Responding to accusations of homophobia, and increasing media attention, Universal Studios Hollywood has canceled its Bill and Ted Halloween Horror Nights show, which featured a Man of Steel transformed into a mincing gay stereotype.
Part of the theme park’s annual Halloween event, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Halloween Adventure was a play in which the title characters are transported to the Land of Oz filled with references to sex and popular culture. According to Vice.com, Bill and Ted are joined in their quest to kill four evil witches by Superman, who’s turned gay after being accidentally sprinkled with fairy dust.
“After becoming gay, Superman’s voice and posture changes,” writes Vice’s Jamie Lee Curtis Taete. “His lips purse, his toes point inward, and his wrists become limp. His new voice sounds like a homophobic uncle doing a drunken impression of Richard Simmons, complete with lisps and frequent use of the word ‘faaaaaaabulous!’”
This week sees the debut of Superman/Wonder Woman, the very existence of which brings into sharp relief a number of concerns about the treatment of both characters in the New 52. We’ll get into the specifics in a minute, but for now it may be enough to say that if the book had come out under a previous administration (say, the post-Infinite Crisis period, when the two leads were especially close friends), it might be enjoying a warmer overall reception. Superman/Wonder Woman #1 isn’t a bad comic book, but its premise — assuming the reader accepts it — does make for some awkward moments.
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.
If, in the more than four years since its premiere on iTunes, you never got around to watching the 12-part motion-comic adaptation of Superman: Red Son, now’s your chance — for free: The fan site Superman Homepage notes that Warner Bros. has released the entire serial on YouTube, so you can judge for yourself how the 2003 Elseworlds miniseries by Mark Millar, Dave Johnson, Kilian Plunkett and others makes the transition.
Fair warning, though: It’s spread over 25 videos, and this 2009 adaptation may seem a little rough when compared to some more recent motion comics. But, hey, it’s free!
Summer is officially over, so this is a little late, but I’ve been meaning to talk about a certain arc from the summer of 1993. It was the height of the speculator bubble, when everything came with cover enhancements, trading cards, unfortunate hairstyles and/or superfluous pouches.
For many DC Comics readers, 20 years ago was also the summer of “Reign of the Supermen!” That’s not necessarily enthusiasm — the exclamation point was part of the title, which in turn was inspired by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s early proto-supervillain story, “The Reign of the Superman.” The third (and by far the longest) chapter of the “Death of Superman” saga began with teasers at the back of Adventures of Superman #500, published around April 15,* and ended with Superman Vol. 2 #82, published around Aug. 26.** Those four and a half months may not seem like much, but they saw 20 issues of the four regular Superman books (including Action Comics and Superman: The Man of Steel) spread over 20 weeks. In fact, “Reign” was front-loaded, with all four titles marking the official start of the arc on April 29 or so, two weeks after Adventures #500. That meant there were some weeks without a new installment, and those were sometimes hard to take.
“Reign of the Supermen!” is not the greatest Superman story ever memorialized in print. On one level it is very much a product of its era. However, for the Superman books, that era was energized not just by the efforts of their creative teams, but by the overarching framework the books had developed. While “Reign” wasn’t the only big DC event of the summer — for one thing, the debut of DC’s imprint Milestone Media has much more historical significance — it’s a reminder of the ebbs and flows of serial superhero storytelling, and it remains instructive today.
Warning: This is a very long post, because I think there’s a lot of background to be explored.
This morning Mark Evanier showcases an incredible piece of comic-book history: home-movie footage from Superman Day at the 1939-40 New York World’s Fair (the same exposition that introduced the Trylon and Perisphere, which in ’80s DC Comics served as the headquarters of the All-Star Squadron).
It’s notable certainly for the glimpses of such figures identified by Evanier as Jerry Siegel, Harry Donenfeld, Max C. Gaines and Jack Liebowitz, but also as testimony to the swiftness with which the Man of Steel made an impact on popular culture: Superman Day, with its races, elephant rides, parade and boys wearing S shields, was held July 3, 1940, roughly two years after the release of Action Comics #1. Granted, by the time of the event, the Adventures of Superman radio serial had been airing for about five months, but still …
Evanier has more on his blog, including doubts as to whether the man in the Superman suit is actually the actor some have long thought.
I talked about it last week, but there’s a lot to unpack in the recent Williams-and-Blackman-leave-Batwoman imbroglio. Part of it is DC Comics’ apparent need to keep characters relatively unchanged, which these days includes being young and unmarried. Co-Publisher Dan DiDio has already explained this in terms of heroic sacrifice, so I suppose that’s as close as we may get to official company policy on the matter.
