Seventy-five years ago, on or about April 18, 1938, the company that would become DC Comics published the first issue (cover-dated June 1938) of a new anthology series. Today, Action Comics #1 is remembered mainly (and justifiably so) for introducing Superman.
Naturally, many of the elements and concepts from that first Superman story have changed over time. In Action #1, all we see of Krypton is its final fate. Pa Kent doesn’t have a first name, and Clark works for the Daily Star. There’s no Lex Luthor, no Jimmy Olsen, no Kryptonite, and no Superboy. Even Superman’s powers pale in comparison to what they would become.
However, two characters are already fleshed out pretty well, with motivations and dynamics instantly recognizable to today’s readers. One, of course, is Clark Kent, who creates the Superman identity to “turn his titanic strength into channels that would benefit mankind,” and who hides that strength behind a pair of glasses and a meek demeanor.
The other is Lois Lane.
Beginning later this week, customers of That’s Entertainment will be able to find Worcester, Massachusetts’ “Pop-Culture Emporium” at the corner of Park Avenue and Lois Lane. The store isn’t moving from its 20-year-old location, however. Rather, the city is changing the short private road that runs beside the building from Marmon Place to Lois Lane, in honor of Superman’s longtime love interest.
That’s Entertainment owner Paul Howley and manager Ken Carson made the formal request in March 2011; it received unanimous approval in August from City Council. The store is paying for the manufacture and installation of the new street sign, which will be put up this week. A formal ceremony will be held Sunday, with artist Paul Ryan drawing sketches of Lois Lane on a special commemorative print given free to attendees. There also will be a Lois Lane look-alike contest.
Serialized storytelling provides superhero-comics publishers a pretty handy buffer. Anything can be judged unfairly, perhaps even after the whole story has been collected. Don’t like a preview image? Wait until the issue itself comes out. Don’t like how the story is going? Wait for it to end, so you can evaluate it in a more proper context. Don’t like how the story ended? Hey, at least you got the thrill of following it issue by issue.
There will always be a certain distance between fans and professionals, simply because the pros know where the stories are going and the fans can only make educated guesses. The previous paragraph’s view of it may be cynical, but I don’t think it’s too far off. Beyond nostalgic, blue-sky wishes for publishers to stop aiming low, and for fans to stop assuming the worst, I don’t have any easy solutions. Sometimes I just wish these sorts of observations weren’t necessary.
Having said all that, I’m not going to call the latest Superman/Wonder Woman pairing (in this week’s Justice League #12, as you might have heard) The Dumbest Thing DC’s Ever Done. I’m not sure it’s even in the Top 20. Heck, I’m not sure it’s the dumbest thing DC’s done in the past 12 months.
What I will say is that it misses the point.
Even as the debate still rages over last week’s revelation that Superman and Wonder Woman begin a romantic relationship in the new issue of Justice League, The Associated Press introduced a potential new wrinkle: that in DC Comics’ New 52, not only have the Man of Steel and Lois Lane never dated — something readers have known for more than a year — but that they “likely” never will.
However, a DC spokesman told Comic Book Resources the latter assertion “definitely” didn’t come from the publisher, which has characterized the story development as “the new status quo,” one made possible by the year-old relaunch that wiped clean much of the history of the DC Universe.
“Batman is considered THE detective in comics (he first appeared in Detective Comics and has been there for 70+ years, after all) and the rest of the Bat-Family are right up there with him. But, the reputation, I’m sad to say, is undeserved. It’s HARD to write a detective in a comic book format. I know. I’ve been there. There’s only so much room for clues and for drawn out searches. Stories in comics have to move so fast that being a detective, even for Batman, usually comes down to a trail of muddy footprints, with a mud that comes ONLY from one certain place in an area of five square yards, where the murderer happens to be standing right now …”
– Paul Tobin, killing my long-held dream that Detective Comics will ever live up to its name.
Is he right, though? I love Paul Tobin, but is it that tough to write a mystery comic? Seems like Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker might disagree. Or is it just tough to write a mystery comic featuring Batman or other superheroes? Tobin’s certainly correct that most Batman stories aren’t actually detective stories, but is that a problem with the comics medium, the superhero genre, or just the writers themselves?
Is it a problem at all? Am I the only one who’d really enjoy seeing Batman do some actual sleuthing? Or Lois Lane put some actual investigating into her journalism?
