My Top 5 New 52 Superman Stories

The New 52 has been getting its fair share of justified criticism for the way it handles the reintroduction of characters into the New 52 universe, overmanaging editorials dictating rather than assisting creators with stories and an ignorance of the rich history DC have created since COIE. Among those criticised, Superman was seen as not getting the treatment he deserved, mostly due to the disappointing Superman series. Even now with Lobdell on board, it hasn’t gotten too much back on track IMO. But this blog isn’t about Lobdell’s Superman run. It’s about what my 5 favourite New 52 Superman stories are. Thanks to a select few writers, Superman has been written well with slight tweaks to his mythology that work well within the New 52 universe. Although Morrison’s Men of Steel arc brought back the Golden Age social crusader and hero of the people into Superman’s origin again, none of the earlier issues of Action Comics make it into my top 5 New 52 Superman stories. Anyway, let me begin. I’ll limit spoilers for those who may not have read the issues

5) Action Comics #19

I juggled this and Superman Unchained #2 for this position but despite me giving them the same story score, Unchained has a few more flaws. Although if I were to choose which one I’d read for entertaining, Unchained would take the cake. But this issue has the better story. Diggle kicks off his shortest run on a series ever with a spectacular grasp over Superman and his supporting cast. His Lois is full of determination and gutsy enough to free political prisoners whilst getting the story out to the propaganda censored Quarac. And their interactions are exactly spot on. There’s even a build up of romantic tension before Clark finds out about a problem he needs to deal with. Diggle’s Superman contains many of the Pre Flashpoint characteristics that have been sorely missed from the New 52. Clark tries to negotiate and find a peaceful route to dealing with some robots controlled by human pilots. Not only does Diggle deliver on the action, he writes an engaging plot which is executed very well. And for those who prefer Diggle for his darker writing, he injects his dark writing into Lex Luthor. His Lex is sinister and has a menacing, compassionless presence on panel. Not to mention that Diggle uses Lex for a fresh, interesting plot to pose a threat to Superman. It’s a massive shame that Daniel takes over the writing for the next issue because the quality of the story drops like a stone down a well. Daniel is a brilliant artist but a rubbish writer.

4) Action Comics #18

Morrison is a writer whose work is best viewed with the big picture in hand. His run on Action Comics has its fair share of critics as it’s not the match made in heaven All Star Superman was. Nonetheless, I enjoyed Morrison’s run. It has its flaws, moreso than usual for Morrison but he injected some golden age and sci fi elements into the series and employed some wacky Silver Age concepts that made for an engaging story. Which, as per usual, is typical Morrison style. By the time this issue came around, a lot of people wanted the story to end. And I’ll admit, Action Comics #17 was a terrible set up to this issue. But here, Morrison redeems himself and brings the symbolic message of his arc full circle. The main villain of the piece, Vyndktvx is quite underrated in his role as the villain of Morrison’s arc as he’s responsible for affecting Superman’s life in a grand way. In this issue, Vyndktvx strikes at Superman’s core ideals and here Morrison brings the battle of good ideas and bad ideas onto the comic book pages. There’s some very smart hints as to Superman’s nature being a cash cow for the comic book industry and the defiant response Superman makes to Vyndktvx encapsulates why he’s so much more than that. The sci fi wackiness comes from Captain Comet and the Cometeers who play an excellent role in helping Superman and bringing the characters Morrison has been working on full circle. The seeded ideas Morrison had placed in his run (the way in which Vyndktvx is beaten was mentioned in Action Comics #11) along with the overall message Morrison was giving for this series comes to the forefront. That message, for me was that Superman is capable of triumphing against any odds, no matter how impossible they may seem because he is the ultimate idea for the ideals of humanity. A man who never gives up and never stops fighting for what’s right.

3) Superman Unchained #1

Now, someone (cough FadetoBlackBolt cough :P) on here who may or may not read this blog might be irked I give this issue a higher place than something of Morrison’s run. To him I say firstly, my two favourite New 52 Superman stories are Morrison ones and secondly, that this first issue felt like the kind of Superman story I’d been waiting to read. Morrison had done something ambitious, innovative and symbolic but Snyder wrote a fresh, compelling Superman story that felt like a real, more traditional with a twist Superman story. Snyder has been criticised for not understanding Batman and whilst I disagree with some assertions, I can see that easily. But this first issue of Unchained showed a deep understanding of what makes Superman tick. Snyder writes a Superman who feels more like Superman than Johns or Lobdell have made him feel like. He’s calm, compassionate and charming and feels more like the Superman I know and love should act. And the threat Superman faces of a falling space station with a nuclear core whilst saving two astronauts is extremely well executed. Here, Superman is given multiple challenges that require innovative and precise applications of his powers. The true test of a writer of Superman is not to nerf him but give him threats that requite quick thinking and accurate uses of his vast powers. That is how you write entertaining Superman stories. Along with excellent characterisation and a good plot of course. Snyder’s use of Superman’s supporting cast is wonderful. Lois, Jimmy and Perry get some awesome moments in this issue, Perry in the back up. But it’s Lois who is the most striking as she challenges and guides Clark in the story. And the plot is well written too with an engaging narrative and compelling mystery.

2) Action Comics #13

Now we come to my second favourite Superman story of the New 52. This issue of Action Comics does contain poor artwork but fortunately, I prioritise story way above artwork. In this issue, Morrison brings back the Phantom Zone and a long forgotten inmate in spectacular fashion as a palpable threat for Superman in a really entertaining story. Morrison explores the Phantom Zone in a splendid fashion and the art style does compliment the ghostly phantoms Morrison depicts the inmates in throughout the issue. There’s nifty sci fi technobabble such as ecto technology and googles that allow the Zoners to see inside the Zone. But it’s not just these flairs of Morrison’s writing that make this issue so good. The first thing that makes it good is the inclusion of the Phantom Stranger. It was not only a good way to promote his up coming series but also allowed him to play a meaningful role in this issue. Stranger’s presence in the story is easily justified by Morrison and he’s written in a much better fashion than most of his tenure in the New 52. But the star of the show is Krypto. Morrison redesigns him into a more wolfhound like dog and makes him look badass whilst keeping the loyal, faithful hound aspect of Krypto. Their reunion is touching and when they’re separated, it tugs on the heartstrings to think that Krypto might not see his boy again. The main villain, Xa-Du is a good character. Morrison gives him some interesting villainous tendencies and even if his plans are a tad generic, they have a distinctive flair to them. But the best thing about this issue is how Superman wrests control of Xa-Du’s suit to come back into the world of the living. Here Morrison displays his characteristic understanding of the metaphysical meaning of Superman that his will for doing good and the right thing is indomitable. That was a real highlight for me.

