One big potential problem with any Superman incarnation is his relationship with the audience. Even if the story centers around a credible moral dilemma, it risks having him make a choice with which the audience disagrees. Put another way, you can start with a Superman with a definite code of ethics, who always tries to do the right thing, and who puts others’ welfare above his own, and you might still end up with the Injustice comic, the pure-Straczynski issues of “Grounded,” or Superman Returns. For a significant group of fans, these are cautionary examples of How Not To Do Superman (although apparently those Injustice comics sell reasonably well…).
Accordingly, it helps if the audience trusts the particular Superman writer, which is where Scott Snyder, David Goyer, and Christopher Nolan come in. Snyder is already a big deal at DC thanks to his Batman work. Likewise, last year Goyer (screenwriter) and Nolan (producer/director) wrapped up a wildly successful Batman film trilogy.
Still, it’s easy to do Batman. For one thing, Batman doesn’t need to be a nice guy. Like James Bond or Don Draper, his main focus is the work, and the style with which he gets the particular job done. If Bats gets to make a hard moral choice, as he did at the conclusion of The Dark Knight, that’s just gravy.
With that in mind, we turn to the week’s two newest Superman vehicles, one an ongoing comic book, and the other a new film incarnation, to see what choices they present to our hero.
With director Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel opening today nationwide (many theaters had screenings as early as 12:01 a.m.), it’s impossible to swing a dead Kent without hitting a dozen Superman-related items online or in print. Although most of them are directly related to the Warner Bros. franchise reboot, there are plenty with clear comic-book ties. Here are just a handful of them:
• Superman gets the cover of this week’s Entertainment Weekly, on which Neal Adams and Murphy Anderson’s rendition of the Last Son of Krypton (from December 1972′s Action Comics #419) is given prominence over the movie and TV versions — possibly because Man of Steel star Henry Cavill was featured in April, but hey, we’ll take it. But poor, poor Brandon Routh …
• Mark Waid, whose 2003-2004 miniseries Superman: Birthright (with Leinil Francis Yu) influenced Man of Steel, saw the movie last night and tweeted, “That thunder you heard at around 9:15 EST was the sound of my heart breaking in two.” He followed that with a review on his Thrillbent website that he prefaced with, “It’s a good science-fiction movie, but it’s very cold. It’s not a very satisfying super-hero movie. That said, if your favorite part of SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE was Superman standing in the Fortress while Jor-El lectured him, you’re gonna love MAN OF STEEL.”
As part of the big push for the opening of Man of Steel, and the 75th anniversary of Superman, DC Comics Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee appeared this morning on Bloomberg Television to discuss the evolution of the character, the new series Superman Unchained, digital comics, and what trickle-down effect the film might have on the company’s comics.
Lee on Superman Unchained: ““I was working with Scott Snyder and we said if we could only tell one Superman story, this is what we would tell. If you only have one shot you want to do all the classic element of superman. We have lots in there. We have Lois. We have Lex Luther doing diabolical things. There is a new villain named Rathe. I think we can reveal that now. That is an exclusive. Scott will hate me for that [Laugher]. We are adding things to his mythology and that’s how you keep him fresh and relevant.”
Yesterday brought several first issues, new storylines and creative teams to the various comics that came out, so I figured instead of doing one Chain Reaction thsi week, I’d do several over the next few days. A chain of Chain Reactions, if you will. Or maybe more appropriately for this first post, Unchained Reactions. Because yes, we’re talking about Superman: Unchained #1.
Written by Scott Snyder (Batman, Swamp Thing) and drawn by co-publisher Jim Lee (heck, what hasn’t he drawn?), Scott Williams, Alex Sinclair and, in a back-up, Dustin Nguyen, this new comic arrives not coincidentally the same week that Man of Steel opens in theater and once again pivots into the minds of the mainstream.
So while Superman is popping up everywhere right now, how is the actual comic? Here are a few reactions from around the web:
With Warner Bros.’ Man of Steel opening Friday, DC Entertainment has moved Superman front and center in the next phase of its “We Can Be Heroes” campaign to fight hunger in the Horn of Africa.
