Action Comics #1000: A Celebration of 80-years of The Man of Steel

The image of men running in terror. One fleeing from the scene, another on the ground in confusion, and the final running straight towards the audience with a face that can’t seem to comprehend what he’s witnessing. A crimson and yellow sky engulfs the scene while at the centre, the destroyed remains of a 1937 Plymouth hoisted up by a mysterious figure. Clad in blue and red, a flowing cape, boots and trunks, with an emblem across his chest that screams “I am here!”. This is the cover to Action Comics #1. Cover date June 1938 with a copyright date of April 18th. 80 years later we celebrate that mighty figure on the cover with the publication of Action Comics #1000 on April 18th, 2018. That figure:

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Action Comics #1000 brings together ten stories by all-star creators, three pin-ups and an array of glorious variant covers. Celebrating 80 years of THE premier superhero. The talent contained within these 80 pages ranges from industry favourites such as Brian Michael Bendis and Jim Lee, long time Superman creators like Louise Simonson and Jerry Ordway, and current staples of the industry including Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason.

From The City That Has Everything:

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The book opens with one of the longer stories “From the City that has Everything”, a title nod to Alan Moore’s famous “For the Man who has Everything” issue. Written and pencilled by long time Superman creator Dan Jurgens. The city of Metropolis throws their own celebration for the Man of Steel. All the while Clark is on edge as he knows of an impending invasion from the Khunds. During the celebrations people come forward on stage to talk about the good Superman has done for them. Some are police officers, others are former criminals who Superman never gave up on. When Daily Planet Editor-in-Chief takes the stand, he tells the crowd:

“When I think of Superman, I think of what they used to say about the best fighters in the World. That they always answered THE BELL. For Those of you who don’t know boxing, answering the bell means that during a fight, in between rounds. When the bell rings, telling the fighters to get off their chairs and FIGHT some more. No matter how beaten and weary they are. They get up and FIGHT.

As Perry continues, Clark realises that something is wrong and that what he’s been tracking with his senses is completely off. As he takes off into the sky, Wonder Woman comes to stop him. Informing him that the threat he has been so worried about has been taken care of by the Justice league, wanting to give him this day off. The league appears on stage along with all the others grateful for the impact he has on all of them.

“Your father is the most understanding man I’ve ever met, Jon. He knows he shares a bond with Metropolis. And That every now and then, in appreciation for all he’s given them. The people get to return the gesture. That’s what makes him Superman.”

Never-Ending Battle:

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From the writer/artist team of Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason. “Never-Ending Battle” is a wonderful tribute to the legacy and 80-year history of the character. Framed as Clark telling Lois and Jon about his day and how hard he had to fight just to make it to them in time. An encounter with Vandal Savage has him using time distortion and disruption against Superman. A fantastic plot device that makes full use of it’s premise in order to highlight and celebrate everything from the 1930s, the Elseworld outings and iconic scenes from both Kingdom Come and The Dark Knight Returns, right up to modern day and DC Rebirth.

“I want you to remember an old adage. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Staying true to yourself. Abiding by the morals and ethics ingrained in you by your mom and dad. Along with the lessons you’ll learn in your own life, can pull you through the DARKEST moments. But if even THAT’S not enough. Sometimes pure GUMPTION and WILLPOWER are all you need to get you where you want to go and be with who you want to be with.”

Combined with there 2-year long run on Superman, which saw it’s final issue release on the same day as this. Tomasi and Gleason prove that they know what Superman is and stands for. Gleason’s art is stunning and stylised. Making full use of entire pages rather than shifting to panels.

As Superman’s quest through time and reality comes to an end, we catch up with Superman together with his wife, son and dog Krypto. Calm and happy as the story concludes with a birthday cake. Complete with 80 candles and a lovely message to the Man of Steel from the two authors.

Pin-Up: John Romita Jr.

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 The first of the books pin-up illustrations, John Romita Jr returns to Superman after his run on the New 52 incarnation. Unfortunately, this maybe the weakest of any of the book. His style doesn’t fit the character in the same way it does that of Batman or Wolverine. The composition and framing is wonderful, though the choice of Romita Jr. over someone like Gary Frank or David Finch is a confusing one.

An Enemy Within

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As Super as he is, Superman can’t always be there. What makes it worse is that even when he’s rushing to one disaster, he can hear another. As Superman is on the other side of the world, trying to stop Brainiac’s latest scheme. He can hear it taking effect back in Metropolis. Causing a high school principle to snap and take his students hostage. As Superman is still in Japan, he can hear how the good people of Metropolis take care of the situation. Praising Maggie Sawyer’s strong but compassionate command. Superman’s actions do help as it’s Brainiac’s devices causing the insanity, but the story still uses Superman to praise the hardworking people that keep Metropolis running. Fantastically focused story by Superman veterans Marv Wolfman and Curt Swan.