1) Action Comics #12

At last, my favourite Superman story of the New 52. An odd choice for some I assume. But let me justify it. Action Comics #10-12 or “Bulletproof” as the trade version calls it is my favourite Superman arc from the New 52 so far (though Unchained may well surpass it) And issue 12 rounds off the storyline wonderfully. For those who don’t know the story, I’ll summarise. Clark Kent gets caught in an explosion which was meant to throw Zimrod the Hunter off Clark’s trail. In the meantime, Clark gets a new secret identity but calls in Batman to check Clark’s background to see if he can be brought back. Meanwhile, a mysterious stranger called Adam comes to Earth to find a Neo-Sapien, a human born further up along the evolutionary tree. Superman then gets in a fight with Adam who promptly uses his mental abilities to subdue Superman. So this is easily my favourite issue of Morrison’s run as he deftly balances the strong plot of Adam coming to rescue a girl from interested parties along with coming into conflict with Superman. The opening of the issue is an interesting throwback to Pre Flashpoint times mixed in with New 52 continuity. Superman’s fight with Adam is expertly played out with Adam seeming like a real threat to Superman due to his advanced mental abilities. What’s more, Adam’s backstory is freshly integrated into the New 52 by Morrison and I really want to see more of Adam Blake in the New 52 as a result. The sci fi aspect of the character is played up excellently thanks to Morrison’s script. Susie is fleshed out into a great character from her Golden Age counterpart. Again, this is typical Morrison to read the classic stories and write them in a modernising, relatable way. And of course, Lois’s life is hanging by a thread thanks to an incident in the previous issue. The way Superman saves her is pure genius and is testament to Morrison’s impressive understanding and execution of Superman’s powers in his stories. And we get to see plenty of threads come together in Morrison’s overall arc from Zimrod to “the Little Man.” Overall, I enjoyed reading this issue very much and for now, it’s my favourite Superman story of the New 52 and one of the best stories from the New 52 IMO.

Sorry that this is quite a long blog. I guess I had more to write on these issues than I expected. In any case, whilst the New 52 is far from perfect as one can imagine, there are silver linings and gems hidden away. And Superman has had a pretty good ride all things considered. Anyway, hope you enjoyed reading this long winded essay of a blog and feel free to comment below :)

24 Comments

I forgot it was my 3rd Vinerversary!

Since I've been so busy as of late, I'd forgotten to make a blog about it being 3 years since I joined Comicvine on July 30th 2010. I've been on and off here due to exams and commitments but it's been another fun year spending time on here and sharing my interest and passion for this underrated form of literature that is the comic book industry. I've met and talked to plenty of interesting, pleasant people on here (and some 'odd' ones :P) but that certainly hasn't dampened my affection for this place. As I've said before, what drew me to Comicvine was the great community on here which is something very few other sites have in all honesty. The friendliness and openness on here is a welcoming sight. So even though things may change in the future, I'm still more than up for remaining a member of Comicvine and being a part of the awesome community!

50 Comments

Some of my musings on mainstream and indie comics

Having just read Peter Panzerfaust #11 and being pleasantly surprised with the quality of this title, I thought I’d write this blog on some of my musings on mainstream and Indie comics. I suppose I should start by defining mainstream as the Big Two comic companies, DC and Marvel and Indie comics as all other comic book companies such as Image, IDW, Dark Horse etc. Although I’m writing about indie comics, I’m definitely not an expert on them, that’s for certain. My expertise, and preference is, for now, with the Big Two due to their iconic characters and familiar creative teams. Thus, my desire to step outside into the realm of indie comics brings with it an unfamiliarity to it and for me, that’s a big appeal in my taking an interest in indie comics.

I was first exposed to the wider world of comic books upon joining this site although I had read a Dark Horse Star Wars graphic novel in the past. I can only remember a Qui Gonn Jinn/Obi Wan Kenobi story from that graphic novel but thinking of it reminds me of the biggest strength of the expanded universe. Much like the Big Two, the original films conformed to certain standards in telling their story. The original trilogy was fine with this and remains my second favourite film franchise of all time after Lord of the Rings (I wonder if there are any Lord of the Rings comic books) But the prequels, not so much. Fortunately, the best thing about the prequels was that they spawned many other stories from writers and artists who wanted to add their own nugget of history to the fictional world they adored as much as the fans. Hence, Star Wars fans received many more stories that fleshed out the prequel characters and gave them far more depth than George Lucas could even dream to accomplish. Indeed, many Expanded Universe stories have been suggested and offered up as candidates for what Disney should base their next Star Wars films on. Whether they’ll do that is debatable. But in any case, the rich history of the EU has increased the appeal of the Star Wars universe by either using familiar characters in different settings or crafting new characters from different points in the chronology of Star Wars using elements familiar to the franchise. Dark Horse has done an exceptional job delivering quality Star Wars stories and it’s a shame they’ll lose the rights to Marvel eventually.

