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Joining the Fidgety Fad: Superman Spinner

I’ve avoided these "fidget spinners" since they came out. In fact, I totally missed their debut. (I even missed/ignored/whatever a Bleeding Cool article about them).

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But this weekend, while heading into a Target for groceries, I saw something that I could tell was Superman-related, so as I approached, my curiosity was on high, and I looked to see what it was.

Superman fidget spinners. Well, FOCO something. "Diztracto Spinnerz."

Me being me…being the Superman fan that I am, the sucker that I am…

I bought one.

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And I can definitely see the "distraction" and "attention-holder" aspect of the thing…certainly the "fidget" side.

But I’m also pretty certain that now that whatever curiosity I actually had of the things has been sated…this should be my one-and-only that I buy. After all…once you have one of these…how many do you REALLY need, to keep occupied?

July 4th, 2017

A quick, simple post…showing off the colorful, patriotic cover art of Superman with the U.S. flag, in celebration of the United States’ Independence Day.

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Iconic, generic poses…but these two immediately came to mind when I was thinking of such images to share for the day. Loads of others, too…but as two of my most recent acquisitions, these were forefront for me.

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Then there’s the classic cover from Adventures of Superman #505, celebrating the character’s return after Doomsday, Funeral for a Friend, and Reign of the Supermen:

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And with that…I’ll call it a day. Hope everyone (whether celebrating the day or not) has a great day!

The ’90s Revisited: Superman the Man of Steel #44

superman_the_man_of_steel_0044To Know… Know… Know Him!

Story: Louise Simonson
Layout Art: Jon Bogdanove
Ink Art: Dennis Janke
Letterer: Ken Lopez
Colorist: Glenn Whitmore
Asst. Editor: Chris Duffy
Editor: Mike Carlin
Cover: Jon Bogdanove, Dennis Janke
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: May 1995
Cover Price: $1.50

This is one of the more "iconic" Superman covers for me from the ’90s: it was the issue immediately preceding the 100th issue of Superman and the start of the whole Death of Clark Kent storyline. I distinctly remember this cover from first getting it–we were visiting my grandparents, and my aunt took me to a comic shop in the area, where I got this. It also helps the cover to be memorable given that it’s essentially (but not quite! It’s still its own thing!) a reproduction of a panel within the issue.

Clark’s on the phone with his book editor when he hears a ticking in the background from the other end; so he rushes in as Superman, managing to save the man from being blown to bits. Meanwhile, Keith (a young boy being adopted by Perry White and his wife) is hanging out with some older kids after school. When the store manager accuses them of shoplifting, the other boys race off, leaving Keith to take the fall. After being extricated from the situation by Perry (who assures Keith that he and his wife are still adopting him), Clark once again learns of a bomb by hearing it over a phone, and saves Perry and Keith (and everyone on the bridge they’re stuck on) but Perry’s car is destroyed. Later, Keith takes courage from the incident and stands up to his so-called friends, and winds up making some new ones…while Jimmy decides to stick with Clark like glue until they figure out who’s been threatening him and trying to bomb his editors. Clark distracts him briefly as they get off an elevator, only to find a Superman dummy pinned to his apartment door by a giant knife…and he realizes then who’s behind stuff.

This is an issue from back in the heart of the "Triangle Numbering" era of the Superman titles…though each creative team had their own through-threads they focused on, their own stories to tell, ultimately the titles were one ongoing weekly series, with each week’s issue moving the overall Superman story forward. As such, with weekly doses of THE Superman story, there was plenty of room for the cultivation and development of a large supporting cast and plenty of "subplots" to be dug into and unfold over the course of things, such that a single issue could often seem all over the place, when taken out of context. This one manages to avoid the worst of that, though a single paragraph summary doesn’t do the thing justice. There’s the overall story, but the details of the various characters’ interactions makes it more complex…much like an episode of a large ensemble cast tv show where certain characters really get around, while others are checked in on but don’t necessarily have much screen time.

