While there’s a lot to be said for getting there first, is the fact that Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s Superman was the first superhero, the character that created a unique and endlessly tweakable template and founded an increasingly pervasive genre, the only reason the Man of Steel occupies the unique place he does in our culture?
In his new book Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero, Larry Tye pens a biography of sorts of the character, biographies being something Tye has more than a little experience writing (his previous works include biographies of Satchel Paige and Edward L. Bernays). Given that focus, Tye doesn’t really set about answering the question of why Superman is our most enduring hero, a question that seems particularly relevant as Supes has ceded the title of most popular hero to his one-time imitator Batman in a lot of the most pertinent metrics (comic book sales and box office earnings, for example).
Tye naturally alights on some of the most oft-cited reasons, including the psychological appeal of the incredible amount of wish-fulfillment Siegel and Shuster imbued their hero with — from being stronger than everyone else and able to fly to successfully leading a double life in which one persona is as accepted as the other persona dreams of being to the character’s unique relationship with the woman of his dreams — and the way the hero almost literally wrapped himself in the American flag and made himself synonymous with his home country.
While recounting the history of Superman, however, Tye reveals another obvious but less obsessed over reason. By a mixture of luck and his owners’ relentless pursuit of profits, Superman has managed to experiment with and conquer emerging media almost as immediately as they became viable — from the brand-new comic books of the late 1930s he segued easily into comic strips, and his was an early and huge hit radio program. He was in movie theaters with both cartoons and serials. He was on television in the 1950s, and between reruns and new shows, he never really left — live-action or animation or both at once, Superman is and always has been a television mainstay. Then, of course, there were feature films — Hollywood is riding a still-cresting wave of superhero blockbusters, and the next Superman feature is due next year, but there were Superman movies a full decade before there were superhero movies.
DC Comics is certainly in no hurry to quash rumors that celebrated Batman writer Scott Snyder is working on a Superman series that would tie into Warner Bros.’ Man of Steel. In fact, company executives appear to be encouraging the whispers — even if they stop just short of confirming them.
Rumblings of a possible Superman comic teaming Snyder with artist Jim Lee arose late last month out of Fan Expo Canada, and followed the publisher over the weekend to Baltimore Comic-Con, where DC’s Senior Vice President of Sales Bob Wayne is said to have sidestepped questions on the subject. But in ICv2.com‘s monthly Q&A with Wayne and Vice President of Marketing John Cunningham, the duo was a little more forthcoming. A little.
Asked to confirm that Snyder will tackle a Superman: Man of Steel series in 2013, Wayne replied, “I certainly won’t confirm that, but I will say that it is reasonable to assume that given the release of Man of Steel next summer, we will come up with a publishing program that will both augment and take advantage of that opportunity.”
If that weren’t clear enough, Cunningham added, “I think that ]a Scott Snyder Superman series] would be great. I’d read that.”
Clearly, DC thinks a lot of people would. With Zack Snyder’s franchise reboot opening June 14, 2013, the publisher still has plenty of time to announce a new series — y’know, if there is one.
The lawyer for the estate of Superman co-creator Joe Shuster asked a federal judge on Wednesday to reject DC Comics’ assertion that the artist’s relatives signed away all claims to the Man of Steel 20 years, saying the company would not have staked the ownership of “a billion-dollar property” on a one-page deal.
The hearing follows a tentative ruling last month by U.S. District Judge Otis Wright granting DC’s motion for partial summary judgment asking the court to enforce a 1992 agreement in which the estate relinquished all claims to the Man of Steel 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 with a $25,000 annual pension. The publisher argued that deal voids a copyright-termination notice filed in 2003 by Shuster’s nephew Mark Warren Peary to reclaim the artist’s portion of the rights to the first Superman story in Action Comics #1.
However, Law 360 reports that Marc Toberoff, the attorney representing the Shuster estate and the family of Jerry Siegel, insisted during Wednesday’s arguments that DC didn’t intend for the “ambiguous” 1992 document to transfer ownership of the copyright. “I submit that it’s impossible for this document to be the basis for Warner Bros. and DC’s chain of title to a billion-dollar property,” he said. “When they want someone to assign a copyright, they have an agreement this thick, and that agreement is filed with the Copyright Office to give the world constructive notice.”
