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Exclusive Preview: Superman’s first encounter with the Red Cloud and Bendis hints at future project with Ryan Sook

Brian Michael Bendis‘ first run on Action Comics is heating up, with DC Comics‘ Wednesday release of issue #1005 expected to ignite because it is loaded with hints about future plot points, terrific twists and one major reveal. It is written by Bendis, with art by Ryan Sook, colors by Ryan Anderson and letters by Josh Reed. 

SYFY WIRE has an exclusive preview of five pages, pulled from the middle of Action Comics #1005. In it, we see Superman taking to the streets of Metropolis when he is suddenly assaulted by the Red Cloud.

Action Comics #1005 Preview 3

Action Comics #1005 Preview 3 by Ryan Sook and Brad Anderson

There is a mystery as to whom the Red Cloud is. He or she is one of the new villains that Bendis is introducing and it has been taking out mobsters. Does that mean the Red Cloud is a vigilante? No, not when the mobsters are winding up dead.

In the early pages, readers will be reacquainted with the H-Dial device which grants its holder temporary random superpowers and is from the series Dial H for Hero, that has been reimagined a number of times, with the last revival occurring during the New 52 initiative. Dial H for Hero will be launched next as a part of Bendis’ new Wonder Comics imprint of DCU titles geared at young adult readers by writer Sam Humphries (Harley Quinn) and artist Joe Quinones (Black Canary/Zatanna) but there were a list of reasons why the H-Dial was brought back here.

“There was a magical moment when you’re crafting a scene and you realize the Question is beating people up because of the H-Dial,” Bendis tells SYFY WIRE. “It was the most 70’s Action Comics scene ever, in Action Comics that didn’t involve Superman.”

“It also gave us an opportunity to reach those who don’t know what the dial is, and re-introduce the H-Dial and why it would be a macguffin in the DC Universe and a big one, right? People are constantly looking for elements of power, this is a low hanging fruit if someone has this thing. So it was fun. People ask if Wonder Comics was is going to be in continuity, so this is my way of saying, ‘Oh, it is. It definitely is!’”

One of the most requested characters Bendis has received for Action Comics is the Question. But while fans on Twitter were hoping he’d do their bidding, he was way ahead of them. 

“There’s always a long list of characters that people want you to write but it’s not necessarily at that moment, what you have the passion for or feel you have a take for. So it’s great when at least part of the audience’s passion meets your passion. Now, people will be interested to know if this is just a cameo, but this is actually the first part of a much larger role for the Question.”

Action Comics #1005 Preview 4

Action Comics #1005 Preview 4 by Ryan Sook and Brad Anderson

Sook’s art really does stand out in this issue, especially in the way the second half builds towards the reveal. This is Bendis and Sook’s second of three issues together and they’ll begin work on a top secret project.

“What you’re seeing here is the building blocks of what I consider to be a major collaboration in my life,” Bendis teased. “From these issues [of Action Comics], you can see from the get-go how special it is to work with him.”

Wait, a big project with Ryan Sook? It couldn’t involve anyone who is in this current arc, by chance? Perhaps a Question project?

“No.” Bendis quickly struck down. “Dun-dun-dunnnn!”

Let the speculation begin on what that project will be, but while you do, check out SYFY WIRE’s exclusive five-page preview of the Red Cloud taking on Superman and let us know who you think it is behind the mist? Then track down Action Comics #1005 at a local comic shop near you, or in digital formats. Read it and then come back here where we will talk to Bendis all about the reveal.

From: https://www.syfy.com/syfywire/exclusive-preview-supermans-first-encounter-with-the-red-cloud-and-bendis-hints-at-future

ACTION COMICS #1005 Brings ‘Real, Shocking Tragedy’ to SUPERMAN’s Life

Action Comics #1005

Credit: DC Comics
Credit: DC Comics

Although Brian Michael Bendis promised readers before his run on Superman and Action Comics that he wouldn’t hurt Lois and Jon Kent during his run, his stories have already caused some changes in their relationship with Clark Kent that will drive the writer’s stories going forward.

In Action Comics, Lois Lane is hiding a secret from her husband, and in the just-released solicitation for the February issue of Superman, Jon Kent appears to be much older than the last time readers saw him.

The changes in both characters were influenced by their trip to space with Jor-El, which occurred early in Bendis’ run and took them out of the Superman books for a while. Now that they’re returning, the changes are causing tension in Clark Kent’s life.

Next week’s Action Comics #1005 is also revealing a few other new developments, including the introduction of The Question to the storyline, a hint about Bendis’ upcoming Wonder Comics line, and the revelation of the mysterious Red Cloud’s identity.

As DC supplied Newsarama with a preview of next week’s Action Comics #1005, we talked to Bendis to find out more about the changes in Jon and Lois, why the Red Cloud reflects the themes Bendis is exploring in the title, and what readers can expect from the Question’s involvement.

Credit: DC Comics

Newsarama: Brian, I want to talk to you about the preview we just got for Action Comics #1005. But first …. what in the world are you doing to Jonathan Kent? He’s older when he comes back from space in February’s Superman #8?

Brian Michael Bendis: Yeah, I woke up about 20 minutes ago and peeked at Twitter for a second, and they released a cover of Jon as a teenager. It’s purposely mysterious on whether he’s in a good place or bad place, and of course, because it’s Twitter, I’m hearing from everybody. I woke up to quite an earful.

Nrama: You already gave us a hint about that in Action Comics when Lois told Clark that their son hit “puberty” in space. But can you clarify the story here? What is this?

Bendis: What it is is that Jon is going to come back to the Superman books, and we already see he’s aged up a little bit.

Time has gone by.

So first, Superman has to find out, has he time-traveled? Or has he lost years of his son’s life?

If he lost years of his son’s life, that is devastating. That is a tragedy in Clark and Lois’ life. And they don’t have a lot of, like, real shocking tragedy in their life. They have a lot of near misses, you know.

Credit: DC Comics

If you can imagine just missing out on his formative years and how haunting that would be, this is one of those issues where Clark … you don’t think he can get hurt? He gets really hurt.

And he may have his father to blame for it, which is pretty devastating.

Nrama: So this is as much about them personally as anything else. That’s been a big part of your run on both Action and Superman.

Bendis: Yeah, I mean, there’s a story where Superman flies around and he kind of just takes it on the chin a little bit, but he always does the right thing. But really, this opportunity with Superman is really, like, hitting him where it hurts and seeing what he does.

That’s how you test the strength of character. That’s how you test all of the lessons that he’s taught himself or that Ma and Pa Kent have taught him.