This issue ought to–by 2017 standards–be billed as a "prologue" to the upcoming major story; or heck, in contemporary terms there’d be a whole pre-Event event (particularly if this was Marvel). Here, it’s just the next chapter of the continuing saga, that just happens to be right before the larger titled story kicks off.

I definitely dig the story, though I find reading this over 20 years after the fact, I’m less enamored with Keith’s story, being so much further away in age now than I was then (as well as feeling like there’s a bit of "preachiness" going on here that would have much different connotation were it published in 2017).

Visually, it’s not hard to follow what’s going on, to recognize Superman or Clark, Lois, Keith, Perry, or others. However, it’s hardly my favorite art, ESPECIALLY stacked up against the likes of Dan Jurgens, who IS one of my absolute favorite artists (particularly when it comes to Superman!). Bogdanove‘s style grew on me, and holds a definite place in my memory and liking of the Superman books…but might not be the most appealing to someone unfamiliar with it or this era of Superman.

As a whole, though–story and art–this is certainly a strong issue, giving the reader action, plot development, and moving everyone around the final bit to head into The Death of Clark Kent. I appreciated it as an isolated one-off that I picked up specifically for remembering the cover so clearly.

That said…you’d likely be better served tracking down the collected edition of The Death of Clark Kent if possible, or picking this up as part of a larger group of the issues than to get this one issue by itself.

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Zero Hour Revisited – Superman: The Man of Steel #37

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superman_the_man_of_steel_0037Countdown to Zero

Story: Louise Simonson
Penciller: Jon Bogdanove
Inker: Dennis Janke
Letterer: Ken Lopez
Colorist: Glenn Whitmore
Asst. Editor: Chris Duffy
Assoc. Editor: Frank Pittarese
Editor: Mike Carlin
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: September 1994
Cover Price: $1.50

This is probably one of THE most iconic Superman covers to me, definitely one of my favorites, period. I even pointed that out some 3 years ago!

As the issue opens, Clark and Lois are talking to Jeb Friedman–who is coordinating a concert to be held as a benefit to the citizens of Metropolis (which just recently was destroyed). When reflected light grabs their attention, Superman investigates…finding Batman trying to contact him. This Batman is not the one just recovered from a broken back, and references Time anomalies. Another Batman soon arrives…as does a third. Meanwhile, the heroes learn of plans to ruin the concert, taking advantage of the vulnerability of the city at the moment, and it’s up to them to once more save the day. Superman enlists the scientific aid of Emil Hamilton as they confirm the Time anomalies…even as the Batmen shift, split, and disappear. Finally, Superman prepares to seek out "his" Batman, showing the way "great minds think alike"–Batman had just arrived to contact HIM! While the two begin to "catch up," Metron arrives, warning of a Crisis.

This is another issue that nicely (and actually!) clearly ties into the events of Zero Hour…it’s also another issue that I read that summer when it was released. Though I feel like some of the "music" stuff is a bit dated and cliché, on the whole, the issue holds up. Having read all the Superman books solidly for so many years, it doesn’t take long to shift my mind back to what was going on in the books at the time–such as Alice and Perry White taking care of Keith, and Keith constantly getting into trouble "seeing" his mom everywhere and running after her.

I’ve had mixed feelings over the years on Bogdanove‘s art–there’s something to it that’s a bit off-putting to me, especially when held up against Jurgens‘ work. Absolutely, completely isolated, it’s not a style I’d necessarily choose high on a priority list…but the art more than gets across what it needs to, and beyond that usual feeling, REALLY shines here, conveying numerous visual styles of Batman that clearly evoke prior incarnations in a way that shows me the general look of Superman is a choice in style and not a reflection of ability! It’s also a visual style firmly entrenched in my memory OF the various Super-titles from the ’90s, and is not something I’d wish to lose…too much nostalgia for this title!

