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Review: Superman: The Man Of Steel Vol. 1

Superman: The Man Of Steel Vol. 1

I’ve heard for so many years how great John Byrne’s Superman work was. He took over post-Crisis and redefined the character for the (then) modern age. Not an easy book to collect, with various out-of-print volumes. DC Comics has finally released a hardcover collecting the first part of Byrne’s work in Superman: The Man Of Steel Vol. 1. I hold his X-Men, Fantastic Four and even his Alpha Flight stuff in pretty high regard. I’m not a huge Superman fan or DC fan. Would I feel the same way with Supes?

The story is one we’re all familiar with: A scientist on a doomed planet sends his only son across the universe to an alien planet in an attempt to save his life and to spare him from his home world’s destruction. Upon crash-landing on Earth, he’s found by your typical Earth couple who adopt him and raise him as their own and in doing so, he discovers his amazing abilities and decides to use those to help do the right thing and save others. From there, tales with Braniac, Darkseid, the Phantom Stranger and others round out the volume.

John Byrne’s Superman work ends up being pretty stellar to someone like me, who gets to read it for the first time so many decades later. For one, I feel that for one who doesn’t love the decompression of storytelling that everyone has embraced, the pacing is quite enjoyable. The Man Of Steel mini-series would take well over a year by the new standard if done today. I felt like Byrne understood the characters. He wrote a truly amazing Superman and put him through the ringer, so to speak.  And in saying that, Superman comes off truly relevant to the world he exists in. Art-wise, I have always enjoyed John Byrne’s pencils/art and so I knew what I was getting into with this. I knew that part would not disappoint.

Any problems? Mostly that I’m not a huge Superman fan. It feels odd to like this as much as I do. I’m sure a more traveled Superman/DC Comics fan could pick this apart but from what I know, this is one of the most sought-after comic book runs to get collected again. For me, it’s great to know that something that I’ve heard be so enjoyable actually held up over time, at least for me. This first volume maintains its look by having the art being done by Byrne and by Jerry Ordway in some spots. Terry Austin is one of the inkers involved with this and he’s probably the best inker Byrne worked with. The Adventures Of Superman issues are written by Marv Wolfman and also included. It’s great to see the other books of this era included.

Superman: The Man Of Steel Vol. 1 ends up collecting Byrne’s Man Of Steel mini-series, Superman 1-4, Adventures Of Superman 424-428, and Action Comics 584 through 587. Some extras included are some Who’s Who ‘87 entries. It has a cover price of $49.99 and feels totally worth the price. Also, if DC Comics had released this a few years ago, it would most-likely just have a plain hardcover design underneath the dust jacket. This collection has a very nice art-on-book cover under the DJ. DC Comics has started to put some real quality on the collected editions that get released. If you are a Supes fan, this is one for you.

Story: John Byrne, Marv Wolfman, Jerry Ordway Art: John Byrne, Jerry Ordway
Ink: Dick Giordano, Terry Austin, Jerry Ordway, Mike Machlan, Karl Kesel
Color: Tom Ziuko Letterer: John Costanza, Albert DeGuzman
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: A definite read


Purchase: Amazon KindlecomiXology

Around the DC Universe: Week 2 – A Superman Focused Week

Welcome to Around the DC Universe, your weekly guide to the best comics and shows featured on DC Entertainment’s exclusive new streaming service.

Technical Issues

I begin this week with technical issues because after almost two weeks of playing with the app I have finally figured out how DC Universe deals with the release of new comics.

Most of the titles are part of the curated library, a selection of 2500 or so issues that will swap out quarterly (though I imagine that a few key issues like Action Comics #1 and Detective Comics #27 will remain in perpetuity). Special features will be added weekly for shorter runs usually of a week or two.

Special Features

Right now you have three weeks to check out the original Death and Return of Superman  in Action Comics (1938-), Adventures of Superman, Superman: The Man of Steel and Superman (1986). This epic event stands at the crossroads between marketing gimmick and heartfelt storytelling. The writers and artists involved have a deep and abiding affection for the Man of Steel that shines through the hype as they take him as low as a person can go and then bring him back. Superman’s supporting cast, one of the best in the history of comics, really gets a chance to shine in the absence of the series’ main character and there are several moments that still move me to tears. Unfortunately, as of this writing DC Universe is missing several key issues including Superman (1986) #78 and 79 which introduce the infamous Cyborg Superman. It’s possible to enjoy the story despite this gap but it is disappointing that DC could not be bothered to correct their mistake despite several queries on the community forums and at least one query to their customer service department which received no response. Even if you have read the story before be sure and check out Newstime: The Life and Death of Superman (1993). Originally published as a facsimile of a tribute magazine, this is a great artifact from within the DC Universe that offers some interesting perspectives and more than a few easter eggs and has  never, to my knowledge, been reprinted.

