Time and Deconstruction

Deconstruction in media is something I find intensely fascinating. And while this video by Under the Scope is a great exploration of deconstruction in anime, particularly in the ‘magical girl’ (Puella Magi Madoka Magica) and ‘giant mech’ (Neon Genesis Evangelion) genres (though it was strange to hear someone refer to the show School Days as a deconstruction of the ‘harem’ genre). What I find puzzling about the evidence he uses, is possibly my own experience with discussing deconstruction. Particularly, calling Neon Genesis Evangelion a deconstruction of the ‘mech’ genre.

A few months ago, I wrote an article discussing how the deconstruction aspect of a piece of work is waisted, when that piece of work is recommended or introduced above and before the thing being deconstructed. A deconstruction without reference. The two examples I used were Watchmen, which is often praised as one of the greatest comics ever written (personally, I think it’s just ok, but I didn’t read it at the time of creation), and often on the top of ‘comic you should read for beginners list. And I paired that with Neon Genesis Evangelion for an example in another medium that is also highly praised, and first to be recommended to newbies.

The two most common responses I got to the piece had nothing to do with the content, but argued that Neon Genesis Evangelion isn’t a deconstruction, and no one reads Watchmen first. And that I’m an idiot for thinking so. I did a little research into the profiles of the people who commented, and concluded that a lot of them were either relatively new to anime, had read Watchmen recently, or were jumping on the band wagon of the first few commentator’s due to other posts they had made being contradictory to what they had later said.

This makes me wonder something else about the nature of deconstruction. With both works being creations of (arguably) a different generation. The mid 80s for Watchmen, and mid 90s for Evangelion. Has the passage of time, and the effect these works had, changed how we view the media enough for them to no longer be considered deconstructions?

In the case of anime, Evangelion’s release spear headed a dramatic shift in the medium. Particularly in the production of original television properties. This change also allowed writers such as Chiaki J. Konaka to bring works such as Serial Experiments Lain to the screen. The Youtuber Digibro describes this shift well in his video How Evangelion Altered Anime Eternally. Concluding Evangelion’s full effect kicking in, with the series Now and Then, Here and There. Taking on the familiar trope of a young boy being transported to a magical new world. Something usually seen in a show aimed at young children. Only to be met with a dark dystopia, full of twisted characters, and plot devices including murder and rape.

In the realm of comics, Watchmen was part of a one-two punch, along with Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Eventually culminating in advertisements for comics presenting them as “Grime, Gritty, Grown up”. These kinds of stories lead to darker storytelling, particularly in the worlds of superhero comics. A genre created for a primary audience of children, and grew in the wake of the second world war, as a means of hopeful escapism. This darker tone has continued to reverberate through modern comics, particularly in DC. With the ‘Rebirth’ relaunch acting as a course correction, and the storyline ‘The Button’, and the current ‘Doomsday Clock’ actively blaming the darker tone on the Watchmen characters. Particularly Dr Manhattan.


But this all leads back to my initial question. Is something still a deconstruction, if the deconstruction has become part of the norm?

  • Digibro (2017) How Evangelion Altered Anime Eternally. [Online] YouTube. August 3rd. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tJ3F_hhzJ3o [Last Accessed: 01.01.2018]
  • Johns, G. & Frank, G. (2017 – 2018) Doomsday Clock. DC Comics: Burbank.
  • Miller, F. (1986) The Dark Knight Returns. DC Comics: Burbank.
  • Moore, A. & Gibbons, D. (1986 – 1987) DC Comics: Burbank.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995 – 1996) TV. Directed by Hideaki Anno. [DVD] Studio Gainax: Japan.
  • Now and Then, Here and There. (1999 – 2000) TV. Directed by Akitaro Daichi. Studio AIC: Japan.
  • Puella Magi Madoka Magica (2011) TV. Directed by Akiyuki Shinbo. [DVD] Studio Shaft: Japan.
  • School Days (2007) TV. Directed by Keitaro Motonaga. [DVD] Studio TNK: Japan.
  • Serial Experiments Lain (1998) TV. Directed by Ryutaro Nakamura. Studio Triangle Staff & Studio Pioneer LDC: Japan.
  • Under The Scope (2016) What Actually is A Deconstruction? [Online] YouTube. July 5th. Available from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBuo4vi_A0s [Last Accessed: 01.01.2018]
  • Williamson, J., King, T., Fabok, J. & Porter, H. (2017) The Button. DC Comics: Burbank.





