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

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Belated Birthday to Noel Neill, Our Lois Lane!

Technically, Jamie is Our Lois Lane, and I hate to play favorites when it comes to the great talent that has come to the role in radio, movies and television.  But I'd be lying if I didn't admit to tremendous affection for actress Noel Neill in her role as Lois Lane in The Adventures of Superman, and her affiliation with Superman as a character in other ways.

November 25th marked Neill's 95th, and we want to wish her a very happy belated birthday.

Ms. Neill was not in the first season of The Adventures of Superman when the role was played by actress Phyllis Coates.  She arrived in Season 2, and brought her own spark to the part.

She had practice!  Neill also played Lois in the 1948 Superman serials starring Kirk Alyn as The Man of Steel.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

On Current Political Situations

Ads like this used to run in Superman comics quite often in post-WWII America.

And, you know, lil' Kal-El was a refugee, too.

Thanks to SW for the image.

Update - I am told this is from World’s Finest #111, which would be about August 1960
Script: Jack Schiff
Pencils: Curt Swan

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Comic Collector's Corner: On the Accumulation of Things and When Your Comics Own You

One benefit of being a state employee is the accumulation of vacation days.  I basically earn enough vacation that "banking" vacation isn't really something I worry about.  Now, finding time to take days off - that's another problem.  But, way back in July or so, I asked my boss for days off in November.

I took a few days before the weekend and two more after.  I spent Day 1 (a) working, anyway, but on my sofa, and (b) realizing I was actually pretty tired, and so I just sat there.  But on Day 2, I got going on the project I was home for - dealing with my comic collection for the first time since the beginning of The Great Culling, a year-long period during which something like 20 boxes, long and short, went out the door and became dispersed into the back-issue bins of Austin Books and Comics.*

Last summer I had some long talks with Stuart about the nature of collecting, aging into a point where you realize you might not need this stuff anymore, etc... all while standing in the middle of the Hollywood Museum in Metropolis, Illinois.  Stuart's a bit ahead of the curve from me on this.  He's got stuff, but he's divested a good chunk of his comics, etc.. which I feel I've made progress on, but it's an imperfect system.

Purchasing far, far fewer comics these days than I used to certainly expedited the process this go-round, but the idea that I had fewer comics to wrangle also made me lazy and sloppy on a day-to-day basis.  I just hadn't managed the loose comics well at all.

this comic may or may not be somewhere in my pile of comics

It would be a great thing to come to comics in the modern era.  So long as Comixology exists, the money you spend means the comic you own is really a flipped bit associated with your user profile somewhere out there in the cloud, granting you access to that digital content.  No bags and boards and boxes.  No figuring out if you remembered to inventory into that online system you pay for.  Most importantly, the piles of comics you regret purchasing wouldn't wind up as something you'd feel you still had to curate and manage (and I do throw some in the recycling.  Don't think I don't.)

After all, when you're trying things out on the regular, you get a lot of detritus in the collection.

I was probably 31 before I had the conversation with my LCS manager back in Phoenix that set me thinking a lot more strategically about actually "collecting" versus hoarding.  At the time, I was most certainly just hoarding as I was in a race to try to "get" all of DC Comics and most of Marvel, buying as many comics as I could afford.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Super Watch: Supergirl Pilot on CBS

So.  Here's where I'm the jerk who didn't like the pilot of CBS's new Supergirl TV show that everyone is so excited about.

Look, sometimes I forget just how terrible 90% of network television truly is.  It's no secret network TV has its formulas, its trope for every situation, and never met a bit of exposition it didn't like.  I get that they had to get the character introduced and get a lot of things started quickly, and in the post-Lost wake, the networks think they've learned their lesson and are absolutely terrified of not giving the audience every detail about a show in the first episode.