“You can knock them to their knees and threaten them with any number of tortures, but even against overwhelming odds, they won’t long bow down to any master. Compared to the natives of other worlds, their bodies are fragile. But it always amazes me how strong they can be. And while human passions can be infuriating, their unstoppable will to ultimately do right, even under the threat of danger, is INDOMITABLE. And I’m the one they call SUPERMAN.”

The Car:

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Ever wonder what happened to that car? The one on the cover that started it all. In “The Car” Geoff Johns, Richard Donner and Oliver Coipel explore the driver’s life. As he takes the car into a mechanic, tries to explain what happens and takes a long walk home, only to run into the man who stopped the car. Superman. He tells Superman all about his life. How his father was killed in the war, his mother died when he was thirteen and life in an orphanage was rough. He was stopped by Superman before in the middle of a crime. And yet instead of dragging the man back in, he leaves him with something to think about.

“You’ve had your fair share of knocks. And you can keep knocking the world back like you’ve done. Or you can make a decision. Today. It’s your life Butch. You can fix it, or you can junk it. it doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.”

A short but very interesting look at the part of Superman’s first outing we never saw.

The Fifth Season:

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Perhaps the most surprising of all the stories in Action Comics #1000. The team behind American Vampire as well as the iconic Batman writer, Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque give one of the most grounded and heartfelt looks at the relationship if Lex and Superman. Joining the pair in an observatory as Lex explains to Superman, unaware the he truly is the Clark he once knew. The talk about how Lex used to spend his free time in the observatory, trying to send messages to other planets. Wanting to contact intelligent beings. Feeling stuck in this small town and unappreciated. He confides in Superman that on one occasion he made a mistake and didn’t heat up the nitrogen in his experiment. He should have died. Through a change in perspective, we see the reason he didn’t was because Clark had stumbled in and used his heat vision when Lex was looking away. The story of the two of them there as children are wonderful parallels. Lex wanting to make contact due to feeling alone, and Clark possibly there for a similar reason, but instead of comfort, he wanted answers.

From a writer that’s more known for his darker takes, particularly with Wytches and Batman. This story feels so full of heart for them both. A fantastic surprise from a master of horror.

Of Tomorrow:

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A short but bitter sweet tale from the minds of Tom King and Clay Mann. A future where the Earth is degrading. Superman comes back every year to a world that’s almost fire and brimstone, talking to himself about how he needs to stop coming back. That it feels like this is the five billionth visit. That Jon is growing into a fine man. Lois is being kept alive with an eternity formula, though is growing to hate the taste. That ‘they’ would be proud of Jon on Lois, before finally turning away and leaving. Revealing the final resting place of Ma and Pa Kent.

“We’re all Stardust Fallen. And so, we look to the sky. And we wait to be reclaimed. Good-bye, Ma. Good-bye, Pa. And thank you. For everything.”

Clay’s earthy artwork fits the story beautifully but adds a whole new level of depth by drawing his Superman to heavily resemble the late Christopher Reeve. Another fantastic nod to the legacy and history of the character.

Five Minutes:

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Louise Simonson and Jerry Ordway prove once again why they are legends when it comes to Superman. “Five Minutes” is a fantastic little day in the life piece of both Clark Kent and Superman. As Perry is shouting over that Clark has five minutes to finish his story while the presses are on hold. Clark hears a disturbance and hurries out of the building. The fantastically energetic and invigorating story shows everything that could possibly happen to him in those five minutes. As he manages to rush back to his desk and finish on time, Perry shouts over that the stories dead and that Clark needs to take Jimmy and go report on Superman’s latest outings.

“The rush! The focus! The fact that I’m helping people – sometimes even SAVING them. Superheroing. Reporting. They’re not so different if you do them right. Man, I love my jobs.”

Though short, it feels like we see the world through Clark’s eyes. How fast paced and to the bone his world can be, and yet just like the Man of Steel himself. We can’t help but love it.

Action Land:

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Perhaps the strangest, and most divisive story in the collection. Paul Dini and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez bring us a roller-coaster amusement park history of Superman. Already a strange concept, but when it’s revealed to be all the doing of Mr. Mxyzptlk, it feels like one big loving send up to the silliness of the silver age and all the fun Superman comics can be. An enjoyable story that doesn’t overstay it’s welcome, heightened by Garcia-Lopez’s stunning artwork.

Pin-Up: Walter Simonson

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Industry legend Walt Simonson brings his classic and dynamic take to the Superman in this fantastic pin-up! While the style may not be to everyone’s liking. It’s dynamic and attention grabbing presence is undeniably Simonson.