Superman: Speeding Bullets (1993)

Time for a trip to the Elseworld titles! A series of stories set in the DC universe but out of continuity. A chance for writers to flex their creative muscles and ask ‘what if’ questions. Superman: Speeding Bullets was released in 1993 and written by J.M. Dematteis with art by Eduardo Barreto. The ‘what if’ in this case is a little bit strange but very fascinating. What if Superman was Batman?

The cover is just fantastic. Using the iconic image of Superman flying over the city that appeared on Superman #01 in 1939. Instead of a yellow background, the cover reflects Gotham’s aesthetics with a gradient of black to grey. Superman strikes the same pose within the oval, but his costume is replaced with a modified Bat suit. Noticeable, his face is covered with a full mask, similar to that of Spider-Man, rather than a cowl. The emblem on the chest is a perfect fusion of Superman’s shield and Batman’s yellow oval design with the overall shape being that of the shield, and the bat stretching out inside. The style, particularly in the cape, feels inspired by the work of Norm Breyfogle or Todd McFarlane. For this darker take and Superman’s Alien status, the style of cape works perfectly, as it gives it the feel of having a mind of its own. Even the books title box corrupts the original image. Taking the smooth curves at the edges and giving them a jagged horn like appearance.

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Throughout the book we have narration, asking what it would be like if things turned out differently. We see a rocked escaping a planet as it explodes, a green glow all around. The rocket travels through space and crash lands just outside of Gotham City, where it is discovered by Thomas and Martha Wayne along with their butler Alfred. Inside is a young boy, Kal-El of the planet Krypton. Through pages styled to look like a photo album, we see the young boy grow as Martha and Thomas decide to adopt him, naming him Bruce Wayne. Martha dotes on the child, stating to love him as though she had given birth do him. Thomas was intrigued by the boy’s ability to quickly take to his lessons. How the boy was so agile, never a bruise or broken bone. Thomas was compassionate and kind, concerned with testing his mental and physical limits. He imparts to Bruce:

“The cowards and bullies use violence. But you – of all who live – must aspire to something better. Something higher.”

They were a family. Happy, without worry, and with a bright future ahead.

However, the point of the book is ‘What if Superman was Batman’. And one constant in the mythology of Batman is the death of the Wayne’s. Leaving the Monarch Theatre, Bruce shouts about how he want’s to be Zorro. “Defender of the weak. Righter of Wrongs”! Martha jokingly mentions that last week he wanted to be John Carter, and before that Sherlock Holmes. As they round the corner, they are confronted by a mugger demanding their money and Martha’s pearls. During the struggle, both Martha and Thomas are shot and die in front of Bruce as he cries on the floor. The mugger turns to Bruce gun pointed, and as Bruce looks up to him, full of rage, Bruce’s powers activate, and he blasts the mugger with his heat vision. The mugger runs in fear, his face burnt and Bruce struggles to control what’s happening to him.

