The Deconstruction of Superman

Anyone who has been following my blog knows how I feel about what the Co-Publishers have been doing to the Man of Steel.  I’m just not sure how much Geoff Johns is involved in this deconstruction.

Back in 2008, when Didio was just VP Executive Editor and Lee was an artist and Executive Creative Director over video games, Geoff Johns met with James Robinson and Greg Rucka to discuss the Superman storyline for the next two years.   What fans got was Superman out of the Superman book for a year and Superman out of Action Comics for two years.  World of New Krypton had a Superman/Clark Kent leaving his loved ones (including his wife, Lois) to go live on New Krypton as Kal-El with 100,000 other Kryptonians.   Sales plummeted.  No one knew this character without his dual identity and only his alien heritage.  There was no marriage as apparently Kal-El dared not even think of Lois while on his new world.

After that sales dive, J Michael Straczynski gave us Grounded where Superman would walk the United States to get back to his superhero roots.  Minus his wife, of course.  Shortly after a meeting with Dan Didio in late 2010 JMS learned that Didio was jonsing for a reboot and was getting it.  Soon after JMS dropped Grounded (so he could concentrate on Superman: Earth One supposedly) and Chris Roberson was given up the clean up duties.  We found that the marriage was alive when Lois visited her mind controlled husband – but he still wasn’t truly Superman or Clark Kent .   No dual identity or triangle-for-two.

When the reboot was announced, Paul Cornell finished out his Action run (his previous year on Action consisted of a Lex Luthor based story with a Lois-bot and every DCU villain, but no Superman) with Doomsday and the Supers battling it out.  Roberson and Cornell tried to end Superman and Action with a tribute to the marriage and the most iconic love story in comic book history. But a couple of pages just didn’t cut it.

Lois Lane was fridged 4 times in a 12 month period before and after the reboot.  Her marriage was thrown into oblivion – because she was a “beautiful trophy wife and the marriage just weighed down Superman and made him boring.”  Didio said they had no writers who could write the Superman story with all that baggage.

Enter the new 52.

There were rumors that there would be a Superman Wonder Woman hookup early on.  This seemed to be underlined by that October, 2010 “writers’ retreat” where they thought of putting Superman in a love triangle and the ideas just flowed.

You’ve read who I think were actually at the writers retreat – and no one who actually wrote Superman or loved the character could have come up with what he is in the new 52. Removing all his human tethers and making him alienated sounds like ideas from people on the outside and not working from within the character.   George Perez and Grant Morrison were handpicked to write Superman and Action.  Perez later spoke of how editorial (and possible corporate entities) had very strict perimeters which often changed on a whim.  Morrison, who Didio boosted as the main reason to buy Action, later within his story spoke of a corporation who took a great iconic idea which everyone loved  (Superman) and twisted him into something he was never intended to be – a superdoomsday, a monster that kills.

Bryan Q. Miller had an idea for a comic book that would continue the Smallville television story before the show ended.  He couldn’t sell the idea as the new 52 was beginning to get ‘organized’ but later, he was told that his book would be published.  Smallville Season 11 would be a digital-first meaning fans could purchase a digital-chapter before it was compiled into a print issue.   Fans disappointed with what was transpiring in the new 52 books were happy to purchase (both electronically and in print) the story of a classic Superman.  The Smallville show had its troubles, but it did try to incorporate all the ages of the Superman mythology.

Although there have been no digital numbers released regarding sales/downloads, Smallville Season 11 at a 99 cent price point usually rises to the #1 spot week after week.  That’s quite a feat for a book competing with $3 or $4 books well established in the new 52 or at Marvel or the other publishing companies.  Print-wise Smallville Season 11 dances around the 100 mark each month and has done so steadily.  It’s like guaranteed money.  Now with a little more promotion maybe it could go up the order charts – but Smallville Clark is a classic character and would be a reminder of what the new 52 Superman is not.

Superman Family Adventures by Art Baltazar and Franco also gave fans of all ages, a classic Superman.  The triangle-for-two (Clark and Lois), super pets, the Daily Planet, and all the villains (new and old).  BUT, this past week fans found out after its 12th issue, Superman Family Adventures would be no more.   No more laughing.  No more fun.  If DC Entertainment were seriously trying to build its comic book division, then wrangling the kids early on in their lives would give them a habit for life.  And since kids (of all ages) are electronically savvy, then why not have had it in some digital form and promote the hell out of it?  But again, maybe Superman Family Adventures brought up too much of the old mythos to the Co-Publishers liking.