However, before DiDio made his comments, I was wondering whether DC didn’t want the non-costumed half of Batwoman’s main couple to remain single and uncomplicated. After all, Maggie Sawyer goes back further than Kate Kane, and has appeared in both the animated Superman series and in Smallville. Thus, a certain part of the TV-watching public probably associates Maggie Sawyer more with Superman than with Batwoman; and DC might not want to have her tied permanently to the Bat-office.
This, in turn, brings up the issue of DC as a “content farm,” providing material for future adaptations. Obviously the publisher has almost 80 years’ worth of characters and stories ready to provide inspiration. Indeed, over the decades, that inspiration has gone both ways. However, more recently it seems like the adaptations have been influencing the comics to a greater degree than the comics have been influencing the adaptations, and in the long run that’s not good for either side.
Determined not to be upstaged by the god of mischief, the Man of Steel dropped by Sesame Street to teach a valuable lesson of his own. Appearing on today’s episode of the beloved children’s series, which kicked off its 44th season on Monday, Man of Steel star Henry Cavill explained the meaning of respect to Elmo, the Big Bad Wolf and the Three Little Pigs.
“Respect means treating someone in a way that makes them seem cared for and important,” Cavill tells Big Bad, who’s quick to pick up on the lesson. There’s even a “Piggies Rock!” cake involved (Loki only had cookies).
You can watch Cavill’s “Word on the Street” appearance below. Entertainment Weekly also has a behind-the-scenes details, and a photo of the actor posing with Super Grover during his visit to the studio (his segment was taped shortly before the June 14 release of 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.
Typically when we report about the costumed characters on Hollywood Boulevard or in New York City’s Times Square, it’s because of their alleged misbehavior: assault, theft, all-out civil war. But this time the superheroes are actually, well, the heroes.
Los Angeles’ KABC reports that on Friday, well-known character impersonators Jennifer Wenger and Christopher Dennis (aka Wonder Woman and Superman) were taping a segment for Jimmy Kimmel Live when Wenger was attacked by a cowboy boot-wearing transient who’s apparently infamous for bad behavior.
“She got in my face and she flipped my lip, and then punched me in the face,” Wenger told KABC. And that’s when the Man of Steel stepped in. “I’m then reflecting all of her boot throws,” Dennis explained. “She actually hits Wonder Woman again with a boot. I reflected it and it just kind of ricocheted off my arm and hit her in the face.”
Some might say we’re experiencing the Golden Age of superheroes in film, but in reality it’s just live-action catching up to animation. Warner Bros. Animation has been a trailblazer in that area, with 26 feature films based on DC Comics’ characters since 1993. And with the recent release of Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox, based on the 2011 Flashpoint crossover, we’ve come up with a half-dozen other DC series or arcs Warner Bros. could (and should) look to for future animated films.
Matt Cowan’s handle on DeviantArt is “Matt Can’t Draw”, which isn’t necessarily true. Sure, he is more of a designer, a conceptual artist, than a straight-up “drawer.” His latest series, “Sounds Like,” is possibly a thinly veiled dig at the lack of imagination of Hollywood casting departments. Or is it just an excuse to draw his favorite characters together?
In any case, check them out below. And if you harbor some irrational prejudice against DeviantArt, Cowan’s work is also posted to his Tumblr.
Conventions | Next week, Salt Lake City will get its first comics convention, Salt Lake Comic Con, which has already sold a reported 23,000 tickets (the event’s website says 20,000). But founder Dan Farr expects attendance to far exceed 40,000, surpassing the 33,000 recorded for New York Comic Con’s inaugural year.[Deseret News, The Salt Lake Tribune]
Conventions | Oni Hartstein, the co-founder of Intervention, talks about why she established the Washington, DC-area convention and why its DIY aspect sets it apart. [Comic Riffs]
For one night only, Superman will finally get what’s coming to him. Just what that is, remains to be seen.
The Los Angeles-based variety act Captured Aural Phantasy Theater will stage a celebrity roast of the Man of Steel Sept. 8 at the historic El Cid as part of a show titled Superhero Variety Hour. Members of the group will play characters from DC Comics, including Lois Lane, Lex Luthor and Superman himself, as well as an unexpected host — Dean Martin. Inspired by the celebrity roasts of the 1970s (and Comedy Central’s recent revivals), actors will play the various parts.
The character-specific capsule collections, each containing 30 to 35 pieces, will roll out over the next six months, beginning this month with Tweety. The final collection, based around Superman, will arrive in stores in February.
The collections, which include silk-screened T-shirts, dresses and tote bags priced from $98 to $202, will be available at online locations like Bloomingdales.com, as well as Lester’s, Singer22 and the Lauren Moshi flagship store in Los Angeles. “These iconic characters are part of my childhood and the Lauren Moshi customer can really relate to them,” Moshi told Women’s Wear Daily.
You can see more pieces from the Wonder Woman collection below.