HERE’S THE THING EPISODE 17: SUPERMAN’S HAIR IS SERIOUS BUSINESS
If our weekly Ask Chris column isn’t enough of definitive comic book (and pro wrestling) opinions for you, good news: ComicsAlliance is proud to present Here’s The Thing, a series of videos where you can join our own extremely opinionated senior writer, Chris Sims, as he dives into comics history to explain why you’re wrong and he’s right.
This week, Chris has a very serious discussion about Superman’s hair. No, really: You will believe a man’s coif can provide a strong visual signifier of his character and can make another, slightly more volatile man hate a movie six months before it comes out.
GEOFF JOHNS SAYS DC ENTERTAINMENT’S TV AND MOVIE UNIVERSES ARE SEPARATE
If you were hoping to see Arrow‘s Stephen Amell make an appearance as the emerald archer in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice or in the upcoming Justice League movie, DC Comics Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns has some bad news for you.
“We will not be integrating the film and television universes,” he said at the Television Critics Association press tour for The Flash. Seems pretty cut and dried.
SUPERMAN AND BIZARRO TEAM UP FOR INTERACTIVE STORYBOOK APP – YOU KNOW, FOR KIDS!
Superman and Batman played a huge role when I was learning to read back in the mid-1980s. Not only did I have plenty of storybooks and comics featuring the two, but I also had read-along books and records (yes, records) that I listened to on a nearly daily basis.
It looks like the kids of 2014 are going to have the opportunity to experience an updated version of that with a new interactive storybook from Livo Books, Superman and Bizarro Save the Planet. It’s available through the Apple App Store and Google Play.
The website for the book doesn’t say who wrote the story or did the art — it simply says that Warner Bros. Global Publishing developed it — but it has a classic look to it. It’s a little Dan Jurgens-like, maybe. Superman is wearing his costume with the trunks, too, which is welcome.
The app highlights text as a narrator reads out the story, which is a cool touch for beginning readers. And the interactive elements look pretty cool. But be warned: After the first few pages, you’ve got to pay, and no kid is going to want his or her Superman/Bizarro story to go unfinished. Be ready to shell out.
THE JOE SHUSTER CENTENNIAL: A TRIBUTE TO SUPERMAN’S CO-CREATOR ON WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN HIS 100TH BIRTHDAY
One-hundred years ago this week, a boy was born in Toronto who, despite his humble origins, would help define the nature of American popular entertainment forever.
Joe Shuster’s parents were Jewish immigrants who came over to Canada from Rotterdam and the Ukraine in 1912, and started a family. Times were tough, and the family moved regularly, struggling to make ends meet. Joe was the oldest of three Shuster children, and demonstrated artistic inclinations at an early age, drawing whenever he could find the time (and materials). The Shusters moved to the United States in 1924 and settled on the east side of Cleveland, Ohio, where Joe was enrolled in Glenville High School. It was there that he met classmate Jerome Siegel.
Siegel was already an experienced writer, and the boys bonded over mutual passions: movies, comic strips, and science fiction. It was inevitable that they would collaborate, and after a few false starts (including a pulp-style short story that Siegel titled “Reign Of The Superman”), the pair began to develop and shop around a concept for a newspaper strip of their own: a story of a wildly-attired strongman who would do battle with all manner of hoodlums and evil-doers. The idea took a few years to sell, but once their initial run of strips was configured for the then-new “comic book” format and appeared in the 1939 debut issue of Action Comics, their character Superman became an international sensation that endures to this day, 75 years later.
While Shuster’s relationship — and that of his family — to Superman publishers DC Comics was and continues to be far from harmonious, what’s never been in dispute is the master cartoonist’s influence on multiple generations of creative artists. To celebrate the centennial anniversary of Shuster’s birth, some of those men and women have paid homage to and shared their impressions of Shuster’s work, his legacy, and his signature character.
THE DARK MAN OF STEEL RETURNS: HENRY CAVILL’S SUPERMAN IS BACK AND WETTER THAN EVER
By Andy Khouri
Superman has arrived in Gotham City — that, or he’s surveying the apocalyptic wasteland that is Metropolis in the wake of his terrible wrath in Man of Steel. Either of those scenarios may be reflected in a new promotional image released in support of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, the new Zack Snyder film based on the DC Comics superheroes created by Bill Finger & Bob Kane and Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster.