And I say this as someone who likes Supergirl.  A lot. I've got Action 252 hanging up in my office in a frame (please don't rob me).  I've read Silver, Bronze, 90's, 00's and even gave the trainwrecky New 52 Supergirl a shot.  I'm not a stranger to the character.  And, while I actually like the general tone of "Kimmy Schmidt as Supergirl", because I was really convinced I'd never see that take again (thank you, Sterling Gates, wherever you are, for giving me that Supergirl, oh, so briefly)...  The show is a mess.

Yes, it is a show for children and for those who don't know Supergirl, and no one is under any legal or moral obligation to maintain fidelity to the comics.  I think Marvel has proved that's all pretty unnecessary so long as you get the basic details down.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Christopher Reeve's 63rd Birthday

Today would have marked the 63rd birthday of actor and activist Christopher Reeve.

A child of the 1970's and 1980's, of course I am most familiar with Reeve from his portrayal of Superman, and I've seen the Reeve-starring Superman movies dozens of times.  I've seen a few of his other movies, such as Somewhere in Time, Village of the Damned, Noises Off..., The Remains of the Day and a few other appearances.

You forget, because of the broadness of the Superman films, but Reeve was a heck of an actor.  Just to do what he did with his dual roles of Superman and Clark Kent, in film, is worth checking out.  It's near Shakespearean.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Jack Larson, TV's Jimmy Olsen, Merges With The Infinite

The Signal Watch is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Jack Larson, who played Jimmy Olsen on the 1950's television series, The Adventures of Superman (1952-1958).

Over six seasons, Jack played the young Daily Planet reporter, leading to such a spike in Olsen's popularity that the character spun out of second-banana obscurity and landed his own comic book, Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen, that ran from 1954-1974.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Super Watch: Superman IV - The Quest for Peace (Master Pancake Theater)

Oh, Superman IV.  You are not a good movie.

Maybe not the worst superhero movie ever put out, Superman IV was victim of severe budget cuts and shortfalls, overly ambitious filmmaking, muddled scripting and editing, and Jon Cryer just being a doofus.  I've written about the movie before.  At length.  So, go read that review.

For something like a decade, Austin has had it's own set of popular movie riffers in Master Pancake Theater.  It's sort of a cultish sort of thing to do in Austin, and they have their loyal legion, and while I like the idea, I've just never gotten off my butt to go see them.  After all, "riffed" movies are not something I've felt I've had a lack of access to in my lifetime after having grown up on Mystery Science Theater 3000 and still enjoying RiffTrax even today.

But I couldn't pass up this week's screening as it was, as you'll have guessed, Superman IV, a movie I have deep affection for, and am all too aware of its limitations.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Super Watch: Superman 2 - the Richard Donner Cut (2006)

By anyone's estimation, the production of Superman: The Movie and Superman II as co-developed/ co-produced movies was a bit of a trainwreck.  It's nothing less than a super-feat that the two movies which came from that effort went on to become world-wide classics beloved across at least two generations.

I actually care about and read about the Superman movie franchise, and I've read and heard so many different versions of what happened during the production of these movies that I have absolutely lost track of all the moving pieces.  But the short story is this:

Monday, August 17, 2015

Happy Birthday, Lois Lane

August 17th is the comic book birthday of Lois Lane.  For whatever reason, that's her fictional birthday, with the year sliding around to keep her somewhere between 28 and 38ish.  I tend to think of Lois as maybe a couple of years older than Superman.

Lois Lane is an ass-kicker, and has been since her first appearance in Action Comics #1.

don't just assume you can claim a spot on Lois' dance card

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The New "Superman v. Batman" trailer exists, so here goes

Circa 2002, before Superman Returns, WB really, really wanted to do a Superman vs. Batman movie, and it even got a reference in a billboard in the background of I Am Legend.  This was just after the success of Spider-Man and X-Men, and WB was trying to figure out to jumpstart the DC heroes, something they'd sort of ignored in the wake of the slow death of the Batman franchise under Joel Schumacher.

