible glasses.) In Smallville, Clark palled around with friends like Pete Ross and Lana Lang, and as Superboy he befriended, then alienated, young Lex Luthor. Young Clark also knew a good bit about his Kryptonian heritage, played with his childhood pet Krypto, and traveled to the 30th Century for adventures with the Legion of Super-Heroes. Nevertheless, the Earth-One Kents died toward the end of Clark’s high-school career, prompting Clark to leave Smallville for college, and for Superboy to become Superman. (For many years this was one of the few unexplored periods of Superman’s career, only revealed in detail in 1985’s Superman: The Secret Years.) The rest is largely history: the Daily Planet, the Fortress of Solitude, partnering with Batman and helping to found the Justice League, training Supergirl, and working briefly in television.

I mention these details not so much because they’re necessary to Superman’s development, but because, for whatever reason, they stuck with him for so long. Even by the early ‘70s, when much of this lore was still fairly recent, new editor Julius Schwartz and new writer Denny O’Neil felt the need to modernize. (Thus, the WGBS move, which lasted longer than O’Neil did.) By the mid-‘70s, the Superman books had apparently gotten more comfortable with the Silver Age trappings, and Curt Swan’s familiar (but versatile) art tied everything together nicely.

In that respect, the 1986 revamp (courtesy of writer/artist John Byrne, writer Marv Wolfman, artist Jerry Ordway and editors Andy Helfer and Mike Carlin) was a pretty radical housecleaning. I’m not passing judgment on whether it was necessary, I’m just saying it got rid of a lot. Essentially it took out most of the Silver Age, didn’t kill the Kents, and let Lana in on Clark’s secret. It also shifted Clark’s perspective, so that he considered “Superman” an alternate identity, as opposed to the Earth-One “Clark” being the fiction. I do think it made Superman more accessible, but I never thought the Earth-One stuff made him particularly inaccessible. (In fact, the “triangle number” system arguably demanded more of a ‘90s Superman reader than Bronze Age trivia ever did.)

SPOILERS FOLLOW for Superman #13:

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Coming after 25 years of post-1986 continuity, the New 52 relaunch was even more radical. Where the Byrne/Wolfman/Ordway stories used a “smaller world” to focus on the familiar elements of Clark/Superman, Lois, Luthor, etc., the New 52 titles sought to be different both from their predecessors and even from each other. The Superman of Action Comics operated at street level, while “five years later” in Superman he had Kryptonian armor and dealt with a cutting-edge Daily Planet. Although the emphasis in 1986 was on showing readers that Superman wasn’t as complicated anymore, at times the New 52 books seemed to dare readers to reconcile them.

Thus, the New 52 Superman still seems to be finding himself, with Superman #13 more evidence of that. Written by Scott Lobdell, drawn by Kenneth Rocafort and colored very attractively by Sunny Gho, Issue 13 finds Superman testing the limits of his powers with a sexxay scientist in a skintight suit, taking a principled stand against infotainment and the decline of journalism at the Daily Planet, and fighting a giant monster who’s powerful enough to knock him to Ireland.

We are perhaps most concerned with Clark leaving the Planet, even though that’s nothing new.* Here, a number of factors lead to Clark’s departure. First, Perry White complains that Clark hasn’t been filing enough Superman stories, and Clark responds that Superman hasn’t been as active. When Lois (who’s now a TV producer) takes Perry’s side, Clark criticizes her show’s lack of hard news. Clark then learns (via a super-look at Lois’ cell phone) that she’s moving in with her boyfriend, so he leaves abruptly. Later, Morgan Edge comes down to Clark’s desk to yell at him personally for working on non-Superman stories — so Clark stands up, takes off his glasses, and rips Edge for his company’s lack of integrity. This, of course, is the last straw for both. The whole sequence takes four pages, plus an additional page of Clark talking to Cat Grant, who also quit shortly thereafter, in solidarity with him.

However, having Clark take off his glasses tells me that Lobdell is going for more than just a nod to the changing nature of news media. The powers-testing sequence reveals that Superman has gotten very chummy with Dr. Veritas. He tells her he grew up on a farm, which isn’t that much of a secret, but he then says she’s “the only person on the planet with whom [he’d] share this kind of personal information.” By that he probably means detailed physiological data — and Lobdell may want Veritas to remind us of All-Star Superman’s Dr. Quintum — but it helps establish the tension between Clark’s Superman career and his personal life.

