Posts Tagged ‘Superman’

Posted Wednesday, June 12th, 2019 by Barry

Action Comics (1938) 1

Today is Superman Day. A day to pay homage to the last son of Krypton and the first super hero.

Superman, aka Kal-El/Clark Kent, was born in the minds of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. When the two failed to crack the newspaper strip field they sold their creation to Detective Comics, Inc.

Action Comics (1938) 1

Action Comics (1938) 1

The first Superman story appeared in Action Comics issue one April 18, 1938. Superman proved popular enough he was given his own self-titled book a year later. That was the same year the Man of Steel finally broke into newspapers with a daily strip.

Superman branched out into other media as well. That included radio with The Adventures of Superman running for 2,088 episodes from 1940 to 1950. In movie theaters the man of tomorrow first appeared in animated form. Fleischer Studios brought Superman to life in nine cartoon shorts while Famous Studios drew another eight.

Superman and the Mole Men was the first live-action film released in 1951. Christopher Reeve would rekindle the romance between fanboy and film in 1978 with the first of four big-budget films.

Superman Returns was released in 2006 with the franchise resurrected most recently in 2013 with Man of Steel. Henry Cavill recreated his Superman for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016 and Justice League in 2017.

George Reeves made Superman a household name when he portrayed him on Adventures of Superman airing from 1952-58. Superman would also be played by Dean Cain in Lois & Clark and Tom Welling in Smallville.

The Man of Steel would be represented in animation several more times over the decades. The New Adventures of Superman from 1966 to 1970 and Superman the Animated Series from 1996 to 2000. And, in other DCU-animated series such as Justice League.

Not bad for humble beginnings.

Superman comic books have never been out of publication since he first appeared in 1938. Action Comics 1,000 was published in June of 2018. Superman stood tall and proud for the occasion.

Posted Sunday, April 7th, 2019 by Barry

The Mighty Marvel holiday Wish List (1990)

Comic book shops were common place by the beginning of the 1990s, but original graphic novels and trade paperbacks were not.

The Might Marvel holiday Wish List, sporting a caroling Spidey, Hulk and Cap, was a festive gift guide for the comic book fan. What could be simpler? Make a check beside the corresponding title, hand it to the gift giver and wait for Christmas morning.

Looking back at this pre-internet solicitation reminds me of how far the industry has come. Of course I forget this is 30 years ago.

The Mighty Marvel holiday Wish List (1990)

The Mighty Marvel holiday Wish List (1990)

The year 1990 doesn’t seem that long ago. Saying 30 years does.

Anyway, 30-years ago trades and collections were not the norm. Marvel had its high-end Masterworks and DC its Archive editions. Those were available in most comic book shops and retail book chains. They were just pricey for the day.

Trades were much more reasonable, but still a novelty. That’s why it’s so odd looking at the ad paper and seeing so few story arcs collected.

Readers must also remember this was a time when stories were written from beginning to end with no worries about how they would fit in a trade.

As much as I love Neil Gaiman and Sandman, I blame the wordsmith for the advent of trade-length story arcs. He invented the four- to six-issue story arc with a few one-and-dones in between that seem to have become the industry standard for trades.

So, sit back and check out the Mighty Marvel holiday Wish List – in full – courtesy ComicBookDaily.com. It’s a nostalgic look at the not-so-distant past.

Posted Saturday, March 2nd, 2019 by Barry

Superman: Peace on Earth (1999)

As part of the 60th-anniversary of DC Comics, Paul Dini and Alex Ross brought the tabloid format back to the industry in a series of specials.

In addition to the seasonal lead-in “Peace on Earth,” Dini and Ross crafted Batman: War on Crime, Shazam: Power of Hope and Wonder Woman: Spirit of Truth.

The book was released in time for the 1999 Christmas season. Superman is overcome by the season and attempts to solve the world hunger problem. He is met with distrust and disdain. Superman learns the humbling lesson that while super, he is also only a man.

The sparse prose is complimented by lavish brush strokes. Peace on Earth was the 1999 Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards winner: Best Graphic Album – new.

