Confessions of a Comic Book Guy is a weekly column by Steve Bennett of Super-Fly Comics and Games in Yellow Springs, Ohio. This week, Bennett looks at DC's reboot of its most iconic character: Superman.
Well, given the fact it took place in a sleepy little college town (which has been without a college for a number of years, but that's another story) in the middle of a work week there was a pretty good turnout for Super-Fly Comics & Games Midnight Release party for Justice League #1. And in spite of the fact we ordered five times our usual number of copies of Justice League like apparently everywhere else in North America it almost instantly disappeared without a trace.
We all know it sold 200,000 copies but I'm left wondering, did 200,000 individual people actually buy them? Super-Fly Comics didn't sell them on a one per customer basis and for the most part nobody wanted more than a couple--but did other stores have the same experience? And while I know copies have been showing up on eBay as far as I can tell there doesn't seem to be evidence someone out there is under the delusion the comic is going to be even a short-term investment.
But the one thing I came away from the party with was the thought the two week window when Justice League #1 will be unavailable (Diamond has a September 14 E.T.A. for the arrival of the second printing) isn't the best thing that could have happened to the launch of DC's digital day and date program. Unfortunately we'll probably never know just how many digital copies they've sold because, not surprisingly, like so much of their business DC contends this is none of ours. All we’ve got to go on is what Jim Lee told Heidi MacDonald over at The Beat; that the digital Justice League #1 is "also setting records... I can't give you numbers, but on the first day it set a record for us."
The one comic book I'm looking forward to reading this week is Action Comics #1, but not in my capacity as a retailer. As previously established I'm a huge Superman fan and I'm hoping against hope we'll finally get something I've always wanted; consistently good Superman comics. Unfortunately no matter how good the intentions of a lot of very talented creative teams he's a character who invariably becomes bogged down in his own mythology and hamstrung by both his super powers and moral authority.
For decades upon decades Superman has been defined not by the wish fulfillment rush of his incredible abilities but by what he couldn't and wouldn't do, both physically and ethically. In the 70's when he was unfathomably powerful (he was once described by writer Denny O'Neil as someone who could "destroy the universe by listening hard") stories frequently revolved around him finding ways to not use his powers.
And as a very old school fan you'd think I'd be one of those people complaining about DC "scrapping the old, good-two shoes Superman" as it was put it in a Newsarama piece by Vaneta Rogers titled "DC's New Superman Is a Modern, Cynical Superhero." I could do without the 'Cynical' part but I'm all for him being modern because I've become convinced the problem isn't that they're changing Superman is that they've waited to do it until it was almost too late.
In a recent column I was complaining about the changes being made in the Warner Bros. animation characters in Cartoon Network’s The Looney Tunes Show (see "Confessions of a Comic Book Guy--How About Kids Comics?"). But in the end I had to concede that they had to make the changes for the longtime viability of the brand and that the changes were starting to grow on me. So far the new version looks like a success and if Bugs Bunny can adapt so can Superman.
Because as painful as it might be for some people Superman has to reflect our world, if not for the long-term viability of the brand then for the sake of America itself. The online version of the UK's The Independent had a piece by Rupert Cornwell titled "Superheroes get a makeover--but can it save them?" It's a reflective piece about how Superman is a barometer of the American zeitgeist and has this line:
"If anything needs a real-life reboot, it is surely the good 'ol' USA itself, trapped in recession and plagued by a sense of national decline."
And finally, a final word about Superman's emblematic red shorts and an unexpected consequence of their removal. When the first full body shots of the costume sans shorts Superman will be wearing in Zach Snyder's upcoming Man of Steel film appeared online it caused quite a bit of Internet chatter. Specifically, what the absence of the shorts revealed; I could try to be cute or clever but instead I'll just ask you to Google "Superman Bulge." Now it's finally revealed why he wore them all these years; modesty.
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.
Column by Steve Bennett
Posted by ICv2 on September 6, 2011 @ 7:38 pm CT
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