Am I Going to Have to Declare ‘Make Mine Marvel’?

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Dear DC Comics/Time Warner Executives,

We know that you are scrambling in light of Marvel’s recent releases from their new Cinematic Universe, starring the Avengers and those associated properties.

In light of the blockbuster releases of Iron Man, Captain America, The Avengers, and most recently Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we can understand why you might be in your boardrooms cussing and drinking like sailors in a burning whorehouse trying to figure out which direction to escape.

Marvel’s recent movies have been both lucrative in terms of establishing those properties as money makers but more importantly, they have converted a large yearning in terms of comic aficionados who have always wanted to see comic heroes in the proverbial flesh and found a pent-up demand of other viewers who are hungry for well-crafted stories with larger than life heroes.

Marvel has hit both of those, in spades.

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Now I know what you’re thinking: It was Superman that established those yearnings, was the first comic hero whose demand led to further stories and greater financial earnings. Superman proved people could believe a man could fly (and lift heavy stuff).

Keep hoping people forget Bat-nipples...

Keep hoping people forget Bat-nipples…

And he did it several times. Then you went to the second leg of your Trinity of heroes and put Batman back on the map. Gone was the campy Batman of the Sixties with his teen-aged sidekick, Robin. The return of Batman still had a bit of camp but was darker, richer, and more satisfying than the Dark Knight had been in decades. Alas, someone reactivated the Camp-o-meter and by the time Mr. Freeze and the Bat-nipple suit arrive, interest in Batman was flagging faster than a transplant victim in a health spa.

Batman_Superman_Wonder_Woman_TrinityBut you didn’t give up. You decided, as the master of reboots (See: Crisis on Infinite Earths) you would reboot your first two legs of your Trinity. Superman got younger, a new suit, a kid, and a revised Lex Luthor. He lifted more things, flew really fast and blocked bullets with his eyeballs. Nice look but still nothing happening there. People were cool to this new reboot.

You pulled out all the stops and went to your backup, Batman. Nolan’s vision of the Dark Detective were regressive, he rewrote a bit of history, working Ra’s Al Ghul and the League of Shadows into the pastiche of Batman’s already convoluted history. No one complained because it made a kind of sense. Batman was reborn under Nolan’s hand and despite (or perhaps because of) Heath Leger’s Joker, a depiction that was a tour de force, almost overshadowing the Bat, this Batman was not just a hit, he became a force that altered Bat history on and off the page.

You were saved. The Dark half of your Duo had saved the financial day.

And yet, there was no sign of the third part of your Trinity. What Trinity you ask? The DC Universe has always looked more like a pantheon of Gods than a group of superheroes. Their arch-typical nature present for anyone familiar with Greek or Roman mythology to see. Superman is Zeus, all-powerful, literally the father of the genre and the most powerful member of the pantheon. Batman is Hades, dark lord of the Underworld. Wonder Woman was Hera, queen of the Gods, feared and loved in equal measure.

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Yes gentlemen, where AM I? Think before you answer…

So gentlemen, I ask you where is Wonder Woman? Why has she been neglected for so long? Why do I keep hearing tales that it is too hard to write a movie where Wonder Woman would be the star? She has, as one of the only female heroes to ever manage, to keep a running title for almost forty years. In the comic industry, she is the most popular female hero and the most well known. She is also one of the only female superheroes to have ever had a presence in live action on the little screen. A well-loved, well-received, fandom who will still turn out to meet and greet Linda Carter anywhere at any time.

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Guardians of the Galaxy features a mobile tree (Groot) and a gun-toting, spaceship stealing Raccoon (Rocket). Wonder Woman is hard? How?

So I ask you in all seriousness: What is your major malfunction you can’t manage to find your way to the bags of money that are sitting on your doorsteps if you were to create a reasonably well written treatment of Wonder Woman? Her animated movie did well. So did her animated appearances in the most awesome of your animated properties, The Justice League and Justice League unlimited. What are you afraid of? Marvel has a movie coming out with a walking TREE and a RACCOON in it. Only one of those will be a speaking part.

If now isn’t the time for Wonder Woman, when exactly would be the time? When a horrible spaceborne virus kills 99% of all the men on the planet? (For the record, that wouldn’t work either, women would demand a movie of the only remaining men left…)

downloadIn Wonder Woman’s defense you don’t even have to reinvent anything. We all know who she is and we are all aware of what she can do. As a matter of fact, you just have to decide how powerful you want to make her. Somewhere between Batman and Superman would, in fact, be perfect. Give her half the strength of Superman and the fighting skills to beat Batman in a fair fight and you have a winner. You don’t even have to write anything. Adapt George Perez’s famed run on Wonder Woman and you are set for at least three movies.

She has a rogues gallery, granted its not as extensive as Batman’s, but a woman who can make enemies of Gods and monsters, and survive, should surely not lack for opposition both from the real world and the magical one; she could fight terrorists one day, Minotaurs the next.

Fans have managed to create incredible depictions showing her fighting street level crime to fighting gods and monsters in equal measure. So I have to ask you again: What are you waiting for? A sign from on high?

Yes, I heard you are putting some bony actress up there and calling her Wonder Woman. But I have to say to you: That is a mistake. You are mistaking name recognition with the ability to draw an audience. This isn’t about the Actress, this is about Wonder Woman. You want to remember, anyone you put there will one day have to contend with being in the same room as Batman and Superman and any other superheroes you later create. The last thing you want is a Wonder Woman who looks as if she could use a good meal or twelve.

Wonder Woman from Rainfall Films

When fans are doing better than you are, you suck.

This is particularly a case of working backward toward the depiction. Find someone who would make me believe she could BE Wonder Woman just standing there and my mind will fill in the blanks for just about everything else.

Bullshit you say? What if I told you Arnold Schwarzenegger was one of the worst actors ever? Yet, NO ONE imagines a Terminator without seeing him in the role in their minds. This was a case of the Right Look doing the heavy lifting even if he spoke with Marble-mouth most of the time. You guys are in desperate need for a win because I hate to say this to you, Marvel/Disney is kicking your asses up and down the street. And nobody has called the cops yet. You can expect to be beaten for quite a bit longer.

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Yes, he has entered witness protection for killing in Superman’s name.

What about Man of Steel, you say? Let’s not and say we did. It made money, googobs in fact; otherwise I would call your movie future dead on arrival. Man of Steel gave you a chance to revitalize and reboot the Big Blue Boy Scout one more time, now with a bit of murder under his belt. (Bad move on your part but I am over it.) About the only saving grace you have going for you at the moment is television. I am going to skip over the cancellations of Young Justice and Green Lantern, the Animated Series, the wounds are still too fresh.

In the live-action category you have Arrow and its been doing well on television. Arrow has managed to build a continuity that has been both respected and admired for its continuity and designs, if not its depth of acting talent. Arrow has now spun off the Flash series and this is a good sign. Now you have two venues to show off both evil agencies and supervillains of the DC Universe. I expect we will see Aquaman and a few other potential Leaguers before too long. This is a good thing.

But you have been found guilty of shortsightedness, hubris and arrogance in your decision to think Wonder Woman was unnecessary in the scheme of things. She was considered to be part of the Trinity of DC Pantheon for a reason. Strong, wise, brave, and capable of holding her own against either of the other two members,she has been a lynchpin in the DC Universe for decades.

How such an inspirational character has sat fallow on your tables is a testament to the lack of vision to be found in your headquarters. Perhaps you need to rent out the Legion of Doom headquarters down in Louisiana. It might inspire you to consider your business in a more world-conquering perspective.

Scott Disick throws money on crowd, swings fake axe at friend at Halloween bash in Las Vegas!

Marvel executives making it rain with their franchise runoff…

Movies are about magic. The magic to make me believe that what I am seeing could be true somewhere. Your current candidate for Wonder Woman is a mistake and I will stand by it. You will replace her in time for the Justice League movie you are hoping for. Yes, you are hoping to make a Justice League movie for the simple fact that the creation of the Silver Age Justice League inspired the writers over at Marvel to create the Avengers in the comics industry back in the day. And the money if you pull it off successful could challenge even YOUR dreams of financial avarice. (See: Avengers executives making it rain…)

But it looks like, unless DC/Warner gets its game in gear, and creates an integrated framework to build your movies around, something good, cohesive, strong and yet flexible, Marvel will be inspiring the next generation of heroes, not you. That would be a shame since you have THREE of the most recognizable icons ON THE PLANET; talk about squandering natural resources.