That’s made plain on the next page, when Superman thinks “[s]omeday I’m going to figure out how to turn ‘saving the world’ into my day job.” Naturally, longtime Superman readers may well respond that Clark’s journalism career allows him to do just that, and Clark’s speeches about the power of the press pay lip service to the idea as well. Still, the issue as a whole wants to show that the New 52 Superman hasn’t figured out the proper work/superhero balance, and Superman’s somewhat casual attitude towards his dual identity hints further that his life might be getting a little unbalanced. Imagine Christopher Reeve’s “Lois, I have something to tell you” scene from the first Superman movie, only during office hours and more shouty.

Honestly, I was glad to see the giant monster. Rocafort and Ghu make Superman #13 a very pretty superhero comic, and condescending as it sounds, there are worse things to do with Superman than to have him fight giant monsters. Lobdell goes old school with his script, too, using thought balloons and an omniscient narrator instead of today’s first-person caption boxes.  He even combines his powers in a way that made me think of Elliott S! Maggin.  My only complaint with this issue specifically is that the dialogue is occasionally a bit forced, and it’s laid out oddly on the page, so that my eyes sometimes didn’t quite track the balloons properly. My larger complaint is with this plot, mostly because I thought the Clark/Superman balance had been resolved, such that this would be a step back. In one respect Superman #13 picks up on subplots established in George Pérez’s first issue; but that also makes it feel occasionally like a rehash of that issue, giant monster included.

That in turn goes to the lack of consistency in Superman Vol. 3. Editorial interference led to Pérez’s departure,*** Keith Giffen barely got his feet wet on the book, and Dan Jurgens didn’t last much longer. If Lobdell and Rocafort can stay long enough to build something substantial out of this issue, that’ll be an achievement in itself.

And that brings me back to what’s become almost a necessary component of ongoing Superman comics: the sense that regardless of how old the current Superman is supposed to be, or how long he’s worn the cape, he represents something greater. Not “greater” in the ethical sense, although that’s definitely a necessary part of his makeup, but in the sense that if there’s a Superman, there’s a world which both needs him and which invites the reader into it. In the Silver and Bronze Ages, and then in the post-1986 quarter-century, the writers, artists, and editors of the Superman titles populated that world with colorful characters, creatures, devices, and situations. (Maybe someday DC and TimeWarner will choose to reward the Siegel and Shuster estates appropriately, for making all that possible.) Even if a familiar status quo eventually reasserts itself, changing the details every now and then can be fun too. In the past year we’ve seen broad strokes towards a new vision of Superman’s world, both in the eponymous title and in Action Comics, but generally it’s been a series of uneven attempts. Even if it feels a little redundant, Superman #13 is a good step forward, and I’m looking forward to more.

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* [It’s about time, actually. Since he joined WGBS in 1971 and became NewsTime’s Editor-In-Chief around 1990, it seems to happen roughly every 20 years.]

** [For those of you who have seen the SpongeBob episode “Squid On Strike,” I liked the Cat scene more when I pictured her as SpongeBob and Clark as Squidward. “Goin’ on stri-iike! Goin’ on stri-iike!”]

*** [Surely there are no parallels here.]

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Comments

27 Comments

Not a fan of the New Superman, but I am a fan of this column. This is a great informative write-up that touches on why it’s so hard to make updates to the Superman mythos — it’s been around so long and is part of the culture. Good on DC for trying, but they’ll always be in the shadown of their past work.

I’ll second that, DG. Since DC discarded their history, and now has none, DC will always be in the shadows of their past work.

Tom, I’ve been reading your wonderful, well-considered column for about two years now. You have consistently put more thought into the comics you read than DC has put into writing and producing them. And that leads me to ask you a few friendly and well-meant questions:

(1) Do you read any comics other than DC? Or do you avoid all non-DC comics, even the great ones?
(2) Why do you call yourself “Grumpy” old fan? I’ve never seen you once let loose any “grump”. You’re too nice a guy. You watch DC rape and pillage their characters (and creators) and never have anything but kind words for them. You couldn’t “grump” your way out of a paper bag. Maybe your column name should be “compassionate old fan”.