Movies and TV

Those who don’t have time to wade through all those comics might find themselves tempted two different animated versions available on the video streaming portion of DC Universe. Sadly the older of the two (Superman: Doomsday) is an inferior adaptation. The original story took up almost a year’s worth of four monthly titles so trying to condense it into a mere hour and forty five minutes is impossible. A lot of questionable creative choices were also made, including a Superman who is perfectly willing to engage in intimate relations with Lois Lane without telling her his secret identity. The generally mean characterization of many of the characters involved robs the feature of all of its poignancy. A double feature of Batman v Superman and Justice League does the original material more credit and is infinitely more preferable to this waste of good talent. I’ve yet to watch this year’s The Death of Superman but it’s on my agenda for next week.

On the other side of the Superman coin I’m surprised by how much I enjoy watching George Reeves in the Adventures of Superman TV show. While it’s very much a product of its time, it’s still incredibly fun to watch in small doses. Reeves is inherently likable as both Superman and Clark Kent has the inherent likeability and the supporting cast is also top notch. There are some interesting wrinkles added to the legend. I particularly liked watching Pa Kent risking his life to save Baby Kal El from the blazing wreckage of his rocket after it crashes to work. The plots are much more down to Earth than we’re used to with Superman taking on smugglers and bank robbers instead of alien despots and mad scientists.  That’s not a bad thing however as it reminds us that Superman was once a much more relatable, down to Earth character, not so much in his power level but in his concerns. It’s fun to revisit that simpler time even if only for a couple of episodes.

Comics

The Legion of Superheroes is one  of my all time favorite teams. The long running drama of a club of teenage heroes in the far future is in turns both goofy and profound with a tangled continuity that makes the X-Men look simple by comparison. If you’ve never experienced the Legion many of their earliest stories are currently available in Adventure Comics. DC Universe has taken a greatest hits sort of approach with some of the best stories from the first few years of the Legion’s run, many of them by science fiction legend Ed Hamilton. Reading the stories as they’re presented does sacrifice the development of on a rich and compelling continuity but these high points, including the death of one of the major players in Legion history, is well worth your time if you’re a fan of DC’s silver age. Adventure Comics was an anthology title that also featured stories about of other heroes and they are included here as as well. Fans of Aquaman  should take note of superior stories in the first two issues with art by the great Ramona Fradon, one of the first women to draw a superhero comic. Available on DC Universe in Adventure Comics (1938-) #247, 267, 300, 304, 306, 310, 312, and 316.

The Internet Archive also brings us Superman, TMNT, Spider-Man, Rocketeer, Fantastic Four, and X-Men Games to Play

X-Men 2 - The Fall of the MutantsThe Internet Archive is becoming an amazing arcade, especially with its release of 2,400 MS-DOS games on top of the hundreds of Atari and arcade games it already hosted. Add on top of that a new browser-based emulator that’s still in beta, and you can experience some classic games that are still as fun to play today as they were twenty something years ago.

I went through the archive and pulled out the comic related video games from the 2,400. This is on top of the couple I reported about earlier today.

The Amazing Spider-Man – published in 1990 by Paragon Software Corporation for the Amiga, Atari ST, and Commodore 64, this game has Spider-Man rescuing Mary Jane who was kidnapped by Mysterio. Primarily a platformer the game also includes puzzles, mostly to deactivate Mysterio’s tricks.

Fantastic Four – published in 1986, this text adventure takes you through Latveria to battle Doctor Doom.

The Rocketeer – published in 1991 by Walt Disney Computer Software and developed by NovaLogic Inc., this game has you participate in several action sequences that mimic the same sequences in the Rocketeer movie, like racing a plane, a shootout in a warehouse, and hand-to-hand combat on top of a flying blimp. It’s based on the Dave Stevens’ original comic book series and the movie made by the Walt Disney Company.