He’s really being pushed into areas where he has to decide what kind of hero he needs to be at this moment, and that’s going to include some bigger choices coming up. It’s not going to be choices between, like, life and death, but choices about what kind of — because I don’t mean the choice between whether he blows someone’s head off or not — what I mean is that he’s going to have to make some choices about what kind of actions he takes as Superman on behalf of all of us.

Credit: DC Comics

Nrama: OK, let’s talk about next week’s Action Comics #1005 and the preview we’re seeing. Is this the issue where we’re going to find out more about this mysterious Red Cloud?

Bendis: Yeah, we’re turning over a lot of cards in this issue which I think will surprise some people. I do like to drag some stuff out sometimes, but in this instance, this mystery just opens up to more mysteries. So finding out who Red Cloud is and what the character’s relationship is to Clark and Lois and the rest of the DC Universe and what that means for the future is all right here in this awesome issue illustrated by Ryan Sook.

Nrama: OK, you just said, “what Red Cloud’s relationship is to Lois,” so I’m totally going down that line…

Bendis: Yeah, you can go down that line, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to answer you.

Nrama: OK, OK, so let’s just talk about Lois in general. She comes back from her trip to space and now she’s not being honest with Clark.

Bendis: Well, it’s not that she’s being dishonest with Clark. It’s just that she has a secret that she has to keep. He’s had secrets he’s had to keep too. It’s more about the overall safety than it is about trust. That’s always been part of their relationship, is that there’s going to be, like, one or two things that are going to have to be a little more deft about how they handle them with each other because they have such complicated relationships with so many things.

Credit: DC Comics

So Lois clearly learned something out in space and she is carrying it with her and writing about it, and that will all reveal itself as we go.

What we’re really focused on is that, to us and not just me and the creators of Action Comics but quite a few other creators too, feel that Lois Lane may be the most important person in the DC Universe and has been for a while. There’s a lot of things going on with her in our story and others that are going to reflect that in a really great way.

And I must say, I do feel that some of it is a reflection of what we wish the reporters were like in our real world. We wish we had a Lois Lane today. So we’re kind of all writing what we wish we had.

Nrama: So this secret that she’s hiding — I mean, from their interaction in the last couple issues, they appear to still be in love. But just to clarify, the secret is not some type of precursor to the end of their marriage, or something she’s doing behind Clark’s back to hurt him or anything.

Bendis: Oh, not at all. She couldn’t be more clear unless she almost says to the camera “we’re not breaking up; I’m madly in love with you.” They have a very complicated situation here.

Nrama: Let’s get back to the Red Cloud for a minute here. In the preview you supplied to Newsarama, the Red Cloud is attacking Superman and it doesn’t look so good for him. When you were coming up with this villain, was your desire to come up with something he can’t punch and solve?

Credit: DC Comics

Bendis: Yeah, yeah. There’s been, over the years, examples of that. But this one, it seemed much more in line with the story we’re telling in Action Comics. There’s a lot of things going on around him, and punching isn’t the answer.

The Red Cloud is a manifestation of that idea. Clark is going to have to fight this, not Superman. Clark’s going to have to figure this out.

Sometimes, because of the nature of the life he leads, his first instinct is to go to Superman. But the smarter choice sometimes is to sit down and figure it out as Clark.

And also, going back to one of my overall, uber ideas on these books, is that the idea of Superman was thrust upon him. It was given to him, right? He was rocketed to Earth. He chose to be Clark Kent. He chose to be a reporter. That’s what he wants to be. Of all the things he could be, he chose that.

So getting to roll up his sleeves and really do it, and to rise to the occasion and be Lois’ peer, is a lot of fun to write.

Nrama: It’s not in the preview, but you’ve dropped a hint in Action Comics #1005 about your Wonder Comics imprint.

Bendis: Oh yeah, yeah. You’re going to see a lot of that. We’re going to have a lot of fun.

First of all, it’s just fun to do as much shared universe stuff as possible. And it does kind of help to answer the question about whether the Wonder Comics line is in continuity — it 1000 percent actually is in continuity.

Credit: DC Comics

So people already want to see Jon and Conner teaming up because we are who we are.

The first crossover the Dial H For Hero dial shows up. We don’t know what it is, which is the greatest idea DC Comics has ever had. It’s a little taste of what’s to come and it also gives us an introduction into our story of the Question, which something a lot of people asked me.

Nrama: This is also the issue where we meet the Question, right?

Bendis: Yes, I’ve already posted that art. The minute Ryan drew the page, I posted it online. It was like two seconds after that I posted it, I loved it so much.

Nrama: Is he bringing something new? Or is he attached to something that’s already going on in the comic book?

Bendis: He’s been working an angle on what’s going on with the invisible mob, on a street level.

It’s kind of a slow burn, what’s been going on with The Question and how it’s going to connect to a bigger story coming next summer.

But now The Question is in the book. And we’re going to slowly unveil what they know that Clark doesn’t.

From: https://www.newsarama.com/42830-bendis-on-jon-kent-s-aging-lois-lane-s-secret-the-question-s-action-comics-debut-and-more.html

DC Comics Universe & Action Comics #1005 Spoilers: Superman Faces The Question, Wonder Comics’ Dial H For …

DC Comics Universe and Action Comics #1005 Spoilers follows.

Superman Faces The Question, Wonder Comics’ Dial H For Hero As The Red Cloud Unmasked?!

The book opens with the usual computer desk set-up of Lois Lane…

…plus the promise of the Question and Dial H for Hero.

Additional preview and teaser pages expected shortly. Solicitation below.

      ACTION COMICS #1005
      (W) Brian Michael Bendis (A/CA) Ryan Sook

      The murderous mystery of the Red Cloud uncovered! Clark Kent draws closer to revealing a secret crime family that has operated for years in Metropolis, but the family’s enforcer-the mysterious Red Cloud-proves she’s a match for even the Man of Steel with an attack that leaves Superman breathless. Don’t miss the last-page shocker as we reveal the true face of the Red Cloud!

      In Shops: Nov 28, 2018
      SRP: $3.99

    So, are you intrigued enough to pick up this issue this week?

    Tags: , , , , , , , ,

    From: https://insidepulse.com/2018/11/26/dc-comics-universe-action-comics-1005-spoilers-superman-faces-the-question-wonder-comics-dial-h-for-hero-as-the-red-cloud-unmasked-via-preview/

    Why we loved Stan Lee

    Superman was boring. Superman comics were faceless, institutional. Nothing mattered from issue to issue; villains might return, but there wasn’t any sense of accumulating history. The writers, bored with an infallible hero without personality, would come up with alternate-world plots. What if Superman were a baby married to Lois Lane? What if Superman had six legs and was Superspider of Venus?