Consider the sentiment thirded. I routinely look forward to reading and relishing this column with gusto. Consistently well-researched, thought through, reasoned in its approach and devoid of any of the bombastic statements that typically categorize these discussions, Grumpy cultivates a readership that would make Clark Kent proud. Thanks for the reading enjoyment and, please, keep it up!

Since we’re having a love fest… :)

I’ve read this column for… well, pretty sure since Robot 6 has been around. Not sure when you started this column specifically, but I’ve been here since the blog came into being. My wife laughs because this is one of the few weekly columns I actively look forward to. You usually point out some DC history that I never knew. You get me excited to try old things. I’m fairly certain it’s your fault I was so excited for the Showcase Presents: Amethyst. (My wife laughed a lot at my excitement for that, too!)

It’s also your fault I want to read bronze-age Superman so much. I’ve read the Byrne era up through death-and-return of Superman, and a few years beyond that, but very little before Byrne other than a Showcase volume and some Chronicles. I need to get the Showcase Presents DC Comics Presents… are there any good bronze-age collections you’d recommend? It seems to be an ear that DC hasn’t touched a whole lot for collections…

Superman, as any other icon if successful, acts as a metaphor for the world around us. He needs to be updated, he can still keep his core because goodness and what drives people usually remains the same, but a modern outlook is necessary and the global culture that pervades everything…he needs to speak a wider language etc. for today’s audience. I’d say Lobdell is on to a solid enough start.

yep i think this comic is definitely starting on a good vibe. like the idea of younger superman figuring it out we’ve had years of him secure in his roles. i think the problem is there’s so much stigma on superman that alot of new readers won’t check this out. definitely best take on him in the new 52. and i hope it stays

.I think Bronze Age collections tend to fall victim to royalty issues. That said, while close to the end of the Bronze Age, the Showcase volume devoted to All-Star Squadron is a great read. There’s also a volume devoted to Ambush Bug; it starts in the Bronze Age and does go a ways beyond it, but it’s some of the most bizarre 1980s DC stuff you’ll read.

You always make comics sound better and smarter than they actually are. Superman #13 was very mediocre

You left out the part where he got lightning powers lol. I like Grant Morrison’s version of Supes the best. Next to the Superman from Jack Kirby’s Fourth World. When he encounters the Outsiders… hysterical. “I’ve a hunch I’ve encountered a dropout society. Anything can happen here!”

I actually liked Superman #13 a lot more than I thought I would. The giant monster was a much needed break from the emo angst and doubt we’ve seen too much of in the past year. Hopefully the H’el on Earth crossover will (re)invigorate all three titles.

RE: the DC vs. Siegal/Shuster litigation, here is my take: A POX ON BOTH THEIR HOUSES! This character is older than the grandparents of most readers. It should have entered the public domain years ago but it is not scheduled to do so until decades hence and probably won’t even then. And why? Because we live in a world so prostituted to corporations that ideas can be owned for as long as it is possible to wring even a penny out of that ownership. I probably won’t live long enough for Superman or Mickey Mouse or or the music of George Gershwin or the art of Pablo Picasso enter the public domain. The founders didn’t mean for it to be that way, but God forbid that any of the right-wing yahoos who want to abolish Medicare because of their “understanding” of the Constitution should ever look at the plain language of the Copyright Clause and the plain language of the first Copyright Act to be passed by those same Framers, the one that said “copyrights last for 20 years and then they belong to the world.”

I have NOT read Superman V3 #13, but it sounded EXTREMELY boring like issues 1 & 2 were. Giant monsters? Pass. Clark Kent taking off his glasses in public? Pass. Wearing armor? Pass. Pass, pass, pass. I’m pretty much hating on a lot of the New 52 (not because of changes, but how the changes have been handled) and Superman (their most recognizable character) is all over the place. I haven’t even been a fan of the Morrison Action run. Was it SO hard to get a solid writer and artist who could put 6-12 issues consecutively? I guess not when you have editorially breathing down your neck without a true game plan.

I’d love to see more Bronze Age reprints, the Adventures of Superman Gil Kane and Jose Garcia-Lopez collections are doing just that.

I haven’t had a chance to read Superman 13. That being said, if this is a step in the right direction of making this character actually relevant again, then I’m all for it. So many times it feels like everyone just wants to play up his strength and nothing else. I’d say that aside from Joe Kelly’s Action 775 and All-Star Superman, most everything is just a power contest. It’s made the character incredibly stale and boring.