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The mugger is revealed to have been found the next morning, his body burned almost beyond recognition. But is identified as Joe Chill. Because of course. Young Bruce is found by the police, eyes wide, covered in his parent’s blood. After the funeral, Bruce is left in the care of his butler Alfred. Over time he grows and matures, but the guilt and shame still run deep through him, always at the forefront of his mind. At the age of 21, Bruce is bitter to the world, looking through the paper he sees nothing but blood and madness. Nothing but violence and death. As he tosses the paper aside, we see an article informing us that Lex Luther is coming to Gotham City. Because so far there has been far more Batman than Superman in this Superman story, apparently. Bruce unlocks a door to reveal hundreds of newspaper clippings tacked to walls, all relating to acts of senseless murder in his city. As he looks around, he begins to enter a panic attack, thinking about his parents and wanting it all to stop. He runs through the mansion before he realises that people have broken in and holding Alfred hostage. Pointing a gun at Bruce’s face. In a fit of rage, Bruce knocks them all side, even throwing one out the window. As one fires bullets right at him, they simply bounce off. Bruce crushes the gun in the criminal’s hand as his heat vision activates, terrifying the criminal. Alfred watches on, as Bruce breaks down remembering what he did to the man who killed his parents.

In a cave beneath Wayne Manor, Alfred and Bruce look through Thomas Wayne’s journals. As Bruce looks around, testing his super vision, He asks Alfred if he can see his ‘brothers’, referring to the bats in the cave. Testing his flight, Bruce flies among them.

“There’s so much I can do… That I’ve never let myself know I can do.”

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Cut to another location in the city, a man behind a desk telling his men just how disappointed he is in them. Based on his purple and green outfit, brief flashes and pale skin, as well as the maniacal laugh, it’s clear who he is supposed to be. Condiment King. Obviously. He’s chewing them out over their inability to break into a mansion even with the equipment they were given. One of the men starts ranting about how Wayne is crazy, that he put Charly through a window. In retaliation, they are both strangled on the spot, as the figure laughs to himself.

Two months later, the GCPD are after a man on the roof, Mick Johnson. He’s firing at them from up above when a shadowy figure descends upon him. The Batman has arrived! In a flurry of panic, Johnson fires several rounds at Batman only for them to rebound off. In a final moment of panic, Johnson throws a grenade straight at him, only for Batman to catch it and let it explode in his hands. Batman throws Johnson over the edge, letting him fall, before swooping down to grab him and throwing him into the arms of the GCPD.

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The next day, the media is having a field day over the appearance of a cloaked flying figure in the night. Luthor is looking over the paper during a meeting as he is attempting to take over Wayne Enterprises. Just as he’s about to sign the papers, Bruce walks into the meeting telling him that it’s not going to happen. Luthor doesn’t know who he is at first, meaning that Bruce is not very well known publicly, or doesn’t have much involvement with the company. Which leads me to wonder what exactly he has been doing over the years. Bruce puts an end to the deal, saying that he plans to be much more active in the company’s management and dismissing many of the people in the room. As Bruce leaves, it’s clear that Luthor is far from pleased.

Bruce stops off at the Gotham Gazette, the cities local paper and one he now owns, and meets the editor-in-chief Perry White, as well as running into the Gazette’s newest recruit, Lois Lane. Just arrived from the Daily Planet in Metropolis. Around Lois, Bruce becomes a bit a buffoon. Stumbling over his words and knocking into desks. It’s heavily reminiscent of a phrase from Superman: Secret Identity by Kurt Busiek. “If I sound smitten, don’t read too much into it – it’s because I am.”

At this point, it becomes clear that the narrator is Lois. Talking about how she expected Gotham’s famous recluse to be a lot of things, but not a shy, stuttering klutz, referring to him as charming, adorable, and disappointing all at the same time. Walking through the streets, Luthor’s car pulls up along side Lois, offering her a ride home. Lois accepts but Batman is watching from the rooftops. In the car, Lois and Luthor talk about how much things have changed, Luthor alludes to an accident that has changed him as he tries to slip his hand up Lois’s thigh. Lois slaps him across the face and is thrown out of his car. Fifty blocks from her apartment, Lois finds herself on the street with a group of men cat calling to her. They attempt to attack her just as Batman swoops in to save her. After knocking out the guys, he reaches out a hand to Lois asking if he can help. After the events of the night, Lois slaps his hand away and asks him to get away. Batman flies away just as the police arrive to help.