Of course, I’ve gone off topic from the comic that spawned this blog. Peter Panzerfaust #11 was an impulse buy after Green Lantern #21 and Batman #21 disappointed me greatly. I figured I should dip my toes in the other comic book pool and browsed for any titles that interested me. June’s issue of Peter Panzerfaust solicited it as a jump on point and after a bit of research, I decided to pick it up. It offered a novel take on JM Barrie’s classic fairy tale as placing Peter Pan and his supporting cast into a World War II setting seems a bit of an odd idea. Yet I hear the series retains the classic boys adventure theme of the original tale whilst mixing it with wartime and modern sensibilities. I have to admit that reading this issue, I felt a totally different story being told than what I’m used to with the Big Two. June’s pull list for me so far has included Superman rescuing a falling space station, 3 different versions of Thor battling the God Butcher and Hulk attempting to stop a supervillain weapons arms exchange. Yet this issue of Peter Panzerfaust started with a 6 page speechless scenario of Felix, a character rescued by Peter and the ‘Lost Boys’, hunting a deer and killing a wolf. The sequence was excellently rendered and structured by Kurtis J Wiebe and Tyler Jenkins that it does not need the expositional thought boxes or bubbles that the Big Two love to use. Rather, they opt for a simple playing out of events that depicts the grim, brutal battle for survival and when paired with a scene with Felix later on, speaks a great deal about the character. There’s much more I could express about what was so good about this issue but that would take too long. Suffice to say, it was a good introduction to my first Image comic and I’m buying next month’s issue. The one after that, there’ll be problems.

But Peter Panzerfaust is not the first indie title I’ve been reading. Thanks to the venerable suggestion of Gregg Katzman, since August 2012, I’ve been reading IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. After Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, the TMNT are my favourite non DC or Marvel fictional franchise. My favourite interpretation of the Turtles is the 2003 series. It was my first introduction to the TMNT and for me, defined the Turtles and their supporting cast. With the exception of Splinter, I hear the voices of the 2003 cast when I read that series. And it was because I watched the 2003 series that I decided to pick this title up. And boy am I glad I did. Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz deliver a fresh story each issue that introduces some new element and blends it seamlessly with the rich lore of the TMNT. The characters feel the same yet have same different tweak to them that adds to the uniqueness of the series. And the situations and challenges they go up against in these stories are a real testament to the creativity of the team involved on this project. It’s been a real treat following this series and City Fall is shaping up to be one helluva story using threads and plot points from many different TMNT stories so far. It’s the personal touches only allowed on a creator owned project close to the author’s heart where you get quality comics like this in the Indie realm.

I’ve barely scratched the surface of the comic book world outside the Big Two after all. There are many more companies besides the bigger ones (10 Internet points to anyone who’s heard of the company called Markosia) and many more undiscovered creators and stories. It’s a shame that due to university, I have to cut my already meagre pull list down from 8 titles to 4 must read DC and Marvel titles. It does mean TMNT will bite the dust though I’ll ask for the last two parts of City Fall for Christmas and keep up to date with the IDW Turtles until the summer when I’ll pick it up again. Ultimately, this is the best thing about an indie comic, when it grabs your attention and interest in much the same way a comic from the Big Two does. I doubt I've really revolutionised the way we look at indie and mainstream comics but I hoped you liked reading my blog on my thoughts on the two divergences in comics. Feel free to comment below on what you thought and what your interest in mainstream and indie comics is :)

40 Comments

A Super Disappointment? - My Man of Steel Review (Spoilers)

Since Man of Steel has been released for a while I figure I can discuss spoilers in this review on a comic book site where most people will probably have seen the movie before me. However, if you haven’t seen the movie yet, then don’t go further than this paragraph to avoid spoilers. Anyway, I finally got around to seeing Man of Steel yesterday as a post exam treat. And what did this Superman fan think of it? The title indicates it but I’ll let my review speak for myself.

Firstly, I suppose I should go over what I did like about this film. Overall, Man of Steel possesses a very strong cast who deliver spectacularly on their roles. Russell Crowe turned his role of Jor-El from a glorified cameo that Marlon Brando made it in the first Superman films into an awesome badass father for Superman. Given his past roles in action films, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Crowe’s Jor-El is a bit more active. Yet Crowe imbues Jor-El with a natural authority that particularly comes across in the early scenes of the film when talking to the Council and confronting Zod. He also serves as a strong guiding force for Superman when they finally meet and you can see the impact Jor-El will have on Clark becoming Superman being as strong an influence as Jonathan Kent. Speaking of Jonathan Kent, the other Robin Hood of a Dad for Superman, Kevin Costner, is an excellent source of moral wisdom for Clark in the flashback sequences. He displays Jonathan Kent’s moral intuition on solving moral problems very well which shows how his influence on Clark guided him into becoming the man he was capable of being. And I thought that how he died was quite a poignant event in Clark’s life. Diane Lane also plays a fantastic Martha Kent, filled with the love and care of any great mother whilst also making it clear that it was not just Jonathan Kent who played a prominent role in shaping Clark Kent.

Furthermore, the main villains of this piece are very much the sinister pair. Michael Shannon makes a brilliant megalomaniac out of Zod whose intentions are understandable. He was born to protect the people of Krypton and even throughout all his violent, despicable crimes committed in the film, he is trying to ensure his people’s survival the whole time. And when that’s taken away from him, Shannon plays up Zod’s loss in spectacular fashion in that last fight. But the real surprise star is Antje Traue’s Faora. It’s not a long performance by any means but Faora gets an awesome mean streak along with some ominous lines delivered excellently by Traue. Plus Fishbourne plays the no nonsense yet also has a heart Perry White well enough.

You’ll notice I haven’t talked about Henry Cavill as Superman yet. Well, to his credit, he is much better suited to the role of Superman than Christian Bale ever was to the role of Batman. Cavill does the best he can out of a limited script. For instance, When he talks to the authorities, or anyone for that matter, it has the perfect blend of respect, directness and control. That’s a good product of the modern version of Superman. Still, Cavill's Supes is a lonelier, darker character than previous installments, but that is a product of the script, not the actor. I will discuss that more later.

Next, I’ll move onto the story itself. Was it good? Well it was decent enough to follow. It played out in much the same way a Superman origin story would be played out but there were some interesting additions. I liked the inclusion of the Bryne/Post Crisis notion of a Krypton that had expanded into the universe before becoming xenophobic and committing to birth control. Kal-El’s birth was what broke the mould and made him unique in being able to forge his own destiny. That was played up well in the film via Crowe’s quote “What if a child dreamed of becoming something other than what society intended?” Also the flashbacks were the highlight of the film for me as they really looked at what Clark had to go through when he was younger and the differences he possessed were a real fear to young Clark. Credit has to go to the young actor who played him for pulling that off very well. And I enjoyed the Birthright influence of Clark travelling the world as a mysterious figure taking remote jobs and saving lives without many knowing who he really was. Meeting Jor-El was pretty well handled as well. The first two thirds or so of the film do progress well in terms of story flow. It’s the final third where things get difficult.