I really like the story itself in this issue…we move elements of the core Superman story forward–touching on subplots like Jeb Friedman, the Whites and Keith, Jimmy & Ron, as well as getting Clark and Lois along with getting Superman in action…we even have Emil Hamilton accounted for. That we also have Batman, and as a Time anomaly at that makes this both a great singular issue that can be read AS a single one-shot issue, but also plays well within the ongoing Superman titles while being a very clear and useful participant in the larger Zero Hour story. We also get setup for the next of the four Superman books…all within just this one issue, at standard size and price.

While I’ve got to admit to a bit of bias, both on this being a Superman title at all, and having read it originally such that this is more nostalgia than reading something new from the time, this is a great issue that I’d recommend as plain, simple FUN even if you’ve never immersed yourself in the ’90s Super-books…you don’t even truly need Zero Hour to enjoy it…the Event is just a convenient "excuse" to allow for–without lengthy explanation/setup–the presence of multiple iterations of Batman. So far, I’d put this at the top of the list with Batman #511 as the best of the initial wave of Zero Hour Tie-ins, with Superboy #8 as a runner-up.

Wooden Comic Covers…for Decoration

giant_comic_cover_signs_01bSome time back, at a Meijer, I happened across a display of large wooden wall decorations–comic covers. One of them was the “newsstand edition” Superman #75, and being such an iconic piece, I bought it on the spot.

There were other covers, but none of them particularly appealed to me…while others just baffled me as they did not seem all that “iconic” to me. Giant-Sized X-Men #1, a number of the early Marvel #1s, a good number of DC #1s, sure.

I put the thing on a shelf as a quasi-background piece behind some of my old Marvel Legends build-a-figures and oversized Heroclix figures and all but “forgot” about the things.

And then not far apart, I came across one of these for Adventures of Superman #423, and Man of Steel #1. Being two of the first four premieres of the “post-Crisis” Superman stuff, I bought the Adventures of Superman one…but could not find the Man of Steel one again for awhile. I finally located it again at Hobby Lobby, but a sale that had been going on was over, and I had no interest whatsoever in paying full “regular” price for the thing, so I decided to just wait, and try to notice when there was a sale again and hope it was still available.

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Tonight I found myself near a different Hobby Lobby, and decided to pop in, figuring if nothing else, maybe I’d find a magnet for my overhead bin at work, and confirm that the section of the store with the comic stuff was indeed not on sale.

Turned out…it is. “Mens’ metal and wood wall hangings” 50% off. Including the various wooden comic covers as well as the various smaller metal versions, and enough stuff that I easily could have blown $500 given the spare finances and available wall space to justify ’em.

50% off put the Man of Steel piece exactly in what I’ve come to see as reasonable pricing, and I decided to flip through the other ones to see if there were any appealing Marvel ones. The last piece behind everything, though, was the original Superman #233…itself a highly-iconic image, so I figured why not? Two for the price of one.

Now, I’m very interested in these for Superman #1 (1986) and Superman: The Man of Steel #1 (1991) if they even exist. Despite being iconic, I’m not all that interested in the Golden Age #1s–Action Comics, Superman, Batman, Detective Comics #27, anything Wonder Woman.

Marvel-wise, I’d be most interested in 1990s stuff–X-Men Alpha or Omega, 1991’s X-Men #1 or #30, Captain America #1 or Thor #1 from the Heroes Return period…maybe a handful of others.

Though these are smaller than posters, they’re far more durable and sturdy, and I just really like them. I look forward to getting them hung, and perhaps in a later period of life, making use of them in a “man cave” or a Single Guy’s living room as actual “art pieces.”

The ’90s Revisited: Superman – Dead Again!

deadagain_supermanthemanofsteel038Over the past several weeks, I’ve been reading/rereading complete stories rather than “just” single issues here or there that aren’t connected directly to one another by story or series.