Sincerely,

The World’s Most Rabid DC Comic fans secretly dusting off their “Make Mine Marvel” No Prizes in their basement.

PS: Brainiac and Solomon Grundy wanted pants and got them.

P.P.S: Can Wonder Woman get some pants, they can be yoga pants if that is all you can afford, but is there any reason she has to walk around half dressed in a room full of men who are wearing tights and body armor? In the age of internet porn, a naked legged superheroine should be considered almost puritanical by comparison. Put her in a costume that dignifies a character whose longevity, in an industry of flash-in-the-pans, warrants an outfit worthy of her age and experience.

P.P.P.S. Otherwise this Wonder Woman here (wearing pants) on the right from Injustice might make her way to your boardrooms. You wouldn’t want that…WONDER_WOMAN

Man of Steel Lament

Lament of Superman

I am sick to death of the fan boy rage around the recent release of Man of Steel. Sick to death, I tell you. All I hear over the Internet is:

“This isn’t my Superman!”

“Why didn’t Superman protect the people of Metropolis?”

“He had time to kiss Lois Lane but not to look around at the catastrophic damage done by the Kryptonian World Engine. Where was the empathy we associate with the character?”

“These writers didn’t know the character, weren’t aware of the canon. They wasted 75 years of history to make a movie where Superman fails in an epic fashion.”

“Where is the transformative scene in the third act where Superman finds himself and creates a solution to an unsolvable problem?”

“How could they have Superman kill anyone?” “How could they have Superman let anyone die?” “Superman has superspeed, so he can save everyone. That’s what he does!”

“The body count and catastrophic destruction show in Man of Steel is on the order of 100,000+ people and 730 billion dollars worth of damage.”

I have people all over the internet finding images of Superman being super, doing his thing protecting people from threats which do not equal the scale of the problems seen in Man of Steel.

Superman saving people from falling aircraft. Wow. This show Superman at his best.

Superman saves people from burning building. Yes, he can do that. And he can protect people by putting out the fire with his super-cold breath.

“Superman gave people hope in the 50s and 60s in happier and simpler times. This new interpretation is the worst ever.”

Enough!

If we are going to compare stories, then let’s compare stories of equal capacity and challenge.

In terms of destruction, let’s look at Superman vs Doomsday.

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Yeah, baby. Metropolis got completely owned. Entire sections of the city were destroyed and had to be completely rebuilt. Their titanic struggle was more like a bomb going off in the middle of the city. Note Doomsday and Superman were nearly equally matched in power, speed and ferocity. Superman wanted to take the battle out of the city but Doomsday was simply fast enough to make sure that didn’t happen. Oh and for the record, this isn’t the first time Metropolis gets destroyed. Consider the 1994 epic “The Fall of Metropolis.

You know where else this happened? Man of Steel.

Zod’s superior fighting skills, honed by a lifetime of combat meant for most of the fight, he owned Kal-El’s untrained and unskilled ass. What tiny advantage he had was lost as Zod’s mastery of his superpowers increased every second.

Superman saving falling airplanes? We’ve seen it. And we hated it. We complained about Brandon Routh’s Superman Returns, calling it lifeless, dead on arrival, derivative crap, and another appearance of Lex Luthor, public unpowered menace. Hmmm.

Could one of the real reasons we hate Superman Returns is because, in the entire movie, Superman never even throws a punch? That he gets shanked by Lex Luthor and kicked around like he was about to experience a prison rape scene? Huh? Yeah, maybe?

No, don’t turn away. I’ve got more.

Wait, when Superman (Christopher Reeves) failed to save Lois Lane because he had to chase down two cruise missiles heading in different directions, did we complain when he REVERSES the rotation of the Earth and somehow manages to stop the flow of time, which mysteriously allows him to catch both missiles AND saves Lois Lane? No Deus Machina there, huh?

Stop looking at your shoes. You accepted it. You laughed about it. Just like the super-memory wiping kiss. Yeah.

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One more: Superman would never kill anyone. I’ve got a picture for you. (see above)

It’s from a comic series called Miracleman (Marvelman, if you’re old enough to have read it the first time). This used to be London. This image shows what a being with the powers of Superman/Zod could do if he just did what he wanted to do. And there was no one to stop him. Oh yes, I could see Zod having such a good time this way. This scene is what you get when you have a writer willing to portray the destructive capacity someone like Superman or Zod is capable of. Terrifying and bold were the writings of Alan Moore. Read a bit more if you dare.

Just keep it in mind. Now back to the issue.

Except when Superman does kill, he does it for almost the exact same reason he kills in Man of Steel. To protect the entire world’s population. Needs of the many and all that jazz. On Superman’s 50th birthday, he kills the Phantom Zone criminals of a parallel universe because on their world, after they escaped the Phantom Zone, they killed everyone on the planet. Torturously. Cruelly, as only a Kryptonian could. Even after depowering them, Kal-El decides to make the ultimate judgement because their Zod vowed to get their powers back and come to his reality and kill everyone there as well. This was a threat he took seriously. They had already done the deed once. No moral compunction would stop them.

So for his 50th birthday, John Byrne has him do the deed. Happy birthday, Kal-El. Kill some fellow Kryptonians and let’s eat some cake after you get back from your trip into interstellar space to screw your perfect I-never-kill-anyone-ever little head on straight.

If a man is going to break a cardinal rule, something that defines him and his character, let it be for a threat worthy to the cause.

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For his 75th birthday, Kal-El gets a movie and the same damn dilemma.

Renegade Kryptonians arrive, threaten the Earth, plan to build a Kryptonian K-mart on the bones of the human race.

Faora Ul told Kal-El (while she was kicking his ass) that for every one he saved, the Kryptonians would kill a million more. Zod would later reveal his plans for terraforming the Earth and bringing back the Kryptonian races via the Codex over Kal-El’s dead body, preferably.

So. Presented with at least three combat capable Kryptonians, though I remember at least six being sentenced on Krypton, Kal-El is given the choice of killing the Kryptonians or allowing them to destroy the Earth. 3 against 1 odds didn’t go well in Smallville. Things would not have likely gotten better if the rest of Team Zod hit the field.

The writers made a call to allow Superman to dispose of the bulk of Team Zod by sending them to the Phantom Zone, while disposing of all of the remaining Jor-El tech and links to Krypton.

But now we are left with Zod. Lets go over the checklist of things Superman can do given the circumstance he is left to contend with in Man of Steel. Remember this is as the WRITERS DESIGNED IT, not as Superman would have chosen it.

  • He is standing in the rubble after a powerful terraforming device has turned part of Metropolis into a fine and even grey dust.
  • Zod has decided since he has nothing to live for, he will dedicate his life to the destruction of Earth. He is quite capable of doing it. This is not an idle threat.
  • Kal-El does not have a Phantom Zone projector conveniently hidden in his Fortress of Solitude.
  • For that matter, Kal-El has no Fortress of Solitude.
  • No STAR LABS to whip one up out of Kryptonian “stone knives and bear skins”.
  • No Batman or other superheroes to tag team the villain with and subdue him with overwhelming force or cunning.
  • No stray sliver of green or gold Kryptonite hidden until the last moment. (Quick, someone call Brandon Routh, he had an entire island of the stuff!)
  • No Kryptonian artifacts he could use to depower or cripple Zod.
  • Zod is an alpha male, trained for decades in fighting, sufficient skilled without superpowers to take over (even if it was just for a minute) the government of his home planet.
  • Kal-El is a farm hand who has traveled the world and never raised his voice in anger, let alone fought anyone for fear of turning them into a pile of Chunky Monkey. The Karate Kid (pick your era) has more combat training than he does.

What did you expect was going to happen? Zod would somehow come to love humanity while he and Kal-El were duking it out destroying everything they came into contact with and swear undying loyalty and fealty to Earth?

Somehow, farm-hand Kal-El was going to overcome warrior-god Zod and restrain him without long-term injury? Really?

Without a Deus Machina (which we already talked about in the Lois Lane Incident) Kal-El was left with no real options for restraining or stopping Zod. And yet they gave us one anyway. Zod is stronger, faster, better-trained, more skilled and yet he is “overcome” by Kal-El? Or was Zod simply forcing Kal-El to make a choice which Zod himself would have NEVER made?

