Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--Let Superman Be Superman
Column by Steve Bennett
Published: 09/12/2012 01:22am
With DC's 'New 52' having reached its first anniversary a number of usual suspect comic news sites have been reflecting on it, the most interesting piece being the one which appeared on Bleeding Cool. Among some of the other things they reported as having been said on the DC Panel at the Baltimore Comic Con was the claim that the 'New 52' began writers were told to "write as if they were writing fan fiction." If true this would certainly explain Red Hood and the Outlaws.
Well, there'll be none of that here; it's enough for me that it worked, that it not only sold a lot of comic books in bad economic times but managed to inspire Marvel to do something similar (though of course they'll keep right on denying Marvel NOW! has anything to do with the 'New 52'). There are lots of things I would have done different and other titles I would have preferred to have seen, but one year later I still remain mildly gobsmacked they even did it in the first place.
But I have to admit more 'New 52' titles worked, creatively and financially, than didn't. Besides being a startlingly good comic Aquaman gave Time-Warner a blueprint as how to do an Aquaman movie. Though it's hard for me to imagine the casual reader easily accessing it, Wonder Woman was beautifully done. And Batman! I honestly never thought I would ever looking forward to reading the next issue of Batman again.
But then there were the Superman titles. Action Comics, well, you really can’t complain when you’ve got Grant Morrison writing a comic and I for one really liked his “Rockabilly Superman” -- but when it comes to Superman, well, I wanted to like it. I really did. But it's clear from George Perez's comments on his being rewritten and micromanaged during his frustrating six-issue run (if you want further details just Google "George Perez on Superman," that's what I did) the comic was doomed from the start. It seems the character is so important to DC and they're so desperately afraid they'll do something wrong they can't seem to do anything right with him.
Take, for instance, Superman Annual #1, a fairly ugly mishmash from its cover on. Now, I was all for Superman giving up his old outfit for business reasons no matter how much I loved it personally, but I'll admit I'm still adjusting to the new one. When done right, it's sort of a steampunk Victorian NASCAR space suit (which isn't necessarily a bad thing), but when it isn't, well, it's every bit as fussy and unnecessarily hyper detailed as the recent Spider-Man and Batman movie suits. And on the cover to Superman Annual #1, besides being frankly quite ugly, kind of looks like something you'd see attached to a piece of foreign bootleg Superman merchandise.
To be fair enough there are some nice character moments by Scott Lobdell and Fabian Nicieza, which is good because everyone seems to still be in the process of figuring out just who this new Superman is. Besides being, you know, a hot young model with over complicated hair. But mostly this issue is a set-up, a way of establishing Helspont, the head on fire guy formerly from the Wildstorm Universe as a DC Universe "big bad." So big and so bad is the guy who routinely got thrashed by the WildC.A.T.s that Superman is completely helpless against him. The issue ends with Superman staring into literal space, undoubtedly as dumbfounded as the reader who just paid $5 to see Superman get his ass kicked. And that just isn't any Superman I know.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com.
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