Finding Superman

Clark Kent. Superman. They are American icons, two sides if the same coin. The All-American son and the Man of Steel. Where are you Superman?
I know what you are thinking…Superman is everwhere. From the Man of Steel movie to his appearances in Action Comics, Superman, Justice League and more recently in Superman Unchained and Batman/Superman it seems like he is ever present. But is that really the Superman we all remember or is it just a shade of the hero we knew?

Writers Greg Pak (Batman/Superman) and Scott Snyder (Superman Unchained) seem to have a handle on the whole character of Superman/Clark but that is not always the case. In other books, with other writers this heroic icon is largely hit or miss. Why is it so hard to write a character that has been around for 70-plus years?

Some will blame the New52, DC comics recreating-rebooting of their comics universe, it does get the blame for so many things. Others will say the death of Ma and Pa Kent has changed things. Of course there are those who feel we need to bring back the red-underpants and everything will be right with the world. (Really??!!) While we are at it we could just lay it at the feet of Grant Morrison’s new Irvine for the Man of Steel. I do not think that is where the problem lies, it is much simpler.

Too much Superman, Not enough Clark Kent.

I think it comes down to the issue of Masks. It’s all about secret identities: Batman is the true identity, Bruce Wayne is the mask he hides behind. I’m Superman’s case Clark Kent is the true identity. Superman is not simply a man with incredible powers, he is Clark with those powers. An all-American boy wanting nothing more than to help those in need. We cheers seeing Superman save lives, but even without powers Clark Kent would run into fires to help others. That is simply who he is.

So perhaps we have discovered the problem…How do we fix it? Well DC has set up the perfect set of circumstances to fix this very problem. Forever Evil. Coming out of Forever Evil Superman might easily be feeling guilt for what has happened, that is understandable. So take a lead from the ‘Exile in Space’ storyline along with the crosscountry adventures of Green Arrow and Green Lantern from the 70s…roadtrip baby!! Send Superman on a journey of self-discovery, preferably with Bruce, a trip to rediscover what it means to be a hero. Batman and Superman in a beat up pickup-almost writes itself, while allowing creators to bring Clark/Superman back where he belongs…

We are Legion.

Legion_of_Super_Heroes-dc-comics-4411668-500-313So this column came from a conversation I had with some friends over twitter. Actually it began after I read an interview with Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis.

Interview: Giffen and DeMatteis, another LEAGUE and LARFLEEZE

What prompted me to read the interview you ask? It was Giffen and DeMatteis…seriously you need more. They are bloody brilliant. Even if they did not give us an absolutely inspired take on Justice League and bring Blue and Gold together for the first time-Keith Giffen has long been connected to the Legion of SuperHeroes. That was more than enough for me.

The important part (for me at least) was this:

“This way when — because it is ‘when’ — DC will relaunch the Legion of Super Heroes eventually”

That was a direct quote from Keith Giffen and if I trust anyone talking about the Legion it is Mr. Giffen. Of course at the time they were talking about their new project Justice League 3000, but the Legion comment is what mattered to me.

Then came the conversation with @777DAMM and @JanArrah over in the twitterverse, follow them you will thank me. It ranged over elation over the prospect of the Legion returning and the skepticism over how it would be handled. More than any other comic book property the Legion seems to regularly suffer from changes that take place in the main universe. The Legion has been rebooted so many times it is difficult to know where a new book would start from, what pieces of the universe would be included and what parts and characters would pass into memory.

The biggest thing I took from the conversation was the realization that we all came at our fandom from different times, different points in the history of the Legion. Starting in different times gives us different perspectives, different things about the Legion that we love in our own ways. If I could see that from a conversation with two other people imagine trying to create a Legion for a hundred or thousands of people.

As fans we often believe these characters, these stories belong to us. We sometimes forget we don’t own them. Everyone does. We may not like the new version of the Legion but isn’t it better than not having them at all. It is not an easy task. There is so much history-but then if you have been around for sixty years and you don’t have history I have to ask? What have you been doing all this time…

The job of creating a new Legion that will appeal to new and old is a big job and an important one. The Legion has been around since April of 1957 beginning with Adventure Comics #247. Why is that important? The Legion predates the Avengers, the Justice Leagues, the Teen Titans and yes even the X-Men. Great creators have come from the Legion: Mike Grell, Jim Shooter, Dave Cockrum, Paul Levitz, Giffen, Oliver Coipel, Jim Starlin and even Francis Manapul. Someday soon another creator will step in with his vision for the future.

That vision is the important thing. It’s the future, not some horrifying dystopian future but one of hope. That what the Legion has always been about hope and family. The belief that when they come together good people can do great things and there will always be tomorrow.

The Legion is the bedrock for which that future will stand. Until that day…

Long Live the Legion.162035-34000-legion-of-super-hero

The Hero

We seek out heroes. Search for them.

In movies, books, comics. In life.

Someone to come in and save the day.

The Duke, Indiana Jones, John McClane, Captain Kirk, Iron Man, Batman, Superman.

In all shapes and sizes. From the pure, noble hero to the avenging anti-hero.

But what makes them heroic? What separates them from us?

Is it trying to make a difference? Is it doing what is right? And if so, who decides what is right and what is wrong?

Superman is not simply a hero because of his powers, Iron Man because of his suit. There has to be something more.
Risk and sacrifice matter. If a hero has nothing to lose does that make him less of a hero?

Heroes risk because someone has to and they cannot accept sitting on the sidelines.

Perhaps we need more heroes.

Don’t Call it a Review: Forever Evil

The bad guys have won. The outlook is bleak. The heroes are not just defeated. They are gone…?

That’s how Forever Evil, DC Comics first company wide crossover in the New 52, begins. It begins with despair, hopelessness. It starts with that sinking feeling where you cannot imagine how the heroes will over come. It starts with questions.

Lots of questions.

Is the Justice League really dead?

What happened at the end of Trinity War?

What will happen to Nightwing?

Questions are good at the beginning of an epic storyline. You slowly start filling in the answers as you get to the end. These questions are good ones. But I have an even better one.

 Why should we believe anything the Crime Syndicate tells us?

They are the epitome of a ‘unreliable narrator’, they are the bad guys. They should be lying to us. It is kind of their thing.

They tell us they have killed the Justice League, they tell us they ruled their world, they tell us they destroyed the world there. That is what they say.

The truth may be very different. The populace of their world may have finally stood up and said “no more”. They may have rebelled, fought back and finally vanquished the villains. At this point we just do not know.

That is what makes it interesting. What is the truth, what is the lie? In between perhaps we discover what the heroes will need to triumph.

For the first time in a long time I am excited about one of these epic, company wide stories. Time to show me what you have got.

Before I forget. Favorite part of the issue. Kord Industries. What does that mean? I may be dreaming but it may mean…Ted ‘frickin’ Kord. And that cold mean the return of Blue and Gold…I’m pumped.
Bwahahahahahahaha…