Fuggedaboutit.

All of you whiners complaining about this Man of Steel have only yourselves to blame. You loved the Avengers, though they barely did anything at all besides show up. Iron Man and Thor did the bulk of the heavy lifting and Hulk gave us a great bit of comic relief. The Chitauri were about as dangerous as baby food products imported from China. (See: Melamine) It was your worship of the potential of catastrophic destruction which led to this monstrosity of a movie desperately seeking your approval. If you are complaining this wasn’t your father’s Superman, YOU ARE CORRECT.

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This is the Superman of Post 9/11. This is the Superman of Vietnam, Korea, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. This is the Superman of the modern age with all of the fear and loathing superheroes like him never had to deal with in the past. This is the Superman of Big Brother and our surveillance society. This isn’t just the paragon of good, he is the spectre of evil as well; the potential for power to be used for evil as well as good.

This Ain’t your father’s Superman. He has way more baggage than those earlier versions of the character EVER did.

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Personally, I liked the real hidden message within Man of Steel.

There are and will be things beyond your control.

There are things which transcend your ability to right.

There will be people whose power may (or certainly) exceed your own.

It does not mean you do not fight.

It does not mean you give up.

It does not mean there will not be casualties. 

It means you do your best with what you have and understand sometimes your best, even with the best of intention, even with great power and great responsibility, will simply not be enough.

Do it anyway.

In today’s world THAT is the real message. Not a message of faux inspiration when there is nothing at risk. Not a message of do-gooderism which does not take into account the reality of loss. 

You don’t like Man of Steel because it paints a picture of the invincible hero who does not manage to protect everyone?

Good. This is the reality of the world we live in. Get over it. It’s not the 1950s anymore. Times change. You might want to as well. Now sit your fanboy ass down and enjoy the view. Superman will more than likely herald a series of DC movies of other heroes who deserve some screen time besides Superman and Batman. I know someone right now who can’t wait to get to the big screen. Here’s a hint:

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Be like Superman and roll with the punches.

Signed:

A Real Superman Fan

Could Superman die of old age?

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New Earth Superman: Got rid of the bloomers on the outside and now I’m too sexy to get old…

[science of science fiction]

This question cannot be definitively answered because DC Comics has never definitively answered it.

And this is still one of the greatest shames of the DC Comics franchise. Without a clear quantification of Superman’s powers, it is truly impossible to answer some of the most important questions around the character, including Could Superman die of old age? Granted, given the powers of his enemies and the danger of his lifestyle, the possibility of him living to a ripe old age is probably slim to none but should he find himself growing older and want to consider whether he should sign up for a 401K, the question does need to be asked.

To address the question effectively we have to check a few things before we dive in. The first question is WHICH Superman are we talking about? Since the character has had multiple iterations and multiple continuities, each has possessed varying levels of longevity.

See: How many canon Supermen have existed since his first appearance in Action Comics in 1938? 

The main versions of the character include the Golden Age version, the Silver Age version, the Post-Crisis version and the Modern DC New Earth version. We are going to skip the Post Crisis, John Byrne version because he no longer exists and we will skip over the DCnU version because he is still too new for DC to have revealed enough to know for certain. He has been returned to his youthful age of 25 to 30-something after their recent reboot of their universe.

We will talk about a couple of examples of Supermen who didn’t appear to age and a couple that did.

DC has published the DC One Million storylines where a Superman has retreated into the sun to live (yes, INSIDE the sun is where he places his Fortress of Solitude, and I can bet he gets NO visitors) and has gained powers far beyond any of the versions of the character that has existed to date. His powers were so fantastic, he was able to power his descendants giving them extraordinary abilities as well. Superman Prime (as he was called) appeared to be invulnerable, immortal and completely unaging. This was a Post-Crisis version of Superman.

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DC has also shown signs of Superman aging. The original Golden Age Superman (Kal-L) whose origins on Earth-2 (Pre-Crisis) seemed to age as an ordinary human would. He married his universe’s Lois Lane and the two seemed to age at comparable rates. His powers also diminished as he aged, making him only a fraction as strong as the Earth-1 Superman of the same time period.

Another aging Superman was the Kingdom Come Superman (which counts as an alternative Earth storyline, but it was a very popular version of the character). He aged far slower than humans, and grew more powerful as he aged. He lost his vulnerability to Kryptonite but was still capable of being harmed by the chaotic energies of magic (he tests this by cutting his finger on Wonder Woman’s god-forged  sword). In this iteration, his power were great (not as great as the Silver Age Superman or the Superman Prime character) but quite formidable and he hadn’t appeared to lose a step due to the aging process.

Silver Age Superman

The Silver Age Superman (the second most powerful version of the character, and the version you probably grew up on before his reduction of powers after the Crisis on Infinite Earths, DC’s first universal reset) had vast powers under a yellow sun and did not appear to age at all. While he could be (theoretically) killed in battle, once he reached an adult age, there was no further sign of aging. This character existed Pre-Crisis as well. This character was so powerful in one of his stories he sneezes and destroys a solar system. I believe this is the real reason the Crisis on Infinite Earths had to happen…

So CAN Superman die of old age?

The question can’t be answered effectively because no one has ever written the definitive treatment on how Kryptonians acquire superpowers on Earth, (or for that matter how metahumans acquire powers in the DC Universe) and there is no ratified documents describing how the Kryptonians (Homo Sapiens Krypton), who resemble (Homo Sapiens Sapiens) in appearance, but vary so far from us in terms of biological processes.

  1. Are the Kryptonians related to Humans and happen to have a convergent evolution?
  2. Are the Kryptonians genetically-modified humans, who use technology to create superhuman abilities when powered by particular wavelengths of energy?
  3. Are the powers of Kryptonians only viable in certain environments or under certain conditions but in all other ways they resemble humans?
  4. Are Kryptonians peak engineered humans whose physiology without powers is simply better, having reduced or eliminated the threat of disease, genetic dysfunction, and slowed or erased the aging process?

These are the questions which are never definitively answered so questions about Superman’s aging (with yellow sun or without) can be answered fully.

Man of Steel

As a thought experiment, let’s look at the recent Man of Steel version of Superman to determine through inference if Superman can die of old age.

The Kryptonians had a population management program where members of the society were born through an in-vitro process of genetic recombination of traits. This may imply:

  1. Kryptonians possess superior genetic recombination science. They were able to selectively mix and match genetic capabilities to ensure genetic dispositions for abilities were passed down.
  2. The Kryptonians had already cleared away genetic imperfections or diseases which shorten lifespans. This may be the reason they were utilizing population controls. A species with very long lifespans may need to keep populations under control lest they overrun and destroy their environment with near-immortals consuming everything.
  3. Since they were mining the core of their planet, this may imply they had already HAD an ecological over-population which precipitated their regulation of their population as a potential counter.
  4. Though we have no indications of how old anyone was, we do see examples of older Kryptonians on the Council, and Jor-El is a bit grey (approximating the age of a man in his mid-fifties) though he appeared hale and hearty enough to hold his own in an unfair fight.

We can assume aging takes place among the Kryptonians while they live in their native environment, though its rate in comparison to Humans is as yet unknown. We can compare Kal-El’s growth rate from child to adult as similar enough to our own, he was able to blend into Human society without incident regarding his physiological growth rate.

Once he was fully an adult does he stop aging?

This is the question that cannot be answered effectively unless we are able to understand how he is able to fly, resist incredible amounts of physical damage and project energy from his body.

If we assume physical capabilities which require a catalyst to activate (in this case, the yellow sun) these abilities would be in addition to his normal Kryptonian genome, perhaps genetic technologies woven into their genome as a survival strategy for conquering other planets or surviving hostile environments.

With such abilities, however, a single Kryptonian could conquer any planet with an environment like Earth’s. And it would make sense for Kryptonians to do so. Unfortunately, only about ten percent of the galaxy’s stars are similar to our sun, so on most planets they would have far less durability or capability.

So if these are genetic patents designed to be a support technology increasing durability, strength and resilience, they would only be most effective on a tiny range of planets overall.

Did the Kryptonians know this? Judging from the speed some of them learned and used their abilities, I can only surmise that indeed, some of them were aware of what they were capable of.

