Man of Steel

I haven't written in forever, but I feel compelled to add my two cents to the Man of Steel debate that is tearing Superman fans apart this month.

I liked the movie. I don't think it was a perfect Superman movie, but it was an interesting first part of a trilogy. I am glad it is doing well in theatres because I really want to see more with this cast. And we shouldn't overlook how very, very good looking Superman was in this movie. He was very good looking.

Now for some specific, spoiler-filled notes on what worked and what could have been better in this movie.

1. Krypton

I loved the depiction of Krypton in this movie. I liked that they used the idea from comics that Kryptonians are pre-programed in the "womb" to serve a specific purpose. It allows us to better understand Zod's point of view. I generally liked the style of Krypton, except for those weird 3D-image floating computer things that followed everyone around.

Russell Crowe is a brilliant scientist.
Russell Crowe is a brilliant scientist.

I actually really liked Russell Crowe a lot in this movie too. I liked his Gladiator accent and his calm, in-control persona. The movie, overall, was more the story of Krypton than a Superman origin story. Kal-El is just the innocent third party caught in the middle of a feud between Jor-El and Zod. It's an interesting approach to a new Superman series, and I was thankful that it allowed them to tell the origin story in a refreshing, non-linear format that assumed that people knew the story well enough to fill in the blanks.

2. Superman

Much like Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins, or Wolverine, Clark "Joe" Kent is a drifter for much of his young adult life, just trying to go unnoticed wherever he is. Unlike Bruce Wayne, he doesn't have a specific purpose to his journey, other than a hope to find out more about who he is and where he comes from. He obviously went to work up in the Arctic because he somehow found out that there might be a space craft there. It's not explicitly shown in the movie how he learns this, and it doesn't need to be. It's one of the things I liked about the movie: it assumed an intelligent audience who didn't need everything explained. I don't think it was lazy storytelling; I think they just wanted to get to the good stuff. I'm assuming the military guys in the bar he worked at in Nova Scotia (!!!) could have inadvertently led him to the spacecraft. He can hear everything, after all.

I loved Henry Cavill as Superman/Clark Kent. Not only was he extraordinarily handsome, he also perfectly pulled off the Superman persona. Quiet, but able to shut someone up entirely with one look or one perfect sentence. He basically makes everyone around him look and feel like complete garbage by comparison. It's not intentional. He's just way more wonderful than any of us could ever hope to be.

I think the scene where he busts through the door of the oil rig, shirtless and covered in flames, could have been extended. Just ten straight minutes of him standing there while the other guys stare at him. I would have been ok with that.

Flame grilled to perfection
Flame grilled to perfection

3. Lois Lane

Again, great casting. I liked her a lot. She was tough, she was smart, and they looked great together. I like that they set up his career at the Daily Planet at the end of the movie, but also established that Lois and Perry know exactly who Clark Kent is. It just makes sense.

"Hey, girl. How you livin'?"
"Hey, girl. How you livin'?"

As an aside, I don't mind at all changing things like that if they make more sense. The Dark Knight trilogy worked really well by creating a "real" world for the characters and mythology, and dropping aspects of the comic books that didn't fit with that world. The story of Superman (or Batman) has been told a million times by a million different writers. I welcome different interpretations. Is Man of Steel the definitive Superman origin story? No. One movie doesn't erase countless great comic books, or previous movies, or cartoon series, or radio dramas or whatever. In the world of Man of Steel, it makes sense that smart people, and especially those who are close to Superman, know who Clark Kent really is. The rest can be fooled. I liked that kryptonite was replaced by a change in atmosphere. Could there be kryptonite in the future movies in this series? Sure. Does there need to be? No. Same with the Fortress of Solitude, or ice breath. The characters were all perfectly portrayed in this movie, and that's what's important. The rest is just frivolous.

4. Zod

Michael Shannon was fantastic. Just the opposite of Superman in every way. I loved him. The fights between Zod (and the other Kryptonians) and Superman were incredible. I thought the speed and power of those battles was perfectly captured.

