Sunday, 26 May 2013

Doctor Who meets Quantum Leap

For the past couple of months I've been unemployed and as a result I've found myself with not much money and a lot of time on my hands. I've now found a job, which is lucky as I fear I was going rather peculiar. During my time off, in between looking for jobs, I managed to get reacquainted with the two greatest TV shows of all time, Doctor Who and Quantum Leap. I also spent rather too much time fiddling with Photoshop. I present to you now the fruits of my period of unemployment. In retrospect I probably should have taken up jogging or volunteered at a charity shop.....

Never mind what Superman means, show us what he does!

I haven't posted here for a while so I just wanted to share a few brief thoughts about Superman (for a change!)

Today, a friend & fellow blogger reviewed the latest Adventures of Superman on Twitter with the following tweet.
"Not a huge fan of what Superman means essays" sums up in a rather neat, concise fashion a problem I have with so many stories from the past twenty years of Superman comics and why I'm enjoying the New 52 Superman so much. (I have to emphasise of course that my pal's tweet was referring specifically to Adventures of Superman #4. The following thoughts and opinions are my own and I am by no means presuming to speak on his behalf.)

There's a lot of Superman stories, particularly from the last ten or twenty years or so that just want to lecture us about why Superman's so great instead of showing us. I've lost count of the stories from this period that use the old trope of having Lois Lane narrating the action, informing the reader over and over again of how brilliant her husband is.

Action Comics #830 (2005)

So many writers during this period seemed to want to bend over backwards to justify the character's relevance. In 2001, for example, Joe Kelly felt the need to spend Action Comics #775 telling us why Superman is still relevant compared to the more pro-active anti-heroes that were popular at the time. In 2004 Brian Azzarello had Superman doing some morose soul-searching with a dying, Catholic priest in his For Tomorrow arc. This style of story reached its nadir in 2010, with J. Michael Straczynski's Grounded, a story in which Superman spends pages and pages lecturing the reader about why he's so great.

Superman #701 (2010)
Since his New 52 revamp Superman doesn't seemed to have suffered from any of this navel gazing. Lois is currently no longer married to Clark and is unaware of his secret identity, and so we've yet to have a story from her perspective where she tells the reader over and over again what he means to her. This is fine with me. We shouldn't have to be told what Superman means, the stories should be showing us. In his recent Action Comics run Grant Morrison did just that. He's told us that Superman can do the impossible by actually having him do the impossible! Morrison's story arc culminated with Superman fighting off a villain who was attacking our hero at several points in his timeline from a higher dimensional plane. Along the way Superman rescued his dog from the Phantom Zone, battled angels on Mars and read an entire library of medical text books at super-speed in order to perform life-saving surgery on Lois Lane.

Action Comics #12 (2012)
Meanwhile over in the pages of Superman Scott Lobdell's run hasn't been short of amazing feats either. Lobdell's dialogue can be clumsy and his run was recently derailed slightly by an over-long crossover with the other Super-books. But the important thing for me is that Lobdell, like Morrison, has been showing us why Superman's so wonderful instead of telling us. During Lobdell's run Superman has bench pressed the planet Earth for five days straight, fought a giant Bizarro dinosaur from Kryptonian pre-history, punched a foe so hard that Batman heard it in space, and had a battle with Orion in which they both used an aircraft carrier as a weapon!

Superman #17 (2013)

I'm hoping that this change of attitude will be reflected on the silver screen this year. In Bryan Singers's Superman Returns (2006) Lois Lane has lost faith in Superman and has written an article called "Why the World Doesn't Need Superman". The film spends most of its time bashing the audience over the head with Christ metaphors in order to tell us why she was wrong. I'm hoping that in this year's Man of Steel Zack Snyder will take the radical approach of showing us that the planet needs Superman by having Superman actually save the bloody thing!

After all, action speaks louder than words, and I think this particularly applies to a character that appears regularly in Action Comics!

Action Comics #18 (2013)