    OK, DC comics didn’t go that far, but they came close.

    Marvel changed the expectations of the audience, and it was Stan Lee who was the face of the new style of comics. Lee, a longtime comic book editor and writer, died Monday at the age of 95. He had the frantic fortune to collaborate with two titanic talents — as he might have phrased it in his alliterative, excitable style: Steve “Difficult” Ditko and “Joltin” Jack Kirby.

    “Collaborate” is a tricky word.

    For the past few years comic fandom has been sorting out who came up with what. Lee was no longer thought to be the primary creative force behind Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and the raft of characters that powered Marvel from the 1960s to the present. He might have exaggerated his contributions. And, in his tireless promotion of Marvel — and, by the way, himself — he might have soft-pedaled the innovations of his collaborators.

    Here’s the odd thing, though. Most people who loved comics forgave him, because they wanted to like Stan.

    Stan Lee, you see, liked us. The readers. The kids who bought the rags from a creaky wire rack in the drugstore.

    We were a gold mine, sure, but we were the most appreciative and fanatic audience a fellow could have, and he addressed us one by one. His “Stan’s Soapbox” column was a breathless exhortation to believe in Marvel’s ever-loving greatness. It always ended the same: “Excelsior!”

    We had no idea what that meant, but it sounded like something Thor would say. Or Stan.

    The Soapbox ran on the Bullpen Bulletins page, a collection of news flashes — ITEM! — that talked about upcoming comics, slung the insider slang we all knew, used nicknames for the artists: Merry Marie Severin! King Kirby!

    We imagined Stan as an impresario, a ringmaster, ducking in and out of offices to slap backs and offer advice. He held the shop together. He gave everything the quality that made it Marvel, not Brand Echh, as they called the Superman shop.

    In the early ’60s Marvel’s work took a turn toward human characters with flaws and foibles — mixed up, to use the swingin’ parlance. This expanded the audience to college-age kids who would have sneered at Superman.

    Spidey had girl problems. He washed his costume with hot water once and shrunk it, and had to go out crime-fighting with his wrists and ankles exposed.

    Those touches, you suspect, were Stan’s. He made these kids’ stories grow up, let them breathe and laugh.

    In the early days of Marvel he was probably happy to have a steady job, and the idea of his co-creations ending up in Disney’s hands — with billion-dollar valuations — would’ve seemed like a dream. But he lived long enough to see Spidey and the Avengers and Dr. Strange and the Black Panther and others hit the big screen, and he was honored with cameos. We loved those as much as he enjoyed doing them, because we remembered what he said.

    “Keep the faith!” We did.

    “Face front!” Well, that’s the best way to see a movie, yes.

    “True Believers,” he called us, with a grin. We were.

    So was he. That’s one of the reasons we loved him.

     

    From: http://www.startribune.com/why-we-loved-stan-lee/500500692/

    Batman 666 & DC One Million Superman Return As DC Comics Detonates A Nuclear Winter Ushering Post Apocalyptic …

    From: https://insidepulse.com/2018/11/23/batman-666-dc-one-million-return-as-dc-comics-detonates-a-nuclear-winter-ushering-post-apocalyptic-futures-in-dc-nuclear-winter-special-1-house-ad-with-spoilers/

    Shazam: Who is Earth’s Mightiest Mortal? – Batman

    One of the most exciting upcoming DC movies is based around one of the very oldest comic book characters: Shazam, Earth’s Mightiest Mortal. At a glance, he might look like an off-brand Superman, but there’s more to this character than meets the eye – both in the pages of the comic and out. And he has nothing to do with the 1998 Shaquille O’Neal movie Kazam, so don’t even start.

    Shazam’s Greatest Foe: Copyright Law

    Shazam isn’t even Shazam’s name, technically. When Billy Batson was first blessed with powers, back in Fawcett Comics’ Whiz Comics #2 back in 1940, he was called Captain Marvel. I bet you can see where this is going, but we have one fight to get through first.

    Captain Marvel was created shortly after DC Comics’ own Superman, but in those days ended up being even more popular than Supes himself. Fawcett published the comics up through 1953. During that 12-year period, DC Comics was concerned that Fawcett’s caped flying superhero was too similar to their caped flying superhero and brought suit against the company.

    While the courts found that Captain Marvel was indeed infringing on Superman, the courts also found that DC had been negligent in copyrighting some Superman comic strips, and the courts said that DC had abandoned the Superman copyright. (If you ever wonder why companies are bringing lawsuits against fan creations, video game remakes, and the like – this is why.) DC and Fawcett went back and forth for years, and eventually one judge said that, Captain Marvel isn’t an infringement, but that if he’s doing things too similar (perhaps outrunning steam trains and bounding over skyscrapers with just one jump?), those feats and stories could infringe.

    Sales of Captain Marvel began to fall, and Fawcett shuttered its comics division in 1953, eventually handing off the good Captain to DC. But the battle isn’t over, true believers! Because this is where Marvel gets involved.

    DC decided to revive Captain Marvel under the name Shazam! – with the subtitle of “The Original Captain Marvel,” only to get a cease and desist from Marvel Comics, who owned the Marvel brand and had created a Captain Marvel of its own while Shazam was dormant. As a result, DC can’t call this character Captain Marvel in any advertising, merchandise, or promotional materials. In the pages of the book, characters can refer to him as such, but out here in our world, everything with that big yellow lightning bolt is under the Shazam moniker. These days, most fans call him Shazam.

    So when you go to theaters this April, there are technically two Captain Marvel movies in the theater – if you know your comic history.

    So why’s he called Shazam?

    While Superman is an adult man and an alien refugee from a dead planet, Shazam is a mortal born right here on planet earth. Shazam’s secret identity is that of young boy Billy Batson. An unhappy orphan in a foster home, Billy ran away from home, only to find himself summoned by an old man, the Wizard Shazam. The wizard chose Billy for the good in his heart and bestowed upon him the power of Living Lightning. To summon the power, Billy has to invoke the names of the six immortal elders: Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury. Or, to shorten it a little: SHAZAM.

    In the comics, Billy’s connection to that previous list of gods was severed, and the wizard replaced them with six other immortal beings from whom he could draw power. From these beings, Shazam draws powers like Superman-level strength, super speed, fire breath, immense knowledge and foresight, interdimensional travel, invulnerability, immortality, and more.

