Thursday, March 31, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 253

On modern maps, it is called Key West, but the Florida island's original name was Cayo Hueso, which translates literally to "bone key." Historians have developed hypotheses about the reasons for that ominous name, and only a few have even suspected the truth. But today, Dr. Barbara Minerva has finally discovered the Bone Key itself, and when she unlocks the Skeleton Door on one of the remote islands of the Key West National Wildlife Refuge, it unleashes the power of a forgotten animal god--a power that only the Cheetah can harness! As her bestial army advances on the inhabited islands, the Superman Family stands as the only line of defense! Superman and Superboy take on the terrible Turtle-Men! Steel and Supergirl combat the cunning Commandospreys! Meanwhile, it's up to Starlight and Power Girl to face the deified Cheetah! If they fall, so falls the human race!

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 252

The revelers in Miami, FL, are generally more hedonistic than antagonistic, but when inhibitions run low and rival-school tensions run high, sometimes violence erupts. The brawl between some local University of Miami students and a group of visiting teens from Florida State would be enough cause for alarm, but these aren't just any students. These brawlers come from rival chapters of Iota Sigma, the international metahuman fraternity, and so their fight becomes a whole lot more than just collegiate fisticuffs! The Superman Family has their indestructible hands full trying to separate the rumbling rivals and protect innocent bystanders, but the unpredictable nature of the students' sprouting superpowers may make them more than Team Superman can handle!

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Big Superman Movie News

By now I'm sure you've heard the big news about Zack Snyder's Superman reboot that broke recently. Everyone's been talking about it, voicing almost-certainly-premature opinions and in many cases saying some downright awful things.

I am, of course, referring to the decision to shoot in Plano, Illinois.

Okay, it may seem like small potatoes to you that Superman is filming on some of the same locations as "Larry the Cable Guy in Witless Protection," but it means a lot to me. See, I live right near Plano. When I have to buy cheap Chinese-made merchandise, I go to the Plano Wal-Mart. I ate dinner in Plano tonight.

And I don't think I need to tell you what a fan I am of Superman.

Seriously. "Hey, Tom, we're going to film Superman in your backyard, how do you feel about that?" I may have to subscribe to Variety just for the inevitable extra-casting report. News (and possibly eventually photos!) as it develops.


Also, Amy Adams was cast as Lois Lane. I don't know that I would have ever made that pick, but I totally approve. I've liked Adams as an actress since "Enchanted," and I thought she had a great turn in a more serious role in "Doubt." I haven't seen "The Fighter" or "Julie & Julia," but I've heard similarly good things. Frankly, based on how the rest of the news about this film is shaping up, I fear that she may be too good for this movie.

Plus, her geek-cred is pretty well golden. Not only is she a "Buffy" alum, but she also has experience playing the reporter-girlfriend-of-a-superhero, since she apparently voiced Sweet Polly Purebread in the recent "Underdog" movie. Besides that, she appears to be pulling a reverse-Hatcher (previously known as a reverse-O'Toole), playing Superman's love interest after an appearance on "Smallville."

Which is why I'm settling in right now to watch Season 1, episode 8, "Craving."

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Walking with Superman: Day 251

EdgeMusic, the cable music station arm of the Galaxy Broadcasting empire, has recently been more known for reality shows like "Gotham Shore" and "Meta Mom" than for actually showing music videos, but their annual Spring Break celebrations always manage to bring out the hottest artists on the Billboard charts, and this year's is no different. Today on the main stage in Miami's South Beach, the headlining band is the up-and-coming "Spellbinderz," whose meteoric rise up the charts has led to unprecedented success and acclaim. The elder members of the Superman Family don't quite see the appeal, but Conner, Linda, and Natasha are drawn into the huge crowd of teenage fans. But when the audience starts rioting at the band's command, it looks like the music has an even greater hold on the teens than anyone suspected! Now, it's up to Steel, Power Girl, and Superman to stop the mob of mesmerized minors--including Superboy, Supergirl, and Starlight! Meanwhile, Lois Lane investigates the source of the hypnotic rock, and finds herself face-to-face with the Spellbinder himself!

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 250

"It'll be fun!"

"It's just...not my kind of fun, Conner."

"Come on, Clark! Linda's already packed, Kara's put together an itinerary, John Henry and Natasha are on-board, and I bet even Lois would be up for it. Besides, we've all had so much drama recently, I think we'd all benefit from a little break. Blue skies, yellow sunshine--"

"'Tanned bodies, polka-dot bikinis.'"

"Okay, maybe some of that, too."

"Like I said, Conner, it's just not my idea of a good time."

"Can't you just picture it, though? 'The Superman Family Vacation'! 'Super-Team Saves Spring Break'! 'S-Shield Swimwear Sweeps Nation'!"

"..."

"See, I knew you'd warm up to it. Look, I even got us matching sunglasses!"


