Saturday, 23 July 2011

Alan Moore vs. Grant Morrison

If I had to name two of my all time favourite comics writers it would have to be Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. Their work is always overflowing with imagination, with more ideas thrown at one page than most writers have in a lifetime.   In fact, if we're talking about the ability to cram as many ideas as possible into one comic, then I would argue that the only two creators to match, if not surpass them have been Stan Lee and Jack Kirby with their original Fantastic Four run.

Despite their obvious greatness however, it seems likely that they do not care for each other.  Grant Morrison has been very open about his opinions of Moore over the years, and you can find a few examples over on Duy Tano's Comics Cube in his article 'Grant Morrison Is Wrong about Alan Moore'.  Moore on the other hand has never, to my knowledge, singled out Morrison for criticism, (UPDATE: I have since learned that Alan Moore has had plenty to say about Grant Morrisonbut I can't be the only one who's wondered if there's a bit of Grant Morrison in the Supreme supporting character, Billy Friday, a Jimmy Olsen analog who's depicted as a trendy, grim 'n' gritty British writer.  Of course, knowing Moore and his sense of humour, Friday is probably meant to be a parody of Moore himself as much as he is a parody of Morrison.

Despite their differences, Moore and Morrison also have a lot in common.  Moore is a ceremonial magician who worships the snake god, Glycon.  Morrison claims to have created "holographic voodoo effects" with his writing, specifically with his work on The Invisibles.  There's only one obvious way for them to settle their differences isn't there?


Dumble-Moore vs. Volde-Morrison

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Jim Shooter and the DC/Marvel Crossovers

Over on his excellent blog comics legend Jim Shooter is discussing the DC/Marvel crossover stories and why the first JLA/Avengers crossover never happened.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

In Part Four Jim Shooter refers to Dick Giordano's rebuttal of Shooter's Marvel Age column regarding the crossover and its failure to happen.  For curiosity's sake, here is Giordano's rebuttal, as found in Flash #341 (1985).

I am so far unable to find Part 2 but it'll be in a DC Comic dated January 1985.  If anyone finds Part 2 then let us know.

UPDATE: Success! Lee K. Seitz has found not only Jim Shooter's column from Marvel Age #19 but also Part 2 of Dick Giordano's article. Check them out here.   Considering we're discussing company crossovers I think it's very appropriate that these articles are being presented by a blog crossover.  Many, many thanks Lee K. Seitz!

UPDATE 2: Jim Shooter links to a blog with an overview of everything concerning the failed crossover that's public knowledge, including some of George Perez's awesome pencils.  As it's such a fascinating read I thought I'd link to it too.

UPDATE 3: Many thanks to Nevermore, who informed me that Giordano's article is reproduced in the JLA/Avengers (2004) Hardcover Collection's Compedium.  So this column wasn't the great find I thought it was but it was a pretty exciting feeling reading Jim Shooter's reference to Giordano's rebuttal and thinking "Hold on, I've got that!!!"

On a related note I thoroughly recommend Kurt Busiek and George Perez's 2004 JLA/ Avengers.  I don't know if it would live up to Mr Shooter's strict requirements but I can say that it's a lot of fun and contains Superman wielding Thor's hammer and Cap's shield, Kyle Rayner charging his ring on the Cosmic Cube, Hawkeye stealing Black Canary from Green Arrow and many more such cool, fanboy-wish-come-true moments.  Check it out!

Monday, 18 July 2011

How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Superman Relaunch

Allow me to introduce you to some interesting fellows;

1) Golden Age Superman

Golden Age Superman is a crusader for social justice who thinks nothing of defenestrating wife beaters or dangling corrupt politicians by their ankle while running across telephone wires.  He can jump really high and is pretty damn tough compared to your average guy.  He poses as Clark Kent, reporter for the Daily Star.  He's a hero.

2) Silver Age Superman

Silver Age Superman is an avuncular chap who spends most of his days maintaining his web of lies by performing  elaborate pranks on his friends and colleagues.  Despite possessing the ability to move planets and travel in time he mostly just catches bank robbers.  He occasionally gets transformed into a lion, or an ant, or a baby, or a fat guy.  He poses as Clark Kent, reporter for the Daily Planet.  He's a hero.

