Showing posts with label superman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label superman. Show all posts

Monday, March 23, 2015

When Little Kids Wear the "S" and do it better than anything in the comics

Today this video made it across my path via social media.  It's a video about a kid in Detroit who has started a charity that provides food, clothing and necessary articles to the people of his city.  He's a kid who puts on a cape and the Superman "S" when he's at work.  The adults (and kids) who are helping him are similarly decked out in Superman gear, an easy and inexpensive get these days.

The video was part of a recent student film festival at the White House.  The video is short and it's worth a view.



Unrelated, these little girls were part of the Science Fair at the White House.



Here's what's on the White House website about why the girls are there.

Emily Bergenroth, Alicia Cutter, Karissa Cheng, Addy Oneal, and Emery Dodson, 6 (Tulsa, OK)After chatting with their school librarian, the “Supergirls” Junior FIRST Lego League Team from Daisy Girl Scouts’ troop 411 discovered that some people have disabilities that make it difficult to turn the pages of a book. They came up with the concept of a battery-powered page turner that could turn pages for people who are paralyzed or have arthritis. The Supergirls sketched out a design concept and culled through motorized Lego components and gears to figure out how to build a working prototype. They discovered that the friction from rubber Lego tires could be used to lift and turn the pages of a book. They honed the device with a second motorized component that forces pages to lay flat after being turned over. The Supergirls’ creation was selected by the statewide FIRST program director to be the only project exhibited at an educational conference for librarians and educators in the region.


These are some amazing kids, and I think it's not a mistake that their parents and families, no doubt a bit insulated from the fact that DC Comics has launched a "New 52" (that even now they're backing away from) wanted to put the capes and the shield on these kids.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Imaginary EIC Hat - Rules I'd Implement for Superhero Comics



If you've read comics for any length of time, there are tricks and tropes and storylines we've all seen, and worst and best practices for superhero comics.

Sometimes the worst practice stuff seems to get followed because things happen in the fog of trying to put a monthly comic out in a timely fashion, sometimes it's because you can tell the new writer hasn't done any homework prior to coming on and the editor appears to have a laissez-faire attitude regarding what their writers are doing, and more often than I care to admit, I look at comments online and am shocked by how many people really like the worst-practice stuff and are willing to say so out-loud.

I've considered a few things I find grating overall, considered their impact, and how often these could be used and still feel like, perhaps familiar ideas after a while, but to help keep them a little fresh or maintain their impact, we've given a rate for how often they can be used.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

In which we consider DC's June post "Convergence" shake-up and new costumes

Sigh.

I kind of want to be out of the business of thinking about DC's moves as a company, because it's equal parts equally unsatisfying and depressing.

In case you missed the interview with Co-Publishers Dan Didio and Jim Lee that was featured at places like Comic Book Resources yesterday, they're basically moving forward by going back to not tying every book in the DC line to superhero mainline continuity.  As comics were up through the 1980's, DC and Marvel surely put out Superman and Spider-Man, but we didn't need to worry how that fit in with Teen-Age Romance Comics or Katy Keene In Love or whatever made up title I just made-up.

And DC is going back to - maybe not putting out Teen-Age Romance Comics - but they are saying "not everything here is in the main DCU, so quit worrying about that".

Jim Lee, who I am pretty sure has no idea what an actual buyer of comics looks like or thinks, was quick to tell his core audience that we're mistaken for wanting continuity to work in an ongoing serial.  And we were also mistaken for expecting both the New 52 to make sense and the five year time jump to hold together after DC said "it all makes sense, we'll show you" and then absolutely did not do so.

Now, all of this is coming on the heels of Convergence, which is a munging of the DC Multiverse, and because it's been a few years, I think we all needed to expect Didio was going to once again reboot the DCU.  They're not saying that, but they are absolutely saying that the characters will have new, unheard of status quos.  So, practically speaking, a rejigger if not a reboot.

So, let's review the images for the solicitation copy, shall we?


Friday, March 6, 2015

new Supergirl costume is fairly Supergirl-riffic

this is it, there's no turning back now

Sometime in the next several months, CBS is slated to bring Supergirl to the small screen.  Look, I'm a Helen Slater guy from way back, a casting decision I will always support even if Supergirl, as a movie, has... complications.

In the comics, I'm really a fan of only a few eras of Supergirl, if by Supergirl you mean Kara Zor-El and not Cir-El, Matrix/ Mae or Linda Danvers (but, look, I will always support Linda Danvers, and I'm irritated she's mostly forgotten, because today's fangirl community would love her as some sort of Supergirl).