"Eat a dick, Jor-El"
"Eat a dick, Jor-El"

Should Superman have killed him? Probably not. If he could break his neck, he could also turn his head away from that family. Also: he can break his neck? That doesn't seem possible. I guess it is because it happened, but it surprised me. At any rate, Superman killing Zod didn't really bother me, because he was new at the hero thing, and put in a very difficult position, and was probably at the end of his rope anyway. It had been a pretty shitty couple of days. What bothered me a little is that he didn't really agonize over it. He did a bit right after doing it, but then in the next scenes he's just telling his mom he's going to be a reporter, and telling the military to leave him alone. A scene where someone is helping him work through what he did would be good. Or maybe him being upset that the whole world just about ended because of his presence on Earth? Maybe he thinks about leaving? Or living in isolation? It just seemed like a scene was missing. Also: did he help clean up any of that destruction he caused in Metropolis and Smallville? Those cities were both annihilated. It was like a thousand 9/11s up in Metropolis. He was deliberately throwing Zod into skyscrapers (the city is on the water! Use your head, Supes!). Again, a couple of aftermath scenes would have been good. If you are going to make as bold a choice as having Superman murder someone in cold blood, you really have to justify it a bit. I remember people were very upset after Batman Begins when Batman claimed that he wouldn't kill Ra's Al Ghul, but he didn't have to save him. And then Ra's died in a train crash. The cardinal rule for both Batman and Superman is No Killing, so it is alarming when it's tossed aside.

5. Pa and Ma Kent

I do think Pa Kent was more dickish about his son using his powers than he needed to be, but the man died unnecessarily in a tornado to protect his son's secret, and that's hardcore. This happened right after a car fight where Clark laid down the classic "you're not even my real father!" burn, natch.

I loved the casting of Kevin Costner and Diane Lane. They were like the movie versions of John Schneider (right down to the country music career) and Annette O'Toole. I hope Ma Kent is featured in all future Superman movies in this series.

6. Lex Luthor

It's happening. Get ready people. Next movie, for sure. Superman will learn that Earthlings can be just as psychotic as Kryptonian generals.

7. Levity

There was none. Not one moment of humour in this movie, and that was a real let-down. There was one terrible joke after Lois and Superman kissed that fell completely flat, and also was kind of a burn on Lois? Something about relationships going downhill after the first kiss, but then Superman says "that's only if you're kissing a human" or something? Lois is a human, dude. Smooth.

I think having him work at the Planet will open up more opportunities for humour in the next movie. I hope.

In conclusion, I liked the movie a lot. I would probably like it less if I weren't certain that it sets up a trilogy (at least) because obviously there were a lot of aspects of Superman that we know and love that we didn't get to see yet. I could do with more jokes and less Christ imagery, and way more Superman. Shirtless Superman, specifically. In Nova Scotia.

This should be Nova Scotia's tourism ad
This should be Nova Scotia's tourism ad

This Week's Haul: Wolverine Day!

I only read one comic with Wolverine in it this week, and he wasn't in it very much.

I am going to check out the Wolverine movie in a few short hours. I'll let you know what I think. I'll tell you one thing right now: I think it's awesome that Marvel has a big release every year on the Friday before Free Comic Book Day. I don't know if that's planned or not, but it is pretty well-timed. I am going to have to get a good night's sleep tonight before the craziness that is FCBD at Strange Adventures happens tomorrow. I'll be helping out all day and it is always like the Thunderdome every the best way possible. I love everything about the day, so I am very excited.

Uncanny X-Men #509

There was something distracting about this issue and it wasn't just the Greg Land artwork. I have been loving Matt Fraction's writing on this title (enough to buy Uncanny X-Men monthly!) but this issue was getting dangerously close to...Winnickness. I don't like politics or social commentary mixed into my comics typically, but I tend to be more tolerant of it in X-titles because prejudice and intolerance is basically what the whole series has been about since the beginning. I'm just saying, when it starts to sound more like the writer talking than the characters, I get a little sleepy. Even if I agree with the writer, it's still a little boring.