3) Bronze Age Superman

Bronze Age Superman has awesome sideburns.  He often displays a confidence that borders on arrogance, but will sometimes ponder whether he is doing the right thing, usually when manipulated into doing so by self-righteous aliens.  He is the most powerful thing in the universe, except for a short period when his power was sapped by a walking cat litter tray that had taken his form.  He poses as Clark Kent, TV News Anchorman for Galaxy Communications.  He's a hero.

4) Post Crisis Superman

Post Crisis Superman is a former high school football star whose cape gets ripped to shreds so often that one wonders why he bothers wearing it.  Despite being a very easy-going, likable fellow he gets beaten up an awful lot.  He doesn't really care much about his Kryptonian heritage as it was a boring place full of people with no eyebrows.  Before his marriage he often had sex while under the influence of mind control.  He is Clark Kent, reporter for the Daily Planet and he poses as a guy in blue tights.  He's a hero.

5) NuDC Superman

NuDC Superman is a stylish fellow who alternates between a casual 'jeans and t-shirt' look and a more formal 'suit of a thousand seams' look.  He is a bachelor who lives alone.  When he's not fighting for the weak against bullies of all kinds he spends his days being brash and brooding.  He poses as Clark Kent, reporter for the Daily Planet.  He's a hero.

Some of you just might have spotted what I'm getting at here.

DC's decision to revamp Superman and relaunch Action Comics and Superman has been met with a lot of online hostility.  Various online commentators are already dismissing this new Superman as a travesty of Clone-Saga like proportions.  A common complaint around the various threads seems to be that this new Superman is destined for failure because DC have fundamentally misunderstood their flagship character.  I have to disagree.   It's certainly possible that NuDC Superman will fail to catch on and sales will continue to plummet.  But at this stage it's equally possible that NuDC Superman will be a success and set the tone for the next two decades worth of stories, in much the same way as John Byrne's controversial revamp did in 1986 (the aforementioned Post Crisis Superman).

Like Byrne's revamp, NuDC Superman is just another interpretation of the character, as equally valid as the rest.  And I'm not just talking about those listed above.  There's also Birthright Superman, Secret Origin Superman, George Reeves Superman, Christopher Reeve Superman, Fleischer Brothers Superman, Ruby Spears Superman, Lois and Clark Superman, Smallville Superman, All Star Superman, Dark Knight Returns Superman, Earth One Superman, JLU Superman, Super Friends Superman, etc, etc, etc.

As we saw at the start of this post, all of these interpretations have their differences and some of these differences are quite dramatic.  But at the core of each version is the same man.  A man from a dead world who possesses incredible powers and wants to help.  They can stick him in jeans, they can stick him in battle-armour or they can stick him in a red and blue speedo, that simple truth at the core of the character has never changed and it never will change.  Of course, no one's saying you have to like every single interpretation.  I, for example, don't care for Smallville or Lois and Clark.  But just because you don't like a particular incarnation doesn't make that incarnation any less valid.

There is the question of whether Superman needs another revamp.  Since 2003 and Mark Waid's Superman: Birthright DC Comics have been trying to revamp Superman but nothing they've tried has seemed to stick.  But just because these changes haven't worked doesn't mean that DC were wrong to try.  Obviously mistakes were made, for example Birthright (a brand new Superman origin and a very good story) just sneaked out unannounced with barely any publicity leaving old fans unsure of what to make of it and any potential new fans oblivious.  But the idea of a revamp wasn't necessarily a bad idea.  What do I have to back up that statement?  I have myself.

When I was a kid I was a massive Batman fan and could take or leave Superman.  That was until I read John Byrne's 1986 Superman revamp, Man of Steel.   Man of Steel was an interpretation of the character that I'd never seen before.  Once this fresh take on the character had got me interested I gradually discovered all his other wonderful incarnations.  And I'm still discovering new ones today, all thanks to that one story that made me look at Superman in a different way.