Straight up, I'm a Silver-Bronze Age Kara Zor-El fan when she was portrayed as bright, perhaps naive, but eternally optimistic teen and college kid.  With a flying cat and horse that she sometimes dated.*  If Supergirl isn't trying to see the best in everyone and trying to save the day while she basically fights with identity issues Clark Kent doesn't spend too much time pondering, she isn't really Supergirl.

real Supergirl is perky as all living hell

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Superman 38 and the Geoff Johns/ John Romita Jr. run

So, Superman #38 has been out for a week or so, and it's been generating some news in comic book land.

Superman got his buffalo wings "super spicy"


To date, this feels like the only successful run on the New 52 Superman title from DC Comics.  The title has struggled since George Perez more or less disavowed the 6-issue run bearing his name during the New 52 launch, and once Scott Lobdell came on, I gave it an issue or three and then did the unthinkable.  I actually dropped Superman.

Lobdell is my second least favorite writer to ever take on Superman, with Chuck Austen's mind-blowingly terrible work on the character and world of Metropolis front and center.  So, to get everyone up to speed, I've basically lost track of what was happening in the Superman titles for a good long while as they crossed-over with Supergirl and Superboy (a pair of books I couldn't stand within two issues of the New 52 launch), and then the Superman line launched in to the astoundingly poorly executed Doomsday-Virus hoo-har, which I kind of read, but, sheesh.

So, in a lot of ways, Geoff Johns coming on Superman brought me back to not just to that title, but to doing more than flipping through Action Comics and saying "yup.  okay.  That's what they're doing, then."

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Smallville Man

Gerry and Randy were kind enough to each send me this video today.  It's a short, animated fan-film that does a great job of communicating what makes Superman tick.  Rather than weigh you down with a pre-amble, I suggest you go ahead and check it out.



As simple as such a film may be, it's shocking how difficult this sort of portrayal of Superman has become over the past two decades, be it in comics or movies or ten seasons of TV.


Monday, January 5, 2015

So, What Have I Been Up To? Me and Comics Since June 2013

I really don't know how to write this post, because, if you've been following me for any length of time - and, in particular, if you've been here because of comics, this is where I disappoint you.

I am no longer a "read 20 comics per week" kind of guy.  I'm more of a "I'll knock through a trade once a week or so" kind of guy.  My comics reading and collecting was changing before this site was frozen in carbonite, and it's continued to mutate.

y'all buckle in, because it's about to get pedantic and ornery up in here

I kind of quit trying to keep up with Marvel as a universe around Secret Invasion, which was several years ago now.  I've tried to keep up here and there with Captain America and a few other titles, but Marvel's insistence on the cross-over stunt has made that exceptionally difficult.  Pair that with the fact I read Marvel in trade collections rather than floppies or digital comics, and their "all new #1's all the time" marketing strategy, and I literally gave up trying to understand what was happening at Marvel as a Universe.  But I will be picking up some of the Star Wars books for a few months and see how I like a Marvelized Star Wars U.

DC and the New 52 kind of sent me screaming.   The quality of DC hasn't really improved much over the past two years, and it was in the basement with the launch of the New 52.  I recently read that by Spring, DC will have canceled 60 titles since the launch of the New 52, which is an indication that I'm not crazy to think they have some problems and maybe they aren't serving their audience very well.

In the past year, it's safe to say my habit of reading comics has greatly reduced.  At least the reading of new comics.  When I do buy floppies, I collect them for a couple months and read a few at a time, unless it's something that's self-contained.  And I'll talk about what I'm buying as floppies, which isn't much.

The other day I mentioned that I've recently also sold off a huge portion of my collection.  Well over half my stuff has been dispensed with since August, something like 15-20 boxes (short and long), something like 4-5000 comics.  I've also sold a huge number of my action figures, graphic novels and other items.

And - you know - I don't miss them.  I have more than a room full of great stuff that I like and feel like showing off from time to time, and it's a lot more focused than it once was.

So What Happened?

Monday, June 17, 2013

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Official Signal Watch TL; DR "Man of Steel" Discussion

I went to the midnight show of Man of Steel and returned home in the wee hours.  I left kind of a rambling initial reaction here.  I went to work, I came home.  I've seen the movie again (in 3D IMAX with Simon, Angela and Jamie), and I've had time to process the film much, much more.

And, since that first post, I've spent a lot of time thinking about how to approach commentary on the movie.  As this will be one of my final posts going into hiatus, we might as well talk about this movie as the intersection between the two major topics of this blog: film and Superman.



Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Tour of the Signal Watch Fortress of Solitude

I saw online some folks were doing tours of their Superman collections. Well, it seemed like a SUPER idea to participate.