Faster Than a Speeding Bullet:

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Brad Meltzer and John Cassidy bring up an interesting but heartfelt take on what it feels like to be Superman in an emergency. Flying as fast as he can, he can hear a woman in distress. He can hear the trigger on the gun as he cocks, and he knows that he’s going to get there a second too late. To his surprise, the woman does something that buys him those few seconds he needs. The short story shows not just how Superman inspires others, but how he is inspired by them. Their courage, ingenuity, and bravery. The final moments show how humble Clark is, as Lois is the one to point out that today, “he met a good one”.

Pin-Up: Jorge Jimenez

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The final and strongest of all the pin-ups. Jimenez continues to prove why he is one of this decades best Superman artists. Dynamic, strong, with an overwhelming presence, but completely natural. Embracing even the classically mocked trunks as symbol of strength once more. Jimenez’s use of lighting gives Superman and ethereal presence. A man who has fought for truth, justice and the American way but remains true to who he is. A symbol of hope.

The Truth:

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Finally, the last story in the collection had both the most to prove but brought the least. With art by Jim Lee, who’s style really doesn’t fit the character, and the Superman debut of Brian Michael Bendis, the story acts as a teaser for his upcoming run on both Superman, Action Comics AND his Man of Steel mini-series. The few pages lack substance. The focus should be on this new villain and his final page ‘reveal’. However, the most memorable parts are two women debating about Superman’s trunks, and Supergirl piledriving into the villain. It’s possible that due to this being Bendis’s first outing, this could be a result of nerves or pressure, but let’s hope with time he improves.

 

The companion Deluxe hard cover, Action Comics: 80 Years of Superman, puts Superman’s history on display for the world to see. Action Comics #1000 honours that history. With a mixed array of takes on the character and an all-star creative team, here’s to many more years of the Man of Steel!

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Jor-El’s Golden Folly – Superman #233 (1971)

Superman 233-00Superman #233: The Fabulous World of Krypton – Jor-El’s Golden Folly.
January 1971
Writer: E. Nelson Bridwell
Artist: Murphy Anderson

A back up story in Superman #233, the beginning of the infamous Kryptonite Nevermore. Jor-El’s Golden Folly is the first of the ‘Fabulous World of Krypton’ mini stories. Meant to build up and explore the world that Clark will never know and his own people. This first story follows Superman’s father, Jor-El, as well as showing his work and meeting Clark’s mother, Lara.

Jor-El and his friend Kim-Da find themselves with brand new assignments and are now separated. Splitting up the good friends and having to go their separate ways. With Jor-El being sent to the ‘Kryptonopolis Space Complex’ and Kim being sent to the ‘Kandor Observatory’. For the reader, we know that Kandor is the city that will eventually be shrunken down and stolen by the villain Brainiac. A city, and villain, that makes its first appearance in Action Comics #242. The final fate of Jor-El is obvious to us, as it’s a defining catalyst for Superman being sent to Earth in the first place. However, the fact that Kim-Da is sent to Kandor begs the question of weather or not he survived, only to be trapped within the bottled city. It’s a minor thought, especially with how little the character appears, but interesting none the less.

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As he arrives at the Space Complex, Jor-El is shown around by a man named Ken-Dal. The idea is explained to him that a major goal right now is to break free of Krypton’s gravity and reach the stars, the problem is that the science council has cut their budget. While showing him around, Jor-El sees Lara Lor-Van, his future wife and the mother of Superman, as one of the ‘test fliers’. He comments on her beauty within seconds of seeing her. Time passes, and Jor-El is experimenting with Anti-Gravity. Eventually developing an ‘Anti-Grav Belt’ and testing it by attaching it to a white dog and controlling where he floats with a remote control. Later, he demonstrates it on himself in front of both Ken-Dal and General Zod, another little Easter Egg for readers. They are both greatly impressed and allow him to continue with the next phase of his plan.

Jor-El’s next thought is to use his Anti-Gravity technology to help fly and stabilise a rocket ship. Due to its abundance on Krypton, he makes the decision to use gold in it’s construction. The idea that gold is such a common material on Krypton helps to re-emphasis the fact that this is not Earth. That we are watching a different civilisation entirely. However, due to the weight of gold. Those around Jor-El mock him for thinking that this gaudy, hunk of metal would ever fly. Nicknaming it “Jor-El’s Golden Folly”. The only person who does seem to believe in him is Lara, how offers to fly the ship due to her excitement at reaching the stars. Jor-El tells her that because they don’t even know if it will fly, so for this maiden voyage they will use the same remote-control system he had used before.