    Because his powers are magical in nature, it turns out that Shazam is more than a match for Superman when he wants to be. In the classic Elseworlds mini series Kingdom Come, a mind-controlled Shazam beats the pants off Superman before Supes finally shakes Billy from his hypnotized state to finally save the day.

    Shazam’s arch-enemy is Black Adam. Like Billy, the man who would become Black Adam was given powers by the Wizard. Instead of the powers bringing out his goodness, the presumed good man was corrupted by his newfound power, and the Wizard imprisoned him, only for him to be let out when the Wizard chose Billy as his successor.

    The two have clashed many times over the years, but because they derive their powers from the same source, they can sense and find each other.

    The man who let Black Adam out is Doctor Sivana who, in the process, injured his eye and gained the ability to see magic through it.

    What to know going into the movie

    To make the most of Shazam! this spring, you really don’t need to know much. The movie pulls a lot of stuff from the modern Shazam origin story. Billy is a troubled orphan who gains magical abilities. He goes for a joyride with his still-teenaged friend. We’ve seen this in the previews as Shazam does things like zapping peoples’ phones and, you know, buying beer. Dr. Sivana figures into the film, though with the movie still months away we can only guess at whether he’s the main villain.

    Right now, everything points to Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam not appearing in this picture. Despite Black Adam being Shazam’s Joker or Reverse Flash, he’s getting his own movie, because the Rock is just that famous.

    When the movie hits theaters in April, Zachary Levi will be playing Shazam, while Asher Angel plays young Billy Batson. Mark Strong (Kingsman: The Secret Service) plays Dr. Sivana, and Djimon Hounsou plays the Wizard.

    Shazam is a superhero that is often more about fun than drama thanks to his kid side, so we can expect this movie to be lighter than most DC movie fare despite coming from horror director David Sandberg.

    Shazam! Hits theaters on April 9, 2019.

    From: https://batman-news.com/2018/11/22/who-is-shazam/

    DC’s Birds Of Prey a ‘great opportunity’ to end ‘sluggish’ films

    Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Margot Robbie and Mary Elizabeth WinsteadImage copyright
    Getty Images

    Movies about Superman and Justice League may have flopped with the critics, but DC will be hoping to find more favourable reviews for new franchise, Birds Of Prey.

    Or, to give the movie it’s full title: Birds Of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of one Harley Quinn.

    Margot Robbie revealed the full title of the film on Instagram.

    And it certainly seems like they are steering away from the dark, sour tones of Batman vs Superman this time around.

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    Instagram post by margotrobbie: Image Copyright margotrobbie
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    “The mistakes DC were making was that it was the same thing over and over again,” says Claire Lim, presenter of BBC The Social, podcaster and comic book super-fan.

    “I’m not saying that was a bad thing, but this dark, sluggish, gritty vibe they’ve had is just getting boring.

    “We’ve seen a bit of lightness in the Aquaman trailers and now Harley getting together a girl gang?

    “To me that sentence is fun enough. I’m sold.”

    Birds Of Prey, which is planned for 2020, is a sequel (of sorts) to 2016’s critical flop (but box office success), Suicide Squad.

    Margot Robbie returns to the screen to play Harley Quinn, who people like Claire say was the “stand out” character in the film.

    Who are Birds Of Prey?

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    Margot Robbie’s role in Suicide Squad has been a gift for people looking for cool, simple Halloween costumes

    Unlike the line-up of 2017’s Justice League movie, Birds Of Prey boasts a cast of heroes who are b-list at best.

    You’d be forgiven for not having heard of Huntress, Black Canary or Renee Montoya if you weren’t a fan of the original DC comics – although some of these characters have shown up in DC television shows, such as The Flash.

    And if you do some digging on YouTube, you’ll also find trailers for a Birds Of Prey TV series which ran for one season in 2002.

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    Youtube post by Ashley Scott: Birds of Prey TV (2002) Long promoImage Copyright Ashley Scott
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    This time around, the 2020 film version has major stars such as Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Rosie Perez, Ewan McGregor and Jurnee Smollett-Bell joining Margot Robbie for another outing on the streets of Gotham.

    “Combining these fresh characters with one people already love with an amazing cast – I can’t see how it’s not going to be successful,” says Claire.

    She also praises the movie for featuring a mostly female cast and for having a female writer and director.

    Will Birds Of Prey be a Guardians Of The Galaxy moment for DC?

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    Image caption

    Honestly, had you heard of Gamora or Nebula before Marvel made the first Guardians movie?

    Marvel have stamped their mark on cinema history with one of the biggest franchises of all time – The Avengers.

    But the success of their Guardians Of The Galaxy franchise, which launched in 2014, is not to be sniffed at and that, like Birds Of Prey, was made of largely unknown heroes.

    “A lot of people don’t know Birds Of Prey. That is actually a benefit for the people trying to write for them, because it means you effectively have a blank canvas,” says film blogger Tom Hindle.

    “You’ve got such a great opportunity to build these characters from the ground up.”

    Follow Newsbeat on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

    Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 every weekday on BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra – if you miss us you can listen back here.

    From: https://www.bbc.com/news/newsbeat-46288924

    Stan Lee was a Marvel whose comics reflected an ambiguous America

    Stan Lee, the reinventor of the comic book, died Nov. 12 at the ripe old age of 95.

    Comic books get a bad rap, although not nearly as bad as they used to. There was a time when comic books were the cause of an all-out moral panic. After the release of psychiatrist Fred Wertham’s book “The Seduction of the Innocent,” the U.S. Senate held hearings to grapple with the alleged moral rot of comics, which were supposedly fueling juvenile delinquency and moral degeneracy. Batman and Robin, you see, were secretly gay. Superman was an un-American ersatz fascist.

    Superman (with the big S on his uniform — we should, I suppose, be thankful that it is not an S.S.) needs an endless stream of ever new submen, criminals and “foreign-looking” people not only to justify his existence but even to make it possible, Wertham wrote.

    The Comics Code Authority was established in 1954 to protect children from consuming Satan’s apple in cartoon form. As silly as all that was, at least the anti-comic puritans took comic books seriously. And while Wertham et al. went too far in the wrong direction, comics are an important window into our society.

    Prior to Stan Lee and Marvel Comics, superheroes were fairly two-dimensional characters. Superman was, well, just super at everything. He fought for “truth, justice and the American way.” He was also a kind of super-moralist, always knowing instantly what was right. Some writers claim he was the first “social justice warrior.”