Since August 22nd, DC Comics has promoted the pairing of Superman and Wonder Woman to the point of hysteria.  Profiles from match.com, multi-media promotion, made up top ten polls, and hyperbole made into a new art form has been relentlessly shoved down fans throats.  Although Justice League #12  got a bump with its heavy promotion and second variant cover, its orders have continued to fall month after month.   Action Comics orders have fallen 60% since October, 2011 and Superman after  four writers still is falling.  WHY?

When Superman fans saw the kiss promo, we knew why Superman just couldn’t get off the ground.  Clark Kent has not been seen much since Perez’s run (1-6) , Morrison writes in multiple timelines and really didn’t give us much until Action #12 (same month as JL #12), and the Daily Planet and Lois especially has been relegated to a deeply buried subplot.   Superman’s dual identity, the triangle-for-two and his human background are gone!

Did you know that Superman is an alien?

Similar to what we experienced in WONK, Superman is an alien complete with a suit of armor with a Mister Majestic collar.  He’s all alone.  There’s no one like him (except Supergirl and Superboy . . . and the many other Kryptonian villains DC has unleashed upon him).   So if he doesn’t exactly know who he is – you can forgive him cause, he’s alienated.  (worst characterization ever)

Why alienate Superman?  Because then you can turn him into something he has never been – a monster.  How do you alienate him – you jump into his story at the five year mark and hope no one asks any questions.

Kal-El was placed into a ship by Jor-El and Lara to save him from the destruction of Krypton.  He landed in a field in Kansas and was discovered by the Kents.  That much of the story has not changed.  But we do not see his upbringing by the Kents or his first five years working as a reporter in Metropolis.

If any writer was in that writers’ retreat, they would know that a character’s back story and circumstances shape the story and suggest plots.   It seems as though this Clark Kent did not develop his powers until he was an adolescent.  That means his formative years where he’s a learning sponge were under the direction and guidance of the Kents.  We’ve been told he has a strong moral core.  Clark experienced rejection in middle school (being picked last for a basketball team) but he played football in high school.  A picture proudly displayed at the Kent farm confirms this.   How alienated can he be if he played team sports?  He even has a favorite eating spot in Smallville where he enjoys the company  of the folks there.

In Action 12, Clark is far from alienated from Lois Lane.  He saves her life as if his counted on it.  And in Perez’s run, his life did depend on Lois as she saved the super damsel in distress at least twice.  Also within those pages, we saw Clark wished things could have been different between he and Lois.  He had just found out she had a boyfriend (Superman #1) which editorial gleefully related made Clark despondent (thus alienating him further).  Bad Lois for making Superman feel bad.

Fans have never seen those first moments of Lois meeting Clark face to face or Superman meeting Lois Lane face to face.  The triangle-for-two is dead.  He’s dating Wonder Woman because he’s alienated.  Still working as a journalist, even though he left the Daily Planet (thus alienating him further), and still seems to enjoy a hot dog and having a slob for a room mate in the form of Jimmy Olsen.

Right now when we do see Clark, we are TOLD in narration boxes, he finds Lois to be the most amazing woman he has ever known.   But within the story, Clark chastises Lois for having a boyfriend she’s moving in with and tossing her journalistic integrity away in her new position at the Daily Planet.  While he’s kissing Wonder Woman because there’s no one like them – except for the supers, and some of the peeps on Justice League, Justice League Dark, and soon to be Justice League of America.

This is just bad storytelling.  POOR POOR characterization and just darn right stomping down of the Superman character and mythos.

Superman is no longer a symbol of hope (even though Perez, Giffen and Jurgens tried to put that into the narrative).  He is feared by the humans of the world (except Lois and Jimmy supposedly).  And will be more feared when his relationship with Wonder Woman is publicized in the story – thus leading up to the Trinity War (the first crisis of the new 52).  Yes, people fear Superman.  He’s an emotional coward.  Doesn’t follow his heart.  He’s alienated.  Sometimes emotionally removed (Justice League) and hovering above others.   Sometimes over the top petulant 12 year old emotionally in Lobdell’s Superman book.  He doesn’t know who he is and we certainly don’t know who he is either.  His story has been smashed to smithereens – and for what purpose?