The latest instance comes from issues I picked up recently at a sale (Carol and John’s Not At ComicCon 2015 sale). Finding they had a good stock of mid-’90s Superman books–ALL FIVE TITLES–allowed me finally to in one single purchase get the entirety of the Dead Again! arc (which either has not ever been reprinted in collected volume, or at least I do not have said volume). This purchase saved me the hassle of moving then replacing a dozen-some longboxes in a confined space to pull hardly a dozen issues, where I would then have to move and replace the boxes again after reading.

deadagain_superman094Despite seeing issues from this arc here and there over the past several months/years and being interested in re-reading the story in its entirety…it wasn’t until Michael Bailey and Jeffrey Taylor began their coverage of the story on their From Crisis to Crisis podcast that my interest was heightened to the point of action…which combined nicely with the well-timed opportunity of getting the issues and the time to actually read the entirety of the 11-issue arc in two days.

I actually can’t remember the last time I sat down and re-read more than one or two Superman issues in a row, let alone an entire cover-branded storyline like this from the ’90s Superman books. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and may next look to The Trial of Superman.

deadagain_adventuresofsuperman517I never noticed it as a kid when I originally read this some 20 years ago, but the issues do not line up 100% going from issue to issue the way they probably would if this was being published in 2015. Each issue ends on a some level of cliffhanger/dramatic moment–setting the stage for the next chapter–but then that next chapter didn’t often seem to pick up from the exact same moment. Additionally, some of the narratives of individual chapters would be different stylistically…some straight-forward, others picking up “later” and then flashing back to fill the reader in, then continuing on.

The art is also all over the place throughout the arc, and reading it all at once, I noticed the differences from book to book in a way I never had before.

deadagain_actioncomics704All of this is not unexpected, given the multiple titles and creative teams. I rarely went back to re-read issues week-to-week as the issues were coming out, and having a week between issues I don’t recall comparing the visuals to each other all that much…though even back then I’d noticed a personal preference for the art in the Superman title.

Dead Again! begins with characters reacting to the fact that a body–one that APPEARS to be the genuine Superman’s–is found in what should have been an EMPTY tomb. The tomb/room had been damaged in a fight between the current/live Superman and new villain Conduit. Various tests seem to confirm the body as being genuine, leading our active Superman to seek out villains that might be responsible for trickery…after all, he remembers coming back from the dead, being Clark Kent, etc. Other characters react in differing ways–Lois believing him to be genuine, while other characters aren’t so sure (and don’t have Lois’ “insight” into Superman’s genuinity).

deadagain_supermanthemanofsteel039Across the arc, Superman’s search involves Conduit, a new villain named Death Trap, the Eradicator and the Outsiders, STAR Labs, Atom, the New Gods on New Genesis, Darkseid on Apokalips, Mr. Mxyzptlk, the Metropolis SCU, hallucinations, and finally the ultimate villain of the piece (despite seemingly being ruled out on New Genesis) Brainiac himself.

Over the course of the story, we see Superman growing increasingly irrational as the situation drives him closer to sheer madness, as the supporting cast gets more concerned about him and his mental state. We also have a significant subplot as a young orphan–Keith–finds and loses his mother while gaining new foster parents in Perry and Alice White. We see the majority of Superman’s rogues gallery, and generally see questions raised and answered regarding whether or not there could have been–if this is–another “imposter” Superman…the possibility that Superman himself, the true Superman might never have actually been resurrected.

deadagain_superman095While I don’t recall this story getting any serious media attention and it does seem largely a footnote in the entirety of the ’90s Superman…this is a pretty significant arc, and an interesting follow-up to stuff. After the Death and Return of Superman “trilogy,” there were a number of smaller arcs and the overall continuing story/”Never Ending Battle” of the multiple titles collectively telling a weekly story…but this seems to be the largest singular story since Superman’s return, and paved the way for the likes of The Death of Clark Kent and The Trial of Superman, as well as (eventually) a number of other several-month arcs that punctuated the ongoing saga.

And this is definitely well worth the read if you get a chance!