If their genetic technology did not completely stop their aging on Krypton, but were an integral part of their biological structure, it is safe to assume, even under a yellow sun, the Man of Steel Kryptonians require sustenance, water, air and other biological necessities, which can be temporarily reduced or ignored while living under a yellow sun. For Kryptonians to be able to live and utilize energy as a biological organism, even a perfect one, experiences some level of entropy and overall decay.

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SUMMARY

My verdict would indicate the Man of Steel’s Kryptonians were masters of genetic and engineering technologies which give their underlying Humanoid physiology fantastic capabilities under a tiny window of conditions. Given the right solar energy levels, the right gravitational fields, they are prodigious engines of destruction but even they had limits. Note that Faora Ul (who was wiping up Smallville with Big Blue and the US Army) was taken down by a cruise missile which evidently delivered sufficient force to knock her down and out.

That means we still had technology strong enough to kill a Kryptonian, if you didn’t mind the collateral damage required to do the job.

Having 100,000 years of technological evolution to work with makes any Kryptonian advance technology appear as magic to us. They mastered space travel, dimension-crossing, wormhole generation, genetic engineering, recombinant DNA mastery, and energy manipulation abilities we don’t even have names for.

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But their greatest limitation is their desire to maintain a human form.

  1. Is it vanity? Or is there some other societal issue?
  2. Is it an inability to alter their physical capabilities further without a change in their psychology?
  3. Why did they give their bodies such capabilities and then limit them to a tiny subset of environments?

Something in this limitation makes me believe there is an underlying limitation in their genome we are not aware of.

It is this unknown limitation which makes me believe they have mastered their genome sufficiently enough to REDUCE aging but not completely STOP it.

Man of Steel Review (spoiler-free)

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Guest blog by Kenneth Alexander Wright Vazquez

“His name is Kal, Son of El”

For the last 35 years director Richard Donner’s ‘Superman The Movie‘ has been the cinematic representation of the beloved hero for a generation and considered by many to be the best movie of the super hero sub-genre (despite needless camp and holes in its plot). Now, visionary director Zack Snyder and writers David S. Goyer and Chris Nolan have delivered what could very well be the Superman of a new generation with ‘MAN OF STEEL’; in fact it is.

Zack Snyder has achieved, along with Goyer’s and Nolan’s sharp and deeply layered script, nothing short of greatness. This is the Superman film all of us, not just fans of the character, but movie goers in general have been clamoring for since the closing of the last one. Disregard, yet never forget, the Christopher Reeve films, for ‘MAN OF STEEL’ is a spectacular re-imagining and re-telling of the Superman mythos in modern day brought to us by the genius of Zack Snyder.

Every scene of ‘MAN OF STEEL’ belonged to Snyder and that’s evident in everything from the editing and photography to the signature kinetic use of the camera. Goyer and Nolan have written the definitive cinematic Superman with a script that explores the inception and growth of a hero on multiple levels. A smoothly-flowing narrative that moves eloquently from memories to present day beautifully depicting the creation of an icon.

No aspect of Superman is left untouched thanks to Goyer’s respect for the comic book source material and yet, Nolan’s technical and thematic approach is complementary to the mythos. Some were afraid of Nolan’s well known ultra-realism seen in his Dark Knight Trilogy with its unique and gritty vision of Batman, however in ‘MAN OF STEEL’ his sensibilities are faint in the grandeur of it all. It might be Goyer’s and Nolan’s words, and rightfully so, but it is Zack Snyder’s world.

There’s a delicately woven balance of drama, humor (yes there’s humor) and non-stop action in this seriously epic sci-fi experience. Snyder has evolved as a director and ‘MAN OF STEEL’ is the apex of his illustrious career. It’s as if Snyder used comic book panels from 75 years worth of Superman adventures to lay out the course of this film. Trust me, this is virtually ANY Superman comic brought to cinematic life.

Special effects are quite extensive and a sight to behold especially when it comes to the depiction of Superman’s many powers chief among them, flight. Damn, can this Superman fly, and well enough to make the wire pullers from the Chris Reeve films proud. In Snyder I continue to trust.

Superman needs to soar musically and the score, that grandiose music score, was beautiful. Somber, serene, harmonious, thunderous and downright magnificent (it surely reminded me of Vangelis musical renditions for Blade Runner). It lacked that “Superman music” sound that a hero like him invokes but it makes up for it in so many ways. Hans Zimmer re-invented himself as a composer just as ‘MAN OF STEEL’ re-invented Superman as a hero.

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Snyder is known not just for that bold eyeball of his when it comes to capturing amazing imagery but for spotting talent in a cast. And what a solid cast this is. Let me be blunt and straight to the point, Henry Cavill IS Superman. His portrayal of the greatest hero in pulp fiction is on point from shy and humble beginning to stoic, generous and powerful end. His is a Clark Kent on a journey, a life affirming quest of self discovery that will take him from the relative safety of Smallville, Kansas (a Norman Rockwell and homely Plano, Illinois), a re-rendered Krypton, a perilous ocean, a mysterious and cold tundra to a gleaming Metropolis. When Cavill dons the legendary suit (and what a gorgeous suit it is) he becomes heroism incarnate complete with a smile. Yes, this Superman freakin’ smiles!!! Please, don’t even bother to compare Cavill’s Clark Kent/Superman to the amazing late Christopher Reeve, this is a very distinct version of the character.

What’s Superman without his Lois Lane? Incomplete, that’s what he would be. As powerful as he is, Superman needs support and “protection” and that’s what Amy Adams’ Lois Lane provides in threes. She’s ambitious, tenacious, clever, persistent and above all caring. Snyder chose wisely.

Perry White, in MY opinion, is as vital a part of the mythos as Superman’s cape and Laurence Fishburne stepped up to the bullpen portraying a man dedicated to the truth and integrity of his newspaper and that of his reporters. I could not be happier with Mr. Fishburne’s skill.

The foundation of Superman’s heroism is his parental units. Both his Kryptonian and Earth-based parents do a brilliant job at shaping a savior. Russell Crowe embodied Jor-El with plenty of fatherly presence as well as surprising physical ferocity. This is a Jor-El with brawn as well as smarts. Giving birth to Superman requires a heck of a mother and Israeli actress Ayelet Zurher (Angels and Demons, Vantage Point) portrays Lara Lor-Van as a heartfelt matriarch and supportive wife.

He was born in a neo-medieval Krypton but raised in a rural and idyllic Smallville by Mr and Mrs Kent. Kevin Costner was so loving and protective that as a viewer I felt as though he was my father. Jor-El was the father, of course, but Jonathan Kent was the dad. A still attractive Diane Lane (The Outsiders, Streets of Fire) was the sweetest mom, an anchor for Clark to hold on to and quite the tough lady.

A hero is only as good as the villain and in ‘MAN OF STEEL’ our hero has quite a few to face off in order to save the day. The most interesting villains are those who do not think of themselves as such and Michael Shannon (Premium Rush, The Iceman) is exactly that. As General Zod, Shannon portrays, with his notorious intensity, a relentless former war hero that will go to great lengths to save his people’s legacy even if it means genocide. Again, do not make comparisons to past versions of Zod, specially that of the brilliant Terence Stamp for his was a highly operatic and comic book flamboyant Zod, while Shannon is just a complex force of nature.

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Exotic and petite German actress, Antje Traue (Pandorum), plays the fierce and psychotic Kryptonian warrior Faora Ul while the enigmatic Mackenzie Gray (Shooter, The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnasus, Smallville) portrays Jax-Ur with cold and calculating finesse. He even reminded me of Superman villain, Brainiac.

Making memorable appearances were Christopher Meloni (12 Monkeys, 42, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit), Richard Schiff (The Lost World: Jurassic Park), Harry Lennix (The Matrix Reloaded) and Dylan Sprayberry.

The only thing that bothered me about the film was the absence of a supporting character to the saga of Superman. In the end it did not keep me from enjoying the overall presentation.

Phenomenal action, stunning visuals, powerful performances and subtle nods to both the comic books and previous films in the franchise make Zack Snyder’s ‘MAN OF STEEL’ quite the film to behold. This is the true return of a superhero who will forever reminds us of the greatness that lies within us all. We may stumble as we follow him but in time, we will join Superman in the sun.