This past week fans got the first chapter of the comic book behind the video game, Injustice: Gods Among Us.  It is being done by the people who did Mortal Kombat.  That’s right the very violent, fight to the death (lots of death) video game.  We see a Superman we are familiar with.  He’s married to Lois Lane.  He’s wearing the new 52 suit.  Why have Lois in the comic if she means nothing to his story?  Emotional impact.  How do you turn Superman into a killing monster?  You kill Lois and their unborn child. Talk about a slap in the face to Superman fans.  Lois is only important if you can fridge her and her baby to make Clark into a monster.   It’s the nature of the video game – Superman has to be a tyrant in order to bring order into the world, right?  And the only way to be a tyrant is to kill a few along the way especially if your game is being done by the Mortal Kombat guys.  And if it means getting vengeance for Lois’ death all the better, right?

Even the writer of the comic said it was the most painful thing he has ever done – destroying Superman.

DC Entertainment has sold Superman’s soul for a video game.  He will kill.  He will do things out of anger.  There is no self discipline or self control – that would not be conducive to the game.

There is no shining light of hope in troubled times as there was in the Great Depression.  We in the soon-to-be Greater Depression have no such inspiration or aspiration.  That character is gone and has been for quite a few years now.  He’s too alienated.  He doesn’t relate to humans.  And if you piss him off for some reason, he will kill.  This is Lee’s Mister Majestic not Superman.   But some of us knew that already – like everyone who has thrown down a new 52 Superman book in disgust.

Will generations of fans see THE Superman they know and love?  Most probably in the Man of Steel movie.  Dan Didio and Jim Lee thankfully have nothing to do with that.

But fans are stuck with these two overseeing the pages of the new 52 Superman stories – their ideas are diminishing Superman and in so doing imploding the comic book industry at a more rapid rate.  Too many missed opportunities for expanding the character and audience or riding the wave of good publicity from the film trailer.  It’s their way or the highway . . .  They love doom which is not what Superman is about at all.

It’s about time Diane Nelson showed the Co-Pubs the exit ramp.  Fans are gleefully awaiting your doom.

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January 18, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Announcements, Baudy's Reviews, BaudyBlahBlahBlah, Superman. 3 comments.

DC COMICS’ PRIDE AND – OH YEA—LOTS OF PREJUDICE

I am going to have to beg your indulgence for a moment.  There are certain classic stories I find endearing that have proven the test of time.  Recently I became aware of “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries” on YouTube.  YES!  It is a continuing modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.  *HIGHLY RECOMMEND*

I have enjoyed many adaptations of the story over the years from the ‘nearly did every scene in the entire book’ BBC 1980 mini-series to the Hollywoodized one with Sir Laurence Olivier (1940) to the Bollywood version, Bride and Prejudice (2004) to listening to the audiobook of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies to the Utah version of 2003, and one of the very best adaptations with Colin Firth as Darcy in 1995 which led to two Bridget Jones films (2001 & 2004).  So many versions, so little time.  This proves that the retelling or adapting a classic in more modern settings is NOT PREDICTABLE or BORING!

(Here it comes . . . )

Which brings me to the new 52.  Putting Superman and Wonder Woman together as a couple is like getting anyone interested in Fitzwilliam Darcy and Caroline Bingley as a power couple.  It all smacks of class elitism.  Darcy and Miss Bingley are the nobles/gentry and the Bennets are the common folk.  Wonder Woman is a demi-goddess and Superman is an alien with god-like powers thus rendering Lois Lane, Steve Trevor, and yes, even the Batman, to mere human status.  One of the things that makes Pride and Prejudice work is not the gentry dating the gentry, but the gentry colliding with true affection for people who are not in the same social class.  There’s something to be said for the taboo of it all.  Both sets fight their fears, pride, and prejudices and THIS is what makes the story interesting.  Conflict.