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When the big day comes, the ship finally flies. Taking off through the crimson skies. As they celebrate, a message comes through over the communicator. Lara is onboard the ship, seemingly forgetting the time and not getting off. How very Lois Lane of here. The ship eventually lands on a nearby planet, Wegthor, and since communication is lost it is assumed that the experiment failed and had crashed landed. As the higher ups walk away, laughing at Jor-El’s failure. Jor-El is informed that a cargo ship is leaving for Wegthor in a few days. Using the technology Jor-El had invented and an oxygen mask, Jor-El sneaks aboard the cargo ship hoping that Lara is still alive. When they finally land, Jor-El sneaks away and traverses this strange planet before final discovering the ‘Valley of Gloom’. At the centre, Lara. He ruses to find her and in a final panel they embrace. Ending with Jor-el saying; “My discovery may have been a failure, Lara… But it did have one success. Bringing us together!”

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  • Binder, O & Plastino, A. (1958) Action Comics #242: The Super-Duel in Space. DC Comics, New York: USA.
  • Bridwell, E. & Anderson, M. (1971) Superman #233: Jor-El’s Golden Folly. DC Comics: New York: USA.

World’s Finest – The Passage of Time and the Meeting of Batman and Superman.

Superman 76 CoverSuperman #76: The Mightiest Team in the World
May/June 1952
Writer: Edmond Hamilton
Penciller: Curt Swan
Inker: John Fischetti

When it comes to the icons that are Batman and Superman, the question that often comes up is ‘Who would win in a fight?’. When people ask for stories involving the pair, it’s usually stories of them at opposite ends. 1986 “saw the publication of Frank Miller’s historic miniseries The Dark Knight Returns [Miller.1986], with its revamping of the two heroes’ relationship. Since then, things have been a little strained to say the least between the two superheroes” [Anders.2005]. Miller presents an older Batman going up against Superman in the final act, as one is continuing illegal vigilante work, while the other is now a ‘lapdog’ to the President. Another notable example is Batman: Hush [Loeb & Lee.2003] which includes a notable scene of the pair fighting, while Superman is under the control of Poison Ivy. Even on a cinematic level, the first time the two met on the big screen, excluding animated outings, was in a film explicitly titled Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice [Snyder.2016]. It seems that our fascination with these two heroes when together, is that of conflict. However, this raises the question. Have they always been at each other’s throats?

While they had previously appeared in the same issue in 1941’s All Star Comics #7 [Fox, et.al.1941]. Batman and Superman first met face to face in 1952’s Superman #76 [Hamilton & Swan.1952]. Despite the cover depicting Batman and Superman almost fighting over who gets to save Lois Lane from an oncoming train. The two become fast friends in the 12-page story contained within. The closest to an argument the pair engage in, is one partly planned by the two and somewhat encouraged by Lois.

The story opens with a text box addressing this monumental issue. “Superman, might man of steel whose super-powers have conquered catastrophes and wrecked wrongdoers! Batman, hooded foe of crime whose flashing feats have crushed crooks for years! Are any two names in the world more famous than these? Yet these two mighty champions of the right have never met – until now! Yes, at long last Superman and Batman meet face to face on a voyage of peril – and strange and startling is the outcome when two legendary figures form… The mightiest team in the world!” [Hamilton & Swan.1952:01]. The issue follows Batman and Superman as they have both independently booked spots on a cruise in their civilian identities. Due to over booking, Bruce and Clark end up being bunk mates and both start to worry about the other finding out their secret identity. When a fire breaks out on the docks, the lights go out and they both change, but as light comes in through the window, their identities are discovered. They worked together to stop those that started the fire, and while they got away, it’s discovered that a diamond has been stolen. It’s believed that the criminal is on board the ship as one of the passengers. Batman and Superman decide to continue their cruise as their secret identities. Problem is that now Lois Lane has decided to tag along in hopes of getting a scoop from both Batman and Superman. The pair come up with different tricks and tactics to hide their switching places. Pretending Clark is sea sick and in bed, using port holes to sneak back in. Even Superman flying Batman back to Gotham overnight, so no one would notice that Batman and Bruce Wayne were not out of town at the same time once the heroes have supposedly left the ship.

The pair show a high level of respect and admiration for each other. Their level of trust and comradery feels natural. Even the final take down of the crooks, a sort of Superman/Batman “Fast Ball Special” ala, Wolverine/Colossus. Shows an incredible level of confidence and skill. While the pair do team up every now and then. There is always this notion that one doesn’t always trust the other. That it’s easy for them to bicker, or even be on opposing sides.

Looking back at their first team up is an incredibly refreshing experience. The thrill of seeing the two side by side when the issue originally came out must have been a dream come true for readers of the time. While we see them together often now, the spirit of this first meeting seems to have been forgotten.