As I recall, the storyline for the script was that Batman had been around for a while, gotten married, semi-retired, etc... but then along comes Superman who has a super-fight, and in the battle, somehow Bruce's wife is killed as a bystander.  In this version, in order to keep up with Superman, Batman makes a deal with Satan or something and gets magical powers in order to stay toe-to-toe with Superman until, of course, they had someone else to go fight.

Never make a deal with this guy
A script leaked a couple of years ago has a different version, but, again, Bruce loses a spouse but Superman just says "hey, don't kill nobody, okay?" which Batman totally wants to do.  It involves Joker clones and a lot of painting oneself into a corner, narratively

If you're keeping score, even WB - the people who brought us Catwoman, Jonah Hex and Green Lantern - decided against the green light on this script, maybe deciding we first needed to remind America what Superman looked like.

Well, when Man of Steel did pretty well, but word of mouth wasn't all that great and it wasn't clear WB could just roll out a Superman sequel and expect success, they finally went ahead and pulled the trigger on the Batman/ Superman meet-up, and - if nothing else - they hopefully finally got it out of their system and came up with a product that will give everyone the same entirely unsatisfactory match-up that's occurred in every superhero comic, ever, where neither wins and they become friends so they can go off and fight the other threat that was a bigger deal than their little misunderstanding.

Here's the new trailer, by the way.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Super Watch: Superman (1978)

So, yesterday, I journeyed to the Alamo South Lamar for a "Kid's Club" screening of Superman: The Movie (1978).

It's impossible to know how many times I've seen Superman, but I figure I'm pushing triple-digits at this point.  Or maybe it's been a mere 70 times.  Who knows?  I've seen it in the theater so many times I've lost count - but I figure it's at least 10 at this point, and I would have skipped this one, but after going to Metropolis and reading that Larry Tye book, it just felt like serendipity that the movie was screening, and I should probably go.

"Kid's Club" screenings are always fun.  As much as I enjoy the evening throw-back screenings of movies at the Paramount and Alamo, seeing movies with the original intended audience is always amazing.  Superman runs something like two and a half hours, and I didn't hear a single anxious kid nor a peep out of anyone aside from some mild excitement during properly exciting scenes.  There's a sweet spot you can hit where the movies are not as dull as some kids movies, but without over-stimulating kids with just too darn much going on up there on the screen - because I have absolutely witnessed that phenomenon, even in a Harry Potter movie, and the kids start just blanking out and futzing with their chairs or asking for Cheerios or whatever.  And despite our weird idea that "kids are so advanced these days"*, the kids certainly don't know about or understand the difference between CGI FX and in-camera or practical effects.  They just don't care, even if they're vaguely aware this doesn't look like other movies.  And I've seen this again and again, including favorites like The Time MachineFantastic Voyage and Batman '66.

The kids even totally dealt with the "Can You Read My Mind" scene at face value.  No ironic snickering, no groans of disapproval.  It was kind of nice.

One other weird factoid about "Kid's Club" - they show the movies in 35mm, so the print yesterday was beat to hell, discolored in places and had audio issues, but nobody cared, including the kids.  It may be the last time I get to see Superman in 35mm, so it was a nice treat.

Anyhow, it was a fun screening.  I may want a break between screenings for a while as I did just watch the movie, like, three months ago, but I didn't regret going.  Got to hang with Simon and his lady-friend, Tiffany, and we got some nifty plastic Superman rings from Toy Joy.

*what?  Kids got better at being kids?  That doesn't even make sense.  They're just fine with adapting to the world they were born into that has stuff their parents didn't have at the same age.

Signal Reads: Superman - The High Flying History of the Man of Steel (audiobook)

When I was driving between Indianapolis and Metropolis, Illinois, I cooked up a plan to listen to the audiobook of the fairly recent Larry Tye book Superman: The High Flying History of the Man of Steel.  I've read a few comic and Superman histories before, and still hold of the Les Daniels book as the gold standard, with Gerald Jones' Men of Tomorrow:  Geeks, Gangsters and the Birth of the Comic Book as absolute and required reading.  But it'd been a while since I read either and there's been a lot of history since then.