Comics | As part of an Associated Press article about comics addressing real-world issues, it’s revealed that the glamorous Cheryl Blossom, an Archie Comics character who has appeared throughout the years, often as a fourth player in the traditional Archie/Betty/Veronica love triangle, will battle breast cancer in a new storyline. According to Editor-in-Chief Victor Gorelick, Cheryl feels fortunate she can afford treatment, which “opens the door that there are a lot of people who cannot afford this kind of treatment and we have to see where that’s kind of going to lead.” [The Associated Press]
Conventions | Paul Gravett files his report on the Angoulême International Comics Festival. [Paul Gravett]
If you haven’t had enough of Kerry Callen’s awesome animated comics covers — and how could you possibly have? — he’s posted a couple more on his blog. That’s Lois Lane #29 above, but click through to see him make Jim Steranko’s classic Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #4 even more psychedelic than it already was.
Colleen Doran isn’t the first artist who springs to mind when I think of Archie Comics, but she signed a contract with them to do a Betty and Veronica project a few years ago. Unfortunately, it didn’t pan out, but she posts a few sketches of the characters, whom she was to draw in her own style rather than Archie’s house style (which varies a bit, but not this much). Unfortunately, there’s no Archie, whom she said was “very hot,” but hopefully she’ll find those drawings and put them up as well.
Doran sees the drawing on the left as a good start for a Lois Lane character as well, and by happy coincidence she’s planning to pitch a Lois Lane miniseries to DC Comics: “I see Lois as a super-smart, Kathryn Hepburn/Rosalind Russell type. At a serious newspaper, instead of a yukky on-air correspondent.” Yes, please!
As part of their promotion of September’s new Superman #1, DC Comics and the New York Daily News are asking fans to vote on whether Lois Lane’s new boyfriend “Jonathan Carroll is an upgrade from Clark Kent.” That’s the way the Daily News puts it, anyway. On DC’s Source blog, they phrase the question a bit differently: “Are you Team Superman or Team Jonathan?”
It’s difficult to set aside feelings about Twilight when that’s exactly what DC’s alluding to. One of the biggest criticisms of the Twilight series is that its lead character is largely defined by who she’s dating. Robin Browne (by way of Andrew Futral) put it well when she compared Twilight to Harry Potter (though her quote is often attributed to Stephen King): “Harry Potter is all about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity…Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend.”
It’s frustrating to hear DC express Lois Lane’s story in similar terms. By asking readers to join either Team Superman or Team Jonathan, DC’s suggesting that what’s really important isn’t whatever’s going on in the rest of Lois’ life, but who she ends up with. I hope there’s much more to it than that.
All we’re seeing is two pages from Superman #1. I hope that what we’re not seeing is that “boyfriend” is a hyperbolic term and that Lois isn’t really interested in this new douchebag. I hope it’s a one-night stand. I also hope that it’s a good long time before she sees anything in Clark Kent beyond simple friendship. And vice versa, come to think of it. I hope that DC allows her to be her own character before throwing the messiness of a relationship with Clark/Superman at her. Show her dating, sure. Let’s see what kind of guys she likes. That’s part of who she is. But I sure as hell want to see what she’s like in other areas too. I hope that she’s not just a prize for Superman to win.
It’s just that based on DC’s marketing so far, I don’t hope it very strongly.
When DC Comics confirmed on Monday that, as of its September relaunch, the 15-year marriage of Clark Kent and Lois Lane never happened, the publisher tossed in another juicy relationship detail: “Lois Lane is dating a colleague at the Daily Planet (and his name isn’t Clark Kent).” Could it be Steve Lombard or Ron Troupe? Perry White or Jimmy Olsen?
It turns out it’s none of those. Instead, the New York Daily News tells us this morning, Lois’ boyfriend is … Jonathan Carroll. No, not the award-winning fantasy author. The blond beau is a new character debuting in September’s Superman #1, where, judging by the preview, he receives a shirtless introduction to Clark and the readers.
Superman #1, by George Perez and Jesus Merino, goes on sale Sept. 28. Expect more details to emerge at Comic-Con International during this afternoon’s “DC Comics: The New 52″ presentation and Friday’s Superman panel.
Updated: DC has released a better-quality preview of Superman #1. You can see Jonathan’s two-page introduction after the break.