Would a book where Darcy courts Miss Bingley and marries her even sell?  Would removing Lizzie from the narrative make that relationship more interesting since it would then have no barriers?  And if Lizzie were in the picture, would it make Darcy appear like a douche if he did not follow his true heart’s desire?

The conflict of the new 52 power couple is all outside the book/story.  We are told by Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mr. Collins, and George Wickham aka Dan Didio, Jim Lee and Geoff Johns that Superman and Wonder Woman are the status quo.   The DC Comics promo department relies on hyperbole and made up top ten lists to shove this contrived stunt at fans still waiting for the real story to commence.   All this mucking of a classic story, which generations have loved for 7.5 decades, so they can have a little war in their tiny little not-so-shiny universe which no one will remember or care about.

What people will remember is that DC Entertainment has damaged their first and most-beloved superhero (that would be Superman) and his great love for humanity (Lois Lane in particular) just before the 75th anniversary of what started it all.  The triangle-for-two has been discarded for the rhomboid of bullship.  And in June, just a few months away, the Man of Steel movie will be on screens all around the globe.  At least that adaptation appears to have all the classic elements which should appeal to fans or new fans who see it.

Now some people may say that Pride and Prejudice is a girlie book or story – but I would have to argue that the book would never had gotten published in the male-dominated world of 1813 if there wasn’t a market for it.  And the longevity of the story proves that generation after generation still enjoy the classic tale.   Look how many films, parodies, books, etc. have been done since Austen’s time.

A good story read or retold over and over never gets stale or predictable.  AND if you have good writers who can actually develop characters, show inner conflict and intimate moments then it’s a win-win.  But to say having Darcy and Lizzie be together is predictable and boring, obviously shows these people don’t like the story or the characters much.   And if they are the caretakers of said story and characters – THAT’S A PROBLEM!!!

So while Darcy and Miss Bingley do their whatever in DC Comics, I’m not giving DC Entertainment my money.  Yeppers, I’m waiting for the love part – true love – THE supercouple (of all time) – triangle-for-two.  Where a powerful alien meets and loves a feisty, intelligent, fearless human woman who inspires and challenges him to be better.

Clark Kent/Lois Lane/Superman is the REAL DEAL.  Has been for 75 years and remains a classic tale.  A neverending story.

Afterthoughts:

Which brings me back to my title — Didio loves Batman.  Lee loves his Wildstorm and even created Mr. Majestic to mock the Superman character.  Hmmm, maybe I should refer to the new 52 Superman and Wonder Woman as Mr. Majestic (that collar does make him look majestic) and Zealot.  Yea, that’s pretty much who they are.  And Geoff Johns likes team books and taking characters with not-so-great-selling reputations and making them popular.   So there was probably a lot of pride (not in a good way) and tons of prejudice at that 2010 ‘writer’s retreat’ which decided the fate of Superman and the entire DC universe.  There doesn’t seem as if there was any great love in the room for the Man of Steel.

DC has decided to promote a fauxmance, their first ‘crisis’ of the new 52 and not the 75th anniversary and the forthcoming Superman movie in their new 52 stories.  That would be predictable, right?  Besides Batman needs his dozen books and the Wildstorm characters need respect and if you take the spotlight off of Superman and make him less — then characters like Vibe can have their own book, right?

January 12, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Announcements, Baudy's Reviews, BaudyBlahBlahBlah, Superman. 2 comments.

New Year, Same Ole Song

A Lois-less week in the comics.  Yes, I know she’s not the ‘main’ character in the mythology but apparently Clark Kent isn’t either.   No Lois Lane or Clark Kent in Superman 15, Superman Family Adventures 8 or Smallville Season 11 #28, Effigy.  What a let down after Geoff Johns put Lois in the first two issues of his Throne of Atlantis crossover.

DC Comics seems to be pulling another WONK or Grounded during this fauxmance phase.  Superman is alienated so his human aspect is to be ignored.  Has Clark even done a blog/newspaper story since Superman #1?

In the narrative boxes of Superman #14, we found out Lois has won a Pulitzer – how & why?  That five year gap is very convenient for tossing bricks into, but DC is not building anything with them.  And in so doing, we have no foundation for new readers or loyal readers to know who these new 52 characters are.   Villains we have by the boatload, but knowing the main characters . . . not so much.

