FROM CRISIS TO CRISIS EPISODE 71: APRIL 1991

Episode 71: April 1991

Welcome to the seventy-first episode of From Crisis to Crisis: A Superman Podcast! This podcast has a simple premise; examine just about every Superman comic published between Man of Steel #1 in 1986 to Adventures of Superman #649 in 2006 in an informative and hopefully entertaining format.

Part index. Part commentary. Part history lesson. All podcast.

The Man of Steel is still time lost this week as Time and Time Again continues through the Superman books with a May 1991 cover date. In Superman #54 a villain returns again for the first time as the Man of Tomorrow deals with the Nazis in 1943 Warsaw. Then in Adventures of Superman #477 he teams up with a newer (relatively speaking) incarnation of the Legion of Super-Heroes to take on the deadly Sun-Eater. Finally in Action Comics #664 Superman goes walking with dinosaurs, runs into an old Atom villain and gets bounced around time a bit before finding himself in…Camelot!

After all of that the boys take a look at Adventures of Superboy #15, where ironically enough the Boy of Steel is also time lost. Then there’s some Superboy television talk, Elsewhere in the DCU and Elsewhere, Elsewhere!

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FROM CRISIS TO CRISIS EPISODE 70: MARCH 1991

Episode 70: March 1991

Welcome to the seventieth episode of From Crisis to Crisis: A Superman Podcast! This podcast has a simple premise; examine just about every Superman comic published between Man of Steel #1 in 1986 to Adventures of Superman #649 in 2006 in an informative and hopefully entertaining format.

Part index. Part commentary. Part history lesson. All podcast.

Things go back to normal for Mike and Jeff this week but things definitely don’t let up at all for the Man of Steel! In this episode he faces international diplomacy and the perils of time travel. Superman #53 kicks off the Superman books with a March 1991 cover date and sees the Man of Steel having to escort the vile President Marlo as he is taken into custody. The problem? There are people that don’t want to see him stand trial and Marlo is one of those people. Then in Adventures of Superman #476 Superman gives fellow hero Booster Gold a hand with a time traveler known as the Linear Man and is blown to the 30th Century for his troubles as Time and Time Again begins. That story continues into Action Comics #663 as Superman is blown up again and lands in the year 1943 where he joins the circus.

No really. He joins the circus. Clark also gets to meet President Roosevelt and nearly encounters the Justice Society of America before the Spectre sends him into the path of a locomotive.

After that the boys cover Adventures of Superboy #14, which features the return of Brimstone as well as showing how Clark got his internship at the Bureau of Extra-Normal Matters. Finally there is the usual Elsewhere in the DCU, Elsewhere in the Elsewhere and even an e-mail from one of the listeners.

Also the episode is under three hours, so y’all get a little break this week.

And now…the scans!

This is an amazing shot of Superman and Lois though as Michael pointed out during the episode Elroy has lost all interest in the conversation.

Behold the nineties in all it’s glory.

In all seriousness this is a very solid design.  Does it look dated?  Maybe but only in the sense that they don’t design characters like this anymore.  The neat thing about this character is that he has an old west, bounty hunter feel mixed with the futuristic cybernetic limbs.  This is what separates the Linear Man from the cyborg out of time pack.

This is the Wayne Boring-esque panel that Mike was talking about during the episode.  Apparently Clark did a lot of upper body exercises during his stint with the circus.

This page is a good example of how good a capeless Superman looks when drawn by Bob McLeod.  It is also a good example of how awesome the black/blue costume looked as well.

The Justice Society as drawn by Bob McLeod.  Sweet.

This is the last page of the Action Comics.  Mike mentioned on the show that he would have preferred Superman to have said, “Oh boy,” a la Sam on Quantum Leap.  Through the miracle of Photoshop we can now see what that would have looked like.

And that is it for this time out.  Hope you enjoyed the scans!

Next Week: Time and Time Again continues! It’s Nazis and Legionnaires and Dinosaurs, oh my!

SUPERMAN’S ORIGIN CIRCA 1993

Back in 1993 a magazine called  Superman/Batman Magazine hit the shelves to very little fanfare.  The main reason I remember that time so clearly is that I picked up the first issue in the gift shop at St. Luke’s Hospital during one of my Mom’s stays there right before she passed.  I bought it because there wasn’t anything else there I was interested in reading but that paritcular copy has been lost to the ages or at least lost among the many moves I made in 1994 and 1995.  Thanks to my good friend Alan Leach, Jr. I now have another copy and I am very happy for that even if there is a touch of sadness in remembering where I bought it the first time.

