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Snyder Week wrap-up: ‘Unchained’ and ‘Man of Steel’

Henry Cavill as Superman

Henry Cavill as Superman

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.

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Quote of the Day | ‘Dude, I didn’t even get a free ticket’

Birthright

“Dude, I didn’t even get a free ticket. Are you kidding me? It’s DC. Even Marvel invites me to the movies.”

Superman: Birthright writer Mark Waid, answering the question, “Did you get a ‘based on work by’ credit in [Man of Steel] due to Birthright?” In the conversation that follows, he adds, “They’re not legally obligated to. Why would they? When they did before, that was Paul. Paul’s gone,” with “Paul” being Paul Levitz, former President and Publisher at DC Comics. Update: It’s worth noting here (as Waid points out in our comments section below) that Waid was asked the question and answered it directly, versus complaining about it. As he said in a follow-up tweet: “I’m not complaining about the situation. I could be mad about the policy change, but why? That won’t mend it.”

I didn’t stay for the credits after the movie ended when I saw it earlier this week, so I didn’t see who did and didn’t get credited. But it’s a shame that this policy changed when Levitz left, for many reasons. Blogger Andrew Wheeler makes a good argument for why crediting and compensating creators for their contributions makes good business sense: “I know the moral argument is pointless and the legal one is dead, but I feel there’s a clear financial argument. Incentivising the best writers to give good ideas to companies that trade entirely on ideas seems sane to me.”

‘Man of Steel’ broke Mark Waid’s heart (and other Super-tidbits)

ew-superman coverWith 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.”

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Dan DiDio and Jim Lee talk Superman at 75, ‘Man of Steel’

lee-didio-superman

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.”

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Mondo’s ‘Man of Steel’ prints roll out this week

man o steel

Ken Taylor regular edition

To mark the premiere of Man of Steel on Friday, Mondo will offer two limited-edition prints (both with variant editions) created by Ken Taylor and Martin Ansin. Taylor’s print and its variant will go on sale at random times on Thursday, so you’ll have to follow the boutique on Twitter to find out when you can get it. The “metal variant” of Ansin’s print will go on sale Friday at a random time.

The regular edition of Ansin’s print, however, will be sold via a timed sale, which is only the second time Mondo has offered this (the first was for last year’s The Dark Knight Rises print from Olly Moss). The poster will be on sale for three days. They will start the sale at 12:01 a.m. Central on Friday, and will be open until 12:01 a.m. on Monday, with no purchasing limits. The number printed will be determined by how many are sold in that amount of time. After that, the edition will be closed, printed and never reprinted again.

Check them out below.

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DC enlists Superman for ‘We Can Be Heroes’ campaign

we can be heroes2With 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.”

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Comics A.M. | ‘One Piece’ returns; Dubai as comics center?

One Piece, Vol. 70

One Piece, Vol. 70

Manga | The mega-popular series One Piece resumed publication in this week’s issue of Shonen Jump, after a two-week hiatus due to manga-ka Eiichiro Oda’s health problems following a tonsil infection. [Cruchyroll]

Comics | It seems like we are reading a lot about comics in the Arab world lately, and Egyptian graphic novelist Achraf Abd Elazim argues that the fourth major comics center (after New York, France and Belgium, and Japan) will be Dubai. [Your Middle East]

Comics | Michael Cavna kics off Comic Riffs’ celebration of Superman’s 75th birthday with a roundup of writers’ opinions on why the character has stood the test of time. [Comic Riffs]

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Cheat Sheet | From ‘Superman Unchained’ to ‘Killjoys’ to Vegas

june10-cheat sheet copy

Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6′s guide to the week ahead. While some of you may be scrambling to find that perfect Father’s Day gift, many others are chomping at the bit for the Friday premiere of director Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel — or, the perfectly timed debut of Scott Snyder and Jim Lee’s Superman Unchained.

