"Justice League": Exploring How Superman Returns (Again)
Film, Comic Books
The estate of Superman co-creator Joe Shuster has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a ruling that bars it from reclaiming a stake in the character, arguing the artist’s siblings didn’t have the ability to assign his copyrights to DC Comics more than two decades ago.
As Law360 reports, the estate insists the Ninth Circuit erred in its November ruling that the family relinquished all claims to Superman in 1992 in exchange for “more than $600,000 and other benefits,” which included paying Shuster’s debts following his death earlier that year and providing his sister Jean Peavy and brother Frank Shuster with a $25,000 annual pension. In October 2012, U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright found that the agreement invalidated a copyright-termination notice filed in 2003 by Shuster’s nephew Mark Peary.
Politics | Framing the controversy as part of a larger political battle between South Carolina’s lawmakers and its public universities, The Washington Post wades into the ongoing saga surrounding the House of Representatives’ vote to reduce funding to two schools after they selected gay-themed books for their summer reading programs. The newspaper uses as its entry point the Monday performances in Charleston of Fun Home, the musical adaptation of the Alison Bechdel graphic novel that was chosen last summer by the College of Charleston, drawing the ire of a South Carolina Christian group and conservative lawmakers. The Post reports that several state legislators suggested they viewed the staging of the musical as “a deliberate provocation,” and will seek to cut even more funding in response. The South Carolina Senate has yet to vote on the state budget, which includes the cuts to the schools. [The Washington Post]
Although an appeals court seems to have brought to an end the Joe Shuster estate’s bid to reclaim the artist’s stake in Superman, The Hollywood Reporter reminds us that the fight by Jerry Siegel’s heirs is far from over.
According to the website, attorney Marc Toberoff — he represents both families — is scheduled to file a brief next month on a pending appeal of a March 2013 ruling that affirmed the writer’s family relinquished any claims to the Man of Steel by accepting a 2001 offer from DC Comics that permits the publisher to retain all rights to Superman (as well as Superboy and The Spectre) in exchange for $3 million in cash and contingent compensation worth tens of millions.
Toberoff maintains the Siegels never accepted the DC offer (the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found otherwise), but even if there was a contract, then the publisher failed to perform. That explains the addition last year of the line “By Special Arrangement with the Jerry Siegel Family” to the credits of any DC title featuring Superman, a stipulation of the 2001 agreement.
However, Wright noted that breach-of-contract claims are a matter for state court, and don’t affect the enforceability of the 2001 agreement. So, a separate lawsuit remains an option for the Siegels, even if — or perhaps when — they exhaust their copyright case.
As The Hollywood Reporter points out, while the Siegel heirs still face “incredibly long odds,” their fight isn’t over yet.
In the latest — and, quite possibly, final — legal blow to the estate of Joe Shuster, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has denied a petition for a rehearing of its November decision that effectively brought to an end what a three-judge panel described as “the long-running saga regarding the ownership of copyrights in Superman — a story almost as old as the Man of Steel himself.”
Deadline reports that the one-page order closes the door to any more petitions for rehearing before the Ninth Circuit, leaving the Supreme Court as the only option left to attorney Marc Toberoff, who last year pledged, “My clients and I are prepared to go the distance.”
Creators | Kuroko’s Basketball creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki remained silent over the past year while hundreds of threatening letters were sent out to retail stores that sold the manga and anime, venues that hosted doujinshi (fan comics) events connected with it, and even his alma mater, but now that police have arrested a suspect in the case, he has made an official statement. Fujimaki expressed relief that the suspect had been caught, thanked the police who were involved in the investigation, and promised that more chapters of Kuroko’s Basketball are on the way. [Anime News Network]
Conventions | Salt Lake Comic Con producer Dan Farr is voicing his support for the construction of a “mega hotel” near the Salt Palace convention center. The Utah state Legislature ended its legislative session without passing a $100 million bill to fund such a hotel, but backers hope to see it revived in the next session. Ticket sales for the 2013 convention topped 50,000, and Farr told the local news station, “A convention center hotel would be a big help for us.” [Fox News 13]
As expected, the attorney for the heirs of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster has asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals for a rehearing of last month’s ruling that reaffirmed the artist’s estate can’t reclaim his copyright stake in the Man of Steel.