The Superman Family is on Spring Break, and their first stop is Fort Lauderdale, Florida! But it's not all sun and fun for the Family of Steel, when Conner and Natasha Irons learn that someone's selling a snake oil super-power serum to unsuspecting students! Now, Lois Lane and the Teens of Tomorrow investigate the source of the elixir, while Superman, Steel, and Power Girl try to protect hundreds of intoxicated teens who think they're invincible!

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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 249

Before Superman sets foot in the little village of Ivoryton, CT, a young dark-haired girl stops him. "Beware, Superman. It's a trap," she tells him simply, matter-of-factly. There certainly don't appear to be any dangers; the townspeople are friendly, if a little distant, and a quick super-sense sweep doesn't even reveal any lead containers that could hold kryptonite. In fact, the only thing that seems out of place is that quiet little girl, who always seems to be close by.

That is, until Superman steps into the Ivoryton Tavern Cafe and the promethium-alloy walls close in, while the nanocolony-android townspeople attack him with hi-tech weapons and superhuman strength! But who is behind this mechanical assault? What happened to the real people of Ivoryton? And why is that little girl so motivated to help the Man of Tomorrow?

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Saturday, March 26, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 248

Clark Kent and Lois Lane have come to Niagara Falls, New York, to take in the simple majesty of North America's most powerful waterfall. And it becomes a whole different sort of powerful when Dr. Alchemy uses his Philosopher's Stone to transmute the water of the falls into concentrated hydrofluoric acid! Superman must spring into action to save the Maid of the Mist and the other onlookers and tourists from certain death in the corrosive fluid, which leaves the task of defeating Dr. Alchemy to intrepid reporter Lois Lane!

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 247

In 1962, the Century 21 Exposition in Seattle, WA, left an indelible mark on the city, and today the Seattle Center--with the Space Needle, the International Fountain, and the monorail terminus--stands as a testimony to that future-minded event. Needless to say, the Man of Tomorrow feels right at home. And when a familar-looking spherical craft materializes above the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame, Superman is thrilled to meet it. But while the travelers are indeed from a thousand years in the future, they have come from a parallel universe--Universal Boy! Titan Girl! Thunder Teen! The Battalion of Ultra-Brigands represents the future of villainy in the evil-dominated universe of Earth-3, and they've come to New Earth to initiate their newest recruit, the titanic teenage tyrant, Ultraboy! His test: kill Superman!

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 246

As Superman walks the rolling rural roads of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, enjoying the bright blue skies and the quiet farming community that reminds him of his boyhood home, he's surprised to see an electrical storm--emanating from the middle of a field! He races to the smoldering site, where he finds a young Amish girl. But the child hasn't been struck by freak lightning, she's been generating it! She confides in the Man of Steel, telling him how she can make lightning with her fingers and hear the strange voices of cars and planes and farm equipment when they're close by. She has kept these abilities secret, fearful of what her friends and family might think. Superman is determined to help this teenage metahuman cope with her unique gifts and reunite with her community--but will his interference help the girl, or leave her shunned and ostracized?

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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 245

Superman's in Baltimore, MD, where the Department of Transportation is opening a new cross-country high-speed railway. The hi-tech passenger train can make the trip from coast to coast in a matter of hours, using environmentally-friendly fuel and ferrying more passengers than even the largest jumbo jet. But as the train lurches out of the station for its inaugural voyage and speeds past its first scheduled stop, accelerating all the way, it's clear that something has gone terribly wrong! The ransom demands come quickly: Epoch, the Lord of Time, has sabotaged the train, attaching to it a chronal generator. The faster and farther the train travels, the more of a tachyon charge it will build, until it crashes at the end of the line in San Francisco, causing a detonation that will explode at every point in time, irrevocably altering the past and future! While the government scrambles to meet Epoch's demands, the Man of Steel speeds along the track to find a way to stop this runaway train. But this is one locomotive that may prove even more powerful than Superman!

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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 244

Jake Trask of Midville, NC, once ingested a serum which transformed him into a grotesque giant, able to detach any of his body parts and allow them to operate independently. As the Separated Man, he laid siege to the town with his disembodied feet and floating eyes that cried flaming tears, until Robin, Speedy, Aqualad, Wonder Girl, and Kid Flash--in one of their earliest missions as the Teen Titans--put a stop to his rampage. Now, years later, Superman has arrived in Midville to find the town undergoing separation anxiety once more! Somehow, the serum's effect has become contagious, and the whole town is slowly transforming into Separated Men, Women, and Children! Can Superman stop this bizarre plague before everyone in Midville goes to pieces?

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Monday, March 21, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 243

Superman expected to encounter at least one Flash on his trip through Keystone City, KS, but what he found was the Reverse! Professor Zoom has returned from the 25th Century, and this time he's brought a friend from his own era: the black sheep of the Superman Dynasty, Dev-El the Overman! With the Flash family out of town, it's up to Superman to save the sister cities from these time-displaced terrors--but will the Man of Tomorrow stack up against these fiends from the distant future?