A jury will decide whether Warner Bros. Television owes the creators of Smallville as much as $100 million in allegedly lost profits for the long-running drama.
Series creators and executive producers Miles Millar and Alfred Gough and series producers Tollin/Robbins Productions sued WBTV in 2010, accusing the company of licensing Smallville to its co-owned WB and CW networks “for unreasonably low” fees, thereby cutting the plaintiffs out of tens of millions of dollars. They amended their claims of breach of contract and breach of good faith and fair dealing earlier this year to include the allegation that WBTV’s sister company DC Comics was brought into the profit pool without the contractually required approval, greatly reducing the plaintiffs’ profit participation.
It’s been a while since I’ve been bowling, but these Batman bowling balls and pins from Bowlers Deals make me want to pick it up again. There are various balls and pins featuring Batman (who has three different designs), Robin, Batgirl, Joker, Penguin and Bane. Most of them have different images on the front and back, too. There’s also a bat-bowling bag, and you can buy the pins individually to create a uniform set of mix and match.
A 51-year-old man faces charges after a fight broke out Sunday during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises, sending a panicked audience at a Pittsburgh-area theater fleeing for the exits.
While police were quick to note that the incident wasn’t connected to the Friday shooting in Aurora, Colorado, that left 12 dead and dozens wounded, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports an escalating argument, jittery nerves and a shout of “Gun!” led to the mad scramble for the doors.
According to police, the incident began in the restroom, where a rude child repeatedly knocked on the door of an occupied stall. The child swore at the man, who then confronted the mother, and eventually hit her in the face. That’s when someone shouted “Gun!” and triggered a panic among theater-goers. The unidentified man will be charged with simple assault, disorderly conduct and harassment.
Creators | While acknowledging the agreement that names Bob Kane as the sole creator of Batman, The Washington Post’s Michael Cavna and Bill: The Boy Wonder author Marc Tyler Nobleman make the case for giving writer Bill Finger a screen credit on The Dark Knight Rises. [Comic Riffs]
Conventions | Although Comic-Con International is usually thought of as a stage for movie studios, major comics publishers and video-game developers, Mark Eades looks at the event as a showcase for small businesses, from artists to toymakers. [The Orange County Register]
Conventions | Robot 6 contributor Brigid Alverson reports on the kids’ comics scene at Comic-Con International, including news that Papercutz will produce a comic based on the viral web phenomenon “Annoying Orange.” [Publishers Weekly]
Despite all of the fallout, and guffaws, from the Great Left-Wing Bane Conspiracy, Conan O’Brien suggests we shouldn’t be so quick to dismiss the theory. “Now before you judge Rush Limbaugh, I’ve seen The Dark Knight Rises,” he teased on last night’s Conan. “I think Rush might have a point.”
To back up his assertion, O’Brien rolled out a trailer for the Christopher Nolan film that features Tom Hardy’s Bane growling never-before-heard dialogue like, “I’m going to torture you like a dog tied to the top of my car” and “The streets will run red with blood before I release my tax returns.”
The Dark Knight Rises, with real dialogue from
Bain Bane, arrives in theaters at midnight.
Legal | In a motion for summary judgment filed Monday in the long-running legal battle for the rights to Superman, attorneys for Warner Bros. are revisiting their 2009 argument that the estate of Joe Shuster has no grounds to reclaim the artist’s share of the copyright to the Man of Steel. They point to a 1992 agreement in which the estate relinquished all claims in exchange for “more than $600,000 and other benefits,” which included DC Comics paying Shuster’s remaining debts follow his death earlier that year, and providing his sister Jean Seavy with a $25,000 annual pension. Daniel Best has the documents, while Jeff Trexler provides context, noting that the new filing “filing wasn’t a Perry Mason-esque unveiling of surprising new facts. Rather, it was a routine motion for summary judgment.” A hearing is scheduled for Aug. 20. [20th Century Danny Boy, The Beat]
Coinciding with the Friday premiere of The Dark Knight Rises, the cable channel The Hub is airing a 10-episode marathon of Batman: The Animated Series, the beloved early-1990s cartoon that’s held up by a generation of fans as the gold standard for animated adaptations of comic books.