Back at the Gazette, late at night, Lois is typing up an article based on the man who saved her and the state of violence in the city. Bruce finds her there, and Lois instantly questions his appearance. Bruce says that he’s just getting some work done while it’s quiet and asks her what’s wrong. Lois tells him everything about her night, and describes Batman, saying that he has an “utter disregard for human life!” That he could do so much more for the world with those powers. She compares Batman to Bruce, his idealism and dedication, using his wealth to help others. The pair embrace and kiss in the middle of the office. Interestingly, this is a nice little twist on Lois preferring the meta-human to the bumbling co-worker. But even with the change of name and identity, Kal-El and Lois still feel like they are made for one another.

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A few weeks later, a man furiously enters the offices of the Gotham Gazette and demands to see Mr. Wayne. As he crashes his way through, we see his purple and green suit and as he bursts into Bruce’s office, we see that the man is Lex Luther. Removing his hat and prosthetic skin to reveal a bleached white face and thick red lipstick. A jokerised Lex Luthor! Who saw that coming… Bruce jumps up to confront him, only to be blasted back by an umbrellas gun. As Bruce falls out of the window behind him, Joker/Luthor kidnaps Lois and escapes into the night with a small flying machine strapped to his back. As they land on the top of a tall building, complete with devil horned gargoyles. Batman flies in and grabs Joker/Luthor. Flying him high into the sky as narration talks about how Luthor wants to use chaos and violence to take over the city. As Batman announces to Joker/Luthor that he sees him as an “Insufferable Maggot”, that he is going to kill him. Joker/Luthor begins to laugh telling him that he’s just as mad as he is, wouldn’t he agree. As Batman screams “YES!” he throws Luthor to the ground from high above the city, as Lois watches on with the saddest of expressions on her face. Batman looks down at Lois, seeing her face and flies back down and catches Luthor, telling him that he’s going to jail in order to save the city. Batman takes on the hordes of tanks and men working for Joker/Luthor that have been trying to tear apart the city during this whole ordeal. When he’s finished he flies back over to Lois making sure she’s ok.

Lois: “What you did tonight… it was different. Not hate… not vindictiveness… not wasting your gifts on terror and brutality. With your power – There’s so much more you can do. Instead of flexing your muscles… stooping to the level of the very people you’re trying to stop – you can rise above all that. Stand as an example. A symbol of hope.”

Lois reveals that she knows Batman is Bruce Wayne and the pair embrace once again and fly off into the night.

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As the story comes to a close, Lois continues talking about how all of this could have come out so differently. How different the man she loves could have been if he had landed somewhere else. Even making reference to Superman: Red Son as well as the main continuity. As the words play out we see a brighter figure fly over the city of Gotham, and the final page reveals a bright new costume for Bruce, and the new name of SUPERMAN!

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In the end, the story is mainly about nature verses nurture. Not just for Superman but Batman as well. Superman is often called the most human of us all, despite his alien origins. This is largely contributed to his upbringing among salt of the earth people on a farm in Kansas. Batman is often the first to bring it up and often talks about what he would do if he had that kind of power. The book works as a good character study on these ideas. While certainly not the first story to do this for either Batman or Superman (and definitely not the last). Superman: Speeding Bullets is a fine addition to the Elseworld library.


Mister Miracle by Tom King #1 – #6 (2017 – 2018) Breakdown [Part Two]

[Part One can be found here!]

Issue #4:

We return to Scott after his ordeal with Orion. Laying in bed recovering with Barda by his side. They are visited by Lightray, who informs Scott that after the events of the last issue, Scott is accused of being an agent of Darkseid and must stand trial or face execution. Furious, Barda sends Lightray way, covered in a few bruises. The pair spend their night in front of the TV, discussing the trial to come while still trying to hold on to a touch of normality.

Mister Miracle 04 (2018)

A full-page spread shows us Scott performing what could be his final show, before cutting to Scott and Barda’s apartment. I moment of fun before the trial. This brief interlude for Scott’s performance makes masterful use of the 3×3 page layout, especially in the use of space. Orion and his men arrive, and the trial begins in the comfort of the apartment’s living room.