As Snyder is directing the film, I had no doubt there would be over the top epic visual effects and I was not disappointed. Snyder really upped the game in what we can do visually in a film. Krypton was filled with gorgeous wildlife, epic aerial battles and a harrowingly looking planetary explosion. Superman’s first flight was a real treat and I liked how Snyder made him practice first before giving us the epic scene of Superman properly lifting off that had me grinning the entire time. Superman’s flight has never looked so good. And what an action packed feast it was! From Jor-El and Zod’s confrontation on Krypton to Superman’s fight with Faora and Non to Superman vs Zod, Snyder pulled off the look and feel of these fights very well. The punches looked authentic and it was practically how I imagined a bunch of godlike aliens would fight. Tearing up streets, buildings and anything in their way made for spectacular visual effects. Although they bring their own problems to the table, Nolan and Goyer do act as good steadying influence on Snyder so he doesn’t make his past mistakes.

However, as you may have noticed by the title, these positives are going to be weighed down by some crippling flaws. Let me begin with the least of these. There are 3 actresses whose roles I didn’t like. Aylet Zurer played a forgettable Lara in all honesty. Her role was inconsequential and not done well. Also Jenny Olsen was literally the most pointless character I have ever seen in a film. Nothing new was brought to the table with a female actress replacing the male Jimmy Olsen. A male actor could have played the same role and could have done just as good a job as the female actress. Finally, although I love Amy Adams in The Fighter, she played a Lois that was wet behind the ears. She seemed quite moralistic which played into the film’s theme of how Superman is shaped by those around him. But she didn’t have the spunk or defining edge that other actresses such as Margot Kidder or Teri Hatcher brought to the role in the past.

Secondly, I really don’t like the tone of Nolan’s films. Especially not what he does with my two favourite comic book characters. His way of filmmaking is highly overrated if you ask me. By trying to make Superman into a truly believable character that could exist in our world, he mutes the actual believable nature of Superman. That is, Nolan’s tone clashes with the very notion of Superman as a bright ideal of the best humanity can possibly be. Nolan tries to bring this about in the film but it is executed in a way that makes the film cold and hollow. This coldness also comes from the added sci fi tone of the film injected into it. It severely lacks the heart and substance of what makes Superman the character he is. There isn’t any lightness or friendliness to this Superman. Nor is there a gentility or friendliness to the character that the first two Superman films captured in an abundance. Nolan seems to ignore the sincerity of the values that Superman stands for. Instead, he opts for a bleak, morally ambiguous introspective look at Superman. And Superman is not about moral ambiguity but moral certainty. He has been raised by the Kents who instilled within him one of the strongest ethical compasses seen in a fictional character. He does not worry what the right thing to do is because he unquestionably knows how to act on it. He can face opposition and doubts, that’s not what I’m objecting to. What I am objecting to is that Superman can’t seem to grasp what the right thing to do is when the essence of his character is about doing the right thing.

Furthermore, the story doesn’t lend itself to the film. Despite the first two thirds being the better part, it still jumps around from flashback to present back to a flashaback etc. It really bemused me that Goyer was unable to keep a steady flow or focus on the story, instead opting for a confusing jump around. I would have liked to seen a more concise structure to the story that kept the viewers engaged and focused on events rather than moving backwards and forwards to different parts of the story. What’s more, the story’s structure is very poorly paced. We have exposition, origin and character introductions in the first part of the film. Then, in the last part, we have the action packed invasion of the Phantom Zone escapees. It’s poorly paced and doesn’t move as succinctly as it should do. I would have preferred it if the action sequences weren’t left until the last minute so that the last part of the film didn’t feel as shallow as it did. And the themes were not subtly placed at all. Take the ridiculous religious imagery for example. Clark goes to see a reverend (who according to the Easter Egg details on a website was Father Leone from For Tomorrow. Nice.) and is positioned right behind a stained window of Jesus. It just seems detrimental to Superman to even think of linking him to any religious doctrine. Yes I know Superman was created by two Jewish teenagers and that the parallels between the biblical story of Moses is evident but Superman has outgrown that now. He represents the best of humanity, the ideal human nature that we should all strive towards. He should not be bogged down in stupid Jesus comparisons. And I am really not a fan of how seemingly everyone knows who Superman is. Lois, Father Leone, hell he even says he’s from Kansas to General Swanwick! Talk about giving away personal information. He may as well discard the Clark Kent disguise since everyone knows who he is. As Lois now knows who Clark is, it removes the relationship present in the earlier comics that made the pairing of Lois and Clark so charming in their trying to one up each other along with the suspicion surrounding Clark. Now that can’t come into play which is a real shame.

Finally, this film’s greatest sin is not understanding the core of Superman’s character. As I said earlier, Nolan’s tone along with the sci fi feel of the film makes Superman’s character cold, hollow and kind of hopeless. To use the words of my mother after seeing the film, Superman comes across as nothing more than a glorified super soldier. There is no sense of him being the protector of humanity when his battles with the Kryptonians destroy more buildings and probably (if we’re being realistic as Nolan likes to be) killed far more people than he saved. Seriously, Metropolis is a blooming wreck after Superman and Zod fought in it. What exactly is Superman the protector of now, a construction site? Also I didn’t get the sincerity of Superman’s values in this film nor a friendliness or being able to approach this character. I wanted to be inspired, I wanted to root for my all time favourite superhero on this big screen appearance of his. But I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. There was hardly anything of my all time favourite fictional character on there. Especially not after THAT SCENE. Let me tell you what I was thinking beforehand. As Superman had Zod in a choke hold and Zod’s heat vision was edging ever closer towards the family, I was thinking “This’ll be where he shows us that there’s always another way to solve our problems, a better way that we can aspire to. He wouldn’t break...” And then I heard Zod’s neck snap. I almost shouted “No!” in the theatre and a few of the people sitting next to me gave me funny looks which prompted in a short snap from my mother not to be so dramatic. But that was when my heart broke. This is going to cause some major disagreement when you read this but Superman does not kill. Not even as a last resort. I’m sorry but that is not the character is at all about. At the core of his character, Superman’s greatest strength and most appealing characteristic is his ethical compass. It is one built on his upbringing by the Kents as salt of the earth people who raised their child to be as special and as principled as they could. This was so when he grew up, he could shoulder the weight of the world on his shoulders. That ethical compass never came across in Man of Steel and if you don’t get Superman’s ethical compass right, you don’t get the right Superman film. At all. And for those who say that was the only way he could stop Zod, what about throwing him away, punching him, kicking him, flying high up into the sky? Those are 3 things off the top of my head and I’m hardly a good writer. Goyer had a duty to write Superman better than this and if it wasn’t him who ordered Superman’s killing of Zod, then whoever did has earned my ire at destroying the essence of what makes Superman who he is. And for those of you who cite the times Superman has killed in the comics, I’ll debunk those in the comments.

