Thursday, February 1, 2018

Changing of the Guard on "Action Comics" and "Superman"



So, it's weird that Forbes.com is where DC announced that Brian Michael Bendis is taking over both of the main Superman titles, right?

I mean - just that tidbit alone is probably worth a full blog post about comics vaulting their way into mainstream culture and something something what is happening at Forbes.com which is supposed to be a business and economics interest site?

It's also weird that Bendis is taking over *both* Superman and Action Comics, right?  I mean... he's just getting to DC.  You'd think he'd want to putter on a couple of diverse titles or something, get his feet wet... but, nope.  Both bi-weekly Superman titles.  (One expects we'll continue to get Supergirl, Super Sons, New Superman, and Superwoman...  or something.)

And while I am more than game for Bendis on one or both titles, or some Super-title, I am also a bit crushed to be losing Dan Jurgens on Action Comics and Tomasi & Gleason on Superman.  They've put so much love and effort and imagination into those comics the past 18 months or so, I genuinely wish they'd spin up Man of Steel and Adventures of Superman again and just keep giving us more Superman.


At least I can say this... they're leaving me wanting more, and that's when you always want to exit the stage.

If you've not been reading the Super-titles (for shaaaaame), nothing about them sounds like it should work.  And there has been all sorts of things they've had to correct and tap back into place since Rebirth.  And I am sure, one day, we'll actually learn what was going on at DC during the past two years, and what production was like on semi-monthly books that were clearly getting banged around with some interference from editorial.  But they managed to tell stories that were fun, exciting, had real emotion... and they did it with a new settings and new situation for Superman - not just married, but a father.  Something that was supposed to make Superman boring, instead made the character as vital as he'd been in years.

So, sure... let's all enjoy what's to come, but hats off to the artists (special shout outs to Patch Zircher and Doug Mahnke), writers and all the talent on these books who made it happen.   Here's to hoping we see you back in Metropolis soon.


7 comments:

Stuart Ward said...

Everyone seems positive on this, so I don't want to be the lone voice of dissent. Or more accurately the lone voice of ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Maybe it was the fifth or sixth reboot in the last fifteen years that just permanently hobbled my ability to look forward to anything Superman-related.

Bendis is good though. I ended up loving Ultimate Spider-Man, even though it looked liked Spider-Man by way of Poochie the Dog when it was announced. So, that's a good sign. But I've seen so many good signs squandered. I'd rather be pleasantly surprised than disappointed again.

Ryan Steans said...

Man, I know you watch these books as closely as I do - and I share your concern about another big change. Especially when the entire 2-years-plus (depending on how you want to count the "Lois & Clark" series and death of New 52 Superman) has been about change. Not the least of which was a major change within the change during that Superman Reborn arc.

If you saw me asking why Bendis was heading straight for Superman, it's how I'm expressing my anxiety about both the possibility for *more* change - especially from someone who doesn't have a lot of grounding in DC at the time, he's just a big-name writer. This approach has gone very, very wrong before. And seeing a generic looking alien looming over the destruction of Krypton just says "Superman: Earth One" to me, and that book was a mediocrity. You don't need to add aliens into what happened there.

I loved Bendis on Daredevil and Alias. He's done plenty of stuff I've enjoyed, including Ultimate Spider-Man and his Jinx/ Torso-era work. But he's not someone I've followed for a decade. So... man, I don't even know. I do know I liked what was happening, so it's disappointing that's changing because DC went star-poaching.

Stuart Ward said...

Superman's origin is like the suit. It went through a few minor adjustments before settling on THE ONE that held steady for decades. Since they've tried to tinker with it, there have been so many variations I've lost count. What does that tell you about the effectiveness of those changes?

The destruction of Krypton is a crucial pillar of the story, for sure. But the number of failed attempts to recontextualize it as something that has some new/special meaning or resonance to Clark becoming Superman tells me that that is a DEAD END, creatively.

Just tell good stories. We can pick up implications to your new take from context and the occasional flashback. I'm so incredibly tired of Year One Syndrome.

Ryan Steans said...

The sliver of the audience the "and now we're retelling the origin with stuff that's all new" works for has to be only people who've been into comics for, like, a year. There's so much stuff out there now in trades and collections just running into the same stuff over and over. And, yeah, the constant re-visiting of Batman's Year One and Wayne family history is part of why I stopped picking up Batman comics six years ago and never looked back.

When Byrne rebooted in the 80's, it was sort of a first, right? I mean, if you ignore Superman and his cast continually travelling through time and failing to stop Krypton's explosions, falling in love with doomed Kryptonians, etc... And that reboot seemed like Byrne solidifying both the Movie origin and trying to get around the fact that Superman is technically an illegal alien. I have mixed feelings about all the Kryptonian back story of the Post-COIE DCU. I wasn't reading the comics yet, so I read it all as trades later and wasn't overly invested. But even when Waid put out the really-pretty-good "Birthright", I was scratching my head. And it seems like it's been a bi-annual thing ever since.

I mean, Morrison was right. It's something you can tell in four panels w/ four choppy sentences. And that's all it should ever be.

Stuart Ward said...

Well, I don't know about that's all it *should* ever be. There are a lot of Superman origin stories I enjoy. What they tend to have in common though is that they're authored by creators who've already been working with and shaping the character for several years, as a way of looking back and solidifying what we've already come to know. They're extended Easter Eggs. A Bonus Feature to the real story, not its foundation and opening act.

I wonder if this idea that every time a new creator comes on board to push a new vision, they have to start again from scratch is attributable to the gravitas added by the sweeping nature of Superman: The Movie.

I like Byrne's Man of Steel. It has value in providing for the first time a believable motivation for Clark to become Superman**. BUT if someone's asking me, okay, but which one is the REAL story, in your head, if I'm going to choose one to introduce to my kids, I would almost every time go back to "The Origin of Superman" included in the 1973 prestige format The Amazing World of Superman.

**Assuming that is a puzzle to be solved at all could be read as a sign of the changing times and the place these charaters have in our culture, however.

Ryan Steans said...

I guess by "all it ever should be" - I mean - hey, let's not find out some secret alien was lurking in the shadows and secretly blew up Krypton. There's a point and poetry to Krypton allowing itself to be destroyed. Even the Animated Series Brainiac stuff at least all fit in with the hubris of Krypton.

Man, I have no idea why we always have to not just see the origin, but get it reframed. Part of me (most of me) thinks most writers just don't keep up with Superman so the have no idea how many times they've touched the origin, and other folks like Waid were given a chance to do it and couldn't help themselves.

I'm more or less good with the The Movie, Byrne, Golden/ Silver Age, etc... But I confess I think they tortured some of the Krypton stuff in Post-COIE. But, whatever. I suppose in a post-Nu52/ Rebirth era we need another "Secret Origin"/ "Man of Steel"/ "Birthright" to set the table. Maybe.

God, I'm old.

Stuart Ward said...

"There's a point and poetry to Krypton allowing itself to be destroyed."

Thumbs-up into infinity