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deadagain_supermanthemanofsteel040 deadagain_superman096
deadagain_adventuresofsuperman519  

Convergence – Week of April 15th, 2015

Convergence–the two-month “event” that covers for the absence of the “regular” DC books while the editorial offices are transferred from the East coast to the West–is officially in full swing. This week’s releases were the #2 issue of the core mini and a bunch of #1s for tie-in 2-issue minis.

Rather than try to cover stuff singly, I decided continue like last week and just do one huge post for the Convergence stuff I bought this week. We’ll see how coming weeks go, in this regard.

Convergence #2

convergence002This week got the price down…now that we’re done with the "special" #0 issue and oversized #1, the "core" of this event drops to $3.99…which is rather steep for yet being a $1 DROP in cover price. This issue gives us more detail on the Earth-2 refugees and presumably backstory to cover the events of Earth 2: World’s End for those who didn’t read that series. We also see the Flashpoint Batman (Thomas Wayne) meet his son from the pre-Flashpoint world and the two make a plan for dealing with their situation. The others from Earth-2 make a stand against Telos that unfortunately doesn’t work out all that well…and then a new ally shows up.

The art for this issue isn’t that bad, though I don’t believe I’m familiar with the penciler or inker. The art got stuff across, and nothing stood out in a negative way enough to be memorable to me. The story, though, borders on formulaic, boring, and generic despite having a lot of potential. I’ve yet to get around to actually reading the entirety of Flashpoint but I have read the core story and the Batman mini so I appreciate the presence of Thomas Wayne here as well as his meeting with a pre-Flashpoint (judging from the costume) Bruce.

That the story so far seems largely a framework for a lot of punching and has yet to really involve characters I’m really looking to see more of is a definite turnoff. To me, Flashpoint was always self-contained as a single event rather than serving as an "era" or particular period of comics. And seeing the Earth-2 characters as New 52 characters…this just doesn’t do much FOR me.

I’m tempted to jump off for now on this core series…maybe it’ll read better as a single whole in collected format. At $2.99 an issue I’d be more inclined to suck it up and keep up…but the $3.99 (as always) very quickly wears thin on me.

Convergence: Batman Shadow of the Bat #1

convergence_batmanshadowofthebat001This issue got my attention by its title alone. Batman: Shadow of the Bat was the first Bat-title I was able to get from #1 back in the day and followed for a good chunk of its early run, returning at its end with No Man’s Land. I wasn’t thrilled at the notion of Azrael’s presence, but if I had any doubt on picking the issue up…the cover absolutely sucked me in. Despite being relatively generic in a sense, the coloring and the title logo make this easily one of my favorite comic covers of 2015 so far.

The story sees Jean-Paul Valley and a still-healing Bruce Wayne both trying to work undercover to find out how a new (to us) villain is going to hit the city’s food supply. The two work together while yet at odds with one another’s methodology, and when the dome drops find themselves quickly facing a couple of Wetworks agents that promise to make their already rough day even worse.

The art on the issue is good overall with an almost quasi-painted look at points. Some panels are just ugly–at least the villain’s appearance–but that’s presumably intentional. On the whole, though this definitely looks and feels much like an issue of the old Shadow of the Bat title. As with the other #1s I’ve read so far we have the tie-in to the first issue of Convergence with Telos’ speech…which is starting to feel a bit repetitive to me despite whatever positive I had to say of its inclusion previously. I suppose I somewhat expected a staggered timeline and not getting that is something I’ll have to soon decide if I’m ok with.

Convergence: Superman Man of Steel #1

convergence_supermanmanofsteel001I’d intended to pick this one up on title alone…to go with Superman and the forthcoming Adventures of Superman and Action Comics, to have a couple months of picking up "all 4" classically-titled Superman books. While I enjoy the Steel character I was decidedly disappointed at the cover logo showing this is actually a Steel book with a missing Superman.