Overall, I was tempted to give this a a lower score and do away with the DC Cinematic Universe. When I came out of the cinema, I was disappointed, despondent and incredibly frustrated. Tell me something, is that how you’re supposed to feel coming out of a Superman film? Frankly, I’d be surprised if the answer was yes. But that be fair to the strengths of the film. It’s just that I came in with high expectations. The trailers lulled me into thinking this would be an epic film. And I was sorely let down as a Superman fan. This character means the world to me and I don’t entirely like this interpretation of him. It’s a decent film though but it’s far from a good film, let alone a great or phenomenal film. Whilst there is potential for improvement, the flaws in this film are crippling and it would be a tough job to fix them so that I would be more pleased with the sequel.

Final Score: 6/10 (originally a 7/10)

272 Comments

Well I'm Back...

After over a month of tedious revision and gruelling exams, I am finally free of that torment (for a while at least) as of today. I took a break from Comicvine so as not to be distracted but now I'm done with my exams, I can come on here with a clear conscience. Just sifting my way through the 57 messages left in my inbox. Thanks to the nice ones left to those of you who wrote them! I look forward to rejoining the community and catching up with what I've missed.

And no I haven't seen Man of Steel yet. A crime for a big Superman fan like myself. But I will have watched it by Sunday and will write a late review on Monday. It's good to be back I have to say! :)

51 Comments

My Sunday at London Super Comic Con 2013

After my first comic convention that I wrote a blog about where I met some guy called Stan Lee, I figured I’d write a follow up blog on my second time at the London Super Comic Con. This will include pictures of some rather outrageous cosplayers, comics I bought, panels I went to and creators I met.

Originally this paragraph would have told you about me going to the Dan Slott Superior Spider-Man panel but unfortunately it was not to be. The comic con was on the same day as many other expos in London including a beauty expo, a baby product expo and a plastic surgery expo. They were in different areas to the comic con so it was quite strange to see people carrying baby products in the same building as people in Judge Dredd and Batman costumes. But I digress, traffic was a nightmare and even after getting out of the car so that my dad could park it and running most of the way there arriving at 11:37, I was too late. The panel was full up by the time I got there so I was most put out at missing my chance of seeing Dan Slott talk about Superior Spider-Man. I was expecting more boos and loud arguing but from the sounds of it, Slott was entertaining the crowd and the crowd seemed to be loving Slott. Seems like us UK Spider-Man fans aren’t as fussed as the American Spider-Man fans are about Superior Spider-Man. Next I tried to get to a signing session with Slott but that was full too. A tad annoying safe to say.

Nonetheless, enough with the negativity. The other creators I met included none other than the legendary George Perez who kindly signed my copy of The New Teen Titans #1. He was really friendly and humbled when I told him I was a big fan of much of his work. Wish I’d taken more for him to sign though given the stacks of comics other fans had with them. Mental note for next time then. My dad took a picture of Perez signing my comic as well as some pictures of Perez doing some independent artist sketches for fans. I’ll edit them in later because I’m trying to avoid the scathing I might get from a particular user (cough lykopsis cough :P) for failing to meet my Wednesday deadline. Also I managed to meet Nick Spencer, current writer for Marvel’s Secret Avengers and known for other projects like the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents and Iron Man 2.0. I have a tenuous link to him in that the daughter of one of my dad’s co-workers is dating him. Small world huh? I’ve also been promised a signed copy of one of Spencer’s comics at some point in the future which is awesome if I’m honest due to a favour offered between said co-worker of my dad’s.

During the rest of my time at the con I had a real look around the place and let me tell you there are plenty of ways for us comic book geeks to lose money there! Original art by the creators, fan commissioned paintings that people buy to put up in their living rooms or something like that, merchandise and of course several lifetime’s supply worth of comic books! That’s where my money went. At the start I had £35 (that’s $57 in US terms) and by the end I had spent £39 ($59) thanks to a generous loan by my dad. Most of them were from a company called a Place in Space which had a great range of old and new comics. They have shops across England and an ebay related site where you can find and buy comics. Personally, the most money saving way I get comics is via a Forbidden Planet subscription which gives me an 11.3% saving on the comics I subscribe to, a Place in Space is the next best bet for UK comic fans who don’t live near a comic store like me. Anyway, these are the comics and trades I came back with:

· Justice League Elite (Volume 1) – Bought this because it contains my second favourite Superman and perhaps comic book story of all time “What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice And The American Way?”