Pardon me, but I’m a bit of a wing nut regarding this next topic:  Where in the hell are the results of the 2nd Nielsen survey done six months ago?  The reason I keep harping on this is because I want to know if the results were different than what DC Comics publishing perceived as their target audience (males 14 to 34 years old)?  Why is that important?  Because if DC misunderstood their audience and they write stories through a male gaze for a male focus group then sales are going to fall.  In other words if there are more females (> perceived 7% or 1st electronic survey 20%) reading their comics, they are not going to appreciate what is being done to female characters or to their favorite male characters if DC is making them a douche.

Case in point:  Wonder Woman in the bullship.   Diana is kickass Wonder Woman in her own book even though she is confronted by male subplots at every turn.  BUT in Justice League and Superman, because of the fauxmance, she doesn’t know herself and she follows Superman’s lead.  This alliance is doing nothing for her character development.   In Justice League & Aquaman #15s she defers to Superman in defying Batman or the rest of the League.  Since she’s confessed to not knowing her own mind, this is a problem.  Wonder Woman is better than that.   She doesn’t deserve her only line in Superman #15 to be asking Superman if he called them (her) while the guys strategize about the situation.  Really?  That’s what you’ve reduced her to – arm candy for Superman?  She wants to call him beloved . . . two kisses and a pair of glasses and she’s totally enamored?  How far did he put his tongue down her throat?  Is this DC editorial’s way of blaming Diana for the bullship like they blame Clark’s despondency in Superman #1 on Lois?  See what a male gaze does to female characters?

Superman and Lois Lane’s legendary love story has been put on hold since the reboot because of the planned fauxmance.  So Lois has not been investigating on her own.  She had one appearance in Superboy #1 but that was dropped.  She made another appearance in Batgirl, but not sure what that was about.  And now Clark is accusing her of selling out her integrity for cover ‘puff pieces’ as an television producer.   This is in Lobdell’s Superman.  In Justice League, Lois appears to be reporting with Jimmy Olsen in the present timeline.  So which is it?  If fans have to have the bullship in both books shouldn’t Lois’ position at the Daily Planet be clear?  Is she back to reporting or is she a sell out producer in the new media division?   And how in the hell did she get off that roof in the rain?  She can save herself and probably had to with the power twins completely deaf to what Vulko was telling them.  At least readers can count on Geoff Johns’ Lois – always to be Lois.

Scott Lobdell gave interviews this week about his H’El on Earth crossover with the other Super books (except Action) .  He said that Lois is her own person.  Lois is Lois, but none of the writers have shown us Lois hard-news investigating.  In recent Superman issues, we’ve seen she is moving in with her ‘place holder for Clark’ boyfriend.  So it’s about her boyfriend and not Lois being an independent, intrepid reporter.  That’s not being her own person.  Next time we’ll see Lois, apparently, is when she has a housewarming party – at her apartment.  Clark will be there, but the visit will get interrupted – remember he can’t spend 5 minutes with Lois without the obligatory interruptus.  He can pump iron in the middle of the Earth for 5 days and not do any reporting – but once he gets into a panel with Lois, it’s am-scray.  So predictable and boring.   It’s the ‘Anyone But Lois’ show again.  Where is the legendary love story?   It has served the mythology well for 75 years.  And if DC has a larger female audience than previously perceived, could mean a rise in sales if they wrote it — but, but . . . they’ve had this love triangle crap in their heads for 2 years . . . it’s going to be a lonnnnnngggg collllldddddd winter.  And may not get better in the Spring when the 75th anniversary of Superman happens.  Or the Summer when Man of Steel debuts.  Sounds a little hopeless, huh.  *sigh*  I have no faith in the current administration of DC Comics where Superman is concerned.

Andy Diggle expressed a desire to write Lois Lane, but if editorial says no, then his hands are tied.  Lobdell appears to be placing Cat Grant into the fray of Clark’s ‘women’.  Scott Snyder’s yet-unnamed-title . . . I’m not sure about this one.  He said Lois would be in the feature, but that was after a fan (Chris) asked him why he didn’t mention her.  He’s mentioned Lana quite a bit – so expect Clark to have yet another female distraction.