    In Superman’s first adventure (Action Comics No. 1), long before he ever battled Lex Luthor, he saved a woman from being wrongly executed, stopped a senator from being blackmailed and protected a woman from her abusive husband. “Delivering justice, protecting family and stopping corruption, Superman represented the newly expanded New Deal state,” observed Benjamin Moore in The Washington Post. The New Deal was a real-world example of what political philosopher Michael Oakeshott called “politics as the crow flies” — a rationalist approach that tried to use the state as an active participant in life to achieve desirable ends without much concern for the means. It should be no surprise that Superman transitioned from New Deal warrior to World War II warrior. He was fighting Nazis long before American troops were.

    Lee grew up professionally in this “Golden Age” of comics, but he also rebelled against it. While a member of the so-called Greatest Generation, Lee better represented the more ironic attitudes of the postwar generation. His superheroes struggled with their powers and their moral responsibilities. Spider-Man, the quintessential Marvel character (at least until the introduction of Wolverine) was a nerdy, angst-ridden teenager who only reluctantly accepted his role and the idea that “with great power comes great responsibility.” Lee’s heroes quarreled with each other, had romantic setbacks and sometimes even struggled to make the rent.

    Stan Lee, the creator of the most beloved superheroes in history, including Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and the Incredible Hulk, died Monday. He was 95.

    Through the years, his comics and characters have been transformed into films. In these films, he tends to make cameo appearances. Here are some of the best cameo appearances Stan Lee made in Marvel movies.

    The baby boomers, Lee’s target audience, were plagued with a great unease about living up to the legacy of their parents’ generation. “We are people of this generation,” begins the Port Huron Statement, the 1962 manifesto that largely launched the ’60s protest era, “bred in at least modest comfort, housed now in universities, looking uncomfortably to the world we inherit.” They believed they were special but didn’t know exactly what to do about it.

    This kind of ambiguity suffused Marvel’s story lines. The X-Men were mutants, a government-persecuted minority community, bitterly divided between assimilationists and rejectionists. Their powers were a thinly veiled metaphor for the confusion of puberty.

    The Thing, constantly harassed by a local street gang, hated that he had become a grotesque, but when given the choice of becoming human again, he opted to keep his powers. Captain America debuted in his own comic by punching Hitler in the face on the cover, but by Vietnam he was emoting, “I’m like a dinosaur — in the cro-magnon age! An anachronism — who’s out-lived his time! This is the day of the anti-hero — the age of the rebel — and the dissenter! It isn’t hip — to defend the establishment! — only to tear it down! And, in a world rife with injustice, greed, and endless war — who’s to say the rebels are wrong? … I’ve spent a lifetime defending the flag — and the law! Perhaps I should have battled less — and questioned more!”

    Of course, there was plenty of fighting, derring-do and onomatopoetic “pows,” “bamfs” and “snikts.” But future historians looking to understand the near-century of Lee’s lifetime would be well-advised to look at his life’s work.

    Tribune Content Agency

    Jonah Goldberg is an editor at large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

    MORE COVERAGE:

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    Stan Lee: Interview with the creator »

    Join the discussion on Twitter @Trib_Ed_Board and on Facebook.

    Submit a letter to the editor here or email letters@chicagotribune.com.

    From: https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/commentary/ct-perspec-goldberg-jonah-stan-lee-comics-marvel-1109-story.html

    Jonah Goldberg: Appreciating Stan Lee’s comics

    STAN LEE, the reinventor of the comic book, died last Monday at the ripe old age of 95.

    Comic books get a bad rap, although not nearly as bad as they used to. There was a time when comic books were the cause of an all-out moral panic. After the release of psychiatrist Fred Wertham’s book “The Seduction of the Innocent,” the Senate held hearings to grapple with the alleged moral rot of comics, which were supposedly fueling juvenile delinquency and moral degeneracy. Batman and Robin, you see, were secretly gay. Superman was an un-American ersatz fascist.

    “Superman (with the big S on his uniform — we should, I suppose, be thankful that it is not an S.S.) needs an endless stream of ever new submen, criminals and ‘foreign-looking’ people not only to justify his existence but even to make it possible,” Wertham wrote.

    The Comics Code Authority was established in 1954 to protect children from consuming Satan’s apple in cartoon form.

    As silly as all that was, at least the anti-comic puritans took comic books seriously. And while Wertham et al. went too far in the wrong direction, comics are an important window into our society.

    Prior to Stan Lee and Marvel Comics, superheroes were fairly two-dimensional characters. Superman was, well, just super at everything. He fought for “truth, justice and the American way.” He was also a kind of super-moralist, always knowing instantly what was right. Some writers claim he was the first “social justice warrior.”

    In Superman’s first adventure (Action Comics No. 1), long before he ever battled Lex Luthor, he saved a woman from being wrongly executed, stopped a senator from being blackmailed and protected a woman from her abusive husband. “Delivering justice, protecting family and stopping corruption, Superman represented the newly expanded New Deal state,” observed Benjamin Moore in The Washington Post.

    The New Deal was a real-world example of political philosopher Michael Oakeshott called “politics as the crow flies” — a rationalist approach that tries to use the state as an active participant in life to achieve desirable ends without much concern for the means.

    It should be no surprise that Superman transitioned from New Deal warrior to World War II warrior.

    He was fighting Nazis long before American troops were.

    Lee grew up professionally in this “Golden Age” of comics, but he also rebelled against it. While a member of the so-called Greatest Generation, Lee better represented the more ironic attitudes of the postwar generation. His superheroes struggled with their powers and their moral responsibilities. Spider-Man, the quintessential Marvel character (at least until the introduction of Wolverine) was a nerdy, angst-ridden teenager who only reluctantly accepted his role and the idea that “with great power comes great responsibility.” Lee’s heroes quarreled with each other, had romantic setbacks and sometimes even struggled to make the rent.

    The baby boomers, Lee’s target audience, were plagued with a great unease about living up to the legacy of their parents’ generation. “We are people of this generation,” begins the Port Huron Statement, the 1962 manifesto that largely launched the ‘60s protest era, “bred in at least modest comfort, housed now in universities, looking uncomfortably to the world we inherit.” They believed they were special but didn’t know exactly what to do about it.

    This kind of ambiguity suffused Marvel’s storylines. The X-Men were mutants, a government-persecuted minority community, bitterly divided between assimilationists and rejectionists. Their powers were a thinly veiled metaphor for the confusion of puberty. The Thing, constantly harassed by a local street gang, hated that he had become a grotesque, but when given the choice of becoming human again, he opted to keep his powers.

