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Austin author is new Superman writer

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Tens of millions have read the Superman comic books since America’s first superhero emerged in 1938. Few have been chosen to write them.

Now Austin author Chris Roberson has been tapped by D.C. Comics to write the new editions of the Man of Steel.

Roberson calls it his dream job and said he’s been preparing for it since he read his first Superman comic at the age of six.

“My earliest obsession was Superman. I have photographic records of me wearing Superman t-shirts and Superman costumes,” he said.

Roberson quit his engineering job at Dell seven years ago to become an author. A year and a half ago he turned to writing comics. Now he’s landed the gold standard and he’s delighted.

“It’s great because I get to spend weeks sitting around reading Superman comics and calling it work. I tend to clutter my desk with Superman action figures, some of which I’ve had for 35 years,” Roberson said. “Now I get to make up stories about Superman, which isn’t a million miles from what I did when I was six.”

Roberson’s first edition came out last week, and he intends to emphasize Superman’s cerebral side.

“He’s really smart. People forget it’s not just that he can fly and is super strong, so put him in a situation where he can’t fix by punching something and make him puzzle out a really smart solution to it,” Roberson explained.

Roberson considers Superman the ultimate immigrant and the ultimate self-made man, and he realizes there is a responsibility with his new gig.

“It’s a sacred trust, I think,” he said. “Superman has been around since 1938. He’ll be around far after I’m gone and it’s like a stewardship. I’ve got to make sure he remains Superman for the months I’m telling him what to do.”

D.C. Comics bought the rights for Superman from his two original creators in 1938, for the price of $130.

From: http://www.kxan.com/dpp/entertainment/Austin-author-is-new-superman-writer

Writer Chris Roberson talks Superman

With his first issue hitting the stands last week, local writer Chris Roberson talks with KXAN about his new job.

He(Chris) worked for Dell as an engineer before quitting 7 years ago to become an author. A year and a half ago he started writing comics, and now works for DC as the writer of the man of steel.

“My earliest obsession was Superman. I have photographic records of me wearing Superman t-shirts and Superman costumes,” Roberson says.

“It’s great because I get to spend weeks sitting around reading Superman comics and calling it work. I tend to clutter my desk with Superman action figures, some of which I’ve had for 35 years,” Roberson said. “Now I get to make up stories about Superman, which isn’t a million miles from what I did when I was six.”

Roberson goes on to describe his vision for Superman.

“He’s really smart. People forget it’s not just that he can fly and is super strong, so put him in a situation where he can’t fix by punching something and make him puzzle out a really smart solution to it.”

For the full interview with video, click on the link below.

From: http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/thegopherhole/news/?a=28210

Theater veteran G. William Zorn wins Mark Twain Prize for Comic Playwrighting

East Peoria Community High School graduate and former local community theater veteran G. William Zorn isn’t on the same level as Tina Fey by a long shot. But you could say he’s had his brush with the big time.

That’s because in 2010 the Kennedy Center recognized both Tina Fey and Zorn for achievements in comedy.

Certainly the scale of achievement was different: Fey won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor thanks to her overall body of comedic work – everything from “Saturday Night Live” to “30 Rock” and her film endeavors such as “Mean Girls” and “Date Night.”

Zorn, on the other hand, won the Mark Twain Prize for Comic Playwrighting at the Kennedy Center’s American College Theatre Festival for “Metropolis Has No Superman,” which will be staged next weekend at Corn Stock’s Winter Lab Theatre.

Still, both Fey and Zorn have the iconic Mark Twain attached to their names – no little achievement in the case of Zorn, whose script beat out about 200 submissions for the honor, which included a trip to the national festival, a $2,500 cash prize and playwrighting residency with a professional theater company.

“Metropolis Has No Superman” unfolds in the Illinois town of Metropolis – official hometown of DC Comics’ Superman – and revolves around a gifted, yet conflicted, comic book creator named Chance, who has a falling out with his father, who dies in a freak accident.

Part of the problem is that Chance is gay (and the creator of the “Queer Boy” comic series). But the bigger problem is that Chance’s dad feels that he has long been playing second fiddle to the imaginary comic book characters in his son’s life.