Superman – The Man of Steel – published in 1989 by First Star Software and developed by Tynesoft Computer Software, you play as Superman on a mission to save a kidnapped Lois Lane from Darkseid and Lex Luthor. The gameplay consists of different action-oriented sections including 3D flying, overhead vertical scrolling and side scrolling. Sections are linked by comic book graphics which tell the story…. so that’s kind of cool.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – Manhattan Missions – published by Konami and developed by Distinctive Software in 1991 this is a side-scroller where you battle Shredder. Players have 48 hours to complete the game, I mean really 48 hours… and you need to rest your characters to gain health! Luckily you can save the game to reload it later, so you don’t have to play for 48 hours straight.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II – The Arcade Game – also released in 1991, published by Image Works, and developed by Konami, the game is a 3rd-person perspective side scroller. Here, April is kidnapped by Bebop and Rocksteady and you must save her by facing familiar foes. I lost a lot of time and quarters playing this one.

X-Men 2 – The Fall of the Mutants – released in 1991 by Paragon Software, players must assemble a team of five X-Men from a selection of fifteen, and eliminate the evil mutants while playing in a top-down RPG-style environment. When battles commence the player has two choices for how the combat takes place: either side-scrolling action, or turn-based RPG-style combat. In the side-scrolling action fights, the player can use each of the team members’ powers to kill the foes.

So, any favorites or fond memories of these?

Around the Tubes


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It’s Friday, Friday, Friday…. Sorry, that never gets old.  But, while you were looking forward to the weekend, here’s the news you might have missed.

Around the Blogs:

Bleeding Cool – Julia Ormond Wanted For The Man Of SteelSo, what’s the point a movie cast is too good looking?  I’m pretty sure this one is approaching that.

Con Coverage:

The Mary Sue – Marvel Among the Major Studios Not to Stage Movie Presentations at This Year’s Comic-Con

Bleeding Cool – Three New San Diego Comic Con Exclusives – Marksmen, Samurai’s Blood And Heavy Metal

Around the Tube Reviews:

IGN – Action Comics #902

IGN – Batman: Gates of Gotham #2

IGN – Black Panther: The Man Without Fear #520

IGN – Brightest Day Aftermath: The Search for Swamp Thing #1

IGN – Captain America #619

IGN – Deadpool Vol. 4 #39

IGN – DMZ #66

IGN – Fables #106

IGN – Flashpoint: Lois Lane and the Resistance #1

IGN – Flashpoint: The Outsider #1

IGN – G.I. Joe Cobra #2

IGN – Green Arrow #13

IGN – The Incredible Hulks #631

IGN – Infestation: Outbreak #1

IGN – Iron Man 2.0 #6

IGN – Justice League of America #58

IGN – The Mighty Thor #3

IGN – Mystery Men #2

IGN –Secret Avengers #14

IGN – Sigil #4

IGN – Silver Surfer #5

IGN – The Spirit #15

IGN – Star Wars: Jedi – The Dark Side #2

IGN – Superman #712

CBR – Superman #712

IGN – Thunderbolts #159

IGN – Ultimate Comics Avengers vs. New Ultimates #5

CBR – Ultimate Spider-Man #160

IGN – Wolverine #11

IGN – X-Men Legacy #251

IGN – Comic Book Reviews for 6/22/11

Russell Crowe to Man of Steel

Marlon Brando as Jor-El in Superman (1978).

Image via Wikipedia

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It looks like Russell Crowe will be filling the role made famous by Marlon Brando as Jor-El in the Superman reboot, Superman: The Man of Steel.  He’s in negotiations with Warner Bros. to play the part in the movie that’s to be directed by Zack Snyder and produced by Christopher Nolan.

Crowe joins an A-list cast that includes Amy Adams, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane and Michael Shannon with Henry Cavill playing Superman.  Production is to begin next month and this was one of the last roles to be cast while another big name is being looked for to play Superman’s biological mother.

Others rumored for the role were Sean Penn and Clive Owen of which I can picture neither.

Brando who played the role in the 1978 Richard Donner classic was 54 when he shipped off his famous fictitious son while Crowe is 47.

Want to be in Superman: The Man Of Steel?

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Extras are needed for the upcoming movie Superman: The Man Of Steel.  If you’re available in August and September, here’s where you can try out at casting sessions:

Saturday, June 18th, 11a – 4p

DePaul University’s Naperville Campus
150 West Warrenville Rd
Naperville, IL 60563

Wednesday, June 22nd, 6p-8p

Plano High School Gymnasium
704 West Abe Street
Plano, IL 60545-1167

Saturday, June 25th, 11a – 4p

Chicago Academy for the Arts
1010 West Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60642

You’ll need to have a valid Social Security number and be legally permitted to work in the United States. Bring a photo ID such as a driver’s license or state or student ID.