With Superman missing from THIS Metropolis, and all super-powers being nulled out, Steel’s in a position of being one of the most powerful individuals in the city. Having taught his nephew and niece how to repair HIS armor, the two had secretly created Steel armor of their own. When some rogue Lexcorp battlesuits show up, Steel takes them on single-handedly…just before the dome drops and the Gen13 kids show up. Despite Steel’s orders, his kids join the battle (as does the re-powered Parasite), and by issue’s end Steel’s very fate is in question.

I’m not as familiar as I’d prefer to be with Steel…I have most of his 50-issue series but have yet to read more than a handful of issues…I’m most familiar with the character from Reign of the Supermen and guest appearances in the main Superman books…and probably much longer once he was no longer Steel and was simply around as a non-suited supporting character in the books in the 2000s. As such, I don’t have much attachment here…certainly not as much as I’d like.

The art works well enough for me, as does the story (in and of itself) but I’m not too keen on the Gen13 kids nor of this being a Steel issue vs. a Zero Hour-era Superman. While I’m curious as to Steel’s fate I’m not certain I care enough to follow into the next issue. If I do it’ll likely be more on the "principle" of this being "only" 2 issues and my OCD not justifying having bought HALF the series only to leave the other out.

Convergence: Green Lantern/Parallax #1

convergence_greenlanternparallax001I have fond memories of the early Kyle Rayner days. The numbering had even worked out at the time for the first year or so–issue #50 of Green Lantern was Hal’s final issue, and Kyle was the full star in #51…essentially a #1. I remember the first few issues–particularly what happened to his girlfriend, and then his #0 issue post-Zero Hour with Hal.

As such I decided to pick this issue as one of my select few…for that ’90s nostalgia. So the premise of Kyle and Hal both being present was sorta interesting for that…and yet Hal being present doesn’t quite work for me with what I remember of his timeline, going essentially from Green Lantern #50 to Zero Hour to…where-ever.

Given the notion that it’s the power from internalizing the rings and main power battery from Oa that drove Hal mad, the power being cut off by the city being taken and domed, the guilt-ridden Hal turns himself in to be jailed…his only regular visitor being Kyle, who tries to convince him he’s needed. When the dome comes down as Telos kicks his fight-for-survival thing into motion, Kyle’s ring picks back up with the charge it had…though Hal’s "clarity" as Parallax returns along with HIS power. Parallax finds himself attacked, and quickly seeks out the source city to put an end to it.

I’ll be interested in seeing Hal/Parallax kick some butt…especially as I have zero emotional investment in Lady Qark and that city/world. I’m aware OF it but it’s from far enough before my time and outside my experience with pre-Crisis stuff. And for what this is, as a 2-issue series, I don’t have any particular misgivings about picking up the next issue to see how things wrap up.

I’d’ve been happier if this was simply a Green Lantern issue…having the more modern Parallax logo on the cover kinda spoils things as it’s a logo I don’t currently recall seeing til well after Zero Hour (either circa Final Night or the post-Rebirth era around the Sinestro Corps War).

Overall Thoughts This Week

Where last week I stuck with the Core Mini Plus Two, I allowed myself 3 issues this week. I seriously considered the Superboy and Supergirl issues as well, but wound up holding my ground on principle with the $3.99 price point and trying to keep my "double dipping" at a minimum as I suspect I will seek the entirety of Convergence in collected format when all’s said ‘n done.

As said above, I was disappointed that the Superman: Man of Steel issue was Steel-centric and that as a result I did not get to see "my" superman from the Zero Hour era (which could be argued was a different Superman than the pre-Flashpoint one).

I believe next week’s books are Crisis on Infinite Earths-era centric, and I look forward to the Adventures of Superman one WITH Supergirl, but not planning presently on much else…and may even pass on the core mini moving forward, as noted above. While I can justify limited double-dipping with the notion that I’ll have a handful of issues from any given volume on the tie-ins…I all but KNOW the core mini will be its own volume and thus a far more DIRECT double-dip.

Whatever excitement I had is definitely wearing thin only two weeks in, and broken record that I am…a lot of that is certainly to be blamed on the $3.99 price point of the entirety of the event.

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