The play isn’t just about father-son estrangement, however; it’s also about how family members are sometimes intimate strangers who learn to understand one another with difficulty and pain. The work grew out of a thesis for Zorn’s master’s of fine arts in playwrighting at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Currently, Zorn is studying for a Ph.D. at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Mich.

“I tell you, the real sort of excitement came when I learned that Tina Fey won the other Mark Twain Prize,” Zorn said. “This year the two people who won the Mark Twain Prize for comedy at the Kennedy Center was me, this sort of nobody playwright from Kalamazoo, Mich., and Tina Fey. I didn’t have a big TV special accepting the award like she did with Betty White. It’s something I can really milk when I’m out of this Ph.D. program and looking for a job.”

Zorn, now 41, grew up in East Peoria, graduating from East Peoria Community High School in 1987 and going on to Illinois Central College to earn an associate’s degree in communication in 1990. A bachelor’s degree followed at Eastern Illinois University in 1992. Along the way he appeared on the stages of Corn Stock Theatre and Peoria Players and worked at Children’s Community Theatre.

“I have been a professional actor for 20-plus years,” Zorn said. “I got into theater because I liked the idea of people paying to see me do something entertaining. For whatever my personality deficiencies, I liked being the center of attention. I did lots of tours, lots of productions in Chicago, Seattle. Then about 1997-ish I was in Chicago. I was sort of getting tired of the roles I was being offered. I was always the funny fat guy. But there’s only so many times you can play Nicely Nicely in ‘Guys and Dolls’ before you’re bored with it.”

So Zorn started writing his own plays. In 1997 he wrote a short play called “Poetry,” which he sent to a gay and lesbian theater festival in New York. The novice writer was pleasantly surprised that the festival wanted to perform the piece.

“I was excited by that,” Zorn said. “The first play I had committed to paper and somebody wanted to do it.”

“Metropolis Has No Superman” was inspired by a visit to the real-life town of Metropolis, which sits on the Ohio River on the southern most tip of Illinois. In 1972, DC Comics declared the little town of 6,400 or so the official “Home of Superman.”

“I saw the 12-foot Superman in front of the courthouse,” Zorn said. “And then you travel a few blocks down the street and you see the 24-foot Green Grocer in front of Big John’s Super Store. And I started thinking about the competition between these two statues and what would have brought that about. Being from Illinois, I thought my thesis play should be related to my roots, my upbringing. So I started from there.”

Director Sean Howell put out a call for a new short play for Corn Stock’s annual theater festival but did not receive many submissions. Since Zorn already had contacted Howell about “Metropolis,” Howell decided to go ahead with the piece even though it was a full-length work instead of a short piece. (A brief play, “Context,” by community theater veteran Laura Swantner Johnson also will be staged. The piece has no speaking and is a spoof on texting.)

Despite its serious themes, Howell said, the play is quite funny.

“For an audience to recognize something as very funny you have to temper it with something else,” Zorn said. “You have to show them the other side.”

Zorn’s goals include finishing his Ph.D. program and eventually leading his own playwrighting program. He wanted the play staged in Peoria partly so his mother – who hasn’t seen any of his plays – could see it.

“I’m glad to be bringing something back to Peoria after being gone for so long,” Zorn said. “It inevitably happens every couple of years that I’ll go home for the holidays, and I’ll see someone in the supermarket and they’ll say something to the effect of ‘I thought you were dead. Somebody said you were dead.’ No, I’m not dead. I’ve just been moving, living all over the country and working as an actor.”

Gary Panetta can be reached at 686-3132 or gpanetta@pjstar.com.

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO PHONE BOOTHS?

– What: “Metropolis Has No Superman,” a original play by former community theater performer G. William Zorn. The play won the Mark Twain Award from the Kennedy Center. Also playing is “Context,” a short one-act by Laura Swantner Johnson.

– When: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 21-22, 27-29. Also 2:30 p.m. Jan. 23.

– Where: Corn Stock Winter Playhouse, Upper Bradley Park.

– Tickets: General admission is $10 for adults, $7 for students (with ID). Call 676-2196.

From: http://www.pjstar.com/entertainment/x1487290887/Theater-veteran-G-William-Zorn-wins-Mark-Twain-Prize-for-Comic-Playwrighting

There’s always someone right by superheroes’ side

Robin's role as a sidekick was to make Batman seem less dark and isolated.