MoS_Header

 

Man of Steel Publicity Special

 

75th Anniversary of the Man of Steel – A Villain’s Salute

 

 

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In honor of the Last Son of Krypton’s 75 birthday, I have decided to give a nod to the beings who helped make him the worldwide icon he is today. They are often overlooked in the overall scheme of things, but without them to shape and define his character, would we even remember Superman the way we do today? In their own inimical styles each has contributed to the legend just as well as the Kents who raised him and Jor-El and Lara who gave him life. I present to you my top ten rogues gallery of Superman’s Greatest Villains. A group so scary, even seeing them together on a page is enough to give a Superman fan pause. Names to conjure by: Lex Luthor, Darkseid, Zod, Brainiac, Doomsday, Mxyzptlk, Metallo, Parasite, Imperiex, Mongul. You’ll remember why the Man of Steel sleeps with one eye open…

Superman’s Greatest Villains

1. Lex Luthor – He is the quintessential Superman villain. As intelligent as Superman is strong, as immoral as Superman is moral, a man with god-like aspirations versus a god with a desire for a kinship with humanity. There is no greater rivalry, no greater challenger, no more monsterous enemy than Lex Luthor, a man who carries within him the best that humanity has to offer, and fails to use it to further the goals of anyone but himself. A genius, arguably the smartest human being alive, his schemes defeat Superman because he uses strategems which rely on Superman’s innate goodness and chivalry turning them against him. Luthor has been known to employ technology, flunkies and even the occasional super-suit when he wants to get personal. Mostly he prefers to leave the heavy lifting to others and out-think his opponents. If you think a man in a business suit isn’t dangerous, it’s only because that’s what he wants you to think.

Birthday wishes from Lex Luthor: “I would wish you a happy birthday Superman, but what’s the point? Until I kill you, you are liable to be immortal so what does one more year mean to you? I considered a gift but what do you get the man who has no use for anything? So I leave you this pleasant thought. I will find a way to destroy you. I have dedicated more than one life to this task, my commitment should not be in doubt. Get that microphone out of my face…”

2. Darkseid – One of the most powerful foes Superman has ever faced. In terms of raw physical power, Darkseid has, in certain incarnations of the Man of Steel, been far more powerful than Superman. Nearly completely invulnerable to all forms of harm, strength equal to or even greater than Superman’s, and armed with the Omega Force, a weapon capable of hitting a target across dimensional barriers, Darkseid is the complete ruler of his world, Apokalips. Hailing from a higher and older segment of reality, Darkseid’s people have millenia more experience, technology and ability than most sentients from our Universe. Only Superman’s efforts, again and again, against Darkseid, prevented a lasting incursion from the Fourth World. Truth be told, I would say Superman has never actually defeated Darkseid in a fair fight. But I did enjoy watching Kal-el lay the smackdown in the last episode of the Justice League Unlimited against Darkseid. It’s rare you see Supes going all out, and totally worth it too.

Birthday wishes from Darkseid: “Kal-El, our last skirmish over your young cousin was the most satisfying confrontation we have ever had. I trust the bruises were slow to heal. You almost released yourself against me. Stop holding back, Kryptonian. I will be back for your world, Kal-El. And unless you release your true power, collateral damage be damned, there will be nothing you can do to stop me.”

3. General Zod and the Phantom Zone villains – Fearsome and ruthless enemies from a Krypton long dead. Their ambitions thwarted, they were imprisoned in realm of reality where they could neither be seen or heard, forever immaterial but able to see and hunger for a world they were no longer a part of; a cruel prison, indeed. Once released and bathed in the light of a yellow sun, their powers could finally match their ambitions. They were the physical equal of Superman with a cruel streak he could never match. Recent iterations have painted them of a different, less monsterous cloth, but the older versions of these characters earned their place in Superman’s most villainous rogues gallery.

Birthday wishes from General Zod: “Kneel before Zod.”

4. Brainiac – No matter what iteration of the being, Brainiac should be counted among the most dangerous of Superman’s enemies because of his complete dispassion with which he seeks his goals. Logical, cold, calculating and easily the most intelligent by far of all of Superman’s enemies, Brainiac’s resources are nearly infinite, his technology almost beyond belief, his relentlessness unending. Brainiac has nearly achieved his goal of the destruction of Superman but a flaw in his logic or his arrogance has always led to his defeat. But if I were betting on a villain who could achieve the goal of destroying Superman permanently, I would bet on Brainac.

Birthday wishes from Brainiac: “Enjoy your last birthday Kryptonian. When next we meet, it will be no logic puzzle that defeats my intellect. There will be no random confluence of events which will come down in your favor. I have been gathering the resources of a world while I have been away. I calculate our next meeting will be your last with a 100% chance of my success. Savor your remaining days. I am coming.”

5. Doomsday – One of the few beings who can say (if he was big on conversation) he killed Superman in a straight up physical confrontation using brute force. He literally beat Superman to death, with his fists. Nuff said. Created by mad scientists, on a planet of Kryptonian mad scientists, this creature was developed and produced with one intent, to create an unstoppable superweapon, even by Krytonian standards. Equipped with an adaptable genetic structure, the creature evolves with every confrontation, so however you killed it last time will mean nothing the next time you meet. This creature beat the entire Justice League to a pulp and fought Superman to a match which ended in both of their apparent deaths. Yes, they both eventually got better. If you aren’t Superman, you never want to meet Doomsday, anywhere. And even if you are, you better have a new trick up your sleeve, that last one won’t work here.

Birthday greetings from Doomsday: “Die.”

6. Mr. Mxyztptlk – A being so powerful it could erase Superman from reality; with the proverbial snap of its fingers. A creature from a higher reality of existence, Mr. Mxyztptlk comes to Earth to slum it in the third dimension. Superman is little more than an interactive entertainment for the creature. It handicaps the game by telling Superman if he can trick him into saying his name backward, Mr. Mxyztptlk will then retire to the Fifth dimension for 90 days. He is not, technically, dangerous, but since he does not understand how fragile our reality is, he can damage us without even realizing it. During the Silver Age, a visit from Mr. Mxyztptlk was generally a light-hearted romp with Superman proving he could be quite the trickster himself. Never confuse the lightness of the character with the idea he isn’t dangerous. He is as dangerous as any enemy of the Man of Steel. Pray he never decides to forget to play fair…

Birthday greetings from Mxyztptlk: “You know Supes, we haven’t gotten together in quite some time. I know you’ve been missing our antics together. Love the new look by the way, it really was time to put your underwear on the right way. Remember Blue Boy, next time we hang out, the stakes will be a whole lot higher than me going home for three months for R&R. Next time is going to be killer…”

7. Metallo – Imagine Superman’s worst fear, Kryptonite. Give it legs, a rabid hatred of Superman and the physical power to match him blow for blow and you have Metallo. No genius, no incredible technology, just the one thing that saps Superman’s powers and makes him susceptible to being beaten to death as a human in a brightly-colored costume. Once an ordinary con-man, John Corbin was nearly killed in a accident. A morally-challenged robotics scientist places Corbin’s brain into a metallic frame, essentially creating a cyborg. Needing a power source, the body uses the radiation of Kryptonite to give it greater than human strength and durability. Historically, Metallo has killed other Kryptonians and with the help of Lex Luthor was tailored to use various forms of Kryptonite against Superman as well. Personally, I despise Metallo and while I admire Superman’s restraint, I recommend using heat vision to turn him into an immobile glowing brain in a jar. I think the people of Metropolis would understand.

Birthday wishes from Metallo: “I know you don’t consider me a threat these days, but I promise you I have been working on getting a new tailor. My next body is being made by a master of the robotic flesh. Perhaps you remember his name. A Professor Ivo… of Amazo fame. He tells me my new body will not only be powered by Kryptonite, but will be able to emulate it, at will. You won’t even be able to lay a hand on me…”

8. Parasite – A villain you love to hate, the Parasite’s power allowed him to absorb Superman’s superhuman abilities just by touching the Last Son of Krypton. The longer the fight, the more likely the Parasite was to come out on top. There were four Parasites over the years, but the most well known was Rudy Jones. Rudy also starred in Superman, the Animated Series during the 90s. The Parasite, despite his fearsome power was handicapped by his lack of ambition and fairly ordinary intelligence. He was more often a tool than a leader, used and disposed of as soon as possible.