The Ninth Circuit upheld in a 2-1 opinion an October 2012 ruling by a lower court that the Shuster family relinquished all claims to the character in a 1992 agreement with DC Comics in exchange for “more than $600,000 and other benefits,” which included paying Shuster’s debts following his death earlier that year and providing his sister Jean Peavy and brother Frank Shuster with a $25,000 annual pension. U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright had found the agreement invalidated a copyright-termination notice filed in 2003 by Shuster’s nephew Mark Peary.
But in a petition filed Tuesday, and first reported by Deadline, attorney Marc Toberoff insists the Nov. 21 opinion warrants a rehearing by either the three-judge panel or the Ninth Circuit’s full bench “because it contravenes Congress’ clear objectives, and this Court’s carefully-circumscribed decisions.”
Although the attorney representing the heirs of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster had vowed they were “prepared to go the distance” in their legal battle with DC Comics, they appear to have reached the end of the road. Of course, that’s been said a few times before.
As Deadline reports, in a 2-1 vote the Ninth Circuit on Thursday tied up the loose ends in what it describes as “the long-running saga regarding the ownership of copyrights in Superman — a story almost as old as the Man of Steel himself,” reaffirming an October 2012 ruling that the Shuster estate is prevented from reclaiming the artist’s stake in the character by a 20-year-old agreement with DC.
“We are obviously very pleased with the court’s decision,” DC’s parent company Warner Bros. said in a statement.
That lower-court decision, which was appealed in May, dealt with a 1992 deal in which the Shuster estate relinquished all claims to Superman in exchange for “more than $600,000 and other benefits,” which included paying Shuster’s debts following his death earlier that year and providing his sister Jean Peavy and brother Frank Shuster with a $25,000 annual pension. In October, U.S. District Judge Otis D. Wright found that the agreement invalidated a copyright-termination notice filed in 2003 by Shuster’s nephew Mark Peary.
A press conference will be held Monday in Cleveland outside the childhood home of Jerry Siegel to debut Ohio’s Superman license plates, in time for the character’s 75th anniversary.
According to The Plain Dealer, State Rep. Bill Patmon will appear alongside members of the Siegel & Shuster Society board outside the Glenville neighborhood house where teenagers Siegel and Joe Shuster created the Man of Steel.
As if Canada Post’s stamps weren’t enough to celebrate the Toronto roots of Superman on his 75th anniversary, the Royal Canadian Mint has unveiled a series of seven collector coins to commemorate the occasion.
While Superman was created in 1933 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster when they were teenagers living in Cleveland, Shuster was actually born in Toronto, and lived there until age 9 or 10. He worked as a newspaper boy for the Toronto Daily Star, whose building served as a model for the Daily Planet (originally called the Daily Star).
“The generations of young people who grew up reading Superman comics may not have fully appreciated the story behind them,” Canada’s Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander said in a statement. “Our government celebrates Canada’s history and heritage and the very values and strengths that Superman embodies.”
The coins, which are available beginning today, depict different moments in the Man of Steel’s history, but they’re all engraved with the phrase “75 years of Superman,” written in Kryptonian: There’s the $75 14-karat gold coin (‘the early years”), featuring Joe Shuster’s illustration from the cover of Superman #1; the $10 fine silver coin (“vintage”); the $15 fine silver coin (“modern day); the $20 fine silver coin (“Man of Steel”), featuring Jim Lee’s cover for Superman #204; the $20 fine silver coin with the iconic S shield; the $20 fine silver (“Metropolis”) — appropriately enough, “the world’s first coin to feature an achromatic hologram”; and a “Then and Now” coin and stamp set, with a coin that shifts between Shuster’s Superman #1 and Lee’s modern reinterpretation.
Ordering details can be found on the Royal Canadian Mint website.
With the official debut today at Fan Expo Canada, Canada Post has revealed the designs for all five stamps in the series celebrating the 75th anniversary of Superman and the hero’s Toronto roots (co-creator Joe Shuster was born in the city, and the Toronto Daily Star building served as the model for the Daily Planet).
The stamps depict the Man of Steel in five eras, by five different artists: Superman #1 (1939), by Shuster; Superman #32 (1945), by Wayne Boring; Superman #233 (1971), by Neal Adams; Superman #204 (2004), by Jim Lee; and Superman Annual #1 (2012), by Kenneth Rocafort. They’re sold in sheets of 10, with the booklet covers featuring art by Shuster, Lee, Rocafort and Dick Giordano.
Although the stamps won’t be available until Sept. 10, people with Canadian addresses can pre=order them now on the Canada Post website.