Superman: Peace on Earth (1999)

Superman: Peace on Earth (1999)

Posted Thursday, February 28th, 2019 by Barry

DC Universe Christmas TPB (2000)

DC opened the new millennium with a gift-wrapped Christmas trade in both cover and manner. Readers traverse holidays from the Golden to Modern Age of comic books in 160 pages.

As diverse as the stories, the characters chosen for the Tanenbaum tome are even more so. From the old west with Bat Lash to World War I Enemy Ace to wayward West waif Impulse back from the future.

Story wise are Frank Miller’s first take on the Dark Knight, “Santa Claus – Dead or Alive!”

Flash stars in the first of two “Present Tense” stories.

“The Story of the Fir Balsam” is a Golden Age story from Sensation (Mystery) Comics (1941) issue 14 involving Nazi spies.

Superman shines in “The Gift.”

One holiday tale that always pops up is “A Swingin’ Christmas Carol” featuring The Teen Titans. The original Teen Titans. Complete with hip and mod slang for the times. Those times were the 1960s; 1966 to be exact.

Darkseid appears in the second “Present Tense” story, guest starring Santa.

Captain Marvel Adventures (1941) issue 69 is been reprinted featuring “Billy Batson’s Xmas!”

“Alone for the Holidays” proves Robin will always have family.

DC Universe Christmas TPB (2000)

DC Universe Christmas TPB (2000)

The Legion of Super Heroes star in “Star Light, Star Bright…Farthest Star I see Tonight!”

“The Present” teams Green Lantern and Green Arrow again.

“Night Prowler!” is from House of Mystery (1951) 191.

“The Harley and the Ivy” is a lush retelling from The Batman Adventures Holiday Special.

Sandman and Sandy take readers back to the Golden Age of comic books again with “Santa Fronts for the Mob.” The story originally appeared in Adventure Comics (1938) issue 32.

“An Eye for Detail” showcases old west dandy Bat Lash.

Enemy Ace takes a break from the hell of war in “Silent Night.”

Impulse plays Santa’s helper in “No, Bart, This is No Santa Claus.”

Finally, Superman closes out the book with what could possibly be DC’s first super-powered driven Christmas story in “Superman’s Christmas Adventure” from 1940.

Posted Tuesday, February 26th, 2019 by Barry

Batman Noel (2011)

Often listed in the top-10 best Batman stories, Noel is a lushly illustrated Christmas Carol.

Batman Noel (2011)

Batman Noel (2011)

Lee Bermejo is a true artist. In every sense of the word. From his staccato narration to the loving brushstrokes that create a yester-world not glimpsed for two centuries. A work Charles Dickens would enjoy himself.

Batman is the Scrooge. Bob is one of the Joker’s henchmen. His son is Tiny Tim and the Joker is, well, the Joker. Catwoman is the Ghost of Christmas Past and Superman the Ghost of Christmas Present. Jacob Marley is represented by a generic Robin.

Fans of the Batman: Arkham Origins video game were offered the Noel Bat-suit as one of the skins available for play.

Dickens’ original novella was first published in 1843 in a London scrutinizing its own traditions. So popular was the story when it was released Dec. 19, it sold out by Christmas Eve. To this day, A Christmas Carol has never been out of print.

Like Dikens’ work, Bermejo has crafted a perennial tradition with this elseworld’s work.

Posted Saturday, February 23rd, 2019 by Barry

Vintage Superman Ad

Vintage Superman AdHaving conquered print and radio, the Man of Steel turned his attention to a new medium.

The Adventures of Superman, starring George Reeves, aired from 1952-58, prompting a plethora of merchandise. Even more than what came before. Madison Avenue was finding television was proving to be a very profitable medium.

National Periodicals allowed the Superman likeness and logo to be plastered on almost everything. Here is a comic book page from the 1950s advertising a gaggle of gifts any red-blooded youngster could want. Included are: a Superman watch, Superman Official Magic Kit, Superman Muscle Building set, Superman lunch box and a couple other items I can’t identify.