But I still really like this series. And now it has added French-Canadian/gay content with Northstar as a new member of the X-Men. He's attractive.

Also: Colussus at a Raiders game! Colossus at a Raiders game!



Superman # 687

I'll tell you one guy who did not appear in this book: Superman. But there was plenty of Superman's childhood "friend," Mon-El. Poor Mon-El.

Again, I am very impressed with how well this whole big Superman cross-over event is working. I love Guedes' art, and I think Robinson is better at writing the characters around Superman than he is at writing Superman himself.

I am a little confused about one thing: Mon-El's secret identity. Why does he need one? It seems so complicated. And why is he using the name Johnathan Kent? That's just absurd and needlessly confusing. Why can't Mon-El just be Mon-El full-time? He has no family or loved ones to protect. The only person he knows is Superman.


Justice Society of America #26

This is the last issue of JSA that I will be buying because it's the last issue that Geoff Johns will be writing. It certainly felt like "this is it forever, folks! To be continued NEVER!" so I wouldn't say that the team did a great job setting it up for the next one.

So in this issue the JSA...throws a birthday party for Stargirl and...that's it. No fighting, no bad guys, no conflict. Just good old fashioned wholesome socializing and a heartwarming exchange of pleasantries over cake and ice cream. But if you like that sort of thing, and I tend to, then you'll be into it. And if you like full-page and double-page group shots, then you'll be REALLY into this because there are several.

The wholesomeness is what's nice about the JSA. They aren't the Justice League. If the Justice League throws a birthday party it ends in rape, murder and genocide.


I also read Doctor Doom and the Masters of Evil #4 (after two issues of being very confused, I really enjoyed this finale a lot), Wonder Woman (still awesome) and Green Lantern (gettin' crazy). I still have a bit of a pile to get through because it's been a pretty crazy week, but I am looking forward to reading The Muppet Show #2 (Matt got to it first), Rasl #4 (Yay! Finally!), Legion of Three Worlds #4 (Yay! Finally!) and that Fantagraphics hardcover collection of Blazing Combat.

This Week's Haul: Superman looks good in a uniform.

A bit of a light week for me, but an awesome one nonetheless.

World of New Krypton #2

I would say that the awesome Gary Frank covers are a tease, but I actually really love Pete Woods' art. So it's win-win. And you know what else? Greg Rucka and James Robinson are doing a great job of writing this series! It would be a lot of fun to dive right into Krypton as a writer (or two) and really develop it as a place. What we have learned so far is that Kryptonians are dicks, which only further proves that Superman owes a lot of his awesomeness to Ma and Pa Kent.

Also, I really like Superman in that soldier's uniform. Rrrrow!



Wolverine: Weapon X #1

Jason Aaron returns to Wolverine writing! Yay!

I would not normally buy a comic with 'Weapon X' in the title, or even 'Wolverine,' but if Jason Aaron is writing it, I will buy a comic called "Azrael and Cable: Dark Reign Battle for the Cowl Countdown Arena Fathom." I really would.

Fortunately, I instead got to read this comic about Wolverine killing dudes. Lesson learned: do not try to mug Wolverine on a subway.


Batman Confidential #28

The only bad thing about this comic is that it's the last one in an amazing three-part story. Seriously, if anyone asks why I love Batman, or even comics, so much, I am just going to hand them these three issues (or, if DC is clever enough, the eventual trade of this story).

Batman is awesome in this story, the Riddler is awesome, and there is a brand new Bat-villain. Impressive all around! Plus amazing art by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Kevin Nowlan. We need more Batman comics like this one!


Green Lantern #39

Mmmm...delicious citrus-flavoured Lanterns!

We are formally introduced to yet another Lantern Corps in this issue, the avarice-ridden Orange Corps! These guys are total assholes.

Green Lantern is consistently one of my favourite comics each week. I have really enjoyed every part of the long build-up to BLACKEST NIGHT, which I expect will be very rad.


