I don’t remember exactly how I stumbled onto Humble Bundle; it probably came up in one of the forums or newsgroups I read. However it happened, I arrived just in time to purchase their Dungeons & Dragons digital comic book bundle. The bundle included the complete runs of the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons and Forgotten Realms books that DC Comics published in the 80s and 90s. It hadn’t really been on my radar at the time; I was mostly into superhero books. At the moment, though, I was craving good fantasy adventure and wanted something to go along with our current D&D campaign. Good value, good cause, great buy.
I understand that some people think Superman is creepy and he makes them a little uncomfortable – he does wear his underwear on the outside of his pants after all. But I want to address this idea of Superman as the Nietzchean ubermensch, when in fact, the character hasn’t ever really represented that ideal.
The identification of Superman with Nietzsche’s ubermensch started in the 50s with the famous book Seduction of the Innocent by Frederic Wertham. Wertham in fact disregarded the notion of ubermensch as “Superman” specifically because the character was not the epitome of the ideal. There are a few important differences in both origin and application of the Superman character.
In 2001’s Action Comics #775 , writer Joe Kelly asked the question, “What’s so funny about Truth, Justice, and the American Way?” Kelly was responding in part to a trend in comic books that embraced heroes that took extreme actions towards their villains, often killing or permanently maiming their foes. The violent trend is one part reaction to the “revolving prison door” trope that allows series fiction to reuse villain characters, and one part the emergence into the field of a generation of creators that came of age in the 80s and 90s. Publishers Dark Horse and Image Comics built their entire businesses around providing consumers with content graphically depicting violence and brutality, and populated by heroes and villains that embraced the narcissistic nihilism of a generation raised with a dominantly post-modern viewpoint that insisted on deconstructing any kind of ethical or moral standard.
Curtis and I continue our Doomsday Prepping, focusing this time on how to get ready for the advent of the Dark Sun, when a rogue asteroid spins our planet into a closer orbit, turning the world into a desert planet. Curtis got some new toys, and we do a bit about using the new Dwarven Forge miniature dungeon. The pieces are really spectacular, and there will be pictures posted into the blog later in the week. Other topics include updates on our plans to attend Fear the Con 5, Free Comic Book Day, and the premiere of The Avengers this weekend. Check out the artwork from Atomic Earth, and send us some feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance roared into theaters this weekend, and I squeezed some time out to catch an early matinee. I’ve been a Ghost Rider fanboy since 1982, when Roger Stern shared the writing credits with J.M. DeMatteis. I read my older brother’s abandoned comic books under the covers with a flashlight, thrilling to the explosive action of a guy who rode a flaming motorcycle, and horrified at the tortures Johnny Blaze underwent in his quest for redemption. Those stories were equal parts morality play and schlock horror, and I loved every minute of it. Many years later, Chuck Dixon and Mark Texeira brought more adult sensibilities to the story, along with a new origin, purpose, and powers for the Ghost Rider. At the same time, Marvel reprinted the final issues of the 1973 run – the very issues that had hooked me on the character – and I came to appreciate the storytelling on an entirely different level. Although the Ghost Rider has appeared in a few cartoons, he’s never had a major motion picture, and I anticipated eagerly the release of the 2007 picture. Five years later, I’m still excited to see another theater release, and I’m hoping for a better treatment of the character.
I drop in on Comics Unlimited to see how Matt Hawes enjoyed his trip to Chicago. Of course we go on for more time than is really necessary about stuff that no one else finds interesting, but I think we saved all the juicy bits for the podcast. Matt tries to hit the Chicago Con every year, but he does it from a dual standpoint, not only as a comics enthusiast and fanboy, but also as the owner of a retail store, and his perspective of this event is slightly different. Matt Billman of Living With Zombies (.net) snuck out the door just as I turned on the microphone, so we don’t get to hear from him, but you’ll find a link to his site in the post anyway. Take that, Billman!
Alternate and parallel earths are a staple of modern science-fiction, due in no small part to the prevalence, or even dominance, of these stories in the pages of the DC comics titles all through the 60’s, 70’s and into the 80’s. Though the company departed from this convention during the late 80’s and 90’s, duplicate earth stories are back with a vengeance, in the comics, on the tv series, and finally in the movie-length releases.
Evil is never so clearly defined as in the presence of good, and the duplicate reality stories really bring this contrast to light in clear and interesting ways. Whether it is the antimatter universe of Grant Morrison’s “JLA Earth 2”, or the Justice Lords of the millennial Justice League animated series, I have always loved seeing the good guys triumph over their darkest failings brought to life. I was excited to see the teasers for this movie in front of Green Lantern: First Flight, and thrilled to hear that Dwayne McDuffie was the pen behind the script and story originally pitched for the animated series. With this kind of talent and creative team, standing in front of the movie aisle waiting for me to make up my mind, I made a judgment call and filched the price of the Blu-Ray from my Starbuck’s budget.
I was surprised to find “Planet Hulk” on the new movie shelf this week, not having seen any trailers for the project at all. Given Lion’s Gate’s track record with Marvel properties, and especially with adaptations of existing stories, I didn’t hesitate to slip the Blu-Ray version in between the laundry soap and frozen pizzas, where my wife would hopefully overlook it until we’re at the checkout lane….
I didn’t follow the Planet Hulk stories in the comics when they were current, but made the opportunity to read the back issues once World War Hulk exploded into Marvel continuity. The dozen-plus issues worth of adventure on an alien world brought the Jarella stories of the 70’s to mind, though without the trademark storytelling of Harlan Ellison or Len Wein. I found it especially intriguing to see the differences in popular culture that 30 years has wrought on a very similar story.
Mistreatment of my favorite characters makes me crazy. Unearned reputation makes me crazy. Spending two and a half years on a comic book hoping against hope that it will turn out to be epic (or at least comprehensible) makes me crazy! And when the Powers That Be decide to turn a waste of paper into a waste of film, shoot a trailer and promotional reel that looks freakin’ awesome, and then utterly fail to deliver the goods on a product that I really should have known better than to buy in the first place . . . well that really makes me crazy!
A tale of loyalty and unlikely friendship featuring two of the most famous super-heroes on the planet, Superman/Batman: Public Enemies pairs the Man of Steel with the Dark Knight. The iconic heroes unite when President Lex Luthor accuses Superman of terrible crimes against humanity and assembles a top-secret team of powerhouse heroes to bring Superman in. But the “World’s Finest” duo are determined to topple the corrupt president’s reign once and for all!
-from the ad copy on the back cover of the trade paperback edition