Superman/Batman Magazine was an interesting experiment.  It straddled the two worlds of the then current DC Universe and what has been commonly called the Timmverse of Batman: The Animated Series.  This was before Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond and the two Justice League animated series, so it was kind of novel at the time to see the rest of the DC heroes and villains drawn in that  style.  The first issue contained departments such as A Message from The Batcave, The Daily Planet [Sunday Supplement], Penguin’s Puns and Bird-Brained Jokes, Pullout (a poster of the DC villains drawn in the animated style), The Hero File (this one was about Wonder Woman) and Backstage at DC Comics (this one was an interview with Mike Carlin).  The issue also contained features on trading cards, the martial arts, an “interview” the the then dead Superman and two origin stories done as mini-comic books.  This being the first issue they had an origin for both Batman and Superman, which makes sense given the name of the magazine.

I think it is safe to say that I am known for being a fan of the Post Crisis on Infinite Earths Superman, especially when it comes to the origin.  I like that take though there really isn’t a version of the origin that I truly dislike.  What makes this version of the Byrne origin so awesome is that it was written an inked by Karl Kesel and penciled by the late Mike Parobeck.  It was only six pages long but Parobeck and Kesel packed a lot into those six pages.  So it being Friday and all I thought I would end the week on a high note and post those pages here and once again I send a big ol’ thank you out to Alan for sending me this.  You’re the best, Alan.

This origin covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time.  I was jazzed that Kesel and Parobeck included a lot of what John Byrne brought to the character, especially by showing images of the Byrne’s take on Metallo, Mr. Mxyzptlk and even Klash, the robot Lex Luthor sent after the Man of Steel in Superman (Vol. 2) #10.  These six pages continue to put a big ol’ smile on my face and I hope you liked them as much as I did.

Next week: Nothing is set in stone as of yet outside of the usual YouTube Tuesday and the latest episode of From Crisis to Crisis.  Everyone have a safe weekend and I will see you on Monday.

More to follow…

FROM CRISIS TO CRISIS EPISODE 69: FEBRAURY 1991

Episode 69: February 1991

Welcome to the sixty-ninth episode of From Crisis to Crisis: A Superman Podcast! This podcast has a simple premise; examine just about every Superman comic published between Man of Steel #1 in 1986 to Adventures of Superman #649 in 2006 in an informative and hopefully entertaining format.

Part index. Part commentary. Part history lesson. All podcast.

It’s another long one this week folks but that has everything to do with the fact that a really important issue of Action Comics came out this month along with the other Superman books published with a February 1991 cover date. Mike and Jeff are joined for this special episode by their good friend, Scott Gardner. Turns out Scott is a big fan of this era of Superman and helps the boys discuss Superman #52 (the return of Terra-Man), Adventures of Superman #475 (Superman goes to Happyland) and the aforementioned Action Comics #662 (Clark tells Lois something REALLY important).

In the interest of full disclosure the guys talk about the  Action Comics issue for about an hour, but the last page of that comic changed everything; not only for Lois and Clark but for this era of Superman as well so they felt that the discussion was warranted. After that there is some Superboy talk involving both the live action series and Adventures of Superboy #12 in addition to the normal Elsewhere in the DCU and Elsewhere, Elsewhere.

Jeff and Mike would like to thank Scott for coming on to the show and invite him to come back any time.

And now the scans of the week highlighting some of the more interesting images from the comics discussed in this week’s episode!

This is the page that the guys talked about so much during their discussion of Superman #52.  The shadowing here is really cool.

We apologize for the quality of this image but we worked with what we had.  The paper DC used for their comics in the late eighties and early nineties was very thin and doesn’t age well.  The ad is still awesome though.

As stated during the episode we’re fairly sure this is the first appearance of the flamey eyes Superman as drawn by Dan Jurgens.  In a day and age where red-eyed, angry Superman has become common place it is easy to forget how novel this visual was back in 1990/91.

Jimmy puts the Signal Watch back on.  We’re still kind of curious why he needs a safe deposit box.

Mike just really likes this panel.

Here is the big reveal.  A little stiff but epic nonetheless.

And Jeffrey was right; Elroy is really interested in what is going on.

Finally here are two of the more interesting ads from this month.  The ads haven’t been all that good lately but these two are choice.

And that is all for this week!  Remember to check out Scott Gardner’s various podcasts over at the Two True Freaks Network.  Mike co-hosts Tales of the JSA and Back to the Bins with him so give those shows a listen.

Next Week: A really patriotic cover and the start to Time and Time Again!

SUPERGIRL: THE LAST DAUGHTER OF KRYPTON REVIEW

Just to clear things up right away this is not a review of Superman/Batman: Apocalypse.  That review will be posted here soon.  This is a review of the featurette that appeared on the two-disc special edition titled Supergirl: The Last Daughter of Krypton.