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Orion appoints himself as Accuser, Defender and Judge as Highfather of New Genesis, announcing that Scott is on trial for Treason against Gods. On Orion’s command, Scott may only answer statements as true or false, that he must answer true to his own beliefs and not his doubts. As the questions go on, Scott struggles to clarify himself when answers are grey, punished for replying with anything other than True or False.

Orion: “You are an agent of Darkseid. True or False?”
Scott: “False.”
Orion: “Now. An agent of Darkseid would deny he was such an agent. True or False?”
Scott: “True.”
Orion: “An Agent of Darkseid would also accuse the Highfather of being an agent of Darkseid. True or False?”
Scott: “True.”
Orion: “You have made both of these statements today. True or False?”
Scott: “True”.

Orion continues to push Scott, until he finally snaps and makes Orion bleed. A god, the Highfather, bleeds. As Orion and the others leave, Barda cradles Scott in her arms.

Issue #5:

Scott and Barda, mostly in costume, are stood outside the Chinese theatre imprinting their hands in the pavement for the crowd, all the while their dialogue plays over the top. Debating what to do about Orion and how they stand by each other. They are met by Funky Flashman, an old Jack Kirby allegory for Stan Lee, who tries to spin a great angle on the events going on. Trying to turn his upcoming execution into a spectacle. Scott and Barda make it to their hotel room, a chance to finally relax and lovingly spend the night together.

Mister Miracle 05 (2018)

The next day, knowing what lies ahead of them, they decide to spend their day together. While stuck in traffic, Scott asks Barda if their Motherbox could play whatever song was playing when they first met, with Barda replying they met in the Pits. Scott jokingly has the box play the sound of screaming, and the two share a laugh while stuck in traffic. They have lunch, visit a fair, watch the sunset on a beach, and the night sky from the car, all the while discussing the nature of life, gods, and existence.

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Back home and in bed, Scott is awoken by Funky Flashman and the executioners from New Genesis. Flashman continues his bravado while Scott grabs his costume. Taking a breath, Scott prepares to leave, before Barda takes out the executioners and Flashman, telling Scott only one thing.


Issue #6:

Body disposal is the first call of the day, the pair watching the remains burn away in front of them. They know what they need to do, and where they need to be.

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Battling there way through New Genesis, fighting off guards, breaking down walls, and avoiding security systems abound. Barda takes this time to talk to Scott about remodelling the apartment. Talking about making the kitchen a little smaller while decapitating a guard. Arguing back and forth about how much space they really need even when danger is breathing down their neck. It’s when Barda brings up turning half of the Livingroom into a second bedroom, Scott questions why they are having this conversation.

Scott: “But… So we’re in the Living Room? Who’s in the new room?
Barda: “Next to the new Bathroom? It’ll be nice.”
Scott: “W-wait. Who’s in the… new Bedroom?”
Barda:” Scott. So. I’m Pregnant.”

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When the coast is clear, Scott embraces his wife, and for the first real time since the series started. Scott is happy.

At the gate to the Highfather’s throne, Scott discovers the body of Orion mutilated on the floor.  Darkseid waiting. Darkseid is. As Barda enters, she finds Scott shaken to his core, sat on the throne, eyes wide open.

“I saw the face of god.”


6 issues in and Tom King has crafted a masterful tale of PTSD and depression like no other. With 6 issues still to come after the break, it’s anyone’s guess what else is instore for Scott Free. Mister Miracle. Super Escape Artist.

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Mister Miracle by Tom King #1 – #6 (2017 – 2018) Breakdown [Part One]

So far, the current Mister Miracle series is half way through it’s run and Tom King is creating something that is deeply hard to ignore. In a series that could be written off as nothing but a cash in for the 100th birthday of Jack ‘King’ Kirby. Tom King’s Mister Miracle is an amazing and compelling exploration of PTSD and depression through the eyes of Scott Free, the world’s greatest escape artist.