The “Superman Edition” on Indiegogo features an array of perks for contributors, ranging from an exclusive Superman Unchained #1 variant cover ($25) and a Jim Lee Superman lithograph ($75) to a Man of Steel poster signed by director Zack Snyder ($100) and a portfolio review with Jim Lee ($1,250).
The press release teases “once-in-a lifetime opportunities for $25,000″ and “a hometown visit by legendary DC Entertainment artist Jim Lee, who will paint larger than life, custom artwork on a 10×10 wall” — maybe they’re one and the same? — so expect many more perks to be added before the campaign’s end on July 8.
“The generosity from the fans of DC Comics during the Batman wave was outstanding and challenged us to create another wave of unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities,” DC Entertainment President Diane Nelson said in a statement. “The first wave of the campaign eclipsed its initial goal of $50,000 in just three days and ultimately raised more than $150,000 in less than six weeks. We continue to be overwhelmed and appreciative of our fans who are helping to make a difference in millions of lives.”
In anticipation of the June 14 release of the new Superman movie, DC Entertainment has declared Wednesday, June 12, Man of Steel Day.
Sponsored by Sears, the event will see comic shops and bookstores give away copies of All-Star Superman Special Edition #1 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. Not so coincidentally, June 12 also marks the debut of Superman Unchained, the new DC Comics series by Scott Snyder and Jim Lee launched to coincide with director Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. That first issue you’ll have to pay $4.99 for (it comes with a two-sided poster).
DC Comics Co-Publisher Jim Lee appeared Saturday on CBS New York to promote Free Comic Book Day, but he also used the time to plug Warner Bros.’ upcoming Man of Steel — “It brought me to tears, actually, a couple of times” — and Superman comics, and to inform the anchor that, no, they’re not all drawn by the same artist.
“It seems like they’re all sort of drawn the same way,” the anchor says. “But you actually have different people doing these drawings?”
Still, Lee talked perhaps the most about director Zack Snyder’s franchise reboot, saying, “It’s an amazing reimagining of Superman. There’s stuff in there you’ve never seen in a Superman movie before. The special effects are incredible, but it’s got a lot of heart.”
Hello and welcome to Shelf Porn, where fans show off their collections. Today’s shelves come from Bill on the outskirts of Chicago, who shows us his comics, trade paperbacks, statues, art prints and more, with special guest appearances from Jim Lee and Grant Morrison.
Want to contribute your own shelves? Find all the details here.
Take it away, Bill …
After four installments, Comic Book Resources’ monthly “B&B” feature, in which DC Comics Editor-in-Chief Bob Harras and Editorial Director Bobbie Chase answered questions from readers and CBR’s Josie Campbell, is no more. Jerry Ordway’s work situation, and controversies generally, were apparently to blame. Of course, DC is free not to participate in such things, and CBR is likewise free to investigate such controversies on its own. Still, the whole thing only highlights the problems DC has had in connecting successfully with fans.
Now, it may be more accurate to say DC has had problems connecting successfully with fans who are vocal about their negative opinions of the company. For all I know, DC may be quite popular with whatever audience it has targeted. Regardless, despite its constant PR presence, today’s DC seems a lot more guarded than it has been; and I think that can only hurt it in the long run.
Ironically, part of the problem is the corporate-comics news cycle. Each week’s worth of DC books has a couple of promotional features, namely the “All Access” editorial and the new “Channel 52″ two-pager. Beyond that (and probably more frequently than once a week) the company issues press releases and facilitates interviews for various news sites. Furthermore, each month’s solicitations advertise what’s coming out at least two months in the future; and during convention season the company can manage its particular messages in person. That’s a lot of information for a company whose bread and butter come from a few dozen monthly 20-page story installments.
Rather than continue Batman Incorporated following Grant Morrison’s announced departure, DC Comics will end the series with July’s Issue 13.
The news, revealed in IGN.com’s preview of the Batman solicitations, comes as little surprise, as the title was a vehicle for Morrison and artist Chris Burnham to tell the story of Bruce Wayne’s global team of heroes the writer began in 2010. The first arc volume ended in December 2011, following DC’s New 52 relaunch, with the second volume debuting in May 2012.