· Batman: Gothic – Love me some Morrison on Batman

· Wonder Woman (vol 4) #1-5 – I’ve started reading this series and figured I should play proper catch up rather than reading synopses online

· Thor: God of Thunder #1 – Only issue they had left and boy was this worth the loan! Such an excellent start to Thor’s Marvel Now! Series

· Domination Factor: Avengers #4.8

· Fantastic Four #492-493

· Detective Comics #647, 715

· Green Lantern (vol 3) #53

· A+X #1 (Free)

· Project Eon #3 – This is a Markosia comic which is a British comic book company. They have dealings with the London Super Comic Con. I quite like the comics from Markosia I’ve read in fact and once I’m in a suitable financial position, I might buy more from them, assuming they’re still around

· The Lexian Chronicles #11 – Another Markosia comic (Free)

· Done To Death – Markosia graphic novel

The last thing I did at the con was go to a panel (at last) specifically Batman through the Ages. It was chaired by Neal Adams, Brian Bolland, Gary Frank, and David Finch. All of them have worked on Batman in an artistically related manner and it was great to hear these well known Batman creators talk about why the character has endured for so long, as well as their time working on Batman. It opened with Neal Adams singing (didn’t expect to hear that did you?) and there was a running gag through the panel of the announcer cutting in with announcements about signing sessions and stuff with the panellists making quips about the announcements. The audience, myself included was chuckling away quite heartily at those. One of the most memorable questions asked at the panel included someone questioning how the panel dealt with negative feedback. What was interesting was that Gary Frank said that there are some people who just complain for the sake of complaining and that he shuts off to those kinds of people many times to ensure it doesn’t affect him. Neal Adams also brought up a very interesting points about particular stories with hindsight. For example, Batman: Odyssey hasn’t generally been well received yet Neal claims he still gets some people telling him that they loved Batman: Odyssey in a hushed tone to avoid scathing looks from the naysayers. It was an example in relation to how some fans hate stories at the time they’re published yet years later say they love it. This made me think of Death of The Family (Snyder got a shout out from Finch btw) and how people are mad about the conclusion. Will the hindsight thing apply to them too? I don’t know but we’ll see in the future I guess. The creators also mentioned how the big differences and game changing stories they write are in response to the fans now rather than the publishers and editors given the rise of the Internet and comic forums like these. All in all it was an awesome panel.

Although this year wasn't quite as special as last year, I had a great time nonetheless. For the most part, the Vine has been my outlet of comic book appreciation so to walk around with people dressed in costumes, to read comics in public and to show my love for the medium is a great feeling. Oh and some of you said you wanted pictures so here are my better looking ones. Apologies about the wonky angles and blurriness. I’ll add in some better pictures from the Internet as well. These ones are mine:

And these are from the Internet

45 Comments

Why Lex Luthor is really the Übermensch, not Superman

I’ve been trying to think of a worthwhile blog idea for a few weeks now and just this week did this idea creep into my head. Well I started writing this blog with Ultraman in mind but research compelled me to change it to Lex Luthor. Lex Luthor is a character who is the direct opposite to who Superman is and what he stands for. In my opinion, the best way that the Luthor/Superman dichotomy shows brightest is by contrasting Nietzsche’s Übermensch and seeing which character truly is most like Nietzsche’s concept. Being a student of philosophy and having had much interest into that particular field, Friedrich Nietzsche is one of my favourite philosophers given his rather dubious and morally questionable philosophies. I am particularly interested in his views on religion (which I will not address here have no fear) and his concept of the Übermensch.

First, I suppose some background info is needed. Friedrich Nietzsche was a German philosopher born in Prussia 1844 who wrote very critical texts on religion, morality, philosophy, science and more. His influence has been widespread across the field of philosophy and his radical questioning of objective value and truth has changed the way philosophers of post modernism, post structurism and existentialism worked. One of his most well known, key ideas was the Übermensch which has a number of English translations like Overman (sound familiar?), Superhuman, Above Human and its most common translation, Superman. Nietzsche posited the Übermensch as a goal for humanity to reach in his 1883 book “Thus Spoke Zarathustra.” The basic concept of the is introduced by Nietzsche’s character Zarathustra as the meaning of the earth and admonishes his audience to ignore those who promise other-worldly hopes in order to draw them away from the earth. Nietzsche presents the Übermensch as the creator of new values that ignore the norms of society and introduce a new standard of moral values into the field of play. This starkly contrasts with Superman’s upholding of humanity’s moral values that show the better side of our nature. And Lex basically justifies whatever he wanted to do throughout his long antagonistic relationship with Superman, both as the mad scientist and the scheming industrialist businessman. As Grant Morrison put it in an interview with Wizard Magazine “"He's the part of us that's the most evil, the most human, and the most brilliant. He's great; he's just really bad...” The creation of new moral values point is based on a nihilistic claim that in the absence of a commanding authority, there are no grounds upon which to criticize or justify any action, including the particular values created and the means by which they are spread. In a way, this is how Lex justifies his obsessive crusade against Superman instead of using his mind for more worthwhile purposes. He feels it’s more important he focuses his efforts on correcting humanity’s aspiration of a false value or idol, Superman.

Throughout his book, Nietzsche makes the Übermensch a goal humanity should strive to reach through yet another concept; The Will to Power. It replaces standard interpretations of “compassion” or “goodness” or “piety” as a guiding principle of life. What is it that makes you better? Stronger, smarter, richer or more important? Do those things and become better. That’s the Will to Power, and that’s the principle that Lex Luthor lives by, for the most part. His wealth, his intellect and his power have been grasped at by Lex throughout his entire life of fighting his way to the top of the ladder, becoming the executive of one of the most powerful industries the DC Earth has. Yet everything Lex owns pales in comparison with Superman. For all the moral and philosophical advancements Nietzsche proposes in the Übermensch, the irony is that Superman actually can do anything he wants. He could take over the world, run riot, live on his terms. There are a plethora of ways Superman could have lived his life on Earth. But the defining thing about Superman is that he is a physically superior specimen to a human, even the Übermensch in every conceivable way–and yet he lives his life according to a moral code instilled in him by physically and intellectually inferior beings. It is willingness to selflessly uphold these codes and act as a paragon of morality which makes the arch rivalry with Lex Luthor even better. Lex is driven by sheer ambition and hatred of Superman and endeavors to transcend beyond humanity’s limitations whereas Superman abides within the limits of what we consider right and wrong.

Grant Morrison expresses this rather well in All Star Superman. Lex Luthor really is the ultimate man–a man who can and has achieved all and more that a man is capable of. And yet he is always going to be seen as inferior to Superman, whose power is not an expression of will, but a simple accident of birth. Luthor’s hatred is born of resentment; if the alien had never come to earth, Lex Luthor would be the greatest man who’d ever lived. And that’s what makes All Star Superman’s portrayal of Lex and Superman’s rivalry so exquisite, especially when Luthor gains Superman’s powers and sees what he sees for the first time only to be stripped of his power and defeated by his ultimate enemy. He temporarily becomes the ultimate man yet is defeated by a mere man.