 

  • Anders, L. (2005) A Tale of Two Orphans: The Man of Steel vs. The Caped Crusader. The Man from Krypton: A Closer Look at Superman. Benbella Books Inc. Dallas, TX. Pp.69 -75.
  • Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. (2016) Film. Directed by Zack Snyder. [Blu-Ray] Warner Bro. Studio: USA.
  • Fox, G, et.al. (1941) All Star Comics #7: Justice Society of America $1,000,000 for War Orphans. DC Comics, New York: USA.
  • Hamilton, W & Swan, C. (1952) Superman #76: The Mightiest Team in the World. DC Comics, New York: USA.
  • Hatch, A. (2015) Batman and Superman: Comparing Two Iconic Superheroes. [Online] May 12th. The Artifice. Available From: https://the-artifice.com/batman-and-superman-comparing-two-iconic-superheroes/ [Last Accessed: 05.04.2018]
  • Loeb, J. & Lee, J. (2003) Batman: Hush. DC Comics, New York: USA.
  • Miller, F (1986) The Dark Knight Returns. DC Comics, New York: USA.
  • Salmon, W. (2016) Every time Batman and Superman have met (for the first time) in the comics. [Online] March 8th. Games Radar. Available from: https://www.gamesradar.com/every-time-batman-and-superman-have-met-comics/ [Last Accessed: 05.04.2018]

Jack Kirby, Superman and the changing faces…!

Kirby is one of the most celebrated, and legendary figures in the comics industry. Co-creator of Captain America with Joe Simon, and countless others alongside Stan Lee. Including the Fantastic Four, Thor, Iron Man, the original X-Men, and Black Panther. Kirby’s reach and influence spans far and wide. Getting his start in animation, before diving into the comics industry in 1936. Working in various genres, before exploding, alongside the popularity of superheroes.

Comic artists of the time, especially at Marvel, were encouraged and instructed to mimic Kirby’s style as much as possible. Given copied pages of his pencil work to ink-in, just to get a feel for how Kirby drew characters. Placed scenery. Structured a page. Kirby is easily one of the most important figures in comics, who’s style defined the look of many stories his pen didn’t even touch.

Primarily associated with Marvel, thanks to all the amazing creations his name and talents are linked to. In late 1970, however, Kirby signed a contract with DC. Moving to the competing company, and created a whole new mythology. The Fourth World, and the New Gods. Mythology DC is still drawing from nearly five decades later. With characters such as Mister Miracle, and Darkseid.  According to Sean Howe in Marvel Comics: The Untold Story. Pages of Kirby’s work on these new books, would be smuggled into the Marvel offices, where the artists and writers would marvel at Kirby’s work, and see just how he was improving. How they could compete with the legend.

Despite Kirby’s legendary status, his influence on the industry, and his immense talent. DC took every drawing Kirby did of Superman, and switched out the artwork of his face, with the work of Al Plastino!

According to Brian Cronin, author of Was Superman a Spy? And other Comic Book Legends Revealed!:

“Kirby had Superman guest star in his Jimmy Olsen stories, to establish these New Gods in the DC Universe, but when he did, strangely enough, DC had a different artist redraw Superman’s face! Al Plastino, who was a popular Superman artist during the 1950s (and drew the first appearances of Brainiac and Supergirl), was brought in by DC to redraw Kirby’s Superman faces to make them appear consistent with the way the hero looked in his own comic book (which was drawn mostly by artist Curt Swan)”

What’s strange about this, is the fanfare DC made, over having the talent of Jack Kirby working in the DC Universe. The simple idea of having Jack Kirby, the legendary artist, drawing one of DC’s flagship characters, and the originator of superheroes as a whole, should have been enough of a draw. But even with his talent on bored, it seems that even in the 70s, DC is more concerned with keeping their continuity intact, than letting a legendary artist express their own views and style for a legendary character.

All Books used for this article, are available here:
Was Superman a Spy?: And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed
Fourth World by Jack Kirby’s Omnibus
Marvel Comics: The Untold Story (P.S.)

A Brief History of Superboy

The mantle of Superman is a heavy one to bear. With nearly 80 years of history, and a legacy that stands for truth, justice and hope. Those hoping to live up to the mantle have a lot to deal with. The members of the Super Family stretch far at different points of history, with the name Superboy passing from member to member. To those training to become the man of steel, those made from him, and ultimately the heir to Superman. With titles such as Superman and Supersons currently being released from DC, it seems fitting to look back at the history of the mainstream Superboy name.

Kal-El/Clark Kent:

895599-superboyOriginally introduced in More Fun Comics # 101 in 1945. The first Superboy was simply a young Clark Kent. His first appearance chronicles an 8-year-old Clark discovering his powers, and leaning that he can’t use them out in the open. Ending the issue with Clark deciding on a public identity, and designing his Superboy costume. Superboy went on to have his own ongoing series, including Superboy (1949 – 1977), and The New Adventures of Superboy (1980 – 1984). The stories chronicle the childhood adventures of Superboy, growing up in Kansas, and learning to use his powers. As well as back up features including his time with the Legion of Super-Heroes, a group of teenage superheroes from the 30th and 31st century. These stories were basically erased from continuity after the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths in 1985.