If you’ve been wondering how Rob Liefeld has been occupying his time since walking off three DC Comics series, scorching the earth around him as he left, the answer, at least in part, is Bloodstrike #34. However, he also found three days to transform a portion of his memoir into a 100-page screenplay about the formation of Image Comics. Of course.
The outspoken creator provided DreamMovieCast with excerpts from the project, tentatively titled Icons, which unlike Manti Te’o's dead girlfriend, is not a hoax. Or, rather iCons, as Liefeld clarified on Twitter. “Small ‘i’ dubble meaning,” he wrote.
Legal | DragonCon co-founder Ed Kramer, who hasn’t been associated with the show since 2000, has been brought back to the Gwinnett County Jail and booked on child molestation charges that date back to August 2000. The 51-year-old Kramer was released on bond after his initial arrest following accusations that he sexually abused three boys, and has avoided jail and court for more than a decade because of his health problems, although he was under house arrest for a while. He was arrested again in Connecticut in 2011 for violating the conditions of his bond after he was allegedly found alone in a hotel room with a 14-year-old boy. Atlanta Magazine ran a lengthy expose on Kramer last year. [The Atlanta Journal-Constitution]
Digital comics | Today, Viz Media marks the first anniversary of the launch of its digital magazine by changing its name from Shonen Jump Alpha to Weekly Shonen Jump (the same as its Japanese counterpart) and going to simultaneous release of most series with Japan as well. Editor-in-Chief Andy Nakatani talks about the changes as well and looks back at how the magazine has done in the year since it changed from a print monthly to a digital weekly. [ICv2]
Digital comics | The U.K. children’s comic The Phoenix just became available internationally with its release as an iOS app, and I interviewed Russell Willis of Panel Nine, which created the app, about the challenges involved. Panel Nine has also published Eddie Campbell’s Dapper John comics, David Lloyd’s Kickback, and the works of underground cartoonist Hunt Emerson as standalone apps, and Willis has big plans for more digital indy comics in the future. [Good E-Reader]
Readers will get their first taste of the much-anticipated new Superman series by Scott Snyder and Jim Lee in DC Comics’ gold-edition offering for Free Comic Book Day.
The special issue also will reprint the first part of “Last Son,” the 2006-2008 Action Comics story arc by Geoff Johns, Superman: The Movie director Richard Donner, and Adam Kubert, described as “a great jumping-on point for fans who can’t wait to see Warner Bros. Pictures’ Man of Steel major motion picture.” The story may seem like an odd choice, given that the issue is more than six years old and was released before DC’s linewide relaunch, but it does reintroduce General Zod, the primary antagonist of Man of Steel, even if that continuity no longer exists.
The preview of the Snyder/Lee series, on the other hand, makes perfect sense, as its launch is timed to coincide with the June 14 opening of Warner Bros.’ franchise reboot. While DC has kept details of the new comic close to its vest — has Man of Steel even been confirmed as the title? — Snyder provided ROBOT 6 with a tease early this month.
“We’re going to be introducing a new villain, and we’re going to be trying to do the biggest and most epic Superman story we can!” he said. “So you’ll see the supporting cast — you’ll see Lana, and Lois, and Lex, and Jimmy and Perry. The story itself is really going to put Superman against a threat that will kind of shake him to his core psychologically and emotionally. We’re really really proud of it, and Jim is doing incredible work on it. So we can’t wait for you guys to see it!”
Free Comic Book Day 2013 is May 4.
DC Entertainment Co-Publishers Dan DiDio and Jim Lee will appear with a half-dozen DC creators on the Jan. 22 episode of Face Off, the Syfy competition series that pits special-effects makeup artists against each other.
The episode, shot in July at Comic-Con International, challenges the competitors to create their own superheroes with assistance and advice from Lee, Mark Buckingham, Cliff Chiang, Tony S. Daniel, David Finch, Nicola Scott and J.H. Williams III. The winning design will be featured in Justice League Dark #16, which goes on sale Jan. 30.