Issue #1:

The tone is set immediately with a full splash page of Scott Free alone in his bathroom still partly in costume and blood dripping from his wrists. A razor blade on the floor and a disheartened look on his face. This is not going to be a happy-go-lucky story. We watch him slowly recover in the hospital, Barda crying in the waiting room and the same look on Scott’s face. Mitch Gerads’ use of a 3×3 panel layout perfectly setting the beat. The voices around Scott are encouraging or praising but even then, he continues with the same disheartened and defeated look. The words ‘Darkseid is.’ Following him through panels. Even the use of colour adds to the tone, colour all around, but still with this drab overtone. As though people are trying to brighten Scott’s world and mood, but his reality and pain still holds through.

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At home with Barda, Orion appears without explanation. Even with this sudden appearance, Scott’s expression does not change. Even with the events that take place. It’s Barda that takes action. King writes Scott through the issue as a man apathetic to life. The world’s greatest escape artist who couldn’t escape living. Someone who had already given up but can not end it. His moments with Barda, even with his apathy are sweet for how hard she is trying, and how much she cares.

In public, especially in interviews, Scott is able to laugh it all off. Play it as a stunt that went wrong. He continues to charm the crowd but the words ‘Darkseid is’ still follows. As time goes by, Scott’s grip on the world loosens, ‘Darkseid is’ begins to beat through the pages like a heartbeat until it can’t be ignored any longer.

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Dressed for battle, Scott and Barda know what they need to do. Standing. Darkseid awaits.

Issue #2:

“Death Lashes out for Mister Miracle. Super Escape Artist! But it is not the end, friend! What lies ahead is to be dreaded even more. A trap sprung by a mind not of this Earth. The terrible. Inescapable. X-pit! Also – to know her is to hate her – Granny Goodness!”

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In the heat of battle, we find Scott fighting for New Genesis. Through the battles, we see Scott finally letting out some of the aggression and frustration he built up since his incident. Screaming “For Genesis!” as he’s covered in the blood of his enemies. Back with Barda, still soaking from the green blood of battle, we find a sweet moment for them both. Just casual talk. A tone that while still apathetic in majority, shows at least a moment of calm for them. Debating how these off-world showers work, even momentarily joking. Barda complains of her own perceived imperfections as they undress, and Scott simply replies, “You’re perfect”.

At the throne of the Highfather, Scott discovers that his brother Orion is now the leader of New Genesis. Barda and Scott are ordered to kneel, and the tension simply leaps off the page. Scott needing to be dragged down low. It’s reported that Darkseid’s forces have defeated their men in the East, losing 250,000 troops and seven of the gods. In retaliation, Scott is ordered to go after the woman who tortured him through childhood and win the battle. He must return to Granny Goodness.

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As they leave, Scott and Barda discuss their lives under Granny Goodness. How much pain and despair they suffered, how they found each other there, and yet while comparing experiences it’s clear that Scott got the better life. Even in hell. Their meeting with Granny, even with the pleasantries, carries this dreadful tone tensions rising with every panel. At the end of it all, it’s Barda that deals the killing blow. The paranoid pill follows them home.

Issue #3:

Safe at home, Scott has nightmares about his past. The battle they both just survived, and the image of his insane brother holding the head of Granny Goodness, remembering a terrifying story she used to tell him at Christmas. His night continues as he restlessly paces around the apartment, seeking comfort from a pill. Forager, a soldier under Orion, appears by Scott’s side. Telling him the horrors that are still going on back on New Genesis. The amount of people dying under Orion’s rule. That their Queen’s head now hangs alongside Granny Goodness’s. Forager pledges his men to Scott, claiming Orion is dead, only to be executed on Scott’s couch by one of Orion’s men. With the same dull and lifeless expression on Scott’s face, he returns to bed and Barda, holding her close.