An odd collection of items especially the magic kit considering that’s one thing Superman is powerless against.

Posted Tuesday, February 12th, 2019 by Barry

World’s Finest (1990) 1-3

Post-crisis DC was an exciting era. All the old was washed away in the stroke of the 12-issue maxi-series Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Not much time would pass before creators began bringing back pre-crisis pieces. Or, pulling back the facade to reveal some cracks already forming. Or, simply harken back with an else-worlds type story. The World’s Finest mini under the microscope is more of a return to the Eisenhower era. Batman and Superman were still friends – of sorts. Not the embattled super willpowers gracing the silver screen.

The Joker is as maniacal as ever, with enough murderous undercurrent to make readers nervous. Lex Luthor sports double chins, more comfortable in a three-piece suit rather than a white lab coat.

The four principle players intermingle in an awkward ballet told in three parts. From beginning to conclusion the story unfolds as slickly as the paper it was printed on.

Luthor and Joker trade stomping grounds, as do Batman and Superman in pursuit of their arch nemeses’. Christmas is a storm front that spills into New Year’s as the story reaches a false crescendo in issue two.

Issue three ties up the loose threads with a bit of pranking done on and by various participants.

Dave Gibbons brought back a sliver of the Silver Age with his script while Steve Rude was anything but with his renderings. This is a story that calls to me on a regular basis. Usually I heed.

Posted Saturday, February 9th, 2019 by Barry

Young Monsters in Love

As a long-time horror fan and one who still appreciates the Universal fore-fathers, Young Monsters in Love promised a tantalizing twist to the 2018 Valentine’s Day.

Kelley Jones’ depiction of Swamp Thing planting a big, wet one on the Frankenstein monster’s bride while the cobbled creation looks on set the mood.

This 80-page anthology is a mixed bag. Ten stories ranging from tale tellers James Robinson to Paul Dini with art by the aforementioned Mr. Jones, Guiseppe Camuncoli, Cam Smith, Stephanie Hans, Javier Fernandez, Mirko Colak, Nic Klein, Bryan Hitch, Andrew Currie, Razer Irving, John McCrea and Guillem March.

Young Monsters in Love

Young Monsters in Love

Jones is the perfect choice to render the opening Man-Bat story, worthy of a read. Skip the Frankenstein monster’s tale for Solomon Grundy’s as Superman passes along some words of wisdom to Superboy.

Too bad Raven’s – of Teen Titans – story isn’t more like Edgar Poe’s.

Dini does Deadman – gotta love alliteration – proud keeping Boston Brand from spinning in his grave.

Swamp Thing is represented by Russell and Frazer with a flowery tale. Pun intended.

The book is rounded out with some mediocre stories. Maybe the most memorable is the Mallah and Brain taboo romance.

The torrid torch the two carry deals with their dissimilar species, but same sex attraction.

Like the allure of any solicitation, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Don’t take my opinion, try it for yourself.

Posted Tuesday, January 1st, 2019 by Jeff

Happy New Year!

Cheer up, Batman.

Artwork by The-Blackcat.

Happy New Year!

Posted Saturday, December 29th, 2018 by Jeff

Christmas With The Super-Heroes, revisited and recolored

A late Christmas gift scrolled across my Facebook feed today.

If you’re familiar with holiday super hero specials – or are a regular Four Color Holidays reader – you’re likely already aware of 1988’s Christmas With The Super-Heroes #1.  Featuring cover artwork by John Byrne, the issue is known for it’s whimsical display of DC heroes gathered around a Christmas tree.  It’s a favorite among holiday comic fans, myself included.

But how might this cover be presented today, revisited and recolored with modern technology, different sensibilities and an artist’s personal flare?  Scott Dutton recently shared his take, including a breakdown of the process from original artwork to final product.

Be sure to visit Scott’s Catspaw Dynamics at the earliest opportunity, where you’ll find countless more of his comic art recolorations and restorations.

Christmas With The Super-Heroes (1988) 1 (Reconstructed)