Jul 24, 2011

The New Superman Comics Have One Issue to Grab Me...

....and if they don't, I'm out.

Now I know I'm not the target audience for this relaunch, so this means very little to DC. But it's important that I say this, because I love Superman. He is one of my favorite superheroes of all time. I love what he represents. Some of my favorite comics are Superman comics. I really want to like every Superman comic ever, and I can't help but feel that missing out on the DCnU Superman may possibly be missing out on history.

But I'm giving it one issue to convince me it's worth continuing, because I don't think I'm going to feel good reading it. Here's why.



Neither of this is "It's not my Superman." I've said before that Superman is open to many interpretations, and I don't need to like all of them. There's no indication that any status quo will spell long-term doom, after all. I really hated John Byrne's run on Superman, but that set a status quo that led to some stories I really liked, mostly by later writers such as Roger Stern and Louise Simonson. So no matter how bad this could possibly get, it doesn't mean that it'll stay that way. That's the nature of the beast. As Paul Cornish said, this Superman is a valid interpretation. It's not one for me.

(Side note: I don't understand why DC keeps aiming for teenagers, with whole plots about Clark Kent wanting to get laid and having to make it explicit that Lois is *gasp* having sex with someone else. This isn't "mature," nor is it appealing to children. This is very adolescent, and it doesn't make sense to me. Teens have the most disposable income, which is why they are the main target audience for movies and video games — they take up the most time to finish, and they're highly interactive social experience, one that you can share with your friends. Does anyone really see serial comics competing with these things in the teen market? DC should be targeting children, creating books that parents and uncles and aunts can give to their children, encouraging them to read and discover new worlds. Comics were always best when they were written in such a way that everyone can enjoy them. You can look at the entire history of comics for that.)

This is the problem I have with the Superman reboot. It can be summed up in two words: Siegel and Shuster. I explain the legal case here, so click away and read that. I'll wait.

I had assumed that if the Siegels and Shusters get back the rights to ACTION COMICS #1 to which they are legally entitled (and certainly morally entitled), and if they choose not to settle with DC, that DC would take the versions of Superman that the Siegels and Shusters have no access to and run with that. ALL-STAR SUPERMAN was a rousing critical success, for example, and much of what makes Superman special and iconic in this day and age come from The Silver Age.

You see, the Siegels and Shusters get the rights to ONE Superman story. ONE. That's the original story, ACTION COMICS #1. In that story, Superman is a social crusader who can leap an eighth of a mile, whose skin can be penetrated by nothing less than a bursting shell, and who can run faster than an express train. He takes the law into his own hands, and fights corrupt politicians as well as wife-beating husbands.

It seems that Grant Morrison's new ACTION COMICS (I'm unsure about George Perez's new SUPERMAN, which looks like it's taking place five years after Morrison's series) is going to take its cue from that story, right down to Superman's parents — both biological and adoptive — being dead, effectively dick-blocking (as Todd McFarlane might say) and undercutting any possibility for the Siegels and Shusters to put out a unique Superman product. Unless they can score someone like Alan Moore, they will have been beaten to it and be unable to compete, and the Siegel and Shuster families will once again be screwed by DC Comics all over again, 73 years later.

Grant Morrison's disingenuous hands-off approach to the matter all but confirms for me that this is exactly what DC is doing. I say disingenuous because I refuse to believe Grant Morrison would be so ignorant as to say, "This all happened before I was born, I wasn't there, and they're dead anyway, so I can't say. But please buy Supergods, which delves into the history of the genre."

It's been more and more difficult for me to support anything done by DC and Marvel, as a part of me always feels that plunking money down for any of their products is in a way condoning these horrific business practices. I've been justifying it as supporting the writers and artists I like as well as the characters and concepts that I care about, but with something like this, which seems to be a blatant attempt at screwing over the Siegels and Shusters — again — with no one else but Grant Morrison, whom I can't really say I like or respect much as a person if not as a writer pulling the trigger, there's enough in this new Superman relaunch to make me physically ill. Really, the only thing keeping me interested is the involvement of George Perez. And I'm not sure that's going to be enough.

These Superman comics have one issue to grab me. If they don't grab me in terms of quality, I'm gone, automatically, in a flash. And if I see anything in it that will severely undercut the Siegels and Shusters' ability to produce a profitable Superman comic of their own, I'm also gone, automatically, faster than an express train.

And then maybe I'll go to eBay and auction off "ACTION COMICS #1 MINT" without a picture, and see how much money I can make.

3 comments:

MOCK! said...

There are a few of the new titles on my pull list for one issue only....and a few others that might be in-store reads...

Jeremy said...

They aren't giving them the rights back any time soon. Neither company will. If you feel strongly about that(which you obviously do), then why even give it one issue? One issue, five issues, ten issues, does it matter? They can be the best damn Superman ongoing stories in years(and since its Morrison, I don't doubt that, actually), but Siegels and Shusters still won't be putting out a dime.

Duy said...

I think you misunderstand the facts of the case. By 2012, the rights to ACTION COMICS #1 revert to the Siegels and Shusters. They get the rights to THAT Superman, with that tone and those powers. They have no rights to future incarnations of Superman, so future incarnations are still fair game. By 2012, the Siegels and the Shusters have the rights to put out a Superman comic based on the Superman from ACTION #1. It's much the same reason Neil Gaiman could put out an ANGELA comic right now, and Todd McFarlane wouldn't be able to stop it. It just can't have anything to do with Spawn. (It can, however, have something to do with Medieval Spawn.)

I was hoping (and I still am) that the DC relaunch wouldn't be done in such a way that it wouldn't undercut the Siegels and Shusters. DC is obviously not going to stop publishing Superman, and I believed (and I still do) that there is room for more than one interpretation of Superman on the market. I even stated in a previous post that I think it would be great for the industry and may provide it with the spark it needs.

I've also said in the article that I am giving it one issue because DC does have writers and artists I want to support. Regular readers of this site know that I love George Perez.

As for whether or not these will be the best damn ongoing Superman stories in recent years, we'll wait and see, but the more they put out the less optimistic I am. Add in the fact that it's Morrison and I'm even more skeptical. When Morrison hits, it's out of the park. But that's a rare, rare occurrence.

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