(Before I dig into this review I need to ask a question of my audience.  Did this feature also appear on the Smallville: Season 7 DVD set?  I don’t own that season yet and haven’t seen the special features.  It almost feels like it could have been  on that set considering the people they interviewed.  In case it was keep in mind this is the first time I have seen this feature and let me know if it they just took that feature and put it on this DVD set.  Thanks.)

Let’s just cut to the chase.

I didn’t like this featurette.

That’s odd too because usually I love these things.  I am a special features kind of guy.  Featurettes, commentaries, long documentaries, all of that.  I like seeing them on the DVDs I purchase because I feel that more often than not they add something to the movie.  Sometimes they’re boring and sometimes I feel like they could have put more effort into them but I dig having them.

Warner Premiere has been pretty good about giving us a lot of bang for our buck when it comes to the last handful of Direct-To-DVD releases.  They have been adding episodes of the various Timmverse animated series, which could be seen as just trying to plug the box sets of those series but I think it is a great idea because it does potentially expose a new audience to Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, Superman: The Animated Series, and so on.  The mini-documentaries have been hit and miss in my opinion and speaking purely from bias here they have yet to beat the awesome that was the documentary on Superman: Doomsday that chronicled how the creators came up with that story.  Sometimes they have been pure propaganda, like the DC: The New World feature on the Justice League: Crisis on Two Worlds set.  Sometimes they have been just unsatisfying like the Robin: The Story of Dick Grayson feature on the Batman: Under The Hood set but to be fair in the case of the Robin feature it was just too short and I am sure there are all kinds of financial considerations that go into deciding how long these features run.

Supergirl: The Last Daughter of Krypton was…annoying.  That’s the best way to describe it.  I found 90% of the feature annoying beginning with seeing Dan DiDio and Matt Idleson being interviewed.  In the case of DiDio I usually have issues with his presence on these featurettes because I see him as the personification of why I walked away from DC as a fictional universe.  Is that fair?  Probably not, but it is what it is.  As for Matt Idleson…well I won’t get into that right now but let’s leave it at I just don’t care for the guy for two very specific reasons.  So a portion of my problems with this feature center on seeing those two being interviewed even though they had every right to be there.

Then again is anyone surprised that I had issues with Dan DiDio?

The problems continued with the huge gaps in the history of Supergirl.  If this was the first time I had ever seen anything on the history of Supergirl I would have gotten the sense that Supergirl was created, Superman allowed her to reveal herself, there was a movie made about her that didn’t do all that well but bless those involved with the film and then she died only to be brought back in 2004 in a new and modern form.  This skips over the fact that she had her own series, that the character struggled to find an identity and, oh yeah, the fact that there were two Supergirls in the comics between 1985 and 2004 even though they were not Superman’s cousin.  I can almost understand leaving out the Matrix/Linda Danvers incarnation and Cir-El because that might have distracted from the Supergirl they were talking about, but a sentence or two at least mentioning them wouldn’t have taken up too much time nor would have going into some of the specifics of the Silver/Bronze Age Supergirl.

So that annoyed me but not as much as seeing the various editors and writers defending the choices they made with Supergirl after they brought her back in 2004.  I had a serious problem with the characterization they went with after Kara gained her own series.  The first five issues were fine.  I rather liked those but once she was on Earth and Infinite Crisis was out of the way Joe Kelly and the other powers that be decided the best thing to do with Kara was to treat her like the Lindsey Lohan/Brittney Spears/Paris Hilton of the super-hero set.  I can appreciate them wanting to separate her from the Silver/Bronze Age Kara Zor-El, but I think they went too far, especially with how long she kept the, “I resent my cousin,” chip on her shoulder.  Joe Kelly asserts that she is going to be a different kind of role model.  A less squeaky clean and more like a real teenage girl and I just didn’t like that.  Did I want a mindlessly heroic and cheerful Supergirl?  Not at all.  I wanted conflict and I wanted angst and I wanted to see how they would explore Supergirl’s circumstances in a modern world.  I just didn’t want to see her sitting in a night club smoking and the like.

Then there were the comments about the choice to make her costume so skimpy.  I had issues with that costume from the beginning.  It’s too short and inappropriate for a teenage girl.  There is something really creepy about a group of creators, mostly men in their thirties and forties putting a teenage girl in an overly sexualized outfit.  Dan DiDio’s defense is that then men are idealized too with their big muscles and six packs and such and I would agree with that the moment all the men starting going around shirtless and sporting packages that would give the UPS guy a hernia.