RegularSyzedMike

October 27, 2012 at 3:51 pm

I think everything that’s can be done with Superman has been done without changing who he is and the foundations of his origin altogether. Make him drunk beard Superman like the movie for a while. I’d buy that comic!

DC Comics? What is DC Comics?

Interesting article. I had a hard time getting through it because of all the out-of-context, pro-Siegel-and-Shuster-estates, anti-DC sentiments, which seemed to be not only a blatant non sequitur in a review of this type, but also insists on treating the lawsuits over Superman as an ethically black and white issue, which it clearly is not (the presence in the equation of Marc Toberoff alone is enough to muddy the ethical waters on both sides considerably).

I do, however, completely agree that the New 52 Superman has had an almost fatal lack of cohesion as a character. Say what you like about the pros and cons of Byrne’s relaunch of Superman, but one year into it, whether you liked the new Superman character or not, by god you knew who he was and how he fit into the DC Universe. By contrast, the New 52 offers us Grant Morrison’s version in ACTION, Geoff Johns’ version in JL, and George Perez/Keith Giffen/Dan Jurgens/Scott Lobdell’s version in SUPERMAN. I have no idea who this guy is–to the other Justice Leagers, to Lois and Jimmy, to Luthor, to the people of Metropolis, to the DC Universe in general, or to me as a reader.

A very good write-up overall, but I have to point out that Superman was hardly “the world’s first superhero.” Making his debut in mid-1938, he was preceded by The Phantom (1936), Mandrake the Magician (1934), Doc Savage (1933), Hugo Danner (in Philip Wylie’s Gladiator, 1930), and Ogon Bat (“Golden Bat”), a Japanese superhero from the kamishibai tradition who debuted in 1930. And those are just the ones I can think of off the top of my head (not counting mythological figures like Hercules, Thor, Beowulf, and Gilgamesh).

None of this is meant to minimize the importance of Superman to either cultural or comics history, but I think its important to keep the Man of Steel’s predecessors in mind when we discuss his early history.

Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, CREATED SUPERMAN, and therefore legally their heirs are seen as the creators by federal laws, up to legal great, great grandchildren. fact. DC makes most of its bank on batman. fact. give superman back to his creators families, or loose respect of your fan base who buys your merchandise DC.

As a reader, I wont buy a superman who saves lois, and lives by values this version of the kents couldn’t have imparted on him, as they weren’t around during the second world war this time….if they were 30 years old when they found kal-el, they would currently come from the hippie perspective of the Vietnam era.

as a fan, i want to see the kryptonian science of jor-el being finally showcased, and utilized. ive had enough of human/alien superman…lets see the alien only side for a few decades. lets see him fix global warming, cancer, aids, and various other scientific problems, the fortress of solitude can fix, having most of jor-els data within it. lets actually for once see him be “super” at fixing real problems, instead of the old truth justice and american way hogwash, b.s. from the last century. –its old..stale…we need sciences , not a guy who can split the earth into five parts.

J. Robert Andersen

October 28, 2012 at 12:07 am

Superb blog/column/article this week that got me thinking about my own relations to the Superman character. I even started on a personal article much in the mold of this weekly installment. I really enjoy this blog/column impressed by the consistency and thoroughness each and every week.

Together with Comic Book Resources bloggers/columnists Brett White, Carla Hoffman, Brian Cronin etc. this is a column I tend to read each week. I also read Backissue from TwoMorrows Publishing and the occasional book like Comic Book Heroes and Men of Tomorrow also by Gerard Jones and Supergods by Grant Morrison.

When reading your blog/column this is my outlook and what I compare you to. Your blog/column is often also very personal again looking back and putting things into perspective. Sure sometimes the weekly installment can become somewhat formulaic and your views a bit repetitive but this is the case with any blog/column.

Sometimes I share your views and at other times I don’t. Most of the time I simply feel you put words to my own thoughts on the american comic book industry, DC and their characters. As much as I enjoy reading comics and about comics published by DC I have taken a few steps back in recent years and especially after the New 52 reboot.

I’m not quite sure if I can follow DC on their New 52 reboot. As Michael Roux points out this reboot lacks cohesion most evidently when looking at Superman. Things are going in all directions at once and this reboot is more confusing to any new reader than the DC Universe has ever been.