All in all, Lex Luthor can't really compete with the mythical figure of Superman; people place their hopes and dreams in Superman precisely because he is more than human. This struggle with what Lex Luthor wants to be versus what he can actually accomplish is one that defines his character, and this inner conflict is what causes him to hate Superman so passionately. Here the Will of Power arises again and once again it drives Luthor’s obsession over his limits and Superman’s seeming lack of any. If it weren’t for Lex’s obsessive quest for supremacy over a god like alien, we would not just have one of the greatest fictional villains in history but one of the greatest fictional rivalries in fictional history too.

Well I hope I didn’t bore you too much with my long rant looking at the contrasting relationship between Lex Luthor and Superman and why Lex embodies Nietzsche’s Übermensch far more than Superman does and hopefully ever will. Here’s to my favourite superhero and favourite supervillain! May there always be great stories involving these two characters!

36 Comments

New Info on the Dragon Ball Z Movie

Come one come all Dragon ball Z fans for I have an update for you on the new movie. From Weekly Shonen Jump comes some new information on the new Dragon Ball movie! Here's some general information:

"Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods (ドラゴンボールZ 神と神, Doragon Bōru Zetto: Shin to Kami; lit. "Dragon Ball Z: God and God") is the 14th Dragon Ball Z movie. It will premiere in Japanese theaters on March 30, 2013. It is the first Dragon Ball movie in 17 years to have a theatrical release, the last being the tenth anniversary movie Dragon Ball: The Path to Power in 1996, which followed the first three Dragon Ball films and the thirteen Dragon Ball Z films."

And here's its plot:

"The film is set during the 10-year time period between the defeat of Kid Buu and the 28th World Martial Arts Tournamentlike Wrath of the Dragon and Yo! Son Goku and His Friends Return!! Goku,Gohan, Piccolo, Krillin, Goten, Trunks, Vegeta, and Shenron appear on the first promotional arts for the movie. Along with Goku and Vegeta, the three members of the Pilaf Gang are among the figures produced in conjunction with the 2013 movie. The film poster displays Super Saiyan Goku combating a purple cat-like humanoid donning Egyptian-looking garb, with a Kaioshin-looking characterholding a scepter and showered in light floating in the background. Mr. Satan, Mr. Buu, Videl, the shrunken Pilaf Gang, Super Saiyan Goten, Super Saiyan Gohan, Super Saiyan Vegeta, Super Saiyan Trunks, Bulma, Piccolo, Tien Shinhan, Krillin, Yamcha and Puaralso appear on the film poster."

Here's the poster in question

And its tagline

And its release date

Well how about this? A Dragon Ball Z film getting a cinematic release for the first time in 17 years. The name "Battle of Gods" implies something of epic scale given the godlike powers of Goku, Vegeta, Gohan, Goten, Trunks and Piccolo. It seems as if the film is taking some inspiration from Egyptian mythology as well given the Egyptian dressing of that strange purple cat and the mystical, sorcerer in the background. My guess is that he'll be summoning this strange cat god for some neafarious end leading to the Z Fighters getting involved. Hopefully the cat god will get a chance to fight everyone before Goku beats it like usual. The only problem is that there's no news on a US or European release date. Although the DBZ movies do take some time getting translated into English so that's a bummer :(

So what do you DBZ fans think? Do you like the look of what you see here? Or are you disappointed with the latest DBZ movie's appearence so far? Be sure to comment below and let the speculation begin!

75 Comments

Lvenger's 5 Most Wanted Crossover Fights (Inspired by god_spawn)

This blog post is inspired by god_spawn’s own, much better blog on which crossover fights he’d like to see. Check that here. It inspired me to write my own blog on which crossover fights I’d like to see as I’m a huge fan of crossovers, particularly the DC/Marvel kind. Like godspawn’s blog, I’m using pre New 52 versions and just explaining who I’d like to see fight. So without further ado, let me begin!

1. Orion vs Thor

The Dog of War vs The God of Thunder

Both are legendary warriors and incredibly powerful beings. They are both considered gods in their respective universes. Both possess superhuman strength and durability supplemented by another source. Orion possesses the Astro Force, a source of energy from the Source itself whilst Thor has Mjolnir, arguably one of the most powerful weapons in the Marvel Universe with a plethora of abilities. If these two ever clashed, the sounds of their battle would rage across wherever they fought. As well as similar powers (without equipment) both have been hot headed and impulsive, both are warriors born and both have had the guiding hand of Jack Kirby with them at one time or another. Neither would be willing to surrender to the other so it would be incredibly satisfying to see who would fall first, the New God or the Asgardian God.

2. Steel vs Iron Man

The Man of Mettle vs The Armoured Avenger

This fight could go way in Iron Man’s favour depending on which suit Tony is using so for the sake of argument, I’ll use the Extremis suit. The battle of the metal men would be a fight worth viewing. John and Tony are technological geniuses who use powered armour to fight and are well known for their prep time. Of course, Tony’s prep feats such as creating a suit for any occasion are legendary on the battle forums but Steel is an underrated character who possesses some exceptional skills and intellect of his own. Though Steel is definitely the underdog here, especially if Tony had time to prepare for the fight, I don’t think he shouldn’t be counted out. A conflict of steel vs iron and hammer vs repulsar rays would yield some interesting results.

3. Etrigan vs Ghost Rider

The Demon vs The Spirit of Vengeance

These two share some undeniable similarities. Both Jason Blood and Johnny Storm are humans possessed by an occult force, thus giving rise to conflicting natures in these characters. But in a fight, I think these hellfire slinging demons would give a spectacular show. Ghost Rider’s Penance stare might give Etrigan problems but the Demon’s superior strength could give him the edge. Then again, with the Rider zooming around on his motorbike flinging his chain at Etrigan, Ghost Rider definitely has more mobility than Etrigan. Suffice to say, I’d like to see these two going head to head. It’d make for an interesting contest.