    Captain America debuted in his own comic by punching Hitler in the face on the cover, but by Vietnam he was emoting, “I’m like a dinosaur — in the cro-magnon age! An anachronism — who’s out-lived his time! This is the day of the anti-hero — the age of the rebel — and the dissenter! It isn’t hip — to defend the establishment! — only to tear it down! And, in a world rife with injustice, greed, and endless war — who’s to say the rebels are wrong? … I’ve spent a lifetime defending the flag — and the law! Perhaps I should have battled less — and questioned more!”

    Of course, there was plenty of fighting, derring-do and onomatopoetic “pows,” “bamfs” and “snikts.” But future historians looking to understand the near-century of Lee’s lifetime would be well-advised to look at his life’s work.

    From: http://www.unionleader.com/opinion/columnists/jonah-goldberg-appreciating-stan-lee-s-comics/article_b5324800-1833-5f32-a58e-72043f664e90.html

    For The Man Who Has Everything: The Superman Stories of Alan Moore

    Alan Moore’s body of work for DC Comics isn’t exactly small, but its impact far exceeds the actual page count. Whether it was the psychedelic horror of Swamp Thing, the violent madness of Batman: The Killing Joke, or the industry changing Watchmen, the importance Moore’s DC Comics output can’t be overstated.

    He’s probably not a writer you immediately associate with Superman, though. Alan Moore only wrote three proper Superman stories (although he would revisit many of the character’s tropes with Supreme for Image Comics in the late ‘90s), but they’re all essential reading. Moore’s Superman stories all came within roughly one year of each other, at a time when Superman’s popularity was waning among fans already looking for more mature takes on superheroes, like the work of Chris Claremont, John Byrne, Dave Cockrum, and others were doing at Marvel on Uncanny X-Men, or that Marv Wolfman and George Perez were bringing to The New Teen Titans at DC.

    Superman himself was the most powerful he would ever be, (the power levels of this era are often referred to informally as “juggling planets,” although that’s not something I ever remember actually seeing in a Superman comic) with eyes that “watched quarks at play” and a level of invulnerability of such a level that he “bathed in the heart of the sun, careless at the mile-high geysers of flame.” Perhaps as a result, the comics themselves, the occasional standout tale by Cary Bates, Marv Wolfman, or Elliot S! Maggin aside, were becoming increasingly formulaic and dull, despite continued artistic contributions from legends like Curt Swan, Murphy Anderson, Kurt Schaffenberger, Gil Kane, or Keith Giffen.

    Between 1985 (when the first of Moore’s Superman stories was published) and 1986 (the last), DC was in the midst of a massive continuity housecleaning known as Crisis on Infinite Earths. One of the end results of Crisis would be a Superman with more manageable power levels, less of a reliance on bizarre sci-fi concepts, and a creative team consisting of some of the hottest names in the business telling more grounded tales theoretically more suitable for modern audiences.

    But it was the virtually all-powerful pre-Crisis Superman that Alan Moore and friends got to play with and subvert. And to hear Moore tell it (or to read his work on Superman love-letter Supreme), he wouldn’t have had it any other way. “What it was with Superman was the incredible range of imagination on display with that original character,” he said in a 1996 interview. “A lot of those concepts that were attached to Superman, which may seem corny and dated now, were wonderful at the time. The idea of the Bottled City of Kandor, Krypto the Superdog, Bizarro, all of it. These are fantastic ideas, and it was that which kept me going back each month to Superman when I was ten. I wanted to find out more about this incredible world with all of these fascinating details.”

    Of course it was those very aspects of the Superman legend that would be swept out of Superman continuity a month after Moore’s final Superman story. He still added a few “fascinating details” of his own in his time, though. Here’s a quick look at them.

    “The Jungle Line”

    DC Comics Presents #85 (1985)

    In the 1980s, Superman was unquestionably the face of DC Comics, starring in four monthly titles: Superman, Action Comics, World’s Finest (a team-up book with Batman, the title of which will be nicely utilized for the upcoming Flash/Supergirl TV crossover), and DC Comics Presents. DC Comics Presents would pair Superman with another hero (or heroes), usually a more obscure character, and DC Comics Presents #85 marked Swamp Thing’s turn.

    In 1985, only two DC Comics characters had ever made it to the big screen for a feature film. Superman had three under his belt (although the quality of those movies was already in decline, with 1983’s Superman III leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouths), while Swamp Thing had his first big screen outing in 1982, with a flick directed by Wes Craven. They don’t seem like prime team-up candidates in any case, though.

    “The Jungle Line” is far less famous than Moore’s other two Superman stories and his essential, defining run as writer of Swamp Thing’s monthly book. But check out the talent that brought this one to life with him. Rick Veitch (Moore’s ultimate heir on Swamp Thing) provides pencils with the legendary Al Williamson (Star Wars, Flash Gordon, you name it) and Tatjana Wood (who also provided colors for Moore’s Swamp Thing and the Grant Morrison Animal Man era) on colors.

    In short, Superman has been poisoned by a piece of Kryptonian fungus that made its way to Earth on a tiny hunk of meteorite. Now he’s losing both his powers and his mind as his body dies. Mad with fever, “the Man of Tomorrow is heading south to die.” After wrecking his car, a hallucinating Supes wanders into the bayou (as one does), where he attracts the attention of Swamp Thing.

    Superman doesn’t do any actual heroics in this one. The story kicks off with him already seriously ill and hallucinating before it gives us a brief flashback establishing how this happened. Superman accepts he’s going to die, but then he encounters Swamp Thing, who cleanses and heals his fevered brain. Moore’s Superman stories routinely put Kal-El in situations he can’t punch his way out of and “The Jungle Line” is probably the most passive Supes is in any of these outings.

    There may or may not be something to be said about a fungus causing Superman to trip his indestructible balls off while it takes a mellowing, peaceful green sensation to bring him back down:

    Keep in mind that about a decade later, when Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon were steering John Constantine’s adventures, ol’ Swampy counted this little number among his party tricks…

    So, yeah, draw your own conclusions.

    Interestingly, this is the only time I can remember seeing the Bronze Age Superman with a five o’clock shadow. After he has been healed by Swamp Thing, he uses his heat vision reflected off a mirror to shave. This little trick is generally credited to John Byrne’s Superman reboot of 1986 with the Man of Steel limited series, but here it is in all its glory, just over a year before that story hit the stands.