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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Frustration

I
I'm the best there is at what I do...
really
...and what I do is color-coordinate.
wish
Seems like the badasses really like big belt buckles.
people
He may have amnesia, but he always remembers clean underwear.
would
Underpants of Iron!
stop
If this were such a faux pas...
making
...wouldn't his fashionista wife have said something?
fun
True fact: Yellowjacket does not wear a yellow jacket. Jubilee, on the other hand...
of
Red, white, blue, and briefs.
Superman's
Fruit of the super-woven loom.
"underpants."
It could be worse. It could be boxers.
The
joke
Cosmic Boy rocks (Rokks?) the tighty-whiteys.
is
Ultra Boy has many different styles of underwear, but he can only wear one at a time.
as
What...what's going on here?
tired
Sun Boy's crotch has a racing stripe. Between this and Garth's diaper, the 30th Century looks really kinky.
and
Leave it to Colossal Boy to have the largest belt buckle of all.
juvenile
Fashion matters.
as
He'd like to show you fashion, but he thinks he'll blow your minds.
"hurr
It's impressive how the stripes stay perfectly straight on his non-flat pelvis.
hurr,
Behold, the Girdle of Nabu!
Batman
Crusaderwear.
and
Wonder undies.
Robin
Dynamic drawers.
are
I'm tempted to make a 'longbow hunters' joke.
totally
Thunderwear.
gay"
In red or yellow...
and
...DD's a well-dressed fellow.
other
That's quite the disco belt.
inane
Even the ladies know the style.
clichés.
I'm far too mature for a joke about old one-eye.
Can
Blue Beetle's boxer-briefs.
we
To me, my skivvies!
please
Granny's panties!
finally
UNDER-WEAR IS ANTI-LIFE!
put
Behold the 'TECHNO-ACTIVE' garment called the KIRBIKINI!
it
This man, these...UNMENTIONABLES!
to
The touch, the feel, of photons, the fabric of our lives.
rest?
Thus he comes, the wielder of the ASTRO-FORCE--ORION fights for FASHION!


Seriously, it's a component of costume design. It has been since before there were comic book superheroes. Steve Ditko used it, Jack Kirby used it, Dave Cockrum used it, Neal Adams used it, Jim Lee used it. In most cases, it's a way to break up the colors of the lower body; in some cases, it's just to add seams, apparently. What it emphatically is not is uncommon, or even necessarily a sign of bad costume design. Check out lists of the best costume designs, and you'll see some consistent entries: Blue Beetle, Green Arrow, Wolverine--all dressed in external underwear. Can we all please stop acting like Superman's red briefs are some terrible and unique crime of fashion?

I mean, Moon Knight wears white all year long. Seriously.

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Walking with Superman: Day 242

Deep within an abandoned missile silo somewhere near Denver, CO, is a secret military facility designed to house hostile aliens and extraterrestrial research experiments. Somewhere in a sub-basement, in a room lit with red sun lamps and painted with a gold kryptonite primer, the newest resident awakens. Amanda Waller wants the name of Superman's informant, the whistleblower who outed dozens of classified programs, and he's going to rot in this cell until he gives her the information that she wants. And if he refuses, then she there are an awful lot of awful people who'd like to know what Superman does when he's not wearing a cape. The Prisoner of Steel is caught between his ethics and his identity, with no escape...but could his salvation lie in the facility's other prisoners? There's a displaced DNAlien in an adjacent room who certainly seems to think so!

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 241

Clark Kent's exposé on shady secret military projects has led to a firestorm of media controversy and government outrage. While the Daily Planet soaks up the attention and holds fast on First Amendment grounds, one mild-mannered reporter can feel the Wall closing in! Superman and his informant are in Baltimore, MD, and they're going to have to move quickly to keep Pfc. Dunning out of the hands of Task Force X! To protect his source, Superman may have to sacrifice himself--to the Suicide Squad!

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Friday, March 18, 2011

C2E2 or Bust!

I'm finally making it back to a comic convention! To give you an idea of how long it's been, the last one I went to was full of "Countdown" teasers and featured the premiere of "Batman: Gotham Knight," the second of DC's current series of direct-to-DVD animated features. So it's been awhile, and I'm stoked. I'm going to get my browse on something fierce, and I've actually got some money to burn. Plus, there's going to be a "Middleman" cast reunion, and I don't think I could possibly miss that.

So I'll be at C2E2 on Saturday, and I'll definitely be at the Middleman panel. Anyone else going?

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Walking with Superman: Day 240

When Superman responds to an ultrasonic beacon originating on Fort Carroll, an abandoned artificial island just south of Baltimore, MD, he's not certain what waits for him. What he finds is a young solder named Brandy Dunning, who has sought the Man of Steel's assistance in a one-woman whistleblower campaign. In her possession, she has a laptop hard drive containing thousands of classified U.S. military and government files, ranging from trivial memos to detailed dossiers on Task Force X, Enclave A, Project 7734, and dozens of other shady dealings. What she has seen in these files compelled her to act, but her loyalty to country and code have prevented her from going directly to the press. So she turns the information over to Superman, trusting him to be able to do the right thing. Now, Superman is forced to choose between his journalistic instincts and the American government--and either way, he must face the consequences!