Secret Six #8

Even without Nicola Scott on art this month, SECRET SIX was totally rad. First of all: Deadshot in a suit. Secondly, he and Scandal were gettin' romantic (not with each other). Thirdly, there is a TINY TITANS parody at the end of this comic!

 I also really like that this kind of counts as a Wolverine cover? Like all those Wolverine covers that Marvel is doing all month?


Showcase Presents: The Doom Patrol


Ever since Showcase Presents started I have been waiting for this one for two reasons:

1. I haven't read much Doom Patrol because it only is available in expensive DC Archive books;

2. This is exactly the kind of comic that should be collected in a black and white Showcase book. This is fun reading.

My favourite thing about that cover: none of them seem to be looking at that gorilla with a gun. There is something more interesting on that screen off panel!

 Things I bought but haven't read yet: EXILES #1 and SUPERGIRL: COSMIC ADVENTURES IN THE 8TH GRADE #5. Looking forward to them!


This Week's Haul: It's the Muppet Show!

Hiya everyone!

Here are some of the comics I read this week!

The Muppet Show #1

I am actually astonished at how well this was executed. It's really, really great. The way the characters are only drawn from the waist up, the jokes, the structure of the comic mirroring the Muppet Show episodes. It's just fantastic. Roger Langridge writes and draws it and he captures the feel of the original show perfectly. I am pretty excited about Boom Studios new Boom Kids line, but the Muppet Show was definitely what I was most looking forward to. I am a huge Jim Henson fan, and I have been watching a lot of the Sesame Street: Old School DVDs lately, so I was definitely in the mood for this. By the way, a Sesame Street comic would be awesome.


Wonder Woman #30

I know I have praised Gail Simone's run on Wonder Woman plenty, but I just want to say it again: her Wonder Woman voice is amazing. I find it really jarring when a character just doesn't sound right (ie - James Robinson's Superman) and Wonder Woman is a character that has been, more often than not, written as a very flat character. Simone manages to give her a lot of depth and personality without losing the regal quality of the character. Like, I want Wonder Woman to have some warmth and humanity, but I don't want to see her being like "yo, what's up Etta?"

Also in this comic, Wonder Woman is really, really angry so we get to see how powerful she can be when she wants to be. And I like that.

Daredevil #117

Daredevil is one of those comics that makes me feel sorry for people who don't read comics because they do not get to read DAREDEVIL. There are a lot of comics on the stands that I enjoy, and there are a lot of great story lines, but the world of Daredevil, however depressing, is one of my favourites to lose myself in for 10 minutes or so each month. I think because it's more of a character study than any other comic, which makes it sound boring but it's really not because there is also a lot of kicking and punching. Plus, Brubaker is the master of the cliffhanger ending.


Captain America #48

I love nothing more than when Daredevil and Captain America drop on the same week. Double shot of Brubaker, PLUS I get my two Marvel boyfriends, Matt Murdock and Winter Soldier, in one week. And this week there is the added bonus of NAMOR in Captain America! I would love a week where Namor appears in every Marvel title, because he really makes every comic that much more entertaining. In this issue we get a nice example of how Namor, though pretty ridiculous-looking, is really one of the most terrifying characters when he's angry.

And also, Winter Soldier was hot.

Superman #686

Meh. I love this cross-over Superman storyline. I love Renato Guedes' art. I do not love James Robinson's writing on this title. Usually I like his writing, but I am not feeling his Superman. I do love seeing Mon-El back in action, though. But seriously, Superman, the dude is trapped in the Phantom Zone forever because you, let's face it, did not even try to find a cure for his lead allergy and as soon as he gets out (on his own) you are demanding favours of him? I'm surprised he didn't tell you to take a flying leap (note: not an effective insult for Superman).


Showcase Presents: Ambush Bug

Hello, what's this? Something totally rad?!

I basically own everything that is in here, but I still bought it because I just want to support the fact that they even published this. Well done, DC. Ambush Bug may seem like an odd choice for a Showcase, but it's actually perfect because there has never been an Ambush Bug collection of any kind before, and it's a little challenging finding all of the issues he appears in. You won't be sorry you bought this.