Just ahead of Comic-Con International in San Diego, the New York Post has unveiled a first look at what’s apparently the actual cover for September’s Action Comics #1, part of DC Comics’ line-wide relaunch.
Drawn by series artist Rags Morales, the cover is obviously different from the one that premiered last month, playing up action — lowercase “a” — rather than the iconic imagery of the original Action Comics #1. The art in the Post is small, but it appears as if the numbers of the police cruisers are “19″ and “38,” the year the series, and Superman, debuted. It’s possible that the earlier cover could be used as the variant; however, the solicitation credits that to Jim Lee and Scott Williams.
The newspaper notes what was already fairly clear: that while most of the relaunch titles, including Batman and Green Lantern, “will showcase DC’s iconic heroes when they’re well into their careers,” Action will dwell on the early adventures of the Man of Steel — during which he wore blue jeans, a T-shirt and a little red cape.
“We felt it was time for the big adventures of a 21st-century Paul Bunyan who fights for the weak and downtrodden against bullies of all kinds, from robot invaders and crime lords to corrupt city officials,” writer Grant Morrison says, building on his earlier description of the superhero as “a Bruce Springsteen version of Superman.” “The new look reflects his status as a street-level defender of the ordinary man and woman.”
Update: DC has released a larger version of Morales’ cover, along with additional details about Action Comics and Superman, confirming earlier reports that Clark Kent and Lois Lane aren’t married in the New DCU: “Clark Kent is single and living on his own. He has never been married. [...] Lois Lane is dating a colleague at the DAILY PLANET (and his name isn’t Clark Kent) and she has a new position with the paper.” Read the rest after the break.
Hello and welcome to another edition of What Are You Reading? Today’s special guest is Shannon Wheeler, New Yorker cartoonist and creator of the Eisner Award-winning comic book Too Much Coffee Man, Oil & Water, the Eisner-nominated I Thought You Would Be Funnier and the upcoming Grandpa Won’t Wake Up.
To see what Shannon and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
DC Comics Co-Publisher Dan DiDio has all but confirmed that one of the effects of the publisher’s line-wide relaunch will be the end of the marriage between Superman and Lois Lane.
“Let’s just say it’s being reexamined,” he tells NBC New York’s PopcornBiz blog, “because it’s something that I think is something that is so valuable to the character’s story that you really want to explore all facets of it. Not just as it exists currently.”
Rumblings of the dissolution of the 15-year-old marriage began on May 31, even as the company announced it will debut 52 first issues in September as part of a sweeping overhaul designed to introduce “a more modern, diverse DC Universe.” Among the changes to characters and continuity, Bleeding Cool contended, would be a clean slate in which the big 1996 wedding never happened, apparently freeing Superman to have a relationship with Wonder Woman.
The marriage, depicted in the one-shot Superman: The Wedding Album, was a major media spectacle — it was even billed as “The Event of the Century” on the cover — that coincided with the episode of the popular ABC television series Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman in which the characters tied the knot.
Fifteen years later, a relaunch of Action Comics — the title whose 1938 debut introduced both Superman and Lois Lane — by Grant Morrison and Rags Morales promises “a new chapter” for the Man of Steel that attempts to “refresh some ideas that have maybe become so well known that people think they’ve got it all figured out.” One of those ideas, it looks like, is his marriage to Lois.
“I think what you’re going to see is a lot of big changes for Superman,” DiDio tells PopcornBiz. “We really went back to the core of the character. And more importantly, we got somebody in Grant Morrison, who’s really taking the character and reinventing him so you feel a real contemporary tone, a really contemporary time, but still staying true to the core. I think it’s so important for us to make sure Superman stays as relevant today as he did when he first was created back in the ’30s.”
Did I miss any?
This has gotten around the Internet pretty well, but just so there’s no excuse for anyone not to have seen it: Kate Beaton’s series of Lois Lane comic strips does a really good job of showing how cool that character should be. There are only two explanations for Lois’ never figuring out that Superman was Clark: a) she was too dumb to put it together; b) she was too busy to care. I know which option DC continuity endorses, but I also know which one I prefer.
Beaton admits to not having read a lot of Lois Lane comics, but that’s probably for the best. Her interpretation is based instead on Lois and Clark, old Fleischer cartoons, and Dean Trippe’s unpublished Lois Lane, Girl Reporter pitch.