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Thursday, March 17, 2011

A prologue of sorts, I guess?

As should be obvious by now, I spend a lot of time thinking about Superman. Probably an unhealthy amount, actually. As a consequence, I've found myself doing a lot of Superman reading lately. Three things in particular have been working to change and reshape my opinions of the character (in some cases even including some of the things I once thought were foundational): the Morrison/Millar/Waid/Peyer "Superman 2000" pitch, Elliot S! Maggin's novel Superman: The Last Son of Krypton, and the Maggin/Bates era of Superman comics from the '70s and early '80s. I've got a bunch of posts percolating about stuff from these sources, and while I'd like to say that that means you'll be reading more about Superman here than usual, we both know that's not the case.

One thing that I think is worth mentioning is the fact that each of these three materials is something that I've actively avoided reading, for one reason or another. I wrote off the "Superman 2000" pitch after I heard about it, mainly because I thought the whole concept of splitting up Lois and Clark's marriage was wrongheaded, smacking of the same Silver Age nostalgia that was running rampant in the DCU and comics in general. I still think it'd be a bad idea to break up comics' most famous couple, but mostly because I don't think anyone has really taken advantage of the story potential of the marriage, and because I don't think you can un-ring that wedding bell. Once Clark and Lois have broken up, even if neither of them remembers the marriage, I think everyone everywhere is going to be reading the rest of their stories as biding time and treading water until they get married again. Mark Waid's "Birthright" made me further convinced that the "Superman 2000" situation would have been a total fiasco, and so I wrote off the pitch as a profoundly bad idea.

Now that I've read it, I can't believe that I wrote it off so completely based on what was, ultimately, such a tiny aspect of the whole enterprise. It's made me decide to revisit "Birthright," to read that series in light of what these four horsemen actually wanted to achieve. While I think Waid still dropped the ball (the "soul-vision"/vegetarianism concept was explained a lot more clearly and sensibly in "Superman 2000" than in "Birthright"), I think a larger ball was dropped by the editorial staff who decided instead to go with the Jeph Loeb soft reboot. But that's a story for another post.

"Birthright" was what made me decide not to read the Maggin Superman novels. I'd heard that "soul-vision" came out of Miracle Monday, and that was enough to make me write off those as well. I picked up Last Son of Krypton some years ago at a used bookstore, and I'm actually on my second copy, having lent the first to a friend, without ever actually cracking it. I picked up Miracle Monday back in '08, but haven't gotten to it, either. With Spring Break coming up, I anticipate having enough time to actually finish the first novel, and I'd like to finish the second before the actual Miracle Monday in May. I'm only nine chapters in, but this is some good Superman. I was silly to ignore it for so long based on spurious guilt by association.

Which brings us to the Bates/Maggin era of the Superman comics, which I've largely avoided for a totally different reason: they didn't matter. I started reading Superman regularly in 1992, and one of my earliest introductions was with the Wizard Death of Superman Special. I read that thing cover to cover multiple times, absorbing every single fact I could, and one of those facts was that the Crisis changed Superman and things were different now and nothing from before mattered. This caused multiple arguments between me and my mother. So I wrote anything pre-1986 off as silly Silver Age non-continuity stuff, and never really looked back, barring the occasional "For the Man Who Has Everything." In recent years, I've been growing a greater appreciation for the Silver Age, but that still left a pretty huge gap including all of the '70s and early '80s--in large part because almost none of it has been collected. The Alan Moore stories have been reprinted, and a handful of issues in the decade-style trades, but most of the Maggin/Bates era has been left to collect dust in back issue boxes. And that's a shame, because these are some of the most interesting, most fun Superman comics I've read in a long time. There's some of that Silver Age goofiness, to be sure, but I think modern comics could do with an injection of the Julie Schwartz model of writing stories to fit a crazy/punchy cover. The more significant point to be made is that these comics are fun, and that's often been sorely lacking in Superman's books. I'd love to see these reprinted in some kind of omnibus format, or even just a less-piecemeal way than the current "stories from a certain decade or theme" model of old-school reprintings.

Hm. This was supposed to be a very different post. I guess that'll be the next one, then. The moral of the stories, kids: don't dismiss things for stupid reasons. Every comic story is an "imaginary story," and ignoring some because you think they're somehow less imaginary than others is just stupid.

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Walking with Superman: Day 239

When conditions are right at the Kelso Dune Field at the Mojave National Preserve in southeastern California, the sand itself begins to sing in a low, booming tone. Such singing sands exist in only a handful of places around the world, and while they typically sing solo, today the Kelso Dunes are playing backup. The Silver Banshee has come to California, hoping that the song of the dunes holds the key to restoring her humanity, and she's not about to let anyone stop the music, especially Superman! But has the Man of Steel come to apprehend her, or is the song she's singing written for a trio?