Twelve Days of Christmas Special Review Series, Part Ten, By Johnathan

DC Comics Presents No. 67! Superman and Santa Claus vs. the Toyman!

The story is nothing extraordinary (read: I couldn't find anything especially worth making fun of) - basically, Toyman starts hypnotizing children to steal from street corner Santas and the like and the real Santa Claus ends up getting in on the act. The part that got me (because I'm a sentimental fool, see?) is when Superman gets home, thinking that it was all just a dream or possibly an imaginary story, and ends up finding his beloved childhood toy in his cape pocket.

I'm tearing up!

I do like that it wasn't a toy wooden thought-beast or anything. No, Kryptonian children wouldn't play with anything so primitive. They get thought-powered illusion machines which sounds fun until you remember some of the things that you imagined as a child. man, I was fairly convinced that there were horrible creatures (wizened, gnomish creatures) literally around every corner for a while. I probably would have had a tiny heart attack if I'd have been able to see them.

Still, JOHN APPROVED. Nice one, Santa.

"three Luornus,"

Twelve Days of Christmas Special Review Series, Part Four, By Johnathan

Only three days behind! I was going to write this last night, but I was distracted by enchiladas and wine. Who could resist that, I ask you?

Back to that super-hero party from Adventure Comics No. 289 (I can't stop plugging Super Future Friends! Go there!) - remember, the whole reason that Supergirl hauled her cousin 1010 years into the future was to get him some future bootie (booty?), and where better to look for a quick hook-up than the super equivalent of a drunken office Christmas party. Hell, there are probably four or five different sets of super-butt prints on the hyperspatial image duplication assembly already. All Supergirl really has to do is point Clarkie in someone's direction and let fly.

So who does she choose?

Saturn Girl! Saturn Woman! Whoever!

Superman has been holding out for a woman with a lot of plaques! Turns out that he only values qualities that have been commemorated by brass plate screwed to wood, which is why to this day he's convinced that Green Arrow is indeed the World's Greatest Sex Machine.

The most important question raised by this panel, though, is just who the hell gave her that plaque? Her mom? Her stalker? Is there a shadowy group of future trophy-makers dedicated to making the folks of the 30th Century feel okay about themselves? Should I expect a tasteful brass-and-mahogany number commemorating my exceptional capacity for beer and nachos?

"Holy poo! You look basically the same as you used to, only somewhat taller! I honestly figured that ten years would have rendered you into a total pooch! Look, I made you a joke dog-collar flight belt and everything!"

I'm pretty glad that 'darts + mistletoe' isn't a cliched holiday recipe for making people kiss. I can basically guarantee that I'd have had a few accidental trepannations by now, knowing my friends. Also, I don't trust their judgement on who I should kiss.

What is the etiquette on this kind of thing? Can you keep kissing someone as long as there's mistletoe around? Do they have any say in the matter or do they have to run and/or start spritzing some Agent Orange ceilingward? I haven't ever actually seen the stuff - anyone from a mistletoe-using part of the world care to weigh in?

It's been said before (though I seem not to be able to find an example): Supergirl watching Superman kiss people is creepy. And happens a lot.

"Holiday Spirit", eh? That smacks of euphemism. Is Superman drunk, do you reckon? Is there a reason that he hasn't seen these people in ten years?

"Hey, where's Superboy? We could really use his help with these Rigellian Spore-Monkeys."

"Uh, we had to leave him back at the Clubhouse. He's a bit too full of the old 'holiday spirit'. I think that we might need to have an intervention."

See? He's fleeing the party rather than admit his problem. Adventure Comics No. 290 is entirely concerned with his subsequent shame-based bender. Actually, much of Superman's Silver-Age behavior makes a lot of sense if you assume that he's smashed out of his gourd half the time ("Whee! Time to dig another tunnel! And then maybe get Batman to help me prank Lois!").

Finally: harsh, Supergirl. What did Phantom Woman ever do to you?

I have a new theory about how being shot through space at a young age promotes social awkwardness.


"nine Police sciencing,"