Mister Miracle 03 (2017)

In his colourful costume, the bright sky behind him, Scott returns to life as an entertainer. The world’s greatest escape artist. Performing for his fans. During a post-show lunch with Barda, he’s even approached by a fan and takes a photo with them. Scott continues to bottle his pain, hide it from the world. He knows what he is to many, and that he can’t just lash out. In full costume, he finds himself confronted by his brother. Arguing about the war at hand. Darkseid, and the Anti-Life equation. In anger, Orion beats Scott to the ground and unmasks himself. Sneering with nothing but contempt and superiority on his face. The page distorts as Orion repeats, “This is the face of God”.

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[Part Two Here!]


Superman #39: Goodnight Moon

Superman 039 cov (2018)Despite being one of DCs, and comic books, most powerful heroes. Superman is above all things the best of humanity. Superman #39 showcases this fact beautifully.

While taking on the Demolition Team in Metropolis, Superman finds himself being cheered on by children in the local cancer ward. With the parents and doctor’s permission, Superman with the help of Green Lantern take the children on a day trip to the Justice League Satellite. Made possible by a Green Lantern construct of a rocket ship. Allowing the kids to experience zero-gravity and ‘fly’ along with him. Upon reaching the satellite, the kids are greeted by the looming figures of The Flash, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg and Batman. Superman gives each of them a phone and sets up a scavenger hunt for them including finding items such as Superman’s cape, Wonder Woman’s lasso, and the hardest item of all. A picture of Batman smiling. It’s an absolute delight to watch their progress, as well as their progress on the Batman picture. To round off the day, Superman dresses the kids in space suites and allows them to stand on the moon for a while. Knowing many of them don’t have much time left, everyone writes their name on a rock to leave on the Moon’s surface where they will last forever. The issue beautifully ends with the kids and Superman in awe of the Earth from the Moon.

The issue is filled with so many wonderful moments that are a joy to experience. It encapsulates everything Superman should stand for, particularly in darker times. A symbol of hope in a dark world. That absolute power does not have to mean that it’s used for evil and that what makes us human is how we treat others. Superman never gives up on anyone. That as long as there is life in your lungs, no matter how little time you may have left, you deserve to enjoy it. The Justice Leagues action as well in this issue, may show them at their most heroic. Not just patrolling the streets or smiling for the cameras. But acting as heroes and making the kids who look up to them feel hope and joy.

With Superman #39, Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason prove that they understand the character of Superman once again. A must read for all Superman fans and those wanting to know why we love him.


Deluxe hard covers, The price of books, and Independent stores

Over the past two weeks it’s safe to say I have heavily added to my comic shelves. Specifically in the Deluxe hardback department. When it comes to DC and Marvel, though honestly more DC, there are some titles I end up buying multiple times over. For example, take my beloved Superman series. I buy the single issues which I then lend out to a friend. I bought the first two trade paper backs covering the first 13 issues, and the Rebirth one shot. And after that I really wanted the deluxe volume. So, if I was to add everything up at full price that would be $2.99 x 13, which is $38.87 (granted, over a long period of time). I’m doing this in dollar’s despite being English because of the listed prices on the actual item and I’ll do a conversion at the end. Just getting that info out of the way now. The two trade paper backs are $16.99 each. So, $33.98. and the deluxe volume is $34.99. In total that’s $107.84 for the same content 3 times over. And I know someone will say I made a mistake there because it should be $2.99 times 14 with the Rebirth one shot, but I never bought that one so discounted it here. Converting Dollars to Sterling that means I should have payed a total of £79.52. What I actually spent was £81.53 because issues cost an average of £2.50 depending on which store I visit, the trades cost £14.99 in normal book stores like Waterstones (which is not the best option for buying comics, supporting smaller stores has major benefits for both you and the owners) and I got the deluxe volume from Amazon for £19.05.