Birthday wishes from the Parasite: “So hungry.” <lost my second sound man this week>

9. Imperiex – A force of nature more than an entity, this creature was set on destroying the entire galaxy. A threat so great the entire planet Earth was enlisted to fight against it. Superman’s power was no match for even an Imperiex Probe until he trained himself to use his powers at their highest output. A robot whose strength, superhuman speed and near-invulnerability equaled Superman’s, Imperiex Probes were the most powerful threat to ever face the human race. Led by Superman, Lex Luthor and a host of heroes, Imperiex was deterred from its plan of galactic conquest. These battles against this unstoppable foe was one of the Man of Steel’s finest hours in the previous Post-Crisis DCU continuum.

Birthday wishes from Imperiex: Imperiex refused to be interviewed on camera, saying something about ruining his brand…

10. Mongul – A physical titan, a potentially powerful intellect, but linked to a shriveled petty soul would adequately describe Mongul. He has the power to destroy Superman, the capability to match him in combat and the ruthlessness to win a conflict between them, and has done so numerous times. This is what makes him a great villain. But Mongul is both lazy and overconfident, he reads his own press releases and believes them. He was the undisputed ruler of Warworld and had long crushed anyone capable of defeating him. Though he never grew physically fat, his metaphoric fat was his undoing. He underestimated Superman and has done so in nearly every encounter.

Birthday wishes from Mongul: “Overconfident, under-developed, under-ambitious? Did you think when I was training you, I did not learn the true limits of your power? I have been training now, Kryptonian. I have acquired new technologies from a half a dozen galaxies far and wide. When next you and I meet, you will learn the limits of your powers, first hand. I won’t even have to warm up the Warworld. I’ll have it taking pictures…”

Yes, there are many others. These were the ones I think cause Superman to consider changing careers more than once and I am certain remind him why he needs to keep a fresh cape handy, just in case. Happy birthday, Superman, you are still the greatest superhero of all time. (And your next movie better have you punching someone in the face. No, seriously. Don’t do that airplane thing again, either.)

Thaddeus Howze

superman-unchained

JLA

Young Justice is Cancelled (say it isn’t so!)

Give it up. Young Justice is cancelled. No one will admit it, but let’s keep it real.

Why?

Because you love it. Because you want it. Because it was worth watching. Because these are the finest renditions of the characters ever written. Because the artwork has been head and shoulders above anything that resembles a cartoon in your lifetime. Because you are engrossed in the lives of the teenagers who are living the lives we would all give an arm to have, to be the living agents of the greatest superheroes the world has ever known. (And no, I don’t mean the Avengers.)

I mean the team that inspired the creation OF the Avengers. The Justice League and their young prodigies have NEVER looked so good. Moved so well, been so awkward, felt so human. Everyone remembers Superman’s face when Batman suggests he do something about Conner… Superman stop that meteor. On it. Superman, mentor that boy with your genetic structure and superhuman abilities… Uh… Do I have to?

Have you learned nothing from watching television all your lives? If you love something you must keep that love in your heart. Never shout it to the world where a television executive might hear it.

It is in their DNA to destroy that which you love. The Simpsons? It will be shown to YOUR grandchildren. Family Guy? Will go on until Seth can’t stand another day of being Brian. AdventureTime? Regular Show? They will outlive us all. But JLA, JLU, Young Justice, they can only live as long as you or I DON’T love them out loud.

Once a television executive know you love something, it will die the most agonizing death possible. Can you say Farscape, Fringe, Serenity, X-files, Stargate Universe, Jericho, The Event, the 4400, do I really need to go on? Claiming some mysterious force which does NOT kill those other shows we can’t stand, Shows like Young Justice will enter alternating seasons, half seasons, movie-closures where they squeeze an entire season into an hour badly, or some other machination to make you hate the show, or hate the time slot or hate the producers until you BEG FOR ITS UNTIMELY DEATH to stop its (and your) suffering.

Remember Young Justice for what it gave to you. Remember Robin, become Nightwing, remember Kid Flash (souvenir!) try to forget Megan (they never got the character right for me) remember and marvel at how awesome Aqualad had become (whenever you hear there is no market for Black characters, spit on the shoes of whoever says that). Well-written Black characters like Aqualad shine like stars.

Think kindly of the writers who gave voice to the heroes and the villains (because where would we be without writers OR villains). They filled out our universe from which all of our heroic aspirations could be seen, even for this brief time. Think kindly to the many, many, many animators who create every frame of this show with a quality control ethic unseen by American television cartoons.

But most of all, think kindly of the executives too stupid to recognize that right now more than ever, people need heroes. Kids need heroes and the world sure could use more of them like the heroes of the Justice League and Young Justice. They will be missed.

‘Nuff Said.

DCnU – Looks Great, but Less Filling

Let’s get the personal stuff out of the way first. I do not work for DC Comics or any of its parent companies and while I may poke fun at both DC Comics and Marvel Comics, I have great respect for the longevity and cultural force of both of these comic titans. Once upon a time, I would have given organs to work for either, but for now, my organs shall remain my own. I am not a hater of comics, no, I have twenty-five or thirty years of comics cooling in a storage locker somewhere until I can decide what to do with them. Once, my love of comics was unending and in some ways, they saved my life, gave me hope and kept me on a path of honesty and heroism that I can say I am proud to live and believe in. That said, I am often amazed at just how blind and bigoted the industry can be. I have seen the lineup of the new DC Universe (shortened on Twitter to #DCnU) and I am saddened by much of what I see. Thanks to the wonderful women of Girls Gone Geek for presenting an awesome lineup of the DCnU covers. Go look, come right back.

In order of sadness:

The Marvel Family, Captain Marvel, Billy Batson as the Wizard and Mary Marvel

1. No Marvel Family. I know in the last few years, their stories were convoluted and difficult but since we were rebooting the universe, I thought they could have found a new seat at the table. I know why they did not, though. They wanted the Superman Family to regain its seat as the mightiest family in the DCnU without question. There were too many similarities between the two groups to make their existence worthwhile to the writers and editors of the current DCnU. They caught a bad deal. Making Billy Batson take over the role of the Wizard was strange, but logical. Making Freddy, Captain Marvel was a stroke of brilliance. Letting Black Adam become a good guy for even a little while made his return to evil, even more tragic. The DCnU is less for their absence.

The Justice Society, the greatest heroes that never were…

2. No Justice Society. Though they were old heroes, they deserved better than to be shuffled off to non-existence as if their legacy did not matter at all. The funny part is their final adventures were some of the finest writing of their entire careers as characters. Yes, they had silly names, from a less serious time, but I thought they could have been renewed and given a new lease on life. There was certainly room enough for some color to have been added to the DCnU. But that is another story.

3. Does the Batman need to show up in at least five books? Batman is the hardest working mortal in the DCnU. He shows up in the Justice League, Justice League International, Batman, Detective Comics, Batman: The Dark Knight and Batman and Robin. Adding insult to injury, his Batman family includes Batgirl, Batwoman, Nightwing, Catwoman, Batwing and the Birds of Prey. So the Batman Family takes up a full fifth of the DCnU. So much potential in these characters but I am afraid they will burn up and run out of steam quickly down the line. I think a smarter step would have been to have a collective series with rotating lineups or story arcs because I just don’t see all of these books maintaining their momentum down the line. No, I did not include any Batman related titles. I wouldn’t have any room for the rest of the article!

The latest iteration of the fashion-impaired Teen Titans

Black Aqualad caused a stir, looked great in video and now has disappeared

4. No new Aqualad in the Teen Titans. Young Justice, the television show was my absolute most favorite incarnation of both the Teen Titans and to a lesser extent the Justice League. Cocky, young Robin, annoying but cute Bart, grim overstretched Superboy, the annoying Martian Girl, Megan (who I will not miss), but my favorite member of Young Justice was Aqualad. Yes, he was black but it was more than that. The new Aqualad was such a refreshing twist from I have come to expect from black heroes in the DCU. I wept with joy each time he hit the screen. He had class, dignity, grace, charisma, and leadership ability in excess of his years. He was one of the best representations of what I have complained about for over thirty years. Make a powerful, well-developed, non-stereotypical black character and he could command the same respect as the Classics did. And of course, in the new DCU, he is nowhere to be found, his amazing powers, his class, his leadership and the dignity he could bring to black readers is gone. No, don’t tell me I have Static as a replacement. Because while I adore Static, he is not Aqualad. And this group of Teen Titans is fashion-impaired in a big way. Please tell me they will change their look because if they are the future, the future is going to be ugly.