To promote the event, The Hub has created a teaser that recreates the trailer for the final installment of director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy using clips from the show and the original voice cast. You can watch it below.
The marathon, dubbed “Batman: The Animated Series Rises” kicks off Friday at 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT on The Hub.
Rocksteady Studios, the British developer behind Batman: Arkham Asylum and its sequel Batman: Arkham City, is believed to be developing a new installment of the blockbuster video-game series that will feature Superman, Wonder Woman and DC Comics’ other major heroes.
Variety reports the Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment game will serve as a prequel to 2009′s Arkham Asylum and revolve around Batman’s first meeting with his arch-nemesis The Joker, which apparently occurs around the time of the Justice League’s formation. Although the trade paper references DC comics of the 1950s, it seems more likely the team lineup will reflect the publisher’s New 52.
The must-have accessory for Comic-Con International is back with the announcement that, for the third consecutive year, Warner Bros. will hand out more than 130,000 oversized tote bags to convention attendees. Okay, “oversized” may be a bit of an understatement, as the messenger-style bags are 24 inches and 29 inches — roomy enough to haul swag back to the hotel As room each day — and include a protective pocket to hold any posters.
As usual, the totes are emblazoned with Warner Bros. properties with a Comic-Con presence: This year, it’s Arrow, DC Nation, Man of Steel, Fringe, Pacific Rim, Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries and The Big Bang Theory.
Last year’s bags included a design promoting DC’ Comics’ relaunched Justice League, but this year it’s all about television and film. Alas, it looks like the studio is holding out for the big reveals of the two movies; all of the other bags can be seen below.
Comic-Con kicks off Wednesday with Preview Night.
Three months after Warner Bros. trumpeted “a significant victory” in its lengthy legal brawl over the rights to Superman, the lawyer representing the estates of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster has claimed a small win of his own.
The studio sued Marc Toberoff in March 2010, two years after Siegel’s heirs were awarded a portion of the copyright to the Man of Steel, accusing the attorney of orchestrating a “web of collusive agreements” with the two families that led them to reject “mutually beneficial” longtime deals with DC Comics and seek to recapture the Superman rights. Warner Bros. based its claims on sensitive documents stolen from Toberoff’s office in 2008 by a disgruntled former associate and delivered anonymously to the studio. Toberoff argued that the papers were covered by attorney-client privilege, but in April the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a May 2011 ruling that Toberoff waived privilege when he turned over the documents in 2010 in response to a grand jury subpoena issued after he met with the U.S. Attorney’s office to discuss an investigation of the theft.
When Ohio finally releases a specialty license plate honoring the Man of Steel, it won’t include the slogan “Birthplace of Superman.”
The phrase is a nod, of course, to Cleveland, where in 1932 teenagers Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created the character that would become a culture icon. However, the Plain Dealer reports Warner Bros. and DC Comics took issue with the term “birthplace,” insisting Superman was born on Krypton.
“DC and Warner Communications have been cooperative,” Michael Olszewski, president of the nonprofit Siegel & Shuster Society, told the newspaper. “When we talked to Warner Communications, there was some discomfort over saying ‘birthplace,’ so we said we could fix that easily.” He and Siegel & Shuster Society founder Irving Fine, a cousin to Siegel, have come up with 10 alternative slogans.
Mimoco has introduced adorable MIMOBOT designer USB flash drives featuring Superman, The Flash, and Batman and Bane from The Dark Knight Rises. They join the previously released Batman and Green Lantern series. However, Bane is a limited-edition Comic-Con exclusive, meaning you’ll have to trek to San Diego, or have a friend pick one up for you (or, y’know, pay a minor fortune on eBay).
Mimico is counting down to Comic-Con by revealing a new exclusive or premiere each Tuesday at midnight until the convention begins. These DC Comics drives are only the first, so there are four more sets to go. Check out the individual drives below, along with a MIMOBOT Dark Knight Rises teaser.