The book is very well researched and is a fairly complete and comprehensive but detached history of the character as a property, focusing on the origins and multiple iterations of the character from the influences on Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster to the multiple forms of media the character has taken on and arguably conquered, to the ever-changing nature of Superman and the societal factors at play.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Superman 41 and giving up on The Man of Tomorrow

I just read issue #41 of the post Flashpoint/ New 52/ DC You Superman series, and...  I mean...  Okay.

There's some decent Superman-action, and I like the Jimmy and Clark pairing well enough.  I think the idea of "Superman's Pal" actually knowing his identity is worth exploring if Jimmy's his peer.  It substitutes the 90's and 00's problem of Superman not having anyone to talk to in his own titles which the Lois-marriage resolved.

But we know where this storyline is headed, right?  I mean, all of the other titles and solicitations tell us Lois will blow Superman's cover.  He gets a haircut.  He goes back to the t-shirt and jeans.  But we already have the broad strokes for how this will play out.  There's not a lot of places for this story to go, it seems.  Or, at least, if we know the effect, any surprises in how we got there seem a little moot at best.

After finishing the issues, I am sorry to say that I think I'm done reading any Superman comics for a while.  Which kind of kills me.  But I feel like I'm spending money on something that isn't what I signed up for or what the name of the comic is selling me.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

A Trip to Metropolis II - Adventures in Superman-Mania

Had a SUPER fun day palling around with Stuart at the Superman Celebration in sunny Metropolis, Illinois.

For a review of my participation in Day 1, here's a link.

I arrived around noonish, and stumbled Stuart without really having to try.  I should also mention that fellow Austinite Tim Gardner was here for his 23rd Superman celebration with the entire family in tow.  Very nice fellow with a great family.

I realized I had not shared any pictures of Stuart, so here he is, showing off his immunity to Kryptonite.

A Trip to Metropolis!

I wrapped my conference in Indianapolis on Thursday night, and, on Friday, jumped in a rental car to head down south to Metropolis, Illinois for the annual Superman Celebration.

I confess the conference left me a bit wiped out, so I grabbed a nap and didn't get down there until 6:00ish, where I met up with longtime internet pal, Stuart Ward.  Great guy.  More on that later.

The festival goes all weekend, but I'll only be in Metropolis on Saturday, really, and then drive back to Indianapolis to fly out Sunday.

Anyway, here are some sights:

I finally met the Man of Steel!

Yes, I am 6'5"
He was as swell in person as you would hope.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Slowly making my way through DC's "Convergence"

Last week DC released the final issue of their Convergence mini-series, the two-month stop gap from DC Comics that was originally advertised as something editorial was doing while they took a break from publishing to move from DC's traditional home of NYC to sunny LA.

Of course, well in advance, it became clear that Convergence was going to be more than just a hiccup in DC's publishing schedule.  After the initial skyrocketing sales for The New 52, units moved have fallen off, and time and again, DC has wound up canceling a huge number of their initial offering of 52 books and the successors of same, all while keeping up appearances by maintaining a publishing line of 52 books (which always felt like something dreamed up by an actuary somewhere, so why it was part of their public marketing, I will never know).

"Welcome to... The Honeycomb Hide-Out!"

The first hint that we could count on major changes, post-Convergence, was that DC decided to follow their award-winning, best-selling Wonder Woman run by well-known comic writer Brian Azzarrello by hiring the previously-unpublished wife of popular comic artist David Finch (an artist with whom cheesecake was pretty much an inevitability) to pen the series.  It was a signal to anyone who has followed the industry for the past two decades that DC was basically putting New 52 Wonder Woman in a holding pattern for a while, but if you absolutely need a Wonder Woman comic - here's one to read (and, please, do not notice that Sensation Comics and Wonder Woman '77 are both fantastic and not technically part of the main stable of DC's titles managed by their core comics people).