My Fortress is in disarray at the moment as I'm currently consolidating my collection and removing large portions of it.  I'm going to humblebrag and note that what you see here is only part of what I had on display until recently.  I'm really winnowing it down to Superman and Wonder Woman these days.

I started collecting Superman stuff in college, and I don't have much in the way of vintage. So the collection takes you from the late 90's til now, I guess.


your entry from the hallway to the Fortress

Friday, June 14, 2013

"Superman: Unchained #1" Review

This comic was $5.  Five dollars.  Five hundred pennies.  Half of ten dollars.  It is worth roughly $2.25, on a very good day.

I'm realizing how spoiled I've gotten by reading $1 online comics from folks like MonkeyBrain.

Jim Lee likes to draw Superman sort of hunched over.  I don't really know why.  He also likes to draw his head sort of unusually small.  Also, as Co-Publisher of DC Comics he can apparently greenlight the single dumbest, least narratively driven, least impressive, most expensive fold out insert in a comic.  Ever.

I really needed a huge image of space debris to tell the story.  Thanks.

"Man of Steel" has now been witnessed

Well, yup.  It's 3:10ish in the AM and I am home.  Just saw Man of Steel with Kevin and Juan.



spoilers below


Monday, June 10, 2013

Supermarathon: All-Star Superman

Thanks to what's looking to be a busy week, this is the last installment of the Supermarathon as I'm booked pretty solid until Thursday night.  I hope I did us proud.

All-Star Superman adapts the 12 issue series that ran unevenly for years back when DC was playing havoc with schedules and you never really knew when a comic was coming out.  The art and story were worth it, and both were savaged at the time of the series' start, with the usual complaints about Morrison's writing drawing confusion and fans of the Jim Lee or Kubert school of illustration baffled by the stylized work of Frank Quitely.

You can view the film at Netflix Streaming.

No sooner than the series ended than word leaked that this comic was truly something unique, and - in what I've since come to simply expect when it comes to Superman - be it this comic or early reactions to Man of Steel, its fascinating to see the audience react to the core of the character and ask "why isn't the character usually like this?" or "where did this come from?" to ideas that were 40-50 years old at the time of the comic's publication.



That said, it took Morrison's storytelling and the voice he imbued in Superman and Luthor to make the series shine.  And, I'd argue, it took the clear, concise, character-driven storytelling of Dwayne McDuffie to take the comic and turn it into a movie that works despite the strange, episodic nature of the narrative.

For those who haven't read the comic, I won't bore you with what was cut to make the movie.  The DC Animation team managed to keep most of the story in place to keep the relevant bits intact and maintain the core of the story, even if its heart-breaking to know what might have been.  They also managed to keep much of the look of the comic, something I thought impossible, even if the 16x9 dimensions occasionally lose the impact of Quitely's page design.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Supermarathon! Superman II - The Richard Donner Cut

For a long time a few things were known about the production of Superman II.  

1.  Originally the first film and the second were shot together and were more of a piece.  However, the movies were split up into two films and portions of the story from what became Superman II were used in Superman: The Movie.  
2.  Director Richard Donner was fired from Superman II and director Richard Lester was brought onboard. Lester reshot large parts of the movie to ensure his credit for the movie.  He had a different approach from Donner, and insisted on a wackier tone.  
3.  Gene Hackman basically didn't return for Superman II's reshoots, and Marlon Brando's portions were cut from the film.

While you likely didn't notice it much as a kid, and were able to give over a lot to superhero logic, Superman II may have the exciting supervillain fight, but it's tonally all over the place and the plot sometimes feels held together by bubble gum and tape.  

It's difficult to know exactly what Richard Donner originally intended and what he would have left in back in 1980 or so, as some scenes are deeply cut from the theatrical release, especially trimmed for hammy comedy which can sometimes feel a bit burdensome in the version that's more familiar.  But this version feels superior from a storytelling standpoint in so many ways that its hard not to want to see it as the "real" version, much as I consider the extended cut of Superman: The Movie as the official version and don't really bother with the original cut anymore.  

Firstly, you can tell everyone is still feeling all right in this movie, that the reshoots and time on the set hasn't taken its toll.  Reeve is buff, his hair in place and I don't think we get the pit stains.  Margot Kidder, especially, still seems on, is always well lit, her hair seemingly professionally done, etc...  And the cinematography seems better by leaps and bounds.  

While the "big city gal fads" of the theatrical release provide some color, watching Lois squeeze orange juice is kind of a half-gag, and it's not missed in this version.  