Static, last survivor of the Milestone Universe? Another of the many electrically-charged black superheroes.

5. Static is the only survivor of the Milestone Universe. Sadness overwhelms me at the loss of the great characters who could have experienced a renaissance with the reboot of the DCnU. Here was a chance to bring color, culture, new ideas to a universe stuck on itself with white heroes. Yes, they pay the bills, but you might want to check out another article that says DC better get with the times or fall flat on its White superheroic face in less than twenty years time. We have Mr. Terrific, John Stewart, Static, Vixen, Cyborg, Batwing, one part of Firestorm and I think that is Invisible Kid I see in the Legion lineup, but I can’t be sure. Of Hispanic or Latino descent, I see the Blue Beetle. Of Asian descent I see one possible candidate whose name I do not know but might hazard a guess as Katana. Wow, is that really it? I understand that DC is run mostly by White men for almost all of its existence but you figure it might be time to consider hiring some more WOMEN, you know somewhere near the density of the population of the nation would be nice. 1% is a bloody embarrassment. While you are at it, maybe you can populate the rest of the world with some superheroes as well, otherwise your elitism is showing. “Nuff, said.” Okay maybe not, see the afterword for the rest of my sentiment in this regard.

The brilliant broker of Gotham, leader of the Birds of Prey, the wheelchair bound, Oracle

6. Taking Barbara Gordon out of her chair and returning her to the role of Batgirl. A completely stupid thing to do. Yes, I said it and deep in your hearts you will agree even if you do the politically correct thing and say we wanted her back for <insert reason here>. Oracle was an identity that had evolved from tragedy and had grown into a role of personal affirmation and power. The Birds of Prey series and line of books was one of the jewels in the crown of the DCU even if they were not aware of it. A book whose focus was on the talented and metahuman women of the DCU was both brilliant and inspired. Having them lead by Oracle was a trifecta, of mind, might, and magic. Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown were not only doing the job of Batgirl, they were doing it in their own completely different styles. Both would be headed for completely different futures and I was completely okay with that.

Stephanie Brown, daughter of Cluemaster as Batgirl

Cassandra Cain as Batgirl, in the DCnU now called Blackbat

I counted one hundred and sixteen faces from the book covers I was able to find. I counted ten faces of African or African-American descent. Close to the statistical average in America. For the first time in the DCU history I can say that without rancor. Okay a little rancor because half of the characters I don’t actually care about or care for, and I suspect others do not either. Of the ten, only two are A-listers, John Stewart and Cyborg. Mister Terrific is a B-list hero and the rest are relegated to the C-list as either little known, or poorly written or completely unknown and cannot be expected to do much at the moment. I hope I am wrong. As far as the other minority groups, which should have a higher percentage than I can see, all I can say is I hope DC is looking ahead. This would have been the perfect time to have spread the color around. And I won’t mention gay at all because I am certain they will not be addressing Apollo and Midnighter’s previously established gay relationship. If they do, I will be shocked. I suspect it will be relegated to an off-screen relationship with as little mention as possible.

Now on to the WTF pile. Okay because I try to keep my language relatively civilized in my blog, I try to avoid colorful language, but I am going to break my own rule somewhat by including the text language expression WTF. It was the only way I could express some of the dumbest ideas coming out of the comic industry in a long time. And that is really saying something. Let the WTFs begin.

Captain Atom masquerading as Dr. Manhattan

What the F*ck?

Batman is everywhere. I mentioned the one-fifth of the DCnU is Batman related books. WTF?

Dr. Manhattan masquerading as Dr. Manhattan

Theme Redux, Again? Why is Captain Atom suddenly suffering from Doctor Manhattanitis? Do we really need to open the old chestnut of what happens when a man gets so much power, he eclipses the human experience? Was it not explored enough in the Watchmen? Or in other books like Miracleman/Marvelman where not only was it done, it is unlikely to be done better. Tell me why?  WTF?

The Ballad of Hawkman

One Hawkman to lead them all, one Hawkman to find them,
one Hawkman to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.

The Savage Hawkman. I have to say, if this guy were flying toward me, I would run!

So we take a hero who has more origin stories that the Playboy mansion has bunny slippers and try it one more time. For the love of Christ (and I say this with love, because Hawkman has been a favorite of mine for decades) can we pick an origin and stick with it! Is he a hero who finds the mysterious Nth metal and is reincarnated again and again seeking his lost love? Is he a space police officer who uses super-science, and a mixture of primitive and modern weapons in a war on crime? Is he a savage barbarian who enjoys the crushing blows of his chosen weapons of war and has some as yet undisclosed means of flight and somehow manages to NOT get shot by people with guns whenever he shows up with his thirty-foot wingspan of flapping targets. (No, you X-folk don’t get a pass with Angel either.) He better have a force field, some armor, or some damn tough wings or some other reason he does not become a bullet laden-pinata when he shows up in the day, flashing his mace, or axe or claws and no ranged weaponry. WTF?

The New Guardians, led by Kyle Rayner (formerly a Green Lantern of Earth, aka Ion). All these colored rings, I hope the book shines, too

The Guardians of the Galaxy, the Marvel Comics space super-team to beat!

The Rainbow Lanterns er…New Guardians. Are we experiencing Guardian of the Galaxy envy? Yes, do not pretend you are not reading those awesome epic space battles with what were considered heroes relegated to the dustbins of history and instead in the hands of skilled writers are now kicking ass across the galaxy as Guardians of the Galaxy. Yes, including the dusty veterans including Starlord, Rocket Racoon, Groot (I mean Groot? Who remembers that issue of Tales to Astonish #13, anyway?), Gamora, the deadliest woman in the Galaxy, the slimmed down and highly tatted, but no less deadly Destroyer and everyone’s favorite pod-transforming, multi-timeline dwelling, soul-gem-using, magic-commanding golden hero from the 1970’s Adam (Magus, Warlock, Paragon, you figure it out), Quasar, yes that guy who used to work for SHIELD and was a spastic hero for the first fifteen years of his existence, and my personal favorite, the Human Rocket, the Man called NOVA. Epic space battles against awesome enemies, where entire solar systems get reduced to dust and entire species die, sometimes by the hand of the people trying to save them? If you are, GOOD. Then maybe you will get off your asses and write some space adventures worth reading. For the record, despite the preponderance of Caucasian aliens populating the DCU, DC’s space adventures were better written and far more creative than much of the work at Marvel for many a year. With the exceptions of the Adam Warlock, Thanos and Captain Marvel, love-hate relationships, Marvel’s space adventures were an abomination with only the slight glittering of hope when Norrin Radd or the Nova Corps might flash by on their way to an emergency.

The Kree and Skrulls spent far too much time masturbating over which of them was the best and I got bored before I found out. The best thing to come out of Marvel in decades were the recent storylines of the Guardians of the Galaxy and now DC has another chance to eclipse that, IF and only IF they write stories like they mean it. To take a line from Star Trek: “Captain, if we go any faster, it’ll fly apart.”

The Red Lantern Corps, no seriously, a corps comprised of anger-management-challenged ring wielders. Wow.

To his credit Captain Sulu says “Fly it apart!” DCnU you better fly the Rainbow Green Lantern Corp like it is the SR-71 chasing a nuclear bearing Tomahawk missile bearing down on Manhattan. None of that warm fuzzy crap the Green Lantern Corp was known for. I want to see alien space, with alien ideas and adventure so awesome I want to forget how to breath until the very end. We are in space, so make me believe it! Otherwise you will get your WTF after the first issue.

Angry Lanterns…er…Red Lanterns. Really? WTF? Did we need to see a comic just like the Green Lantern Corp except they are angry all the time? Inclined to shoot first and ask questions later? Green Lanterns without Restraint? An entire collection of Sinestros, powerful, barely moral, and equipped with the ultimate weapon. Who exactly is this book for anyway? People who love the Green Lantern Corp but wish they were a bit more…um…what’s the word…bloodthirsty, yes, that’s it. The Bloodthirsty Lantern Corp. I think I will pass. At $4.00 a head, I think the Anger-Management-Challenged Lantern Corp will be a flashy, colorful, ultimately unsatisfying failure in the long run. How many angry ways can you beat up a planet anyway?