So far Johns and Lobdell have written Lois as Lois.  She’s about the only character fans can grab onto during this bullship mess.  Because of this very bad editorial idea, icons are going to get damaged.  Johns knows this.  And maybe that’s the reason Lobdell said Superman is going to be too busy (1.5 hour battle & multiple crossovers) to have his alliance with Wonder Woman in the Superman book.  In fact, the narrative box Lobdell put in Superman 15 regarding the fauxmance seemed to up the stakes from Justice League, but Scott did say in the interview that it is the same relationship as JL.  Better to let Johns handle it.  Having multiple writers would be a catastrophe – this is intricate storytelling – like trying to disarm a bomb.  Since the Trinity War was born in books with Justice League in the title, let Johns handle it.  It’s all about damage control.  We’re talking multi-million dollar, multimedia properties.  Ones that a corporation depends on to be successful in future ventures.  Damage those and heads will roll.

Action Comics – Grant Morrison still has two issues left at this writing.  In #16 next week, Superman battles the corporate Superman, Superdoom (Action #9).  Let’s hope Clark kicks his ass for twisting a successful, viable mythology into a alienated, angsty, no heart or soul villain.  I’m kind of liking these ‘behind the scenes’ storylines.  Lord Vyndktvx – who is that in real life?   I am hoping Mxy comes back to set it all straight.  He is my favorite villain.  Not Lex Luthor or Zod . .  . gimme Mxy.  Why, you may ask?  Because like Superman, Mxy is a powerful being (probably the most powerful in the universe) and yet his thing is messing with Superman – and Superman gives as good as he gets.  It’s fun.  Something sorely lacking in the new 52.  After issue #17 (Morrison’s last) maybe we’ll be able to see what the past 18 issues have been about.  No real character foundation – and there’s still the five year gap that has miscellaneous bricks in it.  When DC wants to do the legendary love (Clark and Lois), then we might get a glimpse of what’s in there.   Big maybe with the current administration.

I am still in the foxhole waiting for it all to blow over .  Like it says in the song . . . Somebody saaavvvveeee meeee.   I’m a Superman fan with a pocketful of money that DC Comics doesn’t want.  Oh, I forgot . . . I’m female.

Oh yea, my other favorite topic:

When in the hell is the Trinity War so this bullshit can end???

Join us this Sunday on G2Factor as we discuss Superman Family Adventures #8, Smallville Season 11 #28 Effigy and Superman #15.

January 4, 2013. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Announcements, Baudy's Reviews, BaudyBlahBlahBlah, Superman. 6 comments.

KIDS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS

 

Warning:  Frank sexual discussion

My son and I were talking on our way to see my Dad for New Years. We got on the subject of comic books as we often do — despite the fact he has given up the habit after 25 years. And we talked about mythology. He’s a bigger expert on the subject of all kinds of mythology than I am. A successful, long lasting, viable mythology exists because of its unique elements — and we talked about how changing one of the elements would make it a house of cards and destroy the life of the myth. People love the myth and go back to it over and over. It’s not boring to people who truly love it.

So I asked this male who has friends who are life long fanboys this question:

Me: A Superman Wonder Woman fanboy said he likes the pairing because then Clark can fuck Diana really hard. What is up with that?

Son: He’s just wants to shoot his wad at the pictures.

Me: But big guys, like (American) football players, who date petite women, don’t they take things slow in order to make the loving experience fun for both of them? See what works. They don’t want to hurt her, right? It should be mutually pleasurable.

Son: Some guys would just want to break her.

Me: Really?

Son: Yea. It’s like when some guys say, “Oh she’s hot. I bet she’s good in bed. She’d lay there and take it.”

Me: Ewww. So it’s not about making love but pounding hard and shooting off?

Son: Yea, for them.

Me: So smart women are a no go cause they have a brain cell?

Son: Yea. But I tell them it’s better with a smart woman. They’re more imaginative, more inventive.

Me: Like Lois?

Son: Yea, like Lois.

I did raise him right despite the fact he was a Marvel kid and wasn’t wild about Superman . . . but he does like Lois and for good reasons.

January 1, 2013. Tags: , , , . BaudyBlahBlahBlah. Leave a comment.