Also, the reveal of Clark Kent to Lois that he is Superman works terrifically better from a storytelling perspective than expecting that Superman would trip over a rug.  Despite the fact the footage used is from audition film, it feels terrifically stronger from a story telling standpoint.  I suspect that the scene would have only improved if Donner had managed to get it in front of the actual cameras.  

What really seals the deal is the continuation of the father/ son story between Jor-El and Superman, and what each continues to receive from the other as, even in death, Jor-El gives the last of what he is over to his son.  The cheesy appearance of Lara in the theatrical cut and the awkward transition from Superman to the white collared-shirted Clark doesn't occur and continuity feels much more intact.  

And the Phantom Zone villains feel genuinely more menacing under Donner's direction and oversight.  

In short, if you've never seen this cut, I highly recommend revisiting the movie through this version.

Superman: The Happiest Fella?

Just up here in space, smiling at nobody

There have been a lot of posts (hi, Max!) and articles by longtime Superman fans regarding the to-date seemingly somber tone of the new Superman film, Man of Steel.

Folks are worried about a "grim'n'gritty" Superman versus the cheerful fellow who takes delight in his powers that you've seen since Superman's first appearance in Action Comics #1.  That imagery has been a part of the "discovery" part of the story for Superman in one form or another in all sorts of representations, from Superboy comics, to the animated series, to Superman Returns and Superman: The Movie where we see a young Clark Kent running faster than a freight train and beating Brad and the gang back past the Kent homestead.  And, of course, the absolutely terrific "reveal" sequence when Superman saves Lois and then runs around Metropolis saving the day.

Probably the most joyful you're likely to see Superman is in Superman: The Movie after The Man of Steel first appears and then flies around Metropolis performing super good deeds.

In fact, I've gone on record as saying that the key to my understanding of Superman in many ways is the moment wherein he saves Lois, reminds her of the relative safety of air travel, and then turns around and lets loose with this huge grin before flying away:

"Man, I wish she'd fall out of a helicopter EVERY day!"

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Amazing color footage of Superman Day at 1939 World's Fair!

This is really remarkable. All those kids in Superman shirts! It's hard to imagine, this was just about 1 year after Superman debuted in the comics and already the character was a hit with the masses.

You can see DC publisher Harry Donenfeld riding an elephant, Jack Liebowitz and MC Gaines, and Jerry Siegel. I half think the woman at the end might be Siegel's first wife, but I'm not sure.



I've read about so many of these people over the years, it's wild to see them in living color.

This is all before DC really settled on the looks of Superman "S" shiefd, as evidenced by the costume and the kids' shirts.

I'm always amazed to see footage like this, candid shots of folks on the street, to see what people actually looked like and how they dressed, rather than relying on the soft filter of the Hollywood lens.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Supermarathon! Superman Returns

I've already written plenty on this movie over the past 7 years.  I mean, a lot.  Leading up to the movie, I did a whole "Summer of Superman" theme, and it was sort of a thing.  I even got re-blogged by Pop Candy at USA Today thanks to our own JimD.

I won't deluge you with all the links where the movie got a mention, but here are a few.  I'm not proud of some of this.

The first blush comments

When the press (that had oddly really been pulling for this movie to fail) started reporting with glee that there would be no sequel and I got a little pissy

Watching the movie again about 5 months later

And then in November when I watched the movie during my "let's review everything in 2012" deal

I don't think my opinions or feelings have changed much since that viewing in November 2012.  Superman Returns is a strange movie.  Beautifully shot, amazing art and set design, and it really swung for the fences when it came to subtext and layering.  But given public opinion and some wonky bits, it's a mixed bag.




Monday, May 27, 2013

Supermarathon! 50th Anniversary TV Special

A bonus feature in some of the various Superman DVD and BluRay box sets, the Superman 50th Anniversary Special is kind of must-see Superman TV from an era when adults were all kind of patronizing jerks about Superman.  Except for Hal Holbrook.

I recall Superman's 50th Anniversary mostly thanks to the terrific Time Magazine cover on a week during which nothing else must have been happening in the world.


What's most amazing about the special is the amazing array of talent that was known at the time, and the talent that shows up in supporting roles.

The show is presented as a sort of retrospective on the career of Superman as if he were real and Dana Carvey is your celebrity host for the walkthrough of Superman's life.  There are man-on-the-street interviews cut in, which seem as if they really asked people questions about Superman and used what they said.  It's pretty good stuff.  Others are clearly actors, and there are some sort of mini-skits thrown in for good measure, along with footage from cartoons, serials, The Adventures of Superman and the Superman movies.