Yeah, if you can’t tell I’ve been seriously rethinking how I buy comics. Particularly from DC. None of this is a slight towards DC’s pricing I think it’s very reasonable. It’s more talking about the quality of their product to the point that I own the same content 3 times! To be honest its not the only DC content I own 3 times, and I tend to justify it by the fact that they are in different formats. The fact that I have 3 versions of both Kingdom Come and Superman Secret Identity doesn’t bother me. For the record that’s trade paperback, Deluxe edition, and French hardcover.

I love DCs current Superman title so I don’t mind owning it three times. What I do mind is realising how much it all cost me and how that money could have been used to check out other titles and support them. The problem I see is that the idea of spending £2.50 every other week seems fairly reasonable, until you consider the long-term price. But in the past I’ve actively avoided buying what I considered to be over-priced deluxe editions because I can’t afford it. Here in England, the recommended retail price for DC’s current line of deluxe rebirth books is £30 (though when you convert Dollars to Sterling, it should be only around £25.80, but I’ll give them the £4.20 for import charge). Buying these from regular books stores, like Waterstones or WHSmith, that is exactly what you would pay. Amazon lists them between £15 (The Flash) and £30 (Action Comics) with the majority around £20. A recent trip to Limited Edition in Stevenage (a rather charming and friendly comic store in the cities centre) netted me that £30 Action Comics Deluxe for only £20. A damn good deal in my books.

Over the winter break, I took advantage of a little extra money and caved in to my desire to own some of these beautiful deluxe editions. Happily picking up the Rebirth deluxe books for Superman, Action Comics, Batman, Detective Comics, Wonder Woman, and The Flash. As well as the recent deluxe release of Shazam: The New Beginning and a paperback copy of New Frontier. That trip to Limited Edition also got me the first ultimate collection for Image’s Invincible series by Robert Kirkman for £10. Something I am heavily looking forward to trying as Kirkman’s more famous series, The Walking Dead, has never managed to peak my interest. Either in comics or the television series.

Even discounting the fact that most of these books were brought with gift cards, the experience has forced me to evaluate my approach to buying comics and spend money more wisely. However, when taking this all into account I’m forced to think about the actual companies that produce the books I read. As I said earlier the money spend on multiple versions of the same thing could have been used to support other series. For DC’s more popular series, like Batman and Superman, this is less of a problem. They are flag ship titles that are guaranteed to continue publication and get deluxe volumes. However, especially at Marvel and smaller publishers. Good titles get cancelled frequently due to a lack of support. For example, I thoroughly enjoyed the Silk series from Marvel written by Robbie Thompson. Despite being a good series, the book was cancelled a year ago due to a lack of people buying the single issues. Ending on issue 19 of the second run. Granted, Marvel has become infamous for cancelling books early. YouTuber Professor Thorgi mentions how Chip Zdarsky’s Star Lord series was cancelled at only 6 issues in his video What’s Causing Marvel’s Low Sales – HINT: It’s Not Diversity – ediTHORGIals. Leading many readers to believe it was meant to be a miniseries (typically around 4 to 6 issues long), before it was confirmed that the book was cancelled due to low sales. He goes into plenty of detail in his video discussing the facts that the character is popular, the writer is well known and liked, but the book still sold poorly due to a mixture of Marvel’s pricing, constant relaunches, poor marketing and the amount of books Marvel release week to week. This is worse for independent publishers as they have no guarantee for collective trades even if their work sells relatively well.

With these recent purchases, I can say that the deluxe rebirth books DC have released are completely worth the money and the time to wait for them. Collecting at least the first 13 issues, 15 in the case of Batman. They look wonderful on the shelf with clean white spines, and bright defined covers using art from one of the single issues included inside. The paper stock is clear and of high quality with a sown binding to allow the pages to flex easily and creates less gutter space cut off when reading. The crowning beauty of these books is the added detail under the dust jacket. Gorgeous two-page spreads printed directly onto the books cover in place of the standard black. For bigger titles from DC it’s more than worth waiting it out and picking these up instead of the standard trade paperbacks.

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