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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 238

Superman visits the Dinosaur State Park and Arboretum in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, which houses a large number of dinosaur exhibits and a large collection of Mesozoic Era plants. But the unique attraction at the park is a large set of fossilized footprints left by an unknown carnivorous dinosaur two hundred million years prior. Superman examines the site, both out of curiosity and awe at these remnants of Earth's amazing life forms from a distant age, and out of the hope that his unparalleled sensory powers might reveal more information about the mysterious tracks. But when his Kryptonian fingertips brush the surface of the sandstone, an alien beacon buried just beneath the surface fires a signal into space--and moments later, a trio of heavily-armed Saurian aliens teleport in. They may have been ruling in absentia for the last few eras, but they've claimed Earth as their own, and they're not about to let a Kryptonian invasion force take what's rightfully theirs!

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Comics I'd Write for Free: Green Arrow

We're men, men in tights...I recently sold off my collection of Green Arrow comics, which, to be honest, wasn't all that many. I started reading the series because I was a teenager and Kevin Smith was teh awesome, and frankly, I think his two arcs--plus the Meltzer follow-up--were pretty good comics. They certainly paved the way for Ollie to become a powerhouse character with a fairly consistently-running series, which is more than can be said for a lot of otherwise good characters.

I liked Green Arrow as a kid, though I didn't have many comics with him. I've mentioned a few times that I grew up reading a stack of my mom's old World's Finests and Adventure Comics and so forth, and Green Arrow featured occasionally in those. Mostly it was the full-on Batman ripoff era, pre-beard, when he drove the Arrowcar and had an Arrowcave (and led me to think that every superhero except Superman had their own eponymous car and cave hideout). I know there was a Neal Adams-era Ollie in one of the Super-Sons issues, so I was definitely exposed to both. Admittedly, while I prefer the Adams costume, I'm an awfully big fan of the trick arrows. I don't care that they're not aerodynamic; they're awesome.

I don't often talk politics on this blog; I have another space for that. Suffice it to say that I'm a dyed-in-the-wool left-wing liberal hippie whatever. Recent less-than-stellar political events, like the one I thrust Superman and Green Arrow into a few days back have got me thinking about politics and comics, though, and have given me a revelation about Oliver Queen.

Green Arrow should be the liberal Punisher.

Now, when I say this, I don't mean that he should be going around killing Tea Partiers and polluters. I mean it in a more abstract way: the Punisher is a 'swift justice' wish fulfillment character, who goes after the sort of everyday criminals that we all occasionally think ought to just be weeded out entirely, and he does that. He skips the whole due process and fair trial issues and, with a pure certainty, plays judge, jury, and executioner. It's the same kind of wish fulfillment that we look for in shows like "Dexter;" we want someone to do the dirty work that we're unwilling to do ourselves.

Of course, there are good reasons that we're unwilling to do that dirty work, all centered around certainties that exist only in fictional settings and complications that don't. We can accept the Punisher's actions because we know he's right about the people he dispatches, because that's how the stories are written. Real life is messier. So, while the Punisher goes after mob bosses and drug dealers and arms dealers, there's really no one exerting that same swift justice on the corrupt business owners or cronyist politicians or dirty lobbyists or any of the other standard villains of a liberal tirade. And that's what I'd like to see from Green Arrow.

Here's the pitch: Ollie realizes that, after years of being involved in politics and living as a billionaire again, he's grown distant from the causes he used to champion. Realizing that voting and speaking out simply aren't enough these days, not when one side refuses to play fair and the other side rolls over at the slightest pressure, he sets out on a one-man cross-country campaign to set things right. Between his skills and his resources, he decides to become a real-life Robin Hood once more, a nobleman by birth who sides with the common man, fighting the battles that they can't, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor. He sets up a social networking page where fans and followers can suggest what problems are affecting them, and he'll put his brand of non-lethal justice to bear on those who would oppress and exploit the powerless. And so he rides his Arrowcycle out from Star City, driving where the Internet and his sense of justice take him, with his sights ultimately set on Washington, DC.

I think, given that, the rest of the story writes itself. The philosophical complications are obvious: Ollie is not perfect by any means, and his brash, hot-headed approach may result in complications he hasn't foreseen. Besides that, he has to deal with the ramifications that his actions will have after he leaves, and he's going to find that there are lots of problems that can't be solved with boxing glove arrows. He's also going to make a lot of powerful enemies, not to mention his normal cadre of enemies who would be all too willing to seek him out--or to use his new web presence to lure him into traps. Meanwhile, a lot of his allies aren't exactly thrilled with his newfound political crusade, and while they may confront him, he's perfectly willing to take them to task for their own apparent moral failings.