4. Green Arrow vs Hawkeye

The Emerald Archer vs The Marksman

Undoubtedly, the battle of the bowmen would make for an excellent contest of skill. Ollie and Clint are both practically unrivalled marksmen who use an array of trick arrows with expert hand to hand skills to boot. This fight could range from a long ranged archery contest to an up close brawl. Of course, it’s the archery I’m concerned with and Ollie and Clint both possess bragging rights to being the best marksmen in their respective universes. In a fight between these two, their loud mouths and matching gimmicks would surely bring that to the forefront and make their encounter more than a simple fight but a contest to see who owns the bragging right to being the best archer.

5. Doomsday vs World War Hulk

The Ultimate Life Form vs The Worldbreaker

I’ll end with a battle of bricks, tanks, behemoths, whatever you may call them. And these two are the crème de la crème on their respective Earths. Doomsday is a walking killing machine, engineered to be the ultimate creature in the universe and has even managed the prestigious feat of killing Superman. And World War Hulk is considered by many to be the strongest, angriest incarnation of the Hulk that beat everybody up (with some help from PIS of course.) Anyway, the battle of the monsters would be a titanic clash that would probably destroy everything for miles around and make everyone think it’s the end of the world. I’ve wondered whether Doomsday’s healing factor and adaptive countermeasures would be a match for the sheer rage and constantly increasing strength of the Hulk. In any case, this fight would make for a great read!

And that’s that. Took me a while to figure out which fights I wanted to talk about and hopefully I’ve come up with a unique selection and (partly interesting reasons) for them. Hope you enjoy reading them and let me know what you think in the comments below!

29 Comments

The Benefits of Challenging a Viner for the Battle Forums

Ah my first proper blog in a while. Though no one's commented on my Doctor Octopus/Alpha speculation blog. For shame.

Admittedly battle forums on any site can be a downright nasty place to be. But recently, our battle forums have gotten quite ugly. In part, they’ve become a festering ground for annoying trolls, ignorant and angry fanboys as well as spite threads and really stupid battles. I can’t believe how many times Hancock, a T-800 from Terminator or Godzilla have been pitted up against comic book characters who would wipe the floor with them yet there are users who come up with absurd arguments as to why they win. Whether they truly believe that or are trying to be flame baiters, I have no idea.

Also, the state of the battle forums have driven a fair few users away. CitizenBane, one of the Vine’s top debaters left partly because of the amount of trolls and fanboys loitering in the battle forums. Another good debater, Dane left a while back as well and Silver6427 only comes on the Vine in intermittent periods. And whilst the state of the battle forums doesn’t drive everyone off this great comic book website, it keeps them out of the battles section.Good battles are fleeting in comparison to the number of spite battles. And I’m beginning to see all too often opinions like “BATMAN CAN BEAT ANYONE WITH PREP!” or “HULK’S WAY STRONGER THAN SUPERMAN SO HE CAN BEAT HIM UP!” There are more but fortunately not everyone’s like this. And recently I’ve noticed something that appears to be creating much better battles on the battle forums.

I believe that it’s called “Challenge a Viner” but correct me if I’m wrong. Basically, two users challenge each other to a debate. It’s a closed, one on one debate between these two users where two characters or a team or whatever the battle’s about is debated. It’s in these one on one challenges that the real crème de la crème of the Vine’s debaters shine. Proper, logically coherent reasons are given as to why a character would win. Character feats are backed up by scans, issue references or videos that support the debater’s point. The replies are aimed at countering their opponents point and proving why their character has the better reasons and feats to win. And the debate continues until a clear cut winner is reached via who gave the better reasons and feats rather than who has the most fanboys. Furthermore, it’s not just the quality of the debates that give challenging a viner much more credibility. The two debaters are reasonable, considerate and polite towards one another. There’s no rude behaviour, insults or swearing that involves a moderator having to come in and break up the fuss or lock the thread to keep it from getting out of hand. Everything’s kept friendly and no feelings are hurt. An important factor in debates such as these.

In case you’re wondering what these debates are like, I’ve provided some examples of my personal favourite Challenge a Viner debates:

The debate that inspired me to write this blog: TheAcidSkull and Killemall’s brilliant debate over Thor vs Savage Hulk - http://www.comicvine.com/forums/battles/7/thor-killemall-vs-savage-hulk-theacidskull/696970/

A currently ongoing debate between TheAcidSkull and Sherlock regarding World War Hulk vs Wonder Woman - http://www.comicvine.com/forums/battles/7/world-war-hulk-theacidskull-vs-wonder-woman-sherlock/709359/?page=2

A short but sweet debate between Power NeXus and Dane - http://www.comicvine.com/forums/battles/7/challenge-a-viner-power-nexus-vs-dane/539170/

A 3 page debate between god_spawn and NickZ about who would win: Daken or Vamp - http://www.comicvine.com/forums/battles/7/challenge-a-viner-god_spawn-vs-nickz/702574/

An awesome Star Wars debate between the Vine’s top two Star Wars experts: JediXMan and Silver2467 - http://www.comicvine.com/forums/battles/7/darth-bane-zannah-jedixman-vs-darth-maul-tyranus-silver/663464/

Another Silver debate I really liked. This time involving another class debater, Strafe Power and the battle in question being Wonder Woman vs Geo-Force - http://www.comicvine.com/forums/battles/7/silverwonder-woman-vs-strafegeo-force/578076/

A fair, friendly and well debated match between god_spawn and BringnIt regarding Gambit vs Kraven - http://www.comicvine.com/forums/battles/7/gambit-god_spawn-vs-kraven-bringnit-challenge-a-viner/690249/

Of course there are many more and I’d encourage more debates like this. Obviously, I’m not saying that every battle should be Challenge a Viner style. We need the classic, open debates for everyone. And of course trolls and fanboys will be ever present on the battle forums. But after reading CitizenBane’s blog, I remarked that the battle forums needed improving and that they had the potential to be great again. The way I see it, Challenging a Viner is a step in the right direction. Those kinds of threads can remind us of how debates should be done and how the battle forums could be once again.

42 Comments
  • 28 results
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3