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

CBS releases "Supergirl" Preview

oh my gosh, they brightened her up.  what the heck, DC?
Video is below

Kara Zor-El is not supposed to be targeted at me or my demographic. She was the younger cousin/ little sister allegory for Superman, and her adventures back in the 1950's were every bit as bananas as the most bananas of Silver Age tales (let's talk Comet the Super Horse sometime).

But, I'm a fan of Supergirl, nonetheless.  Sure, the 90's tried to make that really hard with the "Matrix" concept, but I still enjoyed at least the far end of that run when it was Linda Danvers in a t-shirt hopping around around 2002.  But I really like the insanely perky version from the 60's and the go-getter Bronze Age version who couldn't get through a day at university without an alien plot spoiling her lunch break.

But, I also know, hey, maybe a 40 year old dude is not who they think of as the current target audience for the story of a Supergirl.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

So, Miller is making it a Dark Knight Trilogy? All righty, then.

What do you even say when you see DC has signed up Frank Miller to create a third installment in the vein of Dark Knight Returns/ Dark Knight Strikes Again?  I think you say "DC needs a hit for the 3rd Quarter or Dan Didio will need a new jobby job."

And that's okay.  I'm a little past the point of hoping that DC Entertainment, a division of Time Warner, Inc., is really all that invested in the artistry of comics in 2015, but it's not like comics haven't recycled ideas before.  These sorts of short term stunts have generally paid off for Didio, and he's certainly running out of his usual bag of tricks now that he's exploited all of his predecessor's successes so many times over that he had to throw bags of gold at Frank Miller (or really pray Sin City 2 would do exactly what it did at the box office) in order to get him back at DC writing comics.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

"Batman vs. Superman"and "Star Wars VII" - avoiding the open-ended questions

I've already gotten one or two "hey, whaddayathink about the new Batman/ Superman trailer?" messages from people who know me, know I like me some Superman and Batman, and who know I was not a fan of the last Superman adventure by the same creative team.  And, likewise regarding Star Wars, which I've not been all that into for the last decade, I guess.

So, with the HD trailer now released for Batman and Superman are Going to Punch Each Other in the Rain and the certainty even my dad will now have seen the trailer - rather than answer the same open ended question in short bursts of tweets or Google Hangouts or whatever, here we go:

Ah, man.  We know you're doing your best, buddy.

The DCU that WB is working on for the movies does not jive well with the overall DCU I've liked for 30-odd years of my life (or 37 if you want to want to count when I got into Superman: The Movie and Super Friends - or, heck, before that if you're partial to Adam West, and I am).

There are pretty obvious lessons the WB execs believe they learned from the success of the Dark Knight trilogy and failure of Green Lantern and Superman Returns (although any kind of thoughtful evaluation that didn't require execs saving face just wasn't going to happen on the WB lot).   And in that lesson-learning, much like DC Comics believed with the New 52, everything had to be Batman.  And not just Batman, but the same Batman that shows up in Arkham Asylum video games.

Anyway, I tend to think that the point of Superman and Batman running up against each other is not just a question of the the tone of the characters coming into conflict - it's also the world and worldview colliding and reflecting off one another.  And this isn't that.  This is someone mistaking grim'n'gritty as an ends unto itself.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Today I am 40. We ponder my mortality via Superman.

It's my B-day.  A milestone b-day at that.  I'm planning to take the day easy, read some comics, watch some movies, play with some dogs.  Nothing too extravagant.

But it's also a time to ponder and reflect, and nothing helps you reflect more than Superman.

Oh, 70's humor.  You were on the nose to the pointy of cruelty.

But nothing helps one ponder old age like a good Superman comic book cover.

Let's face facts...  I work on a college campus.  I am more than aware this is how the undergrads see me as I wander the halls.  The notion that these whipper-snappers see me as anything other than someone who might know their parents is delusional.  I never feel the need to try to pretend like I know what the kids are up to these days, because that's like your parents trying to impress you by going to see Billy Joel.

I, of course, see myself as older and wiser, telling these young punks how it should be done - and how it should be done is by doing it exactly how we did it in my day.