There was a second Superboy series from 1989 to 1991, however this is in continuity with the Superboy television series. Lasting 22 issues. This incarnation of Superboy makes appearances in various other titles, such as Superman Secret Origin by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, as well as an alternate reality version in Superman Secret Identity by Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen.

Kon-El/Conner Kent:

5776290-1d156a231f5306f48a2d61c8446b22efOriginally claiming to be the Man of Steel himself, Kon-El made his first appearance in Adventures of Superman #500, at a time where the real Superman was dead, due to his fight with Doomsday. A genetic clone of both Superman and Lex Luther, He showed up in Metropolis, sporting a blue and red Superman leotard, two belts, high black boots, and a black leather jacket. His very design screaming 90s era comics. Kon-El fought for the right to be named the one true Superman until the day Superman returned, returning to the Cadmus institute to learn more about his origin. Eventually, he moves out of Clark Kent’s apartment, and starts his journey to find his place.

Moving to Hawaii, he starts a relationship with reporter Tana Moon. He goes on a multitude of adventures in his own book, even crossing paths with Aquaman, and Amanda Waller’s Suicide Squad. At times, he joins forces with the likes of Knockout, and The Ravers, before becoming a founding member of Young Justice. Alongside Robin (Tim Drake), and Impulse (Bart Allen II). Shortly after this, he is excepted by Superman as part of the family, and receives the name Conner Kent. His adventures, both solo and with the team, take him through the ‘Day of Judgement’ event, the death of Tana Moon, and Our World’s at War. With the disbanding of Young Justice, Superboy becomes a member of The New Teen Titans, and learns of his connection to Lex Luther, before dying during Infinite Crisis, at the hands of Superboy-Prime.

In the 30th Century, Conner is reborn by the Legion of Super-Heroes, and returned to the 21st Century alongside Bart Allen. Re-joining the Teen Titans, and dawning his more iconic costume of the black Superman T-shirt, and jeans combo. He takes part in The Blackest Night event, New Krypton, and eventually becomes a founding member of the Supermen of America.

This incarnation of Kon-El, became the inspiration for the fan favourite portrayal in the Young Justice animated series. As well as other animated counterparts.

New 52 Kon-El:

e0ffdfb0d1bbfd99145c7ae6b87ac492--supergirl-superman-superhero-charactersWith the New 52, characters were re-imagined, almost from the ground up. This incarnation, while based on the previous Conner Kent, has some major differences. A clone of Jon Lane Kent, created by the N.O.W.H.E.R.E. organization, a nefarious institute, founded by Harvest. Raised in alternate reality simulations, and awoken by his caretaker and surrogate mother, Caitlin Fairchild. Superboy is cloned and raised as a weapon by N.O.W.H.E.R.E. to be used against rogue metahumans. On his first field mission, he loses control of his telekinetic powers, and separates from N.O.W.H.E.R.E. before being attacked by his targets. After running in to Supergirl, he learns of his Kryptonian history, and is given the name Kon-El by here, ‘an abomination in the House of El’. Superboy returns to N.O.W.H.E.R.E. and learns that he was the second clone created, but fails to learn more in his fight against Rose Wilson.

He takes part in The Culling event, alongside the Teen Titans and The Ravagers, teaming up with the titans, and ending up stranded on an island full of animals thought to be extinct, alongside Wonder Girl. Upon returning to New York, he is attacked by H’el, due to his status as a clone, Supergirl saves him and is taken to Superman after being badly injured. At the Fortress of Solitude, they discover that he has three strands of DNA, one human, one kryptonian, and one unidentified. To stop Superboy’s genetics breaking down any further, Superman gives him his Kryptonian battle armour, which limits his telekinetic powers to only items he touches.

He joins Supergirl in the Crucible story line, stating that he has nothing to lose. However, he is captured in an attempt to use him to start an entire clone army of Kryptonians. He and Supergirl manage to destroy the cloning facility, but Superboy returns to Earth with none of his mounting questions answered.

Jonathan Kent:

jon-white-superboy-189580-1280x0Born during the Convergence event, Jonathan Samuel Kent is the son of the Pre-New 52 Clark Kent and Lois Lane-Kent, and the most recent incarnation of Superboy. Born in the Batcave of Flashpoint Batman (Thomas Wayne), and delivered by Batman himself, Jon grew up in the New 52 Earth as Jon White, while his parents hide from a world that was not their own. When this Earth loses their Superman, Jon discovers the secret identity of his father, as Clark rises to take up the reigns, and protect the world he has raised his son and called home. Jon begins to discover his abilities, and starts to fight alongside his father, before falling ill. His parents rush him to this world’s Fortress of Solitude, where Jon beats his first supervillain, The Eradicator, alongside his mother, dawning Batman’s HellBat armour, and his father. Due to Jon’s mixed heritage, the nature and strength of his powers become a source of concern throughout various storylines and as he develops.