Or perhaps you’re packing your bags for Amazing Las Vegas Comic Con, or simply plotting your weekly visit to the local comic book store. If that’s the case, do we have some recommendations for you …

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Comics A.M. | For Superman’s 75th, a look back at rights battle

Action Comics #1

Action Comics #1

Comics | To mark the 75th anniversary of Superman, and the premiere this week of Warner Bros.’ Man of Steel, Edward Helmore of The Telegraph recounts the long and bitter legal feud between DC Comics and the families of creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster over the rights to to the multibillion-dollar property, a battle from which the publisher has seemingly emerged victorious. [The Telegraph]

Comics | The New York Post’s Reed Tucker has some ideas on how to “fix” comics, starting with cutting the cover price to increase sales. [Parallel Worlds]

Comics | With an exhibit of original art from Charles Schulz’s Peanuts opening in a local gallery last week, a local comic convention in the works, and a thriving comics retail scene all year round, South Florida could just be the next comics hotspot. [WLRN]

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Hutchinson, Kansas, declares June 21 ‘Smallville Day’

welcome to smallvilleIt’s not exactly what three residents had in mind last year when they launched a campaign to change the name of Hutchinson, Kansas, to Smallville, but this week city council voted to proclaim June 21 as “Smallville Day” in honor of Superman.

That’s the same day the Man of Steel will be inducted into the Kansas Hall of Fame, alongside “the Father of Basketball” James Naismith, the band Kansas, Menninger Clinic founders Charles, Karl and Will Menninger, and the Union Army’s 1st Regiment Kansas Colored Volunteer Infantry.

The push to rename Hutchinson was begun last year by friends Ben Eisiminger, KC McNeely and Christopher Wietrick, who noticed similarities between their city and the fictional hometown of Clark Kent — among them, a similar location and population (many more are detailed in the video below). The city of 42,080 also has a Clark Road and a Kent Road.

The Hutchinson News reports that given the 75th anniversary of Superman, the looming release of Warner Bros.’ Man of Steel and the Hall of Fame induction, Wietrick thought it was a perfect time to approach the city council with the idea. Tuesday morning, the members voted unanimously in support of the “Smallville Day” proclamation, which will be read at the June 18 by Mayor Bob Bush.

On June 21 the editor and publisher of The Hutchinson News will travel to Topeka to accept Clark Kent’s induction into the Kansas Hall of Fame, alongside Laura Siegel Larson, the daughter of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel.

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Bill Nye, Kevin Smith and others tackle how Superman shaves

bill-nye

Whether he’s explaining buoyancy or warning of the consequences of evolution denial, there are few things as wonderful and as educational as Bill Nye delivering some scientific knowledge. And so it was a stroke of brilliance that the folks and Gillette recruited the Science Guy for their HowDoesHeShave promotional campaign for director Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel.

As you can likely deduce from the name, the razor brand tackles the question that’s nagged Superman fans and scholars for decades: No, not how he and Lois Lane could have sex — rather, how does the Last Son of Krypton shave? For the campaign, it’s also posed to Kevin Smith, The Big Bang Theory actress (and neuroscientist) Mayim Bialik and MythBusters hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, but I like Nye’s “grinding theory” (much better than Smith’s half-baked “Kryptonian rocket that brought Superman to Earth theory”).

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DC Entertainment declares June 12 Man of Steel Day

all-star superman

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).

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‘Man of Steel’ brought Jim Lee to tears

jim-lee-cbs

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.”

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‘Man of Steel,’ ‘Iron Man 3′ are destroying America, Colbert says

colbert-man-of-steel

Ever the guardian of American values, Stephen Colbert has cast his scornful gaze on the latest threats to everything wholesome: Man of Steel and Iron Man 3.

On last night’s episode of The Colbert Report, the talk-show host took on the Warner Bros. franchise reboot first for casting English actor Henry Cavill as the embodiment of truth, justice and the American way, and then for its liberal agenda. Showing a clip in which Superman explains to Lois (Amy Adams) that on his world, his “S” symbol means “hope,” Colbert rages, “They’re saying Superman is Obama! Think about it: They both rise from Midwestern obscurity, become the most powerful man in the world, and, if I’m not mistaken, Krypton is the capital of Kenya!”

His “big problem” with Iron Man 3 is that Marvel turned to China for financing, resulting in a special cut of the film, featuring scenes with Chinese actors, product placement and an alteration of the villain’s name from the Mandarin to “Man Daren.”

“Why is Iron Man fighting the husband from Bewitched?” Colbert asks.

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Quote of the Day | Greg Rucka on a PG-13 ‘Man of Steel’

man of steel-cavill

“Words like ‘realism’ and ‘dark’ and ‘gritty’ get bandied about Hollywood as if the only merit a story can have is in its verisimilitude, but that’s a lie. Emotional honesty transcends reality; it’s what allows disbelief to be suspended, and yet what makes a story stay true. When Superman: The Movie was released, Richard Donner promised us we’d believe a man could fly. We did, but it wasn’t the wire-work alone.”

– comics writer and novelist Greg Rucka, voicing his misgivings about the PG-13 rating for director Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel


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