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20th Century Fox via AP

Robin’s role as a sidekick was to make Batman seem less dark and isolated.


It’s a familiar trope, the superhero-plus-sidekick, and no accident, say academics who study comic heroes. Nearly every superhero of the comics (except, significantly, the very first one, Superman) and most of the heroes of world literature have subordinate figures to back them up in their adventures.

The earliest known literature, The Epic of Gilgamesh, which dates back more than four millennia, is the story of a Sumerian king, Gilgamesh, and his close companion, Enkidu, the wild man of Mesopotamia who accompanies the king on various quests.

And there have been scores of such pairs ever since: Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Holmes and Watson. Huck and Jim. Tarzan and Cheetah. Ishmael and Queequeg. Lone Ranger and Tonto. (In fact, in the original radio series of the 1930s, Green Hornet is the Lone Ranger’s great-nephew, but that’s another story.)

True, some comic-book heroes besides Superman don’t have sidekicks — Iron Man and Spider-Man, for instance. But many do: Green Arrow and Speedy. Captain Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr. Aquaman and Aqualad. Flash and Kid Flash. Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl. Even The Tick has a sidekick: Arthur.

There are four kinds of these characters in the comics, says Peter Coogan, director of the Institute for Comic Studies, an American studies teacher at Washington University in St. Louis and co-founder of the Comic Arts Conference at the annual Comic-Con International in San Diego.

The assistant, who is not a superhero with superpowers (example: Batman’s butler Alfred).

The partner, a superhero with identity, code name and costume who works as an equal with another superhero (Green Arrow and Green Lantern).

The pal, who has neither superpowers nor a costume but hangs around (Jimmy Olsen and Superman).

The sidekick, who usually has special abilities (but not necessarily powers), an identity and a costume.

“Why are they there? In terms of narrative, sidekicks are there to give the hero someone to talk to,” Coogan says.

Ideologically, he says, they’re there to provide a minority figure subordinate to the dominant hero, to soften the image of the hero (as Robin does for the dark, isolated Batman), or to reinforce his superiority.

Kato, however, is in most respects smarter than Rogen’s Green Hornet — he not only drives the high-tech car, but he also designed it.

Nicholas Yanes, who studies the comics as a graduate student at the University of Iowa, says this version of Kato tracks more like the Bruce Lee version on TV in the 1960s; Lee’s portrayal helped bring the martial-arts craze to the West.

“The new movie “is the first time it’s blatantly clear that the sidekick is more competent than the superhero,” says Yanes. “Usually the Green Hornet is the superior being, but here we have Kato building the weapon and kicking the superhero as a fighter. He’s not only equal but probably better than Green Hornet.”

Coogan draws on contemporary literary-criticism ideas to explain that the sidekick is sometimes intended as a way to assuage audience guilt about how minorities are or have been treated.

“If Tonto is the Lone Ranger’s friend, then the Lone Ranger is not guilty of genocide and we don’t have to feel guilt, either,” Coogan says. “The Kato figure tells fat, lazy, slovenly Americans that we can work with fast, sleek, rising China. We don’t have to worry about China overtaking us in technology and resources; it’s still subordinate,” as Kato is.

But The Green Hornet story also is a hero-and-sidekick story reflective of the impulses that first animated human storytelling, says Coogan.

“They’re about selfish boys turned into responsible men, which is what happens in The Green Hornet,” he says. “The cultural function of a hero story is how to turn selfishness into selflessness.”


From: http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/2011-01-14-supersidekicks14_ST_N.htm

DC Universe Online launches on PC and PS3

Charleston

Change city

From: http://www.examiner.com/mmorpg-in-charleston/dc-universe-online-launches-on-pc-and-ps3

DC Universe Internet Game Hits Stores

DC Universe Online will also be available throughout Europe and other international territories the same week with the official launch in the UK and Ireland on January 14, 2011, and across Europe, Asia and Africa on January 12, 2011 with Italy launching on January 19, 2011. DC Universe Online will ship in Australia on January 20, 2011.