I was uncomfortable with that costume and to see them defend it boggled my mind.  “Have you seen what the young girls are wearing these days?”  That’s a great defense.  Everyone else is doing it so why not us?  I just don’t buy it.  Gail Simone was the closest to stating the real reason they wanted that costume.  She said something to the effect that while she was not defending the costume comics are a visual medium and you need something that pops off the page.  I would have added the fact that mainstream comics are aimed mainly at men from ages 12-34 and they would want to see a scantily dressed Supergirl.  Apparenly this puts me in the minority because I am in that age bracket and never wanted to see that in a mainstream DC book.  In any case the whole costume discussion just bugged the crap out of me.

On a more positive note I was intrigued by the coverage of Kara on Smallville mainly because I haven’t seen any of the episodes from that season yet.  At first I was put off by their take and I am still annoyed that Kara has all of her abilities before Clark does  (along with the supposedly funny girls mature faster than boys comment) but at the same time I can appreciate where they are coming from.  That is Smallville‘s thing.  Everyone gets to have either a costume or their full powers before Clark.  It’s just how things work out on that show.  There seemed to be a lot more to that version of Kara than I previously thought so now I am looking forward to watching those episodes even though I know there are things that are going to frustrate me.

And it was cool to see Helen Slater, who is still…very attractive.

So that’s pretty much it.  I didn’t really care for this feature.  I watched it twice just in case there was something I may have overlooked but after both viewings I felt the same way.  Annoyed, mostly but also frustrated.  I am sure there are people that have watched this feature and thought it was awesome and that’s fine.  I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s parade.  These are just my thoughts so take them for what they are worth.

Tomorrow: From Crisis to Crisis, with special guest Scott Gardner!

More to follow…

YOUTUBE TUESDAY FOR 10/05/2010

Welcome to another YouTube Tuesday here at the Fortress!  This week I decided to tie into the recent release of Superman/Batman: Apocalypse again.  I have not seen the film yet though it is sitting about three feet away from me at the moment but in anticipation of seeing Superman and Darkseid throw down I thought I would post some videos of past battles between those two crazy kids.  First up is the fight from the final episode of Superman: The Animated Series.

The reason I like this fight so much is that it ended the series on kind of a downer.  Sure the fight was great and Superman won the physical battle but it didn’t change anything on Apokolips and there was still a healthy amount of distrust on Earth.  It was very dramatic and separated this series from the pack.

Superman talking trash doesn’t always work.  He’s not the kind of character to crack wise or come off as a bad ass during a fight.  Here they rode the line well and I think George Newburn did a fantastic job with the line, “Let’s go.”  They also made Superman a little more bloodthirsty here, but given the circumstances I think it works.

My favorite gag?  The heat vision hot foot.

Pure awesome.

And now a video composed of 100% win.

I like the fact that they call back to their last fight with Darkseid saying, “Let’s go.”  The epicness here comes from Superman’s speech right before he unloads on Darkseid.  I loved it the first time I saw and I still love it.  It kind of ended poorly for Superman but between that and Luthor’s power suit line I dig the hell out of this fight.  Oddly enough Michael Ironside and Clancy Brown shared screen time on ER during that show’s run, so it is neat to see the bad guys from Highlander 1 and 2 working together again.

It is kind of funny though.  As Justice League Unlimited went along the collateral damage kept increasing to the point that in this episode they wreck a good chunk of Metropolis.  It’s cool and disturbing at the same time.

And that is all for today.   I cannot promise that there will be a post tomorrow as I am on stay-cation but I will try,

More to follow…

ASK ME ABOUT THE TWINKIES

A few weeks back I was doing my normal round of blog reading and caught this post  about DC related Hostess treats over at Speed Force.  I was amused and not just because the Green Lantern cupcakes were called, “Glo-Balls.”  Really, Hostess?  That’s the best you could come up with?  Aside from suddenly acting like a fourteen year old I thought it was kind of cool that DC’s 75th Anniversary celebration was so far reaching that they even reached the snack cake world.  I was at Wal-Mart the other night buying some groceries and saw the Flash and Green Lantern related cakes as well as Batman’s cup cake box.  I was literally starting to say, “Where are the Superman related snack treats?” when I saw these.

There it is; my favorite super-hero ever on the box of my favorite snack cakes EVER!

Sometimes it all comes together.

I shouldn’t be this excited over a box of Twinkies but I thought this was really cool.  Not cool enough to buy multiple boxes because I really don’t need to eat that many Twinkies and there is something really gross about keeping a box of snack treats for decades but word on the street the Twinkies would still be good years down the road so there you go.  Still, one box is enough, at least for me.  I’ll probably hang on to the packaging after I am done with the Twinkies in about a week or so.

Superman Twinkies!  What a way to kick off my stay-cation!

Tomorrow: YouTube Tuesday!

More to follow…