Canada Post will debut a series of stamps Friday at Fan Expo Canada celebrating the Toronto roots of the Man of Steel.
While Superman was created in 1933 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster when they were teenagers living in Cleveland — a fact commemorated with placards, an airport display and vanity plates — Shuster was actually born in Toronto, and lived there until age 9 or 10. He worked as a newspaper boy for the Toronto Daily Star, whose building served as a model for the Daily Planet (originally called the Daily Star).
“The thing about Superman is that he is like the ultimate hyphenated citizen. He is a Canadian-American-Kryptonian superhero,” the Toronto Star quotes Canada Post spokeswoman Keisha McIntosh-Siung as saying. “He’s really a timeless hero.”
The limited-edition series of five stamps, which goes on sale Sept. 10, celebrates the 75th anniversary of Superman’s debut in Action Comics #1. Each stamp features artwork from different eras.
Organizations | The Siegel and Shuster Society is seeking donations to repair the fence surrounding the former site of Joe Shuster’s childhood home in Cleveland and to help maintain the new Superman exhibit at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. The wooden fence, which is decorated with large metal plates depicting the first Superman story from Action Comics #1, was damaged early last month by a drunken driver. Repairs are expected to cost about $3,000; any additional money will be put toward future restoration. Dedicated in October, the airport’s Superman Welcoming Center has suffered wear from visitors encouraging children to pose for photographs beside the statue. The group is seeking $1,500 to fix the damage and install a barrier to keep kids off the exhibit. Donations can be made through the Cleveland Foundation. [Cleveland Plain Dealer]
Conventions | It’s time for the mass media to start earnestly explaining Comic-Con to their readers; here’s one that gives a quick overview of the history of the con and gathers quotes from various notables, including Marvel’s Joe Quesada, the guy who runs the Walking Dead obstacle course, and CBR’s Jonah Weiland. [The Long Beach Press-Telegram]
Beginning in early October, Ohio drivers finally will be able to display Superman license plates on their cars.
It certainly hasn’t been easy. The campaign for the specialty plate commemorating the creation of the Man of Steel in 1932 by Cleveland teenagers Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster was launched in 2011 by the Siegel & Shuster Society, but ran into a couple of snags: first, objections by DC Comics and Warner Bros. to the proposed slogan “Birthplace of Superman” — he was born on Krypton, they insist — and then, more formidably, the twists and turns of the legislative process.
After a bill for the Superman plates failed to pass on its own, State Rep. Bill Patmon in April inserted the legislation into the state budget, which the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports passed last week.
Warner Bros.’ Man of Steel has grossed $141.3 million domestically since its June 14 premiere, breaking the record for a June opening on its way to a $214.6 million worldwide box office. That’s not bad for four days’ work. Of course, the franchise reboot had an estimated $225 million production budget, plus another $150 million for marketing and distribution, so Zack Snyder & Co. still have a way to go.
Clearly the film has legs, which means plenty of more Superman stories online and in print. Here are just a handful of them (warning: potential spoilers!):
• BuzzFeed turned to Watson Technical Consulting to calculate the real-life toll Man of Steel’s sprawling battle between Superman and General Zod would take on Metropolis — or, in this case, New York City — both in terms of money and human life. The disaster experts paint a grim picture in the days following the fight: 129,000 known dead, more than 250,000 missing (most of whom would’ve also died) and nearly 1 million injured. The strictly physical damage is pegged at $700 million, compared to 9/11’s $55 billion (with a further economic impact of $123 billion). The overall damage would be about $2 trillion.
Despite a series of seemingly definitive decisions in DC Comics’ favor, the nearly decade-long legal fight over the rights to Superman continues, with the estate of co-creator Joe Shuster asking an appeals court just three weeks ago to overturn a ruling barring the family from reclaiming the artist’s stake in the Man of Steel. At the center of the battle is tenacious and controversial attorney Marc Toberoff, the longtime nemesis of Warner Bros. who represents the heirs of Shuster and his collaborator Jerry Siegel.
He’s the subject of a lengthy feature in the latest issue of Bloomberg Businessweek, in which he pledges he’ll take the Superman dispute to the Supreme Court, if necessary. “This case is by no means over,” he tells the magazine. “My clients and I are prepared to go the distance.” It’s an interesting article that’s part history lesson and part personality profile, with several tidbits (of varying importance) that I can’t recall seeing previously: