I want to write comic books. Yeah, that should be pretty obvious. To that end, I often write up brief outlines for characters or series that I'd one day like to script. Sometimes these are little capsules, sometimes they're character studies, sometimes they're even full arc outlines. This is what I do in boring classes when doodling isn't enough.
Anyway, the first Blue Prints references my thoughts on Superboy's character, and how he relates to Superman, which I detailed in one of these outlines. Rather than padding out that entry with unnecessary explanation, I thought it merited its own post.
Superman is a collection of opposing dualities, held together by a strength of character far greater than the strength required to stop runaway trains or leap tall buildings. He's a wide-eyed farm boy and a streetwise city dweller, a sharp-minded investigative reporter and a heroic leader, an orphan and a family man, a godlike alien and a down-to-earth human. He is Clark Kent of Smallville, KS, a one-time athletic social outcast who became a world-renowned syndicated columnist and world-class investigative journalist. He is Kal-El, the last son of a dead world, the final (well, almost) heir to a millennia-old legacy. He is Superman, the primary-colored boy scout who led the second generation of Earth's superheroes. Clark may be the most honest expression of his personalities and abilities, but when people say that Clark Kent is the real person and Superman is the mask (or vice versa--curse you, David Carradine!) they're missing a part of the point. Superman is the sum of his identities: Clark's upbringing, Kal-El's legacy, and Superman's incredible abilities.
Superboy, on the other hand, is torn between his dualities. First it was inexperience and immaturity vs. a desire to be seen as an adult, then it was superheroics vs. a desire to be normal, a maturing personality vs. physical agelessness, civilian life vs. superheroic life, responsibility vs. fun, orphan clone vs. youth with a family, nature vs. nurture, Superman vs. Lex Luthor...every stage of Kon's life has been plagued by these oppositions. He hasn't yet matured enough to straddle these worlds, to relish in them the way Superman does, but he's still young, still new to this sense of identity and to the dual responsibilities of civilian and superhero life. Eventually, he'll find the balance, and he'll find that what is important is not what he is, but who he is.
I think this is a major part of why Superboy belongs in the modern Superman mythos. He's not just "Superman when he was a boy," he's "Superman when he hadn't figured out exactly what that meant yet." He's Clark's younger brother, looking for guidance and acceptance, trying to fill Clark's shoes and find his own way at the same time. Supergirl doesn't even have a secret identity now; she's content being a full-time superhero. Superboy comes from a different background and point of view, and he brings a wealth of new and different character opportunities to the Superman family.
Sunday, April 30, 2006
I want to write comic books. Yeah, that should be pretty obvious. To that end, I often write up brief outlines for characters or series that I'd one day like to script. Sometimes these are little capsules, sometimes they're character studies, sometimes they're even full arc outlines. This is what I do in boring classes when doodling isn't enough.
Friday, April 28, 2006
This past weekend was a geekfest. I geeked out. James Kakalios warned me not to have a geekgasm. I played a wine glass. I moderated a trivia contest where the answer to one question was "The Sun is a Mass of Incandescent Gas." I watched people explode five gallons of non-dairy creamer. The nerd gods smiled upon me and granted me a weekend that somehow incorporated physics, comic books, video games, epic literature, and blowing stuff up.
Friday night, we began the Society of Physics Students Zone 9 meeting, a semi-annual event which Augie decided to hold this time 'round. We had a decent buffet dinner, a panel discussion featuring folks from a variety of colleges 'round the midwest discussing grad school admissions (yeah, something that would have been useful last year), and then James Kakalios gave a speech about the Physics of Superheroes.
I only started reading his book on Thursday, even though Jon got it for me back in December. What can I say, I'm far behind on reading for class; I barely have time to finish the comics I get every week, reading for pleasure has fallen by the wayside. I'm happy to say that it wasn't what I expected it to be. I own Mark Wolverton's The Science of Superman, which started from Superman's basic (modern era) power set and the proposed in-comic explanations for those powers, then explains how they might realistically function, so I expected this to be more of the same.
Instead, Dr. Kakalios starts from the position of a Physics Professor trying to make Physics class interesting to bored students, so he uses examples of where superhero comic books got their Physics right. He starts from real life science, and uses superheroes to explain it. In other words, this is more a science book than a superhero one, a good primer on basic Physics concepts seen through the lens of superheroics. Speaking as a Physics major and Comics fan, it's fantastic. It's the perfect merger of two of my favorite things.
It's also one of two books I have signed by Physicists. The other is Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe. I like Dr. Kakalios much better (to be honest, Greene was quite the giant douche). Here's the awesometastic autograph:
To Tom - From your friendly neighborhood physics professor, James Kakalios
His speech was mostly material from the book, but the flourishes he adds in person really make the experience (like when he pulls out a pipe, mentioning that when you become a real scientist, they give you a pipe. Incidentally, between the pipe and the tweed jacket, he looked quite a bit like Doc Magnus). I was in dork heaven for an hour and a half. It wouldn't be far off to say that he's the best there is at what he does, and what he does is awesome.
I got to chat quite a bit with Dr. Kakalios before and after the speech, generally geeking out, bringing up classic quandaries like "how does the Thing swim" and "DC or Marvel?" He's a supremely nice guy, and it was a real honor to meet him.
Overall, it was one of the most entertaining evenings I've had in a long time. I wish I could have talked with Dr. Kakalios more, maybe gotten a picture with him, but there'll be time for that when I'm in a doctoral program. Remind me to add University of Minnesota to the list.
The Physics Zone Meeting continued the next day with a few student presentations and a trivia contest co-moderated by yours truly. Said contest wasn't nearly as fun as I'd hoped, and the physics students not nearly as geeky. Usually, I don't overestimate the dorkiness of fellow science majors.
Sunday, various members of our Physics club traveled out to some place in Iowa and learned how to make (some) and set off fireworks. Once the forms come in the mail, I will be certified to handle and fire certain explosives (at least, under certain circumstances). I hope I'll eventually be able to put up some pictures of the various explosions, as some were very unconventional and spectacular.
Comic books, physics, trivia, and blowing stuff up. What more could I have asked for in a weekend?
Well, time for one. It's because of the way Sunday was gobbled up by fireworks that I've been playing homework catch-up all week, and haven't been able to finish any of my blog posts. More forthcoming, though, including the start of Blue Prints!
Friday, April 21, 2006
If you happen to be in the Quad City Area today, drop by Augustana College in Rock Island, IL 'round about 8:00 PM. Augustana Physics Club presents James Kakalios of the University of Minnesota, speaking about the Science of Superheroes, in Science Building Room 304. I've been enjoying his recent book, The Physics of Superheroes, so I'm psyched.
This whole event (a larger Physics conference with a superhero theme, due to the keynote speaker's specialty) has been one big geek-out for yours truly. I got to design the Physics Club t-shirt, and I'm in charge of the trivia (with two superhero categories) and I'll be supplying several comic-based movies for later tonight. I'll have pictures soon, I guarantee it.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Monday, April 17, 2006
Friday, April 14, 2006
Seems like everybody remembers their first comic. I feel a little left out, to be honest. I have no idea what my first comic was.
Well, that's not entirely true. I imagine that my first comic was one of the many that came with the He-Man figures. I remember my dad reading them to me in bed when I was much younger, at my request, I'm sure. I still have all of mine in a tin that once held Danish butter cookies.
I know that my parents both collected comics at one point; my dad's, like so many others, were thrown out by his parents, but many of my mom's survived. Both my parents had once been avid readers, especially of science fiction. My dad had always gotten flak for that from my grandpa, who thought it was garbage, so I managed to never get any of the "rot your brain" speeches.
For years, I read my mom's comics in secret. They were under the bed in the guest room, for unfathomable reasons, and so I thought that I wasn't supposed to look at them. I couldn't tell you what indivicual issues were there except Superman #230 and Adventure Comics #397, the ones that I still remember the covers for. But I remember most of the stories. There were some 80-page giants with Metamorpho and Green Arrow tales, there was at least one Johnny Quick back-up story, there was one story where Superman fought Green Lantern and used the yellow shield on his cape to block his ring's effects. There were a bunch of Legion of Super-Heroes stories: one where Princess Projectra and Saturn Girl return to Legion headquarters, only to find that no one remembers them, and they've been replaced with Prince Projectra and Saturn Boy. I remember the one where the Legionnaires get imprisoned by three-eyed aliens led by evil Nardo, Matter-Eater Lad gets fat, and Blockade Boy dies. The ones I remember most, though, were the Super-Sons: Batman Jr. and Superman Jr. If you want to see Superman at his dickiest, watch him knock his son down with super-breath during a potato sack race; watch him take away Clark Jr.'s powers with gold Kryptonite for no good reason, then guiltily transfer his own powers to the boy. Good times.
I know the first comics I ever picked out for myself included a couple of Thundercats issues and Adventures of Superman #429. It always bothered me that the Thundercats comics were so poorly colored, and that they couldn't get the chant right (Thunder x3, Thundercats Ho!). I know that the first places where I'd buy comics were Books, Comics, and Things and Scott's grocery store in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I started buying Batman 'round the 480s, where it was mostly Denny O'Neil and Tom Mandrake and Jim Aparo and such. I picked up quite a few Marvel Tales featuring Spider-Man and X-Men Classics and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures.
At some point, I got a couple of boxes of random comics out of a Sears catalog, and that started my collection in earnest. Before long, I was subscribed to Amazing Spider-Man and Daredevil. When we moved to Ohio, I dropped the Spider-Man subscription for the four Superman books, right 'round the time of his death (I even registered on a waiting list for Superman #75 at some comic shop around Cuyahoga Falls). Over 13 years later I'm still subscribed, though I'm nowhere near Cuyahoga Falls.
So, yeah, first comic? You got me. I can't remember my first kiss, either. In the end, the firsts aren't what really matter, though, are they? It's what comes after.
Thursday, April 13, 2006
I first heard about Superman's new costume on some vapid conservative talk radio show that my mom was listening to in the car. The host was ranting about how they were going to give Superman a new blue-and-white costume to match the U.N. colors. I laughed the whole story off as ridiculous; at best the guy must have misunderstood some press release or something.
Eventually, ads started showing up, and the storyline began in earnest. Superman started passing through things, electronics went nuts around him, that sort of thing. I was upset at first, but once I saw that they hadn't changed the title of "Superman: The Man of Steel," I realized that it'd be a temporary change. I'd come a long way since I was convinced that the Cyborg was the real Superman.
Once I'd come to terms with the temporary nature of the story, I thought it had a lot of potential. Sadly, much of that potential was lost in a sea of inconsistencies and dropped subplots. Superman's new powers were ill-defined; sometimes he couldn't touch things, other times he could; sometimes he couldn't fly and could only bolt from place to place, other times he could fly normally, other times he could fly but had a hard time doing other things. Eventually he got sent to the Source Wall and torn in half and fought the Millennium Giants and whatnot, and anything interesting that could have happened in the books went away.
But I really dig the costume (it even follows the Ron Frenz rule of costume design! Ron Frenz drew that cover!), and I think the powers are interesting, despite the fact that it became business as usual after a few issues. They brought the outfit back for Strange Visitor, but that was an awkward name for a character, and she was so tied up in cosmic mumbo-jumbo and weird time travel nuttiness that it's probably best for everyone that she died in Our Worlds at War. Even with the burden of those two semi-failures, I think it's a shame to let such cool character potential go to waste.
So, let's bring back the Electric Superman. No, no, I'm not suggesting that Superman return to the blue-and-white, that's just a bad idea all around. But there's nothing to stop us from getting some new blue. With a little more planning as far as what the character's powers actually are, and with some solid story threads to explore, I think we could turn Superman Blue into a viable, interesting character, and a worthy addition to the Superman family.
Let's face it, the Superman family ain't exactly as big as it used to be.
So, over the next several days I'll post a variety of character proposals designed to bring back the Blue. I think I'll call the feature "Blue Prints."
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Devon's Seven Hells is one of my favorite comic blogs. I'm fully convinced that the man is some sort of comic prophet. Should I send you off to read his praise for Geoff Johns, a rare commodity in this here blogohedron? Should I link to each of the Seven Signs of Villainy? I suppose you might want to read the story of his blog's name. It's certainly more interesting than me saying "Fortress of s-word" over and over until something fit. I should probably say something about Devon's interesting examinations of race in comics. I ought to mention how much I want his idea for trades of DC's forgotten hits to come true. I may not agree with him about the Power Company, but I loved the "Seven Hells'! Soldiers". And it's impossible to argue with his Seven Reasons to Become a DC Comics Fan. Devon even recognizes the most awesome thing ever.
But that seems to fall short of a fitting tribute. Instead, I'll just let Devon tug at your heartstrings.
Thanks for the year, Devon. Here's to many more. Happy bloggiversary.
Saturday, April 08, 2006
If Justice League had to end, I'm glad it was with that episode. Except perhaps for last seasons four-part finale, that might be the best episode of any of the series ever in the Animated DCU.
Besides that, we know Superman's coming back in a direct-to-DVD movie, and some sort of movies for the Teen Titans have already been confirmed. I'd be shocked if JLU didn't warrant the same treatment in the near future.
Although, here's my ideal scenario:
WB and UPN just merged into the CW network, which decides to open up a children's programming block. Heading this block would be The New Teen Titans and Justice League Unlimited. To kick it all off: a three-part movie crossover event. Slade and the other major Titans villains join the Society. After JL villains wipe the floor with the Titans, the Society goes after the League. A few of the Unlimited escape the surprise attack and regroup with the Titans, then stage their own assault. The movie would explore the various hero-sidekick relationships between the teams, and would serve to give the Titans a new member or two (can we say Stargirl?).
And then both shows would air until the end of time. Hey, a guy can hope, right?
Hey, remember the last Crisis crossover?
No, not Crisis on Infinite Earths. And not Identity Crisis either. No, I'm talking about Zero Hour: Crisis in Time.
Yes, that crisis.
I was reading through some Superboy comics today, partially for nostalgia's sake, partially because I hadn't read them yet, and partially because issue #9 introduces Aquaman's new riding partner, King Shark. Incidentally, if you're looking for a wonderful mourning issue, check out Superboy #4, which has our dear, departed Kon-El, his late girlfriend Tana Moon, and art by the sorely-missed Mike Parobeck.
Anyway, I read Superboy #8, where a time-anomaly Silver Age Superboy happens upon our modern protagonist in Smallville. Reading this first clash of the Superboys really resonates once you've seen Infinite Crisis. Check it out:
The obligatory superhero fight
You can enlarge this one, but here's the dialogue:
Conner: Eat chain, [???] poser--that's exactly who I am! And here's a hint for you wanna-be's--gonna pass yourself off as the genuine article? Wait 'til I'm DEAD!
Clark: Which shouldn't be long at the rate you're going.
Oy, way to foreshadow there, Kon. I guess Superboy-Prime just got tired of waiting.
Oh Superboy, that's for the courts and the Siegels to decide.
Now, imagine that with the Anti-Monitor's armor...
Too bad the latest meeting couldn't have ended like this. Especially when they both started the same way:
I wonder if Scipio's reading (and enjoying) Aquaman: Sword of Atlantis.
"But Tom, Scipio loathed the very idea of the book! Aquaman shouldn't be sword and sorcery!"
True enough. In fact, while I admit that I don't know much about what Aquaman should be, I'd be willing to say that Scipio was right on the money: Aquaman as a Western sounds to me like the most interesting take on the character.
Which is why this week's issue of Sword of Atlantis has me hooked. At first glance, it's very medieval. There's a prophetic wizard-esque character, a gladiatorial swordfight, a deposed Queen and a missing King. But actually reading the book makes it seem like Kurt Busiek has taken Scip's advice to heart.
Arthur Curry is a young hothead searching for his missing father, or failing that, revenge. In the first issue, he is thrust into a new frontier of sorts, where he uses his wits and his gut to help an outlaw fight off a bunch of raiders, saving their captives. The outsider is given weapons and clothes to help him survive in this harsh world, and travels with the outlaw King Shark and the mysterious Dweller in the Depths (also a pretty decent Transformers episode, as I recall, penned by Paul Dini), hoping still to find his missing father. They come across a small village, a ghost town populated by drifters, outlaws, and some of the scattered refugees from the destroyed Atlantis. He learns that this undersea world is a land without laws or leadership, since the central capital was destroyed. Tribes of bandits and rastabouts have prevented any rebuilding, and countless are dead. Arthur then ends up in a duel, horrendously outmatched, but driven by pure nerves. At the end, he proves himself the better man by letting his opponent live and riding off with his outlaw buddy.
Lawless frontier. Idealistic hotheaded hero. Duels and honor codes. Roving bandits. Outlaws and refugees. Ghost towns.
Sounds like a western to me.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
Okay, so Tony Daniel wasn't Mike McKone or Tom Grummett, but he's been a decent artist on Teen Titans for quite some time now.
So when exactly did he decide to start sucking?
Somehow, the One Year Gap turned a guy with a decent, if unmemorable, style into a mid-'90s Image artist with little sense of proportion, anatomy, or, uh, faces.
Check out the new issue of Teen Titans, particularly the scene with Gar and Raven, or most of the panels of Wendy and Marvin. Ugh. Faces are all slanty, features are misplaced, bodies look like they came out of a quality of work that Rob Liefeld could only dream of achieving, but that everyone else long ago mastered and built upon.
Tony Daniel, what happened?
Mild spoilerage ahead.
So, what are the practical implications of this? Joanne Siegel and Laura Siegel Larson (LL? Neat) have been found to own the rights to the Superboy character, and to Clark Kent as seen in Smallville. What happens next, besides several appeals? Is it just a matter of royalties, or do the Siegels gain creative control of the characters? If that's the case, then what are they going to do? Sell them back to DC? Sell them to Marvel? Self-publish some Superboy comics? Can they do that? I'm reasonably certain that every other major character in the Superman/boy mythos, and the symbol on his costume, and his title logo, are owned by DC. What kind of comic could the Siegels produce?
Furthermore, would this apply to the Kesel/Grummett Superboy? He's not a young Clark Kent, he's not just Superman when he was a boy, he has different powers and a different costume (or three), is he owned by the Siegels by virtue of having the same name?
I hope this just ends up with an amicable settlement and a hefty royalties package, where DC retains the ability to tell stories about their primary hero when he was a boy. And the youthful clone of said hero.
See, I'm kind of torn by this. I think the comic companies really jerked around with their top creators back in the day, and ought to recognize that, apologize for it, and make some monetary recognition. The Siegels and Shusters and Kanes and Fingers and Kirbys and Lees and Schwartzes and Infantinos ought to be getting decent-sized royalty packages 'til the end of time. Every solo comic ought to come with a "_____ created by John Doe and Jack Smith" credit on the title page, like Superman and Batman and Wonder Woman do.
But I also think people shouldn't be able to live without ever working on the achievements of their grandparents and great-grandparents and other generations removed. Adults ought to earn their living, not have their living earned for them by some ancestor. I'm not saying this is the case here; Joanne and Laura deserve Jerry's royalties. But a few generations down the line, it starts to become like reparations. Why should you get paid for something your great-great-grandparents did or went through? I don't go looking through European crests trying to find out who owned my indentured servant ancestor who jumped ship to come to America. I don't go looking for the barons who owned my distant serf ancestors. Sure, they suffered, but I haven't, and I don't deserve to profit from their suffering any more than anyone else deserved to profit from their suffering.
Next: Dan DiDio is at least better at giving straight answers to questions then Joe Quesada.
Q: Is Booster still married to Gladys or did Superboy Prime get her too?
DD: Gladys is gone, one of the few good things Superboy Prime’s “wall punching” accomplished.
Why? Booster's clearly been in the future long enough to upgrade Skeets and get a little noticably older. Why can't we say he had annulment or divorce papers drawn up there, rather than say Superboy wiped her from existence? Sure, in the 25th Century she's long-dead, but we have no idea what time-traveling marriage laws are like. Why not just say she died in Blüdhaven? She was an OMAC who died in the assault on Themyscira? She was a covert Checkmate agent who died in Max Lord's purge? DC keeps saying they respect Keith Giffen and giving him high-profile assignments and whatnot, but then they say "oh, that most recent story you did with these characters who we've raped, killed, and otherwise darkened? Yeah, Superboy punched it."
Q: Will we see Ray Palmer (the Atom) in Infinite Crisis? Will we soon find out what's he been up to ever since the end of Identity Crisis?
DD: Ray is gone.
Lame. Comic characters don't just walk off into the sunset. Either there's plans for Ray, or they just haven't planned his comeback, but something so final-sounding as "Ray is gone" is just lame.
Q: Why hasn't DC ever done anything with Apache Chief, Black Vulcan, El Dorado, Rima, or Samurai in the DCU? It would be cool to see them join the JLA or maybe the Global Guardians.
DD: Out of all the characters you mentioned only Rima catches my interest. Then again, if one of our writers has an interesting take on one of the others, hey, you never know.
Um, dude: Apache Chief=Manitou Raven; Black Vulcan=Black Lightning; El Dorado=Motorcyclist hero from the '90s, or swashbuckler from the old west, either way, they've done stuff with him; and Samurai was basically the Asian Red Tornado. In any case, most of those characters have been used by DC in some form or another.
Q: Ultra the Multi-Alien showed up during the Rann-Thanagar War as a background character. He's been kicking around for years and little has been done with him. Is there ANY chance that this great character (that did carry one of the sci fi titles for at least a year back in the sixties!) will get a taste of rehabilitation and get used again?
DD: Actually, that’s a character I enjoy as well, if only for one of the strangest origins out there. No surprise, except to see him in 52.
Maybe this was obvious, but I just realized that Ultra is simply the 20th-century (or whenever) version of Ultra Boy, or that Ultra Boy is the 30th-Century version of Ultra the Multi-Alien. While Ultra had discrete powers, each of which could only be used by one segment of his body, Ultra Boy has discrete powers, each of which can only be used one at a time. I don't know, I thought it was neat, and wondered if it was intentional.
Q: Any chance of ADVENTURE COMICS ever being revived?
DD: A very good chance.
Q: Does Superman wear underwear under the costume already wearing underwear?
DD: Not sure if I can answer that one, it’s more of a question for Lois.
I can answer that: no. In the interior of issue on the right, Superman sets fire to his costume and walks away, bare-butt naked. It's not the only comic that established this, but it's the first one I thought of.
Q: Lynx, Lady Shiva, Jet....are the Dead returning to the DCU?
DD: Following the collapse of the Multiverse in issue six, a new Earth is formed and some who were thought dead appear to have been reborn. If they were meant to survive in the new DCU, they will do so, if they weren’t, things have a way of correcting themselves.
Also lame. I'm really not totally digging the "Superboy punched it and made it better" thing for resurrections. Seems lazy to me.
Q: When are Dick and Babs getting hitched?
DD: Better question is “Why didn’t they get hitched?”
Q: After Infinite Crisis, how many people left in the DC Universe will have the powers of The Flash?
Q: The "new" Ray in Freedom Fighters... Ray Terrill or no?
Lame, lame, lame. The new Flash series gets one arc to hook me. The Speed Force and the Flash family was a universally good idea (okay, the future Flashes weren't quite so good). Pruning the family tree is a major step backward, and I hope it's a temporary step.
And why invent a new Ray? There's still a Ray in the DCU. Why replace him? Unnecessary characters bug me.
Q: Will we see Linda Danvers in 52?
DD: Not sure if Linda Danvers as you remember her made it out of Crisis intact.
If this means that Superboy punched Linda Danvers out of continuity, then it may be grounds to bludgeon Dan DiDio with a baseball bat. While I don't want to ever see her again (unless it's under Peter David's pen), I want her to be around, somewhere, for potential use down the line. And I definitely want her in continuity; it takes some of the sting away from Kara.
Dude, Wendy and Marvin are on the Teen Titans? I'm sorry, that's the height of lameness. Snapper Carr as mentor to Young Justice? Cool. Wendy and Marvin as junior Titans? Not cool. We replaced Superboy with those Scooby-Doo rejects?
End Shaggy and Daphne.
Okay, they killed Scarface and the Ventriloquist? Bah! A fantastic Batman villain, gone for no reason. What, they couldn't off the Ten-Eyed Man or something? Batman has scores of worse villains to kill.
End glog post.
Why'd they have to kill Superboy? I liked Superboy. Okay, I liked Blue Beetle, Max Lord, Outburst and Loser from the Supermen of America, Dr. Fate, Phantom Lady, Human Bomb, Hawkwoman, Mike the Parademon, Shazam, Jade, Pantha, Ronnie Raymond, Lord Satanus, and Ragdoll, but I really liked Superboy.
Superboy's always been an interesting character, right from his first appearance. Sure, in the month or so when DC was still trying to make you think that one of the four "impostors" was actually the real Superman, he was the next-to-least convincing of the group (and that's only because Steel never claimed to be Superman after the first issue or so), but he was still fascinating. He began his career naïve and arrogant, an attention hog and womanizer and consummate teenager. He trademarked the Superman name! He found an agent! He was immature, he was a jerk, he was a kid playing an adult, and to be frank, it was a little scary.
When Superman came back, he and the kid had some words. One of those words was "Superboy," a moniker that the nameless kid had hated with a passion until that point. Coming from Superman, along with his approval, along with the legitimacy of his S-Shield, it finally seemed acceptable. Superboy headed for the sun-drenched skies of Hawai'i. He left that issue with a quote; Superman spotted it as one from Peter Pan, fitting since it was spoken by a boy-hero who didn't want to grow up. Superboy, in his mind, had been quoting Captain James Kirk, seeing himself as a swashbuckling, smooth-talking adventurer.
He got his own series, he got a girlfriend or two, a fantastic supporting cast, and a rogue's gallery. 59 issues later, he got a name: Kon-El. Superman "adopted" him as a cousin. He had grown out of his attention-whore phase and had become a successful, independent superhero in his own right. 'Twas around this time that he found out he couldn't age, and that caused him a good deal of angst; he was finally ready to grow up, to find some depth in his life, to become a "real boy."
Then his girlfriend died; he lost his powers and found his mortality. In Young Justice, he found peers and friends and love unlike what he'd had before. He reinvented himself, he became embroiled in a war and saw friends die. He had a breakdown, had a crappy seven issues under Palmiotti and Didio, and eventually ended up helping found the new Teen Titans. He traveled to the future and became part of another family. He developed a secret identity and chafed in the role of a normal human, but loved being part of a normal family. He went nuts, but found his way back again. He'd grown from arrogance and naiveté to insecurity and budding maturity, to a well-developed personality and a deep sense of responsibility.
And then he sacrificed himself to stop another Superboy, one who had never earned the name, not the way Kon did. One who had the name thrust upon 'im by circumstance and cruel parentage.
I read the spoilers; I saw the sun beginning to set in "Teen Titans Annual," but still I hoped that poor Conner Kent, the first post-Crisis Kryptonian cousin, would make it through intact. It was an irrational hope, I know, and the more I think about it, the more I understand that it had to be this way. Superboy-Prime had been gunning for this battle since day one; Superboy was portrayed as conflicted, depressed, even cowardly, while Superboy-Prime talked a big game of grand heroism and idealism, a game he ultimately lost.
Of course, the parallelism isn't lost on me. Superboy-Prime was decked out in the Anti-Monitor's armor, hoping to destroy our world and supplant his own. Just as in the first Crisis, someone with an 'S'-shield had to make that ultimate sacrifice to stop him. Except this time, the sacrifice worked; it didn't just shock Dr. Light into action.
My only question, then, is "why Superboy?" Or, more specifically, "why not Supergirl?" Sure, there's the whole battle of the Superboys, but it really seems unfair that a character who's been around for thirteen years and has had major character development, someone who has starred in four series and has a major fanbase, should die while a character who has lounged around the DCU for a couple of years with absolutely no characterization, who is mildly-creepy eye candy without any substance whatsoever, a character who has replaced a much more interesting figure with the same name, could not only continue living, not only carry her own series, but become the star of another as well. I liked Linda Danvers; Kara Zor-El has so far given me one issue of content to make me like her, and it's her most recent appearance. Why does Batman's family only continue to grow, while even Superman's core books get pruned from the tree?
The new Teen Titans issue gives me some hope. Robin's trying to clone his best friend, and I hope he succeeds. Not only would that bring back the second-best character to enter the Superman mythos in the modern era (following Steel, natch), but it would also add a new layer of confliction onto his character. Superboy rose from the ashes of Superman's death; here he would be rising from the ashes of his own. Serious questions about the nature of death, the morality of cloning, and the existence of the soul would be raised anew in the Teen of Steel, and his relationship with Tim would become necessarily strained and awkward. I hope above hopes that Tim succeeds, and I hope that it becomes fodder for interesting Superboy stories, perhaps even a much-deserved new series, for years to come.
I know Kon will return eventually. He's too good not to. Until then, as the Kid said:
Monday, April 03, 2006
Animamiacs is coming to DVD! Pinky and the Brain is coming to DVD! Both sets hit July 25th, which makes this year even more awesome in terms of season sets. I still haven't even been able to pick up the second half of He-Man Season 1 or Justice League Season 1. New Superman and Batman Beyond sets hit this summer, as well as more He-Man than you can shake a stick at.
It's going to be an expensive year.
Anyway, with Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain hitting the DVD shelves, can Freakazoid be far behind? I daresay he cannot.
Sunday, April 02, 2006
I hope you all enjoyed Comix Are Suxxors. I'll leave it up at least for a little while, so anyone interested can see my lame, last-minute attempts at humor. Marvel at my intentionally-unchanged "Edit-Me" links! See the way I spent five minutes trying to find a robotic-looking font so I could parody the title image on Comics Should Be Good. Watch me rip off Jon's "Eat a Dick" joke again!
Ah, good times, good times.
Oh, and Jon said that using that joke made him feel like Bruce Vilanche. For that, I am profoundly sorry.