    Other than that, this is unquestionably a pre-Crisis Superman story (Crisis on Infinite Earths reached the halfway mark the same month “The Jungle Line” was published). Moore proves himself thoroughly literate in Silver/Bronze Age Superman lore by referencing obscure bits of Kryptoniana (in this case the Scarlet Jungles of Krypton, which had been kicking around the margins since the ’50s). Moore’s love of obscure Super-history is something we’ll see again in “For The Man Who Has Everything” and “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow.”

    “The Jungle Line” is collected in DC Universe by Alan Moore (available through Amazon here) and would fit in chronologically roughly between Swamp Thing #39 and #40 if you’re going by publication order, although it isn’t reprinted in any of the actual Swamp Thing volumes. It doesn’t matter, though. You don’t need any prior knowledge of Moore’s ongoing Swamp Thing series in order to appreciate this. It’s admittedly the weakest of the Moore Superman tales and doesn’t approach the weirdness Moore and Veitch were delivering in Swampy’s solo title.

    Side Note: Can anyone tell me who the astronomer who does the necessary scientific exposition on page 3 of this story is supposed to be? He’s identified as “Dr. Everett,” but Veitch/Williamson draw him like he’s supposed to be someone a reader would recognize. If you have some insight, drop me a line in the comments or on Twitter, and I’ll update this story.

    “For The Man Who Has Everything”

    Superman Annual #11 (1985)

    If the creative team of “The Jungle Line” didn’t kick your ass, then the team behind Watchmen should do the trick. Dave Gibbons steps in for art duties on this one, a solid year before the ultimate Moore/Gibbons story, Watchmen, would arrive in June of 1986.

    This one is really the main event for this article. “For The Man Who Has Everything” is one of the finest Superman stories ever told, one of the most perfectly crafted superhero stories in DC Comics history, and one of the best stories Moore ever put his name on. 

    You have to consider when “For The Man Who Has Everything” was published in order to fully appreciate its impact. With the occasional exception, the Superman comics of the early 1980s were extraordinarily pedestrian affairs, so “For The Man Who Has Everything” surely stood out from its peers. But even for today’s more demanding readers, and in an industry that has spent the past thirty years chasing its tail looking for the next Watchmen, if “For The Man Who Has Everything” were published today, it would still hit with the force of a Kryptonian haymaker. 

    The story plays loosely with the “imaginary story” device that was popular in the Superman titles from the 1950s through the early 1980s. Simply put, they were “what if” tales with no place in continuity, often dealing with hypotheticals like “The Story of Superman Red and Superman Blue” or the original “Death of Superman” (the one that had nothing at all to do with Doomsday). 

    But Moore and Gibbons chose not to simply tell a “what if Krypton never exploded” tale, which would have still allowed them plenty of opportunity to play around with the darker take on a hypothetical Kryptonian present. Instead, their story of a Krypton that survived and a Kal-El who lived his life on it is happening only in Superman’s imagination, while a very real battle involving Wonder Woman, Batman, and Robin rages around him, with his very life at stake.

    As he did in “The Jungle Line,” Superman once again finds himself a victim of alien plant life. The issue’s villain, Mongul (who had famously tangled with Superman a handful of times in the pages of DC Comics Presents), describes the Black Mercy as “something between a plant and an intelligent fungus” which “attaches itself to its victims in a form of symbiosis, feeding from their bio-aura.” The telepathic plant “reads them like a book, and…feeds them a logical simulation of the happy ending they desire.” It shouldn’t be fatal, but why would you fight a parasite that gives you a convincing illusion of your heart’s desire?

    further reading: Why Kevin Smith’s Superman Lives Was Ahead of Its Time

    Superman’s fondest wish is, of course, a Krypton that was never destroyed, and where he has lived twenty-something years of his life and raised a family of his own. Perhaps in a sign that he subconsciously suspects something is wrong, this “dream” life isn’t free of complications. His mother, Lara, died of “the eating sickness,” while his father, Jor-El, was disgraced after his predictions about Krypton’s end failed to come to pass. As a result, Jor-El is courting religious and cultural extremists who have taken root on Krypton, while Kryptonian citizens decide to take out their frustrations with the House of El by beating Kara Zor-El (who only actually appears in one panel of the story) nearly to death.

    “For the Man Who Has Everything” once again takes Superman off the board as an action hero for the majority of the issue, as he’s trapped in a fantasy world created by the Black Mercy. But Superman doesn’t need to hit stuff in order to solve his problems, and he begins to shake off the effects of the Black Mercy once he realizes that this world can’t be real. It’s heartbreaking when it happens, though…

    Superman woke up from his bad fungus trip in “The Jungle Line” feeling like he had conquered an inner demon (unaware that he was assisted by Swamp Thing), perhaps spiritually refreshed in the way that experimentation with certain psychoactive substances has been known to affect people.

    Here, he wakes up righteously pissed off, and with good reason. He just lived about 25 years in his head and raised two children there. Waking up to find they aren’t real, ummmm…he doesn’t take it very well.

    Quick note: Dave Gibbons also did the lettering for this issue, which gives us such unforgettable onomatopoeia as “THRUTCH” and the above “SSSHIZZZZZIIT” 

    While the idea of Superman basically losing his shit on Mongul like this may seem like old hat to people who just expect their Kryptonians to behave like video game protagonists most of the time, it’s really much more effective when it only happens rarely. When written properly, Superman, even in action, is a calm, level-headed guy who uses violence as a last resort. He’s got a long fuse, but when it goes off, well…”burn.” 

    Moore and Gibbons effortlessly weave references to Kryptonian history throughout the story, including a quick mention of Fort Rozz, which was also made famous on the Supergirl TV series. And right on the first page, there’s a sideways reference to Moore’s previous Superman story, which was published exactly two weeks earlier than Superman Annual #11. As an exhausted Kal-El returns home, he contemplates reading his children “another Scarlet Jungle story before bed.” Maybe that story is a variation on “The Jungle Line” and this is a manifestation of Supes’ unconscious from his previous adventure.

    While its basic elements and structure are timeless, “For The Man Who Has Everything” is a story that really does work best within this particular era of Superman. Superman isn’t just a hero to Earth, he’s an intergalacticaly recognized figure. The Black Mercy gets to him because he just assumes it’s a birthday gift from some alien civilization he has helped out on one of his countless adventures. Saving worlds, even alien worlds, is just a day at the office for this Superman. The kind of inner turmoil that nearly 30 years lived inside his mind that the Black Mercy gives him is something else entirely. The story gives us a wonderful contrast between Superman as a physical, interstellar man of action, and the mortal, human soul that lies within.

    further reading: Every Superman and DC Comics Reference in Man of Steel

    While Superman is obviously the central character here, the rest of DC’s Trinity shouldn’t be ignored, either. Dave Gibbons draws perfect renditions of Wonder Woman, Batman, and Robin. Batman is a suitably aloof, analytical “Mr. Spock” for the tale, but far from the brooding paranoiac we’ve come to expect in recent years. Wonder Woman is given not one, but two fist-pumpingly badass moments, since she’s the only one in the Fortress with the raw power to stand up to Mongul. She’s as comfortable with her demigod status and has a worldly, almost laid back personality that I don’t believe was really a factor in 1985. It’s somewhat fitting, too, that the Watchmen creators chose Robin, the least powerful of the bunch, to ultimately defeat Mongul. 