Justice League Dark. Not with almonds, not the milk chocolate variety

Justice League Dark? Was that the best you could do? Why not Justice League, Milk Chocolate? or Justice League with Almonds? And listen to this line-up:

Shade the Changing Man? Is he their heavy hitter because last time I checked his suit/vest gave him incredible powers he could barely control. And I think the last time I liked him, he was being drawn by Steve Ditko. If you know who that is, you are too damn old to still be reading comics, just like me. Madame Xanadu? You gotta be kidding me? She better be getting some bad-ass super-upgrades because her powers of precognition are nifty but won’t be stopping a menace that Justice League Classic couldn’t.

Deadman, with the power to possess the living, a one trick pony but a good trick

Deadman, a perenial favorite. His scathing wit, his devil may care attitude about his undead state has endeared him to me, even as I suspend my belief that he will be able to sustain his own book let alone work in this one. His cool but singular power of possessing the bodies of the living is well…cool, but second rate. And lest I forget, the annoying, the chain-smoking, the one-shot artifact using, knows his way around the supernatural realm, using up favors the way my cat unravels a roll of toilet paper, but never runs out of them, favorite heroes, John Constantine. Now unless he has some canned Phantom Stranger under his unwashed and likely odiferous trench coat, I cannot see how this lineup of motley, single powered, almost has-beens is going to stop ANY threat unless it is a lunch counter in danger of being over-run by septuagenarians. I will leave it to the vunderkind at DC to explain why they should not get a WTF explosion salad for this piece of feldacarb.

Iron Superman and his big boy pants

Is there any light at the end of this tunnel? Like Lemmiwinks I am desperately seeking to find the light. As a lover of the Superman line, I can assuredly say to you when I heard Superman was losing the “registration line trunks” he has worn for over thirty years for no good reason, (yes, he wore them longer, but for some of his career they did serve a purpose of helping to align printing presses as a registration marker) I cheered and eagerly awaited his new look. It turned out they did not move too far from his old look, I think the belt would have looked better gold rather than red but other than that, BRAVO. Although why the formerly invulnerable Superman is flying around in armor makes me wonder is the DCnU experiencing a bit of Iron Envy as well.

The new Birds of Prey. Katana sprung for armored pants, Black Canary still wearing stockings. Pants Please?

Now Supergirl on the other hand, is there someone there who forgot to make her legs BLUE? I heard the girls were going to get PANTS. And whatever idiot still has Black Canary running around in stockings when she might have to take a bullet in the leg, I would like you to remember Kevlar does not come in stockings. Say it with me class: Adventurers who might catch bullets want body armor and Kevlar. Not so much they can’t move, not so little, it doesn’t stop bullets. If the hero does not possess damage resistance or damage avoidance powers, THEY NEED ARMOR.

There were so many other books coming out that I was just wondering what the hell was going on at DC. Yes, I love Mr. Terrific, but plucking him out of space-time and giving him an origin bereft of the Justice Society seems wrong. I will eagerly await his appearance just the same since it has been a long time since a Black superhero got top billing and didn’t have the word Black in his name.

The Green Lantern Corps, now with considerably less anger than the Red Lantern Corps, even with Guy Gardner and the angry Black man, John Stewart. Let’s not forget perpetually-in-a-bad-mood, Kilowog

Afterword: And since we are talking about diversity and have been doing so for the last few weeks since the new Ultimate Spiderman was revived as a half black and half Latino character and since DC was revealed to have hired about 1% of their staff as females.

If we were to be judging any industry on its diversity, ethnic makeup and male to female ratios, almost none would pass muster, especially in America, where hiring is almost always done by those with the most money or influence in an industry. Almost without exception this will be White males.

So, if the comic industry has a preponderance of White males, this should be no surprise to anyone. If its hiring practices, especially those firms with longevity of thirty years or more tends to resemble organizations from those less enlightened eras, I would not be surprised.

Adding insult to injury, the very nature of the material lends itself to idolization by men and condemnation by women for the depiction of women in those works, is it any surprise, women would want less, in theory, to do with comics than men? That said, there are likely as many women who would WANT to make comics, if for no other reason, to show better depictions of women (and the same could be said for minorities, since they have exactly the same issues as women, under-representation and unequal treatment both in the industry and in the media depictions.)

Firestorm, fusion of magic and science or is it one origin over another? Who knows, he might even be Black.

What surprises me is that those firms STAY that way even now, when it has been proven that diversity is the number one factor companies who are successful today recognize as a fairly inexpensive way of gaining an advantage in our highly competitive society. A more diverse group, one reflecting society as a whole is likely to be more in touch with the needs, ideas, characterizations, lifestyles and belief systems.

This potentially allows for development of storylines in hereforto unseen ways which might engage audiences who current consider comics little more than testosterone-laden slugfests with homo-erotic, misogynistic overtones with the rampant objectification of women and the blatant disregard for minorities.

So why hasn’t the industry made a greater effort to include women and minorities in somewhere near to the proportions relevant in our society, both in producing quality depictions of characters, as well as the hiring of women and minorities on their staff to help develop effective means of storytelling, craftsmanship and quality control of those minority groups, making the work resonate better, potentially widening their readership, improving the quality of the work, and allowing for greater creativity overall in the workplace.

This would imply, 50% of most workplaces would be women, with the racial breakdowns proportionate to the society we live in. 50% White 26% Hispanic, 12% African American, 6% Other 4% Asian and 1.1% Native American/Pacific Islander. Okay, the industry’s statement is, the skills are not evenly distributed, or are not there, the connection to finding those people are not there, and the interest in hiring is not there, it is too expensive to make the effort to find these ratios, when our fan base is mostly White men, who are only too happy to join up to perpetuate what is already making us money.

Justice League – Forty years later and the lineup has almost not changed a bit. Hey, whose that black guy? Oh a Titan Graduate. Cyborg? I guess the rest got sent back to school.

It’s logical but lazy, and ultimately is slowly choking the life out of the industry. Each reboot, each reshuffle, each continuity redistribution, muddles the water, and confuses new readers. Link this to the emotional attachments readers have to characters and the fanboy lack of desire for change and each time a universe is reset, any new readers who were interested in your work, such as it was, is at risk.

Stormwatch. Either you have heard of them or you haven’t. Not necessarily heroes, they get the job done. Don’t ask what the job is. The Manhunter is their conscience. They’ll need him.

At the same time, this industry has been claiming its numbers have been less successful over the years and they cannot understand why any efforts to diversify their character base has failed to take root. The answer is two-fold: A lack of authenticity in the character base and a lack of diversity in the staff.

Writers will immediately take affront saying they can tell stories, no matter who the characters are, and as I writer I understand the idea. But I also know, that a female’s view of things will be different and having a woman to work with might improve my ability to tell that story. A woman may even tell the same story in a completely different manner, resonating with women in a way a man may not. White writers may believe they know the minds of minority heroes, but not having the minority experience, it will likely ring falsely to minority readers, hence alienating the very people they are trying to attract.

Mr. Terrific, one of the newest of the DC lineup. Fix that mask, why does the bottom look like its red? Mr. T planning on kissing someone?

The lack of diversity in their staff has ensured the stories they tell best are the ones they have always told, hence the lack of development in the industry, no matter who the writers were, who the company is, or which part of the industry the company works in, whether it be horror, relationships, science fiction, or the general superhero industry.

The real problem is not the number of women or minorities hired into the comic industry or the reasons they are not hired. We know why that is. The real question is how long before the comic industry collapses under the weight of its inability to grow, evolve, change, adapt and bring real diversity both to their product and their workforce? Will they make the transition in time or one by one, fall into obscurity as their fan-boys age out, lose interest, or experience greater competition from other media.

I think, if the industry isn’t careful, this will be known as the Final Age of Comics. Now I am going to dismantle my soapbox and go buy the few comics of the DCnU that I AM interested in (and it won’t be Batwing, a refreshed, rewritten version of Marvel’s Falcon, same technology, same skills and no superpowers. Who does a brother have to screw to get some superpowers in comic book universes?) WTF.

Thaddeus [@ebonstorm]