During a science experiment Jon creates for school, Jon, Superman and Krypto the dog, are transported to Dinosaur Island, where they encounter Captain William Storm of The Losers. They return home, and when Christmas roles round, Jon attempts to find the prefect Christmas tree, before needing to be rescued by Nobody and Goliath. Jon wakes up in the Batcave, discovering that Robin (Damien Wayne) has been keeping his eye on him. The two argue, before Batman and Superman show up and order the two of them to undertake a series of team work exercises, to learn to work together. Despite their fighting, they learn to work together, and form their own hap-hazard team, Super Sons.

Later, Jon is kidnapped by long time Superman villain, Mister Mxyzptlk, in the Superman Reborn event. Jon becomes the major saving point of the event, as Mxyptlk blurs realities and bring the New 52 Superman and Lois Lane in to this reality, in place of Jon’s parents. The people he knows as his parents don’t recognise him, and are simply colleagues rather than married. It’s Jon who eventually defeats Mxyzptlk, by bringing forth his real parents, and making him merge the two versions of his parents together, making a new history for all of them. One in which Jon was born in the Fortress of Solitude, in the presence of Batman and Wonder Woman. His godfather is Perry White, and they have never had to hide themselves, reclaiming the public identity of Kent.

During Black Dawn, Batman becomes concerned of the slow rate in which Jon’s powers are developing, and discovers that several members of the city they live in, are in fact alien, and aligned with Superman villain, Manchester Black. Manchester Black has been suppressing his powers for years, and upon taking out Batman, Robin, Frankenstein, and Frankenstein’s Bride, Manchester takes control of Jon, unlocking his full potential, and pits him against Superman. Jon is finally able to overcome the mind control, and with the help of his lifelong friend Kathy, defeats Manchester with a blast of psychic feedback. Jon’s powers are drained, but they eventually return, along with the ability to fly.

Batman ’66 – A Quick look back at 50 years of the cultural phenomenon

1406650404099Holy Golden Anniversary Batman!

The 1966 Batman television series has become a touch stone in pop culture history. Running from 1966 to 1968, the show became a phenomenon, boosting comic book sales and ” resonated with the ironically detached ‘camp’ movement of the era” [Rossen.2014]. 50 years later you can see its impact everywhere. It’s been referenced in countless other series, become a quintessential idea to the general public as to what a comic book is, and has provided hours of enjoyment for the young and the old, the comic fanatic and the novice.

Despite the popular consensus of laughing at it compared to the ‘dark’, ‘gritty’ and ‘realistic’ Nolan films of recent years (actually, you should be laughing at it, it’s a damn funny series), the 66 series not only helped to save the Batman comic books, “but it turned him into a global superstar” [Diaz. 2012].  When you consider just how comics were viewed in the post war 50’s and 60’s, the fact that a show like Batman could be made, let alone last for 3 seasons and 120 episodes, is astonishing. Unlike our modern interpretations, “it walked the line between sincerity and parody” [Rossen. 2014], creating a culture all its own and infecting the general consciousness. For many, it was their introduction to the world of Batman or even comic books in general. Bringing not only Batman and Robin into countless homes, but 32 villains! From the hugely iconic Joker, Riddler, Penguin and Catwomen, to the laughable Clock King, Minstrel and False Face. As well as bringing phrases such as Biff, Bam and Pow into the public lexicon. The series was so successful at launch that despite the series having only begun in January, by the Summer a feature film was pushed into theatres, using many of the same sets and props. Though it’s worth noting that the Film was in fact originally intended to be produced before the series to introduce the Batman series to the general public. This allowed some of the props and vehicles to be reused in the series due to the films slightly higher budget.

batman-tv-dvd-coverDespite the series long lasting impact, it’s hard to believe just how long it took for the series to come to DVD and Blu-ray, much to the joy of many long time fans and collectors. The first ‘official’ collection wasn’t even released to the public. In fact the first and only tapes of all 120 episodes, were created by Fox for a post-Star Wars Mark Hamill. Coincidentally enough, Hamill would go on to become what is considered the quintessential Joker voice actor, almost 30 years later. ” Home-video distribution didn’t exist when the series was produced” [Rossen.2014] and even when attempts were made in the 90’s, Fox and Warner Bros. were “at odds” [Rossen.2014] when it came to home distribution rights and the legal problems that would come from handing it over to a third party. In the case of the 90’s, Columbia were the ones most interested in distributing the series. Thankfully by 2014, the series is now widely available and easy to access.

In recent years, the series has most noticeably been revisited by the ‘Batman 66’ Comic Book, revisiting the plot, style and characters of the original series with their own 60’s art inspired flare.  The just announced Lego 66 Batman Batcave, and the soon to be released Batman 66 Animated movie are adding more and more to the pop culture phenomenon. The legacy of the series is destined to continue in the hearts, minds and media of all those that have been touched by it, weather directly or in directly.