Is it a bit like "Grounded"? Sure. But the problem with "Grounded" isn't in the idea of a superhero going walkabout, isn't in the idea of an out-of-touch superhero getting back to his roots and ideals, and isn't necessarily in the idea of a superhero dealing with real-world issues. The "Hard-Traveling Heroes" arc of Green Lantern/Green Arrow did all that, to varying degrees of success, and is fondly remembered because of it. The problem with "Grounded" is in the idea that Superman fits into that mold, and in the smug, self-assured way that it was executed. The story I'm proposing would be exactly as tedious if it had the self-assured self-righteousness that "Grounded" exuded in those early issues, where even though Superman was an asshole, we knew that the writer wanted us to think he was totally right and profound. Of course, the flipside point is that Ollie thinks he's absolutely right, and has to be confronted with the reality that he often isn't. And Ollie has the kind of smug self-assured attitude that can work in that sort of story; not so much with Superman.

There's also the point to be made that, what with executing Prometheus, hiding out in the woods, and allowing his allies to torture supervillains, he kind of has lost his idealistic principles. There would be an actual in-story justification for his need to reacquaint himself with his politics.

So Ollie Queen finally lives up to his Robin Hood-style costume, finds a way to reconcile his wealth and his politics, and sets off on a cross-country tour that can weave in and out of the mainstream DCU seamlessly, dealing both with relevant social commentary and over-the-top superhero action. It can function as an ongoing overarching theme, as a finite story (with Washington, DC as the endpoint), or some combination of both.

And I'd write it for free.

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Walking with Superman: Day 237

The mermaid theater at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park in western Florida is a unique spectacle, where highly-trained actresses put on live underwater shows in elaborate mermaid costumes. The visiting Superman takes in one of the impressive shows, but when the production ends, the actresses find themselves unable to breathe out of the water--or remove their no-longer-costume tails! The Man of Steel investigates the source of these strange changes, but will he be able to find a cure--or will these poor, unfortunate souls have to emigrate to Atlantis?

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Monday, March 14, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 236

Superman takes a trip to Princeton, New Jersey, hoping to take a tour of the academic facilities. Unfortunately, what should have been a long walk in the Institute Woods becomes a pitched battle when the Nuclear Man attacks the nearby Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory! Superman's in for a surprise, though, because his sun-born foe has learned a thing or three about his abilities since their first encounter, and when he draws the solar radiation out of Superman's cells, the Action Ace is left high and dry--without his superpowers! Facing imminent death and the destruction of Princeton, the Man of Steel's only hope lies in another visitor to Plainsboro Township: Lex Luthor!

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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 235

Before the war, in the waning days of Vaudeville, Leo Niemann gained fame as one of the youngest magicians to make the circuit. He started performing at twelve, and by the time he was in his twenties, he was really starting to make a name for himself. Unfortunately, so were the motion pictures, and somehow people just weren't interested in his tricks anymore. He puffed up his act with more dangerous and shocking stunts, he started calling himself "Astonicus," hoping to draw more people with his flare (and hide his German ancestry), and it had a small effect--at least until the mystery men came. What magician could get a show in New York or Metropolis or Gotham City with Green Lantern and Dr. Fate and the Spectre flying around? And so Niemann did as he always had: he adapted. It took what remained of his fortune to accomplish it, but eventually he was able to obtain a piece of true magic, a stone that could grant him the power that had so outshined him, the incredible abilities of the Justice Society of America! So Astonicus fought the heroes with their own powers, one at a time or together, and they soundly defeated him each time. Then, war broke out in Europe, and soon after, at home. Suddenly Astonicus couldn't even gain their notice as a supervillain. Once again, the new, big thing had left him in the shadows. So he retired to the last place where he'd played a show, never to perform in public again.

When Superman arrives in Branson, Missouri, he unexpectedly encounters the vacationing Wildcat--but before either of them can take in a show, they find themselves attacked! Neither one recognizes the angry young woman called Astoundia, but they certainly recognize the amazing powers she possesses--the powers of the entire Justice Society! Our heroes may unravel the mystery of her amazing abilities and her thirst for vengeance--but first they have to survive her assault!

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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 234

Clark Kent is in Madison, WI, covering a massive public employee strike that has put everyone from firefighters to schoolteachers on the picket lines. The crowd's mood is considerably lighter and more confident today, thanks to visiting billionaire Oliver Queen. In addition to giving some stirring speeches to rally the faithful and sending in a team of high-priced lawyers to fight for organized labor, Queen has pledged to use his own fortune to ensure that no one on the picket line misses a paycheck until the anti-union laws have been overturned. But when a private metahuman police force drops in to end the protest, it's up to Green Arrow and Superman to stop them!

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 233

Amazo has returned, and he's set his sights on the Aquifer of Time! Off the coast of Miami, Superman accompanied Dane Dorrance, Cave Carson, and a team of researchers into the underwater caverns that feed the Fountain of Youth and other strange springs, but one of the academics was a superpowered android in disguise! Dissolved in these amazing waters is a piece of the god-device called the Worlogog, and Amazo's thirsty! Superman stands between Amazo and his apotheosis, but if the Man of Steel should fall, who will help him in his Hour of need?

