Last week, I took a hard look at DC's recent Superman: A Celebration of 75 Years hardcover, and to say I found it lacking is putting it mildly. Despite reprinting some very, very good stories, the tone of the collection was overwhelmingly, oppressively grim at best, and felt like the publisher was embarrassed by the very character they were claiming to celebrate at worst. It was more than a little disheartening, because it didn't have to be that way. It's not an accurate look at Superman's past, and really, it's a narrative that you'd have to go out of your way to create.
But let it never be said that I complain about things without offering a viable solution -- even though I do that pretty much all the time. With the same amount of space and the same division of eras in Superman, you can create a sequence of stories with the same resonance and the same level of quality that shows Superman at his best, triumphing over evil and making the world a better place.
Q: You mentioned "The Problem" in last week's column. So, what is "The Problem?" --@green2814
A: Last week, I dug in a little into the idea that even though they share prominent creators and have influenced each other back and forth over the course of the last 50 years, the DC and Marvel Universes have some fundamental differences in the way they're structured. One of the things I really wanted to get across in that column was that neither one is really fundamentally better than the other, they're just incompatible in a lot of ways, and I touched on how that results in something I call The Problem. Since that's still pretty fresh in everybody's mind, and since you were nice enough to set the ball right on the tee and hand me the bat, I might as well elaborate on that now. It's actually pretty simple.
To put it bluntly, The Problem is that DC wants to be Marvel, and they have for the past 50 years.
Ever since it was announced at Comic-Con this past summer, quite a few people have been referring to the upcoming Zack-Snyder directed film featuring Henry Cavill and Superman and Ben Affleck as Batman as "Batman Vs. Superman."
But the movie is still going to be a direct sequel to Man of Steel (Lex Luthor will be appearing, Snyder has confirmed) and judging from a list of domains recently registered by MarkMonitor, the company Warner Bros uses for its warnerbros.com domain and the registrar for the SupermanvsBatman.com domain, it could keep that title.
Whenever a publisher puts out a "Best Of" collection for a long-running character, it's always really interesting to see what kind of stories make the cut. They make a fascinating look at the character -- not just the past, in the stories being reprinted, but in how revealing they are about the attitudes about those stories when they're all collected. If you go back through books like The Best Batman Stories Ever Told or The Very Best of Spider-Man, they're just as much of a snapshot of how the companies saw those characters when the books came out as they are of the times when those stories were originally printed.
Last week, DC put out an especially interesting highlight reel for their flagship character, Superman: A Celebration of 75 Years, and the stories they lined up as the best Superman has to offer say an awful lot about how DC looks at the Man of Steel. They might call it a "celebration" on the cover, but when you actually go in and read it, it feels more like a funeral dirge.
Q: Do Superman-esque characters like The Sentry or Blue Marvel work in the Marvel Universe? -- @SuperSeth64
A: You know, Seth, this is one of those questions that seems really simple when you first look at it. I mean, it's a yes or no question, so the short answer is about as short as it can possibly be. The thing is, the reasoning behind that answer has to do with how entire shared fictional universes work and how they've been influencing each other for the past 50 to 70 years, and how one character in particular has defined an entire genre that came to dominate the medium, so for the long answer, well, I hope you've got a few minutes.
If you don't, here's the short answer: No. No they do not.
It is with sincere regret that we bring you news that the viral Internet hero known as Batman bin Suparman has been jailed in his native Singapore for crimes including theft, breaking and entering and drug use. The man became famous within the last several years after a photograph of his Singaporean identification card found its way online, delighting millions with the knowledge that a sweet-faced and perhaps even supremely confidant young boy existed somewhere out in the world with a name that when translated means "Batman, son of Superman."
From 1996-2000, Superman: The Animated series followed in the footsteps of Batman: The Animated Series by introducing an entire generation to a version of Superman who fought to do what was right no matter what and always found a better way in the face of adversity. Sure, he had to wear a suit to survive the vacuum of space long term and got banged up by lasers once in awhile, but when it came to raw characterization, most would agree that the cartoon presented a definitive version of the last son of Krypton. A true hero. Then there's this past summer's Man of Steel, which... did not necessarily communicate the same characterization. Screen Junkies contrasts the two versions of Supes in a new "Man of Steel: The Animated Series" mashup parody, which you can see after the cut. Spoiler warning if you haven't quite seen MoS yet, although if you've read the comics internet at all since June you don't have too much to worry about.
As the famed co-creator of much of the Marvel Comics universe and cameo king of its current crop of films, Stan Lee enjoys a certain amount of leeway (*ba-dump!) when it comes to opining about pop culture. Take this week's installment of the serialized "Stan's Rants" video series. Lee somewhat dramatically explains that Thor's method of flight makes more sense to him than Superman's. While Superman's solar-powered Kryptonian cells enable him to navigate any axis without an explanation besides "He can," Thor has to chuck his mystical uru mallet Mjolnir in the direction he wishes to travel and catch a ride by holding onto its attached thong. As Wired's Angry Nerd points out, however, Thor's way is still a violation of the laws of physics fit for the gods.
From the looks of it, The LEGO Movie tells the classic hero's journey story. An ordinary guy finds himself in extraordinary circumstances, and he rises to them.
There are just a couple twists on that: First, he's a LEGO man. Second, he is routinely assisted by Batman (and Wonder Woman, and Superman, and maybe Abraham Lincoln, though he seems to be on the fence). Check out the brand-new trailer for the movie after the jump.
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