Here’s to another 50 years!


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The Enigma of Miracleman

Alex_Ross_Miracleman_5_VariantThe name Alan Moore holds a lot of weight in the comic book community, even those with only a passing interest in the subject, have come across some of his work, most likely the highly rated and critically acclaimed Watchmen and V for Vendetta. Some may have even immersed themselves in the likes of From Hell and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, the fact of the matter being that Alan Moore is celebrated for a reason. During a conversation several weeks ago, I had a number of comic recommendations given to me. This one conversation included titles such as Grant Morrison’s Zenith, Jess Nevins’ League companion Heroes & Monsters, and an Alan Moore title I had never come across before. Miracleman.

As any research junkie would do, I asked around in my local store and hit the internet in an attempt to discover just why I had never heard of it before. Upon finally getting my hands on the first two books, I noticed a quote from Time magazine printed on the cover to ‘Miracleman Book One: A Dream of Flying’. “A must-read for scholars of the genre, and of the comic book medium as a whole.” [McMillan. 2013]. The only conclusion I could discern from both the original recommendation and the internet wide praise, This book is a big deal.

comics-alan-moore-fashion-beastHaving finally sank my teeth into the first book, I can concur that the praise is in no way misleading. Miracleman is an intense exploration of the superhero genre in itself, pre-dating what many consider Moore’s ultimate deconstruction of the superhero, Watchmen. Dream of Flying takes the original camp notion that superheroes had been known for since the 60’s and ultimately treats it for what it is, even acknowledging the absurdity of magical origins in its own pages, while simultaneously taking discussing the corruption that can come from possessing god-like abilities, personal sense of place and life, and even the validity of your own memories. Taking what was essentially a mythology and origin based on magic, redefining it through science fiction and finally ripping it inside out. While a full review is at some point necessary, granted when all three books have been thoroughly poured over and absorbed, I came out of ‘Dream of Flying’ with a lot of questions. Most of which concerning the mysterious lack of reprints and the history of the character its self.

When discussing Miracleman, the conversation usually starts with the aforementioned 1982 Alan Moore run in the pages of British independent anthology, Warrior. However the character dates back even further, to 1954 and the British publication L. Miller & Sons, Ltd. A company intended primarily to reprint American comic strips for the British market, primarily reprinting comics from Fawcett Publications. Fawcett Publications is now mostly remembered for the creation of Captain Marvel, now more famously known as the DC character, Shazam. While Fawcett comics would eventually come under fire from National (DC comics) and eventually have to discontinue all lines of Captain Marvel comics, L. Miller & Sons would need to replace these in Britain with their own creations.

Miracleman_2_Davis_VariantMiracleman, originally named Marvelman, was created by artist and writer Mick Anglo, as a knock of Fawcett’s Captain Marvel, with similarities to the two including the utterance of a magic word as well as an extended Marvel family. With Captain Marvel being considered a rip off himself, this just adds more fuel to the notion that all modern Heroes can trace their origins back to Superman. Introduced to the public just as Captain Marvel books disappeared, it managed to survive until 1963 with the bankruptcy of L. Miller & Sons. Marvel man did not appear again until 1982 in the now highly regarded Moore run.

During the Moore run, the character however was still referred to as Marvelman rather than his current title. It was only due to Marvel Comics need to snap up and copyright uses of the word Marvel (for obvious reasons I’m sure you’ll see) that Eclipse Comics, the then publisher, pushed to have the name changed to Miracleman and avoid any more controversy over such matters.

Copyright and ownership is a problem that has long plagued the character ever since those early days,  including the ‘Marvels and Miracles, LLC’ Vs. ‘Todd McFarlane Productions’ case of 2002. But by 2013, all rights were finally settled and held squarely with Marvel Comics (the same company who, ironically enough, had caused Miracleman’s original name change).

Miracleman_1_Preview_3This only leaves one looming question. Why is Moore credited as ‘The Original Writer’? Surely having a name like Alan Moore on a book that few new readers would know, was a no brainer. This decision at the end of the day, came from Moore himself. In an interview in The Hollywood Reporter, Moore stated that at the time of his original work on Miracleman, he was unaware that Mike Anglo had no rights to the character and was making nothing from it. “if I’d known that, I would have never taken the job.” [McMillan. 2013]. Due to the belief that he had been part of cheating the original creator out of what was rightfully his, Moore decided to leave his name off the reprints. “by the time that Marvel Comics were involved I just thought, No, let it go, give all the money to Mick Anglo” [McMillan. 2013]

Miracleman, in both story and history, is incredibly rich. With so much to take away from it and with two books still ahead of me. I am so glad I took up the recommendation and I hope that anyone who has read this, thinks about checking it out.


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