    Take a brief moment and imagine an alternate universe where Moore and Gibbons didn’t take on Watchmen in 1986, but rather spent a year or so as the creative team on Superman or Action Comics. Holy moley, that would have been something.

    “For The Man Who Has Everything” was also adapted as an episode of Justice League Unlimited., and somewhat more loosely as an episode of Supergirl. It’s a shame that we’ll never see anyone with the guts to try and do this as a movie

    You can find “For The Man Who Has Everything” in DC Universe Stories by Alan Moore

    A note about Superman’s birthday.

    “For The Man Who Has Everything” contains what I believe is the first mention of Superman’s birthday falling on February 29th  (if I’m wrong, yell at me in the comments), traditionally known as Leap Day. It’s unknown whether this was a sly reference to Superman being “able to leap tall buildings in a single bound,” an editorial mandate, or Moore/Gibbons playing with the idea that if Superman only has a birthday every four years, it explains why the guy still fits into the same tights he did back in 1938. The February 29th date was utilized for Superman’s 50th anniversary celebrations in 1988, too.

    But Supes has had several birthdays established. For one thing, Clark Kent’s birthday would always be the date the Kents found baby Kal-El in a rocket. Geoff Johns and Gary Frank’s Superman: Secret Origin put Clark Kent’s birthday on December 1st. What Kal-El’s actual Kryptonian birthday would be in relation to Earth’s own trip around the sun is only relevant if you want it to be, but some accounts place it in October while others put it on June 18th (coincidentally, that’s the birthday of the first actor to portray Superman, the great Bud Collyer). Action Comics #1 has a June, 1938 cover date, but probably actually hit newsstands in late February of 1938. There was no February 29th in 1938, though.

    Alright, I spent way too much time on that. We’ve got one more story to get to…

    “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?” 

    Superman #423 and Action Comics #583 (1986)

    I’m going to tread lightly here, but it has to be said: “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow” is a great Superman story, but it’s no “For The Man Who Has Everything.” Just a word of warning…it’s impossible to talk about this one without spoilers, too, but I’m trying my damndest to keep this light on those. No matter what, as with “For The Man Who Has Everything,” you should absolutely read this comic.

    This story marks the official “end” of the Silver/Bronze Age Superman, as well as Julius Schwartz’s 15-year tenure as editor on the Superman titles. The decision to treat the final issues of Superman and Action Comics before John Byrne’s Man of Steel reboot (the word used at the time was “revamp” because there was no such word as “reboot”) as if they were actually the final Superman stories was a brilliant one, and it’s difficult to imagine anything this ballsy ever being allowed by DC’s corporate masters ever again.

    Schwartz wanted to get Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel to write the final story (Siegel was also the author of one of the finest Superman “imaginary stories” of all time, 1961’s “The Death of Superman”), but he was unavailable. Over breakfast with Alan Moore, Schwartz casually mentioned his plan and was told “if you let anybody but me write that story, I’ll kill you.” Have you ever seen Alan Moore? I’d take that seriously, too. Schwartz felt the same way. “Since I didn’t want to be an accessory to my own murder,” he recalled, “I agreed.” Perhaps in a final attempt to hedge their bets, the tale is billed as one of those famous “Imaginary Stories” but it’s ultimately up to the reader to decide whether it suits their needs. 

    Moore is paired not with a Watchmen or Swamp Thing artistic collaborator this time around, but Curt Swan. Swan is unquestionably the Superman artist of the Bronze Age, and he is indelibly associated with this era of the character. There is something almost jarring to seeing Alan Moore helping to steer “traditional” Curt Swan Superman illustrations down a darker path, but really, nobody else should have been allowed to draw this story. It all helps with the illusion that this is indeed the abrupt end of Superman’s nearly 50-year publication history.

    But there’s something aggressively downbeat about the proceedings, and it’s far from the triumphant sendoff that one might expect (for a more optimistic look at what Superman’s final days might look like, you can and absolutely should seek out Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s All-Star Superman). Nearly every important piece of Superman’s supporting cast makes an appearance in these 48 pages, and it doesn’t turn out well for the vast majority of them. Superman breaks down and weeps at one point after a masterful piece of emotional manipulation by the creative team that is equally as effective on the reader. 

    further reading: The JJ Abrams Superman Movie You Never Saw

    Even a formerly comedic character like Bizarro gets a chilling makeover, while the new, aggressively cybernetic Brainiac/Luthor team is an effective, if subtle, piece of genuine (if Comics Code approved) body horror. It’s not something you would normally see come from Curt Swan’s pencil, which makes these moments even more effective than they might have been from a Rick Veitch or a Dave Gibbons. Superman does take a life in this story, and this story has found itself cited in wrongheaded “See? Superman does kill sometimes, bro” defenses. It’s no accident what he does, to be certain, but his self-imposed penalty is a suitable consequence.

    There are a handful of parallels to Watchmen worth noting, too. There’s the weight of decades of superhero adventures that the reader may or may not be privy to, and a creeping sense of middle age dread and inevitability informing our hero’s actions. The ending reveals Lois Lane and her disguised/retired husband living a life of domestic bliss a decade removed from the events of the story. This faintly recalls Night Owl and Silk Spectre’s future from the conclusion of Watchmen, while Clark’s decision to become a mechanic in his post-superhero career is reminiscent of how the Golden Age Night Owl spent his retirement in Watchmen, as well. These might be coincidental, especially since the final issue of Watchmen wouldn’t see the light of day until well over a year after this story.

    But as any Superman story should, it ends on a hopeful note…and with a wink. “Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow” is available in a deluxe edition, or you can just (say it with me) get it in DC Universe Stories by Alan Moore.

    It has been said that Mike Cecchini spends too much time thinking about Superman stories. Worship Rao with him on Twitter.

    From: https://www.denofgeek.com/us/books/superman/252667/for-the-man-who-has-everything-the-superman-stories-of-alan-moore

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