Just as before the New 52 reboot I simply tend to pick up a few titles looking at the writers, illustrators and the characters. The renumbering and the changes seem too forced and I really don’t know what the DC editorial under Dan DiDio, Jim Lee and Geoff Johns had in mind besides short term sales.

Some characters have been changed in ways they are no longer recognizable to neither older readers nor potential new readers coming in from movie and TV franchises like the recent animated movies and TV series Young Justice.

Justice League by Geoff Johns and Jim Lee and Action Comics by Grant Morrison could have been launched just as DC has launched Batman by Grant Morrison and Green Lantern by Geoff Johns. Flashpoint was an interesting idea but re-launching the entire DC line seems a bit forced.

Superman is one of the characters suffering the most from this reboot. When researching my article and looking back on the last ten years or so DC has published quite a few great Superman stories proving Superman really didn’t need to be updated.

Superman for All Seasons, Superman: The Kansas Sightings, Superman Birthright, SupermanBatman, Superman for Tomorrow, Up, Up and Away, Camelot Falls, All Star Superman, Last Son, Superman and the Legion of Superheroes, Brainiac and Superman Secret Origin are all good stories.

Just as Identity Crisis, New Frontier, Green Lantern Rebirth, the Green Lantern re-launch, Infinite Crisis, the Justice League re-launch (in 2006), Final Crisis, Flash Rebirth, Final Crisis: Legion of Three Worlds, Blackest Night, Brightest Day and Flashpoint are good stories.

These all had Superman in red underwear and with a bright yellow belt and not the updated Kryptonian suit with turtleneck and the same features like the rest of the Jim Lee designed Justice League. To me this updated look seem more at home in the DC Universe Online game.

DC has also published a fair share of not-that-good stories like the weekly 52 and Countdown and numerous crossover events like Amazons Attack and New Krypton and the sort-of-reboot Grounded and Odyssey story lines.

The New 52 is more like these not-that-good stories and too me this proves that Superman and even the entire DC Universe didn’t need a reboot but simply just good stories. In a few years from now I’m sure not much was accomplished by this reboot and the updates to their characters especially Superman.

Superman is an icon recognized by comic book readers and fans AND the public in general. To most people Superman has his red underwear outside his blue long underwear, his yellow belt, his red knee long cape, the red and yellow stylized S on his chest and the spit curl S in his forehead.

Sure Superman is a all-American boy scout and to many also a bit corny. But this is the icon of Superman and I don’t think DC editorial can do much to change this perception. As I have concluded in my article I will continue reading good Superman stories and try to steer clear of the not-so-good stories.

Brian from Canada

October 28, 2012 at 7:11 am

I don’t share the love of this article. Sorry.

DC’s battle with Toberoff and the heirs has NO presence in the discussion of what’s happening to Superman now in the New 52. It doesn’t reflect on the content we see in it; the closest you get is the acknowledgement of the creation, which DC/WB has done regularly.

And I find it a poor comment on the fanbase when it enters discussions that it shouldn’t. Especially when the Daily Planet and Perry White were not part of that original conception, which is what issue 13 is about.

What should be here — and thankfully is! — is the way Superman has had the most difficulty as a character in the DC stable.

Action Comics #1 does not really define the crusade for justice that later DC heroes, such as Batman (prevent crimes like his parents’ murder) or Wonder Woman (show a better way) do. It took the Daily Star, and later the Daily Planet, to give him motivation, first against slum lords and mad scientists, then against enemy spies and the Nazis.

But once armistice was declared, Superman got cut adrift. His powers had grown to the point that slum lords were no longer a challenge, especially when the principal audience was seeing a massive shift to the cleaner suburbs throughout the next two decades.

And he couldn’t deal with some of the big social issues of the 50s, since (a) pornography was not an issue to deal with in Superman, and (b) juvenile delinquency was supposed to be dealt with in Superboy, a comic rife with romantic worries and homework problems more than supervillains. Superman’s one challenge was the Communists but they too lacked the figurehead organization to challenge like the Nazis; spies were boring if done month after month after month.

So the mad scientists flourished along with the giant monsters. Which, in turn, made him generally too strong to get involved in Viet Nam the way he had in World War II. (The fact that Nam and all later conflicts until 9/11 were not aimed at the mainland hurt the challenge as well.)

The 1970s tried to help keep Superman relevant by shifting away from newspaper into television, which was now a subject OF television series and movies far more than newspapers were. It made more sense for Superman to be a roving reporter for a major television network because they sent reporters around the world — newspapers used people already on the ground.