So NuDC Superman won't necessarily be a disaster!  If DC can grab people's attention by showing them something different about Superman then those people may well go on to discover all the other wonderful incarnations of the character.  And eventually they might also discover that all of these different versions aren't so different after all.

Legion of Super-Heroes vs. X-Men

Lately I've been rediscovering the X-Men, mostly through my hardback collection of Grant Morrison's New X-Men run but also through a battered copy of the highly enjoyable X-Men: Fatal Attractions that I managed to pick up for two quid!  Reminding myself of why I used to enjoy the X-Men so much years ago has also reminded me of how much I would absolutely love to see a Legion of Super-Heroes/X-Men crossover.  Sadly both Marvel and DC currently seem to have no interest in any more inter-company shenanigans.  Once upon a time however a Legion/X-Men crossover was tantalisingly close!  According to legendary Legion/X-Men artist Dave Cockrum;
"But there also originally was going to be a Legion/X-Men crossover, and I was to draw it.  Then they decided ‘No, we'll make it a Teen Titans/X-Men crossover,’ and that's the one that Walt Simonson drew.  They figured that the Teen Titans were more commercial." 
Despite being owned by two different companies and being separated by several centuries, the Legion and the X-Men have a lot in common.  Indeed, Nightcrawler was almost a Legion character!  I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that one day we'll see these two super-teams united in battle!  Until then I'll console myself with my own Photoshop visions of what could have been.

The X-Men bits are of course from Uncanny X-Men #136 (1980) by John Byrne, Terry Austin and Jim Novak.  Sun Boy is from Legion of Super-Heroes #296 (1983) by Keith Giffen and Larry Mahlstedt.   Sensor Girl is from Legion of Super-Heroes #349 (1987) by Curt Swan and Dan Bulanadi.  Timber Wolf is from Who's Who in the Legion of Super-Heroes #6 (1988) and is by Mike Zeck.  Cosmic Boy is from Cosmic Boy #2 (1987) and is by Steve Lightle.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

The Guardian exposes scandal at the Daily Planet!

The Guardian has done a great job exposing the corrupt practices of the scummier side of British journalism. As a result of their investigations the News of the World has closed.  But why should they stop there?  There's plenty of corruption going on in newspapers all over the world, for example a certain great, metropolitan newspaper over in the States.....

Friday, 1 July 2011

San Diego Comic Con 2011, DC Original Characters Protest Walk: WHAT A SHOWER OF GITS!

In 1965 thousands of Americans marched from Selma to Montgomery in a bid to outlaw racial discrimination and gain voting rights for African Americans.  In 2011 at the San Diego Comic Con a bunch of joyless bastards will be protesting the September relaunch of DC Comics' super-hero line.  I realise this relaunch isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea but to actually protest against it at the SDCC is ludicrous.  The protest will accomplish very little except expose genuine fans who are there to celebrate their love of this wonderful medium to grumbling and negativity that they could probably do without, having paid so much to attend this event.  The protest will also potentially gain more publicity for the relaunch that these people claim to hate so much.  Over on, Rich Johnston has argued that the publicity garnered from a protest of this nature could be very beneficial for DC Comics.  He even argues that there's a danger that not enough people will attend the protest and so is organising a counter-protest in order to drum up even more publicity.  This makes infinitely more sense to me than the motives of the original protesters.

I don't expect everyone to embrace this relaunch with open arms, but there are a number of other, more sensible alternatives to making a twat of yourself at a large, public event.  Write to DC, complain on your blog, debate on the message boards or (here's a radical notion) give the comics a chance and if you don't like them, DON'T BUY THEM!  Spend your money on something that does still give you pleasure!  When you think of all the worthy causes that public protest has been used for over the years, civil rights, peace, freedom, doesn't protesting against the absence of Superman's red knickers trivialise it all just a little bit?  I'm not saying that these people shouldn't do their little protest walk, I'm just saying they're all wankers.

The new costumes, as drawn by Jim Lee.