About DC Universe Online

Lex Luthor has traveled back through time with news of a dire future: While the heroes and villains spent years battling amongst themselves, Brainiac has been feeding on their powers, building strength to return to Earth and destroy humanity. To change the future, Lex has come back to set off a device that bestows super powers to thousands of every-day citizens and give humanity a fighting chance. Can Brainiac be stopped, or is this another nefarious Lex Luthor plot?

For the first time, players and fans will be able to enter the DC Universe as an active force for good or evil. DCUO was created in the artistic vision of legendary comic book artist Jim Lee, and set within a world created by famous DC writers including Geoff Johns and Marv Wolfman.

In the game, players can pick up buses, fly into the air and throw them at enemies, run up the sides of buildings to engage in melee brawls while shooting flames of fire from their hands, or cling to the side of buildings while using a grappling hook to pull flying opponents out of the sky – all while interacting with the iconic characters of DC Comics.

For example, players might be tasked with rescuing Batwoman from the fear gas that Scarecrow has unleashed in Gotham City’s sewers, or battle Power Girl as they work with Lex Luthor to create an army of mutants out of Metropolis citizens.

From: http://www.ibtimes.com/articles/100070/20110112/dc-universe-internet-game-hits-stores.htm

DC Universe on D2D

Sony Online Entertainment’s highly anticipated MMORPG, DC Universe Online, is now available for PC download at Direct2Drive. Experience the visions of legendary comic book artist Jim Lee, and writers Geoff Johns and Marv Wolfman, in an epic struggle between good and evil. Enter the world of DC Comics online and choose your allegiances! Team up with Superman, Batman, and the DC Comic superheroes to save Earth, or join up with The Joker, Lex Luthor, and the DC villains.

For more details and to review D2D’s huge library of more than 2,500 games, check out www.direct2drive.com.

From: http://pc.ign.com/articles/114/1143515p1.html

Zadzooks: Star Wars Blood Ties & Superman vs. Muhammad Ali

This chronic feature lets me review what recently has passed my bloodshot eyes. So pull up a chair, break out the sarcasm filter and welcome to Mr. Zad’s comic critique.

Superman vs. Muhammad Ali: Facsimile Edition, oversized hardcover graphic novel (DC Comics, $39.99)  The cost of admission was $2.50 back in 1978 to see “The Champ” challenge the “Man of Steel” to an intergalactic boxing match.

The price to own this reprint of a DC Comics’ Treasury Edition today has increased dramatically, but it’s worth it.

In a 72-page story, originally blown up to tabloid-size format, readers were introduced to a hostile species named the Scrubb that challenged Earth to put forth its greatest champion to battle its own brute or risk being obliterated.

Of course Superman was ready, but Ali was the only true champion of the human species at the time. It was decided the pair would duke it out on the planet Bodace and the winner would face Scrubb’s best.

Yeah, that’s a stretch, and the equally impressive creative team of artist Neal Adams (supported by Dick Giordano and Terry Austin) and writer Denny O’Neil eagerly take the plot to the most outrageous level.

Not only does a vintage Ali teach Superman how to box, but he also proceeds to pummel him into a bruised bag of pulp during the fight. It seems their match took place on a planet with a red sun, diminishing Kal-El’s powers.

Now Ali has to fight a massive Scrubb champion while Superman recovers in time to save Earth.

Take it from a guy who owns the original edition: It’s wonderful to reread the story in its large size (13 inches tall by 10 inches wide) with heavier glossy white paper and recolored to make Mr. Adams’ work pop from the page.

I fondly appreciated Howard Cosell standing by in disbelief while Jimmy Olson announced the fight and scanning an unforgettable wraparound cover that offers a who’s who of 1970s celebrities in the crowd from all parts of pop culture, including Tony Orlando, Joe Namath, Gil Kane and Frank Sinatra.

Story Continues ?

© Copyright 2011 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

From: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/jan/7/zadzooks-star-wars-blood-ties-superman-vs-ali/

Shazam! The Golden Age of the World’s Mightiest Mortal

‘SHAZAM!!’

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That’s the word young Billy Baston has to say to be transformed by a magic lightning bolt into the world’s mightiest mortal (and an grown-up too, I might add) Captain Marvel! As Captain Marvel, young Billy has the powers of –

Solomon – wisdom

Hercules – strength

Atlas – stamina

Zeus – power

Achilles – courage

Mercury – speed

Pretty neat, huh! What little kid wouldn’t be drawn to such a character? And like flies they were during the 1940s and early 1950s, outselling Superman by 14 million comic books a month. Besides the Captain, who appeared in three comics a month, there were comics with his sister Mary Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr., and even a funny animal character Hoppy, the Marvel Bunny.

