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Superman: The Man of Tomorrow Archives, Vol. 1 (Review/Retrospective)

To celebrate the release of Man of Steel this month, we’re going Superman mad. Check back daily for Superman-related reviews.

Silver Age comic books are, by their nature, different from modern comics. It’s more than just evolving social norms, or even shifting artistic sensibilities. There’s a massive world of difference between a fairly average comic written in the mid-sixties and a similarly average comic produced today. While I’d be reluctant to describe the comics contained in Superman: The Man of Tomorrow Archives, Vol. 1 as “great” or “brilliant”, they have a certain charm or novelty to them. They feel alien and unique, as if offering a raw and unrefined sample of a mood that Superman has been chasing for the past two or three decades.

While I don’t think Batman was as well-served by the sixties as he was by later decades, there’s a surreal innocence to these comics which speak to Superman as a character. These are the comics that probably inspired Richard Donner’s Superman film, and though artists like Al Plastino, Curt Swan or Dick Sprang might not have drawn a Superman who resembled Christopher Reeve, it’s very easy to imagine him fitting in among these stories quite easily.

The Silver standard?

The Silver standard?

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Batman: The Brave and the Bold – Battle of the Superheroes (Review)

To celebrate the release of Man of Steel this month, we’re going Superman mad. Check back daily for Superman-related reviews.

Batman and Superman. It’s a great combination, like cookies and cream or spaghetti and meatballs or… feel free to insert your own analogy here. The two characters are two of the oldest and most enduring superheroes, both owned by the same company. They also both embody two very different ideals. Batman is a pulp action hero in a silly outfit with gothic trappings, while Superman is an alien from another world dressed in primary colours. Pairing the two up to compare and contrast is great fun.

Battle of the Superheroes focuses on Batman and Superman as friends and colleagues, a portrayal which seems somewhat dated. After all, ever since Frank Miller wrote The Dark Knight Returns, the tendency has been to treat the pair as grudging allies rather than bosom buddies. Still, the Silver Age aesthetic of The Brave and the Bold suits this approach well, and it’s hard not to get swept up in the wry enthusiasm of it all.

Superhero team-up time...

Superhero team-up time…

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Justice League: The Nail (Review)

To celebrate the release of The Man of Steel this month, we’re going Superman mad. Check back daily for Superman-related reviews.

What would comics look like without Superman? The character is so iconic and influential and omnipresent that it’s a fun thought experiment to take him out of the DC universe and watch the narrative threads unravel. Alan Davis is a pretty incredible artist. He’s done great work with writers like Mike W. Barr (on an underrated Detective Comics run) and Chris Claremont (on Excalibur). However, he may not have been the best choice to write this three-part Justice League of America Elseworld. It’s a great concept, but the execution leaves a little to be desired.

Is somebody missing?

Is somebody missing?

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Superman – New Krypton (Vol. I-IV), Last Stand of New Krypton (Vol. I & II) & War of the Supermen (Review/Retrospective)

March is Superman month here at the m0vie blog, what with the release of the animated adaptation of Grant Morrison’s superb All-Star Superman. We’ll be reviewing a Superman-related book/story arc every Wednesday this month, so check on back – and we might have a surprise or two along the way.

In fairness, it was too great an idea to ever ignore. At some point in the character’s publishing history, it was inevitable that Superman would be reunited with his people – the long dead planet Krypton. This storytelling opportunity forms the basis of the whole New Krypton saga, which crossed through the Superman line of comic books for well over a year. Unfortunately, despite having a rather wonderful core idea, it’s a ll a bit of a waste.

Up in the sky...

Note: This review contains what might be considered spoilers. But the title of the second sets of books in the header kinda give the game away.

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Absolute All-Star Superman (Review/Retrospective)

This post is part of the DCAU fortnight, a series of articles looking at the Warner Brothers animations featuring DC’s iconic selection of characters. I’ll be looking at movies and episodes and even some of the related comic books. With All-Star Superman confirmed as the next animated DC feature, I thought I’d take a look at Grant Morrison’s original comic book story. In case you haven’t noticed, it seems the DCAU guys are big Morrison fans.

Doomed Planet.

Desperate Scientists.

Last Hope.

Kindly Couple.

Superman.

– Grant Morrison reduces perhaps the most iconic origin story down to fewer words than this synopsis, …Faster… (Chapter 1)

I have to admit, nothing quite psyches me like holding a Grant Morrison book in my hand – save maybe holding an Alan Moore book in my hand. Sure, I might not love what he’s writing and it might not necessarily be the most complete narrative experience that could have been provided, but I always want to read it again after I’m done – even if I hated it. As a writer, Morrison can crank out crazy-yet-clever concepts like nobody’s business, finding a way to put a new slant on an old piece of mythology or making a change seem like a logical extension of what came before. All-Star Superman is perhaps his most widely respected work, an attempt to boil the iconic Man of Steel down into twelve easy-to-disgest chunks, for new and old fans alike. It’s a stunning piece of comic book literature and perhaps the closest experience one could have to holding the quintessential elements of Superman in your hands.

Last sun of Krypton…

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Non-Review Review: Superman – Doomsday

This post is part of the DCAU fortnight, a series of articles looking at the Warner Brothers animations featuring DC’s iconic selection of characters. This is the very first of the “stand-alone” animated movies produced by the creative team that gave us the television shows. 

Superman: Doomsday is the first entry in the range of animated DC films featuring their iconic superheroes. The line has since ballooned to feature a wide range of other heroes, with movies focusing on Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and even the Justice League itself, but Superman seemed a logical place to start. Of course, the fact that the movie came from the minds that brought us Batman: The Animated Series and the rest of the animated universe (even if it didn’t share continuity) was also a solid indication. However, there’s very much a sense of a production team attempting to find their footing. Although it’s solidly entertaining on its own terms, the film feels like perhaps the weakest entry in the selection of films. 

Well, at least he can wipe it on his cape and no one will notice...

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Superman: Red Son

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Superman! Superman: Strange visitor from another world! Who can change the course of might rivers, bend steel in his bare hands and who, as the champion of the common worker, fights a never-ending battle for Stalin, socialism and the international expansion of the Warsaw Pact.

Let out enemies beware: the is only one super-power now.

– Russian propaganda broadcast

I’ve remarked before, and many others have remarked as well, that Superman is a very tough character to write for, particularly after seventy years of publication. This is a fact reflected by the difficulty even comic book aficionados have in picking the iconic Superman stories – the essential collections, as it were. Undoubtedly Alan Moore’s work on the character would be collected (handily in Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?), as would Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman. I’m fairly sure that this collection would also make the shortlist. As far as interesting and insightful takes on the character go, Mark Millar has what might be termed a “doozie” here: what if Superman had landed in Russia? What if instead of fighting for “truth, justice and the American Way”, he fought for Mother Russia? It’s certainly an intriguing idea, and Mark Millar’s execution is near-flawless as well.

Well, of course the balloon is red...

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