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 232

The Bimini island chain in the Bahamas is home to healing springs and, according to at least two talking animals who should know, the Fountain of Youth, while similar spouts and wells can supposedly be found all around nearby Florida. Today, just off the coast of Miami, Dane Dorrance and Cave Carson are in the final stages of digging down to an underwater cavern, which may grant access to the source of these unearthly waters. Superman joins the team of researchers as they head down to the cavern, but little do they know what strange dangers await them in the Aquifer of Time!

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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 231

Superman awakens with a start in the middle of the night, with a strangely familiar spectre hovering in his Dallas, TX hotel room. The shocking apparition begs the Man of Steel for help, to locate his killer and avenge his sudden and untimely death! Superman springs immediately into action, knowing that there's not a moment to lose, and seeks out the only private investigator with the mystical acumen necessary to solve this ghostly mystery--Dr. Richard Occult! Together they'll unravel the secrets behind this haunting and solve the impossible murder that set it off--the murder of Clark Kent!

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Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 230

It's Mardi Gras, and Superman is in New Orleans to celebrate. But when Baron Sunday learns of the Man of Steel's presence, he decides to exact some voodoo-flavored revenge. Besieged by bizarre sorcery, the Man of Steel is helpless against Sunday's sinister influence, and each blackout, each stretch of missing time, brings Superman closer to doing something he'll regret. If he has any hope of defeating this bitter bokor, he's going to need help--and so a weakened Superman must seek out former Young Justice member Anita Fite, the enchanting Empress, before he falls under Baron Sunday's thrall--forever!

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Monday, March 07, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 229

Superman's leading a new generation of Challengers of the Unknown into the depths of the timestream, searching for their missing mentors. The trail leads them to the very end of time, where Challenger Mountain remains in a tiny pocket dimension amidst the endless entropic morass. Somewhere in this little shard of Colorado lies the key to the original Challengers' disappearance, but to get there, Superman and the young Challengers must make their way through thousands of dangerous and deadly creatures, stolen from hundreds of worlds across all time and space. Meanwhile, there's nary a star in sight, let alone a nearby yellow sun, so Superman's powers are fading fast! And when the mysterious mastermind behind this terrible temporal trap reveals his sinister scheme, it looks like the Challengers' borrowed time may have finally run out!

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Sunday, March 06, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 228

Challenger Mountain in Colorado has been many things over the years, from a secret hi-tech headquarters to a public amusement park, but today it houses the Institute for the Unkonwn, one of the world's premiere institutions for hands-on studies of fringe sciences. Here, the next generation of adventurers trains to study exobiological entities and explore the subterranean archaeology of hidden worlds. The faculty consists of those men and women who have cheated death and destiny time and again as the various incarnations of the Challengers of the Unknown, with the original five as professors and coordinators, overseeing the entire enterprise. And while it's not uncommon for Ace, Red, Rocky, June, and Prof. Haley to disappear for days while on another strange adventure, their most recent departure has been more abrupt and extended than usual. Superman arrives to find the Institute's students gearing up for the strangest search party in history. The Man of Steel agrees to accompany the young Challengers-in-training as they search the depths of time, space, and beyond for their missing teachers!

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Saturday, March 05, 2011

Marketing!

Hey everybody, it's that time again: time for me to pare down my comic collection a little bit with a whole slew of eBay auctions. Now, while a cursory glance might show some creators and books that I've been a little down on, I do think that there's some great comics in here. Straczynski did some excellent stories in "Amazing Spider-Man," and while saying "'Green Arrow' features Kevin Smith and Brad Meltzer's best comics work" sounds like damning with faint praise, those seriously are some good comics. So check them out!


Go! Bid! Buy my comics!

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Walking with Superman: Day 227

Superman visits the Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site near Stanton, ND, where his old friend Adam Strange is working with a University of North Dakota class on an archaeological dig. When the dig turns up a strange silver egg, apparently scored by atmospheric re-entry, all eyes turn to the investigator with extraterrestrial expertise. Strange takes hold of the metallic egg, and suddenly feels the familiar sensation of zeta-beam irradiation--but in reverse! The lingering radiation in Strange's cells awakens a giant alien robot from the egg, and the Man of Steel springs into action. But when the hyper-adaptable mechanoid traps the Kryptonian within its own body, it's up to Adam Strange--with nary a jetpack or ray-gun in sight--to save the day!

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Friday, March 04, 2011

An open letter to Matt Idelson from a fan of Superman and science

Dear Mr. Idelson,

Let me first say that I'm a big fan of Superman, as even a cursory look around this blog would demonstrate. As a science teacher, I'm also a big fan of science. In most regards, Superman's status as a science-age superhero with ties to pulp science fiction means that I get to enjoy both at the same time. And even Superman's more outlandish abilities at least offer the opportunity for interesting speculation on how they might function.

Recently, I've had particular cause for celebration, since the excellent Chris Roberson brought remarkably accurate and cool physics concepts into his "Superman/Batman" plot. Sadly, I've also had cause for consternation, since J. Michael Straczynski's "Earth One" graphic novel mangled several basic science topics. But a glance at various credits pages suggests that you deserve major kudos for the former and weren't involved in the latter. So your record on Superman's super-science was quite positive, in my estimation.