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The huge popularity of Captain Marvel is celebrated in the book, Shazam! The Golden Age of the World’s Mightiest Mortal (Harry N. Abrams, 246 pp.) by writer and designer Chip Kidd and photographer Geoff Spear. Together they show us oodles of “Marvel Family” merchandise and ephemera, mostly from the collection of Harry Matetsky.

And what a collection it is, from Captain Marvel club items to clothes, toys, games, puzzles, figurines, and paper dolls, just to name a few. Among those which stood out to me: the “personally” addressed letters to fans “signed” by the Captain himself (Fawcett Publications, who printed the Captain Marvel comics, had 30 full-time staffers to answer the Captain’s fan mail); and all the clothing – ties, shirts, dresses (from Mary Marvel). The funniest, however, was the replica of Captain Marvel’s cape, which has a disclaimer printed on it: “Play cape does not possess superhuman powers,” probably to prevent any unnecessary roof jumping.

Besides merchandise there are comics and letters that were sent out to companies to entice them to have Captain Marvel endorse their products.

All the collectibles leap off the page thanks to the amazing page design of Kidd. His enthusiasm for his material is contagious, from the cover with its neat lightning bolt shape cut out to display the word “Shazam” on the page underneath, to the items (beautifully lighted and photographed by Spear) shown on page after page. Many of them get a full-page treatment and there’s even a gatefold.

Kidd’s text leads you through the items with brief descriptions and a history of the “Shazam” phenomenon, letting the collectibles speak for themselves. He only breaks from them occasionally to show covers of the various “Marvel Family” comics.

But what happened to the Captain Marvel craze? Kidd recounts the battle that Captain Marvel lost – the one in the courtroom. D.C. comics claimed that he was a Superman rip-off and, after years and years of trials, Fawcett stopped publishing the comics.

Kidd’s introduction is my favorite part of the text. Here, he reveals the degree to which this book was a labor of love. Kidd tells how he discovered Captain Marvel at age 8 and shares pictures of a home-made Halloween costume of the Captain he wore at age 9. He sums up the character’s appeal simply but eloquently:

“Batman was Menace.

Superman was Power.

Captain Marvel was Charm.”

Rich Clabaugh is a Monitor staff artist.

Join the Monitor’s book discussion on Facebook and Twitter.

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From: http://www.csmonitor.com/Books/2011/0108/Shazam!-The-Golden-Age-of-the-World-s-Mightiest-Mortal

Ask Chris #39: Superman, Continuity, and You

Here at ComicsAlliance, we value our readership and are always open to what the masses of Internet readers have to say. That’s why we’ve given Senior Writer Chris Sims the punishment pleasure of stepping into the grand tradition of the Answer Man as he responds to your reader questions.


Q: Are there any great Superman Stories that are actually part of current DC continuity? #AskChris #allstar #whateverhappened

A: The short answer to this one is yes, but if you’ll allow me to use your question to launch into a diatribe that’s only slightly related — my specialty here at Ask Chris — there’s a much, much longer answer too. I left in the hashtags on this one because I’m pretty sure what you’re getting at is that the stories we commonly think of as being the best Superman stories — All Star and Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow — aren’t part of the current Superman continuity, such as it is.

But if they’re great Superman stories, does it really even matter?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a guy who absolutely loves continuity. The creation of a massive shared universe that draws on itself to create new stories is probably my favorite thing about super-hero comics, and it’s the one thing that they’ve managed to perfect, to the point where they do it on a scale that no other medium even approaches. I’d even go so far as to say that continuity is necessary for the genre as we know it. Serialized storytelling only really works if it’s depicting a series of events, and if events are ignored — like that time Superman fought four different guys named Zod in the span of a decade and never once mentioned any of the others — then the illusion of a shared universe is shattered.

At the same time, the idea that sits at the core of continuity, that some completely fictional, made-up stories about a character are more intrinsically valid than others, is one that’s gotten completely out of hand. Again, I think you can easily make a case for it being a necessary element of serialized stories and I’d agree, at least until people start dismissing stories outright based on something that can be so arbitrary, and which often has no impact at all on whether or not it’s a good story.