The post-Crisis era reversed that by retrenching on the Daily Planet in respect to the movies and the more “classic” tradition that they were trying to push at WBs behest. Batman was “dark” again, Superman was a “reporter” again, etc.

New 52’s launcher George Perez understood the value of reintroducing television. If anything, it gave a separation to Lois and Clark along ideological lines: Lois is about headlines and the ego boost you get from presenting a big scoop, while Clark can’t leave his social conscience behind. It was a brilliant move if you think about. Suddenly, Superman didn’t have to be the greater example to all other heroes. Now, Superman was the one who set an example by caring about people that we shouldn’t ignore.

It gave Superman meaning. It gave Superman value.

And it got totally undermined by Grant Morrison and DC’s lack of editor foresight. DC had such trust in Grant Morrison that they allowed Morrison to dictate what would happen in Superman via Action Comics… but Morrison had no plan. And the two writers that followed also had the same problem: wait until Grant makes his mind up.

I can reconcile Superman in Johns’ Justice League as a moment between Superman stories, especially when Kal’s portrayal has been fairly consistent between Superman, Supergirl and Action: the dialogue, the aloofness, the caring but not caring. But I can’t reconcile a Superman book that’s denied the chance to bring the character forward because another writer is keeping him in the past.

Superman #13 is the first issue since the beginning that’s put the character back on track as a symbol of why he is a hero. Standing up for journalism is the type of strong ethics Clark/Kal should have. (By the same token, #0 shows his father also stood up for ethics while being played by outside forces.) Lobdell knows his Superman has to his somethings to remain the powerhouse figure, but for the first time in a while I can see the potential in Superman that New 52 was trying all along:

And that is as a hero relevant to today, something quite a few of the 52 have actually done a decent job at.

Superman was work for hire, then bought by DC, then bought again by DC, then bought again by DC and now the families (and greedy laywer) are trying to take it from DC. The laws were different back then and you can not claim they were treated unfairly because they willingly gave their creation to DC and then willingly accepted numerous deals from DC in compensation over the original deal.

It is funny how in Superman #13, Clark is talking about the integrity of journalism because this website has lost that integrity a long time ago with its opinionated collumns that make comics about whatever agenda they want to make it about.

Clark didn’t just get upset over Lois talking to her boyfriend. He was upset that they were talking about the integrity of the Daily Planet and Lois’ lack of putting out actual news after she ripped into him for not doing his job about covering Superman more and then taking a personal text while in the middle of business. Add that to being told to find news, and doing so, then told not to do anything but cover Superman, Clark got fed up. THAT is what happened. It wasn’t about her moving in with her boyfriend. It was about being professional.

“Superman was work for hire …”

No, it wasn’t. That’s why Siegel’s heirs were able to reclaim his portion of the copyright in 2008.

Superman should be in the Public Domain.

These legal battles are a joke.

“Maybe someday DC and TimeWarner will choose to reward the Siegel and Shuster estates appropriately, for making all that possible”

Which raises the question of what do all the individuals who built the Siperman mythos that contributed to him being an enduring character deserve? Superman was initially created by two individuals but he and the world he inhabits is a collective creation. this is the case with many serialized fictional characters. It remains a rhetorical question , but you are suggesting in your statement that the legal decisions made in the court of law were not appropriate. So what is ain your mind missing in the compensation? Is it something ethical that is being overlooked? If so then it follows we have to respond to the ethics of the entire system of compensation to all creators involved with Supoerman throughout the last 60 years. That word “appropriate” is a needle that could pop a big ballon.

Superman #13 sure looked pretty, but the story hasn’t done anything to move the title off the bubble for me. And the fact that “Superman” is a book I’m considering walking away from (after reading it for many years and amassing a 550-issue run of the previous series) doesn’t reflect well on the current Super-status quo.

Power to most the people

October 29, 2012 at 6:18 pm

Having read this issue and following the revamp I’m still feeling this is a state of influx,
Like the late 40’s and early 50’s when they were just getting an idea of where the character should go.
Before the Silver-Age.
And as the article states all this revamping has a strange vibe to it because of the legalities.
You can’t help but think of what’s supposed to be, and one day this will be another off time in Superman’s history.
Once the powers that be stop screwing with him.
Mildly interesting issue but nothing to really write home about.

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