Until the most recent Ask Matt column at the Superman Homepage. When asked whether or not Superman's X-Ray vision was radioactive, you said:

It is indeed radioactive, Calvin, but it depends on how concentrated an x-ray Supes is firing at a given moment. He obviously would prefer not to go around irradiating everything he looks at, and makes a concerted effort not to.
And that makes me scratch my head. See, I have to wonder why Superman's eyes would fire X-Rays? Sight works not because light comes out of the eyes, but because light comes into the eyes. Were Superman to fire X-Rays from his eyes, he'd only see what was reflected back, which, with X-Rays, wouldn't be much. There's a reason that doctors and dentists put the X-Ray film on the opposite side of the bone from the radiation source, and not the same side. Projecting X-Rays certainly wouldn't account for the full-color, detailed images that we typically see Superman receiving.

The conventional wisdom, as stated in (for instance) Mark Wolverton's The Science of Superman, is that Superman’s X-Ray vision is actually a matter of receiving and interpreting a large range of visual input from across the light spectrum, specifically focusing on the wavelengths and frequencies that would pass through solid objects. The ability as typically portrayed is still at least a little farfetched, but at least it doesn't necessarily involve Superman single-handedly increasing the cancer risk all across Metropolis.

I write this not in hopes of being one of those nasty nitpicky folks, but in the interest of promoting good science in comics that, at least recently, have had a pretty good track record in that regard. I hope you accept this in that spirit.

Sincerely,
Tom Foss

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Walking with Superman: Day 226

It was just meant to be a little shortcut through one of the dimensions on the very outskirts of Hell, a quick time-saving jaunt, but when John Constantine stepped out from the veil between worlds into Houma, LA, he set something terrible in motion. The egg-laden hellbore bug hopped off his trenchcoat as easily and quickly as it had hopped on, and set about caring for its impending larvae. Now, scarcely two weeks later, Superman arrives in the southern town to find it infested with thousands of the infernal insects. They're destroying the buildings, devouring the flora, and terrorizing the citizenry--and then the Man of Steel discovers what they've done to Houma's resident elemental! If he's to save the Swamp Thing and Houma, Superman is going to have to play exterminator--and exorcist!

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Thursday, March 03, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 225

Superman arrives in Charles Town, West Virginia, responding to a call for help from the immortal wanderer Mitch Shelley. The so-called Resurrection Man shares with the Man of Steel a story that he only recently remembered, from a previous life, when he fought in the war to end all wars. They called it the Phosgene Phantom, a silent, ghostly creature that would sweep through Allied trenches, causing painful burns and choking death to any soldier it touched. No one ever discovered where it came from or what it was, but a trio of American soldiers were eventually able to bind it with arcane magic. Their power and their blood could not trap the creature forever, and so their spell would last "until the last Doughboy dies." Now, with the death of Corporal Frank Buckles, Mitch Shelley is the last living soldier who fought for the United States in World War I--and the next time he dies, the Phantom will be released to bring ghastly death to the Allied nations once more. It's up to Superman to keep Mitch Shelley alive while they search for the bound Phantom among Buckles' effects--in hopes of stopping it once and for all.

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Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Walking with Superman: Day 224

Strange weather reports have been coming in from Glenelg, Maryland, where the small rural town has been experiencing a strange amount of thunder and lightning, especially given the lack of any storming. Superman drops in to investigate, and finds a familiar friend in a very unfamiliar state of affairs! Billy Batson has had the most peculiar trouble ever since he flew over this palindromic town; seems like every time he says his magic word--SHAZAM!--he's transformed not into Captain Marvel, but Captain Bizarrvel! Bizarro World's Mightiest Mortal--with the Strength of Solomon and the Wisdom of Atlas!--has somehow switched places with our own, and it's up to Superman to set things right!

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Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Sweet Nothings

So, I kind of sat third chair on the Nerdy Nothings podcast this week, and spent a little time talking about Walking with Superman. You can listen to it here or download it on iTunes. I'll note that it was my first time on a podcast, so forgive my lame attempts at humor, my umm-ing and ahh-ing, and my complete inability to remember any of the things I've actually written in the last six months.

Oh, and hopefully they edited out that part where I said I had tiger blood and Adonis DNA. Boy, was that embarrassing.

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Walking with Superman: Day 223

Yesterday was February 28th. In some years, that would make today Superman's birthday. This is not one of those years, though Clark would typically do a little quiet celebrating anyway. But this year, among the paradoxical sand dunes and quiet solitude of Alaska's Kobuk Valley National Park, not so far from his own Fortress of Solitude, Superman finds it hard to work up the enthusiasm. After losing Pa, after losing Zor-El and Alura, after losing Chris and Mon-El again, after losing New Krypton and thousands of his people, after being betrayed by his in-laws and his country, after so much death and destruction, the Man of Steel can't seem to justify celebrating his own life. But when the characteristic hum of a JLA transporter cuts into the sounds of nature, it turns out that plenty of other people are willing to pick up the slack.

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