Seriously, though, it seems likely the idea behind this image is to indeed convey the crossover element of this film in graphic style — Superman is in Gotham, and that is dramatically important. It’s more thought than most filmmakers put into their marketing and posters (including Marvel), but, unfortunately, the Superman image is just slightly more colorful than the wholly black and white Batman shot released last month, and is distinctly reminiscent of a series of posters for The Dark Knight Rises which depicted that unrelated film’s principals showered in rain and debris. The net affect of this tradition is, as you can see on Twitter and everywhere promo images are overanalyzed, a pervasive sense of gloom and dread associated with these characters, who are very arguably America’s best comic book superheroes.
RADIOACTIVE BLACKNESS AND ANGLO-SAXON ALIENS: ACHIEVING SUPERHERO DIVERSITY THROUGH RACE-CHANGING
Changing the racial identity of characters has become a contentious issue amongst fans of superhero comics and their adaptations in other media. The awful practices of casting white actors to play people of color, or of turning previously non-white characters into white characters, is all too common in movie adaptations of books, cartoons, TV shows, or even real life stories — but rather surprisingly, superhero comics and their adaptations have mostly avoided this problem.
In comics, the controversy takes a different direction. Several white characters have become non-white, mostly in movies, and sometimes in reboots. Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm in the new Fantastic Four; Helena Bertinelli aka the Huntress in the New 52; Nick Fury in the Ultimate Comics line and on screen. These are changes that agitate some readers — but realistically, the changes don’t go far enough. Superhero comics have a cultural bias towards white characters that has everything to do with their institutional history and nothing to do with what makes sense to the stories.
‘SUPERMAN’ #32: AN AUSPICIOUS START FOR JOHN ROMITA, A RETURN TO FORM FOR GEOFF JOHNS [REVIEW]
By Chris Sims
To say that I’ve been a pretty vocal critic of a lot of the stories that Geoff Johns has written over the past decade is putting it pretty mildly, but I was holding out a lot of hope for what he and John Romita Jr. would do on Superman when they took over the book with this week’s issue. I mean, the last time Johns was the writer of a Superman book, it was with a run on Action Comics that had a thrilling cross-time adventure with the Legion of Super-Heroes; one of the best Brainiac stories ever; and a story where Superman briefly got the power of Superman Vision, a red-blue-yellow beam from his eyes that turned whoever it hit into Superman. It was fun, exciting and new in a way that Superman stories are always criticized for never being, and if Johns could return to that kind of storytelling alongside an artist that I love as much as I love Romita, I wanted to be there to read it.
With Superman #32, Johns and Romita have in fact captured a little bit of that magic. This inaugural issue is loud, it’s bright, it’s honest in the way that Superman needs to be, and it’s definitely exciting.
The only real problem is that while it does its level best to be new, a lot of what this first issue does feels like it’s going back over ground that we’ve already been walking on pretty recently.
JOHN ROMITA JR. FEELS THE PRESSURE ON NEW ‘SUPERMAN’ RUN
Influential Marvel Comics artist John Romita Jr. begins his run on Superman with writer Geoff Johns this week, and while you’d expect this would just be another notch in the incredibly accomplished artist’s belt (he’s drawn popular runs with virtually every major Marvel character you can think of) he’s apparently pretty intimidated by the prospect of taking on the very first comic book superhero.
In particular, Romita’s worried because DC has so heavily promoted his jump to the the character and the publisher. Ads with the text, “Romita is coming!” similar to the “Kirby is coming!” ads of the 1970s — which heralded a similarly auspicious “defection” — have popped up throughout DC’s books in recent weeks. “Now I’ve made this big noise and people are thinking that I’m doing it to make noise,” he told USA Today. “And while that may or may not be true, I’m getting that microscope All that does to me is maybe pop a few more gray hairs, but it also makes me work that much harder.”
THE UNITED NATIONS CONDEMNED SUPERMAN IN THE 1950S, AND BELIEVE IT OR NOT, THEY MADE SOME VALID POINTS
When people think of the backlash against comics in the 1950s, one name often springs to mind: Fredric Wertham, the author of the 1954 book Seduction of the Innocent, which linked comic book reading to illiteracy, sexual deviancy (by his definition), violence and drug use.
While Wertham’s book was certainly a catalyst for a lot of changes and censorship in comics, it wasn’t the first domino that fell toward the development of the stringent Comics Code Authority. Criticism of comics had been growing to a fever pitch for years before that, and io9 has uncovered one example that came a full two years before the publication of Seduction of the Innocent: a full-on United Nations condemnation of Superman. And guess what: It isn’t entirely wrong.