For an example, you don’t need to look any further than one of last year’s biggest heartbreakers: the cancellation of Thor: The Mighty Avenger. This was a book that received an overwhelming amount of praise for both the story and the art, which is eye-catching and absolutely gorgeous. It had action, comedy, romance, guest stars, fights, Volstagg — it had everything you could possibly want out of a comic with Thor in it. And yet, the sales weren’t there.

I’m sure there are people out there who gave it a shot and didn’t like it, or who just flat-out weren’t interested in reading a comic about Thor, and that’s fine. But there were others who skipped it completely because it “wasn’t canon,” or even worse, because it was “for kids.” They didn’t read it because it wasn’t the real Thor.

One more time, for those of you in the back: There were people who didn’t read this comic because it wasn’t the real Thor. The real Thor who was made up by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1962.

Now, far be it from me to tell someone who gets joy out of following only the Core Marvel and/or DC Universe that they’re doing it wrong, but seriously, that’s a dumb reason for not liking something, especially when you consider that I know for a fact that some of the people who skipped out on Thor: TMA because it wasn’t in continuity were buying and reading comics they hated because they were in continuity. In essence, they’re letting someone else dictate their entertainment, and that’s only good when it’s me doing the dictating.

Continuity is a wonderful tool, and in fact, the ironic thing about All Star and Man of Tomorrow is that while they’re no longer considered to be “in continuity,” they use that tool better than almost any other stories.

Man of Tomorrow, for example, should never be anyone’s first Superman story. It’s a bookend to Silver Age Superman, and that means it’s absolutely steeped in continuity and references to previous stories, from the Phantom Zone projector to the fact that the ending’s only really a good twist if you already know Mr. Mxyzptlk and what his deal is — and if you haven’t already read Superfolks. Even this scene, where Superman talks to Supergirl, is drawn directly from “canonical” events:



It’s explained later in the story — and it’s easy enough to piece things together based on Superman’s reaction — but these panels only really have the emotional impact they were designed for if you know that Supergirl had just recently died during Crisis on Infinite Earths, a book that’s all about some continuity.

Even All Star, which was roundly praised for its accessibility, is full of elements that it draws from the established Superman mythos. The Bottle City of Kandor, Bizarro World, Jimmy Olsen’s signal watch, even the Sun Eater (from Legion of Super-Heroes) and Solaris the Tyrant Sun (from DC One Million):



These are all pieces of previous stories that are used to enhance and give context to something else, and that’s exactly what continuity is. And along the same lines, there are plenty of comics that go out of their way to get everything exactly right in terms of continuity that are still absolutely terrible. It’s a tool, just like anything else.

The problem is when it stops being a tool and starts being a shackle. Not for the creators, but for the readers.

Every time you read a comic, or decide not to read a comic, or decide that the comic you just read was worthless, or tell your friends they have to read it because it’s the best thing you’ve ever read, you’re building your own continuity. You’re deciding on a personal level which stories mean something and which ones don’t, and while that might very well overlap with what exists in the official “canon,” it’s just as possible that they don’t. And in my view, what counts isn’t whether or not the stories “matter,” but whether they matter to you.

Which brings us back to great Superman stories.

When I think about my favorites, the first one that comes to mind is a three-part story in Action Comics #510 – 512 by Cary Bates and Curt Swan, in which Lex Luthor falls in love, reforms, and becomes Superman’s partner in crime-fighting:



While it’s undeniably the Silver Age Lex Luthor — if the purple high-collar shirt he wears in the story wasn’t enough of a tipoff, then the fact that he’s kicked back in a Nefarium would probably be a dead giveaway — it’s also a story about the depths a man will sink to in order to destroy something when he’s completely consumed with hate, and those themes are applicable to any version of the Superman story. I don’t want to spoil it because if you haven’t read this, you really ought to track it down (it’s not hard to find), but I don’t think it’s going to surprise anyone when I say that there’s a master plan at work here that’s so depraved and so legitimately disturbing that it’s one of the few times in comics where Superman gets completely enraged over the evil of it, and it’s completely believable that he’d react with that kind of anger.

Along the same lines, another one of my favorites is “How Much Can One Man Hate,” from Superman Adventures #27, by Mark Millar and Aluir Amancio:



Superman Adventures is unquestionably the best thing Mark Millar’s ever written, and this issue has a legitimate claim at being the best story of the run. Luthor puts a plan into motion to not only kill Superman, but destroy him, turning Metropolis against him before he deals the deathblow. It doesn’t work, of course, but not only is it extremely cleverly done, but again, you see how utterly devoted Luthor is to eradicating his foe, and how even though this is a man who spends billions of dollars trying to kill him, Superman still tries to convince him that he should do something good with his life.

These stories set in two wildly different continuities: the Bronze Age Earth-1 Superman of 1980 and a book that, as a kid-friendly tie-in to an animated series, was about as far from “canon” as you could possibly get. But both of them are great, and both of them are incredible stories of how these characters work, and as far as I’m concerned, they’re both equally valid as far as what I think of as being the “real” Superman and Lex Luthor.

Also, it’s worth noting that Millar’s run also included the “22 Stories in a Single Bound” issue — #41 — where he and a team of artists do a complete story on every page, and I don’t want to be reading comics in a world where that doesn’t “count.”

But while all that gave me a nice opportunity to rant and rave about Big Problems, none of it actually answers your question, so I should probably get to that. And like I said, the answer’s yes: There are some great Superman stories in the current official continuity, although figuring out what that current official continuity actually is can be a pretty nightmarish task.

As cold as I am on a lot of his work, I’ve got to say that Geoff Johns did some really, really enjoyable Superman stories, which also featured some incredible art. Superman and the Legion, Brainiac, and the recently completed Secret Origin, all with Gary Frank, are great and play to Johns’ strengths, although the latter can get pretty heavy-handed. For me, though, the standout was Escape From Bizarro World, which featured fantastic art from Goon creator Eric Powell that helped underscore the surreal comedy of the story, and in which Superman gained Superman Vision, which was the power to shoot beams out of his eyes that turned people into Superman.



I don’t care what continuity it is, that is brilliant.


And now, the Lightning Round!


Q: What is your favorite comic book synonym for “criminal,” i.e. thug, scum, etc?

A: It’s a tossup between “no-goodniks” and “a superstitious, cowardly lot.”


Q: Is Lone Wolf McQuade the proto-Walker, Texas Ranger or what?

A: This is a question that’s on par with whether or not The Prisoner is actually John Drake from Danger Man. Personally, while I see the appeal of creating a greater tapestry of Walker-related works (a Walker-Newton Universe, if you will), I don’t buy it. Cordell Walker is far more straightlaced than J.J. McQuade — I can’t imagine McQuade being heavily involved in charities — and since Walker’s background is so fleshed out (really!), it’s a stretch to consider him as the same character having turned over a new leaf.

But on the bright side, that means the groundwork is totally there for a Lone Wolf McQuade/Walker, Texas Ranger crossover.


Q: Is the “Richard N” from your letters column article actually Richard NIXON, former president?

A: I’m not at liberty to say, but I can confirm that the letterhack in question was later revealed to be an agent of the Secret Empire.


Q: Semi-recently there was a story involving Spider-Man and Wolverine teaming up as, like, assassins or mercenaries, possibly along with someone else. Spider-Man didn’t have any problem with killing people and he seemed happier that way. Neither my husband nor I can remember where we saw this one, but we both liked it. Any ideas?Dawn, via email

A: I believe you’re looking for What If: Spider-Man vs. Wolverine, by Jeff Parker, Paul Tobin and Clayton Henry:



It takes place after the events of the original 1987 Spider-Man vs. Wolverine one-shot by James Owsley (alias Christopher Priest) and Mark Bright, which is one of my favorite stories for either character, and Parker, Tobin and Henry do their usual spectacular job with it.


Q: What is that Cure song you like?

A:


That’s all we have for this week, but if you’ve got a question you’d like to see Chris tackle in a future column, just put it on Twitter with the hashtag #AskChris, or send an email to comicsalliance@gmail.com with [Ask Chris] in the subject line!

From: http://www.comicsalliance.com/2011/01/07/ask-chris-39-superman-continuity-and-you/

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