HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SUPERMAN!

Today is February 29th.  Leap Day.  For those that have always wondered why there are leap years and leap days here’s the reason; despite what you might think the Earth does not take 365 days to travel around the sun.  It actually takes 365 and 1/4 days, so every four years they add a day to the end of February to balance everything out.  The reason it is called “leap day” is that in a normal sequence of years June 3rd (for example) will fall on a Monday one year and then fall on a Tuesday the next.  Every four years June 3rd will “leap over” the expected day it was supposed to fall on and end up on Thursday instead of Wednesday and thus a fun bit of calendar weirdness is born.

I have a vested interest in Leap Days because I was born on one.  I made my first appearance (to use a Who’s Who term) on February 29th, 1976.  So depending on how you want to look at it I am either turning thirty-six or nine this year.  For most of my life I have thought of myself as a leap baby though I have recently found out that I could also call myself a leapling, which makes me sound like a young Jedi born on February 29th, or a leaper, which makes me sound like a fan of Quantum Leap.  Actually I am a fan of Quantum Leap, so that term works out just fine for me.

There have been a number of famous people born on February 29th.  Actor Dennis Farina, the voice of Wildcat on Justice League Unlimited is one.  Actor Antonio Sabato, Jr., who played Deathstoke on Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman is another.  There is also AIDS activist Pedro Zamora (best known for being on the Real World and the inspiration for Judd Winick’s graphic novel Pedro and Me) and rapper/actor Ja Rule.

Oh, and Superman.

I was in the fifth grade when I found out that Superman’s supposed birthday was February 29th.  It was right around the time I started buying the comics on a regular basis and I thought and still think it is awesome.  A little less than a year later in 1988 DC celebrated Superman’s 50th Anniversary and not only was there a cover story in Time Magazine (which is where the picture you see above this paragraph came from, though I had to yank this from Google Images because I couldn’t scan it myself) but also a prime time special produced by Lorne Michaels that NBC aired on February 29th of that year.

Between that and my sister Mary buying me a copy of Action Comics #600 and a VHS tape that contained 3 episodes of the Fleisher Superman shorts it was a great 12th/3rd birthday.

(The special is a bit silly.  Actually it is very silly but I liked it at the time and was happy to see that Warner Brothers included it in the fourteen disc box set of the Superman films that was released in 2006.)

Superman’s 50th anniversary also made the national news.  YouTube helped me find this Headline News piece…

…as well as this newscast from Sacramento, California.

That second video rode annoyed me a bit.  It was nice of that station to do a piece on Superman’s birthday, but did they really have to make the fact that Superman wasn’t selling as well as he used to the hook of the story?  Also I thought it was funny that they used a piece of art from Action Comics #600 featuring Lois Lane in disguise as an example of what the character looked like at the time compared to how she looked in 1938.

Oh well.  News items about comic books usually have these problems.  The video was neat to find nonetheless.

Apparently WWOR (Channel 9 out of New York City) got in on the anniversary fun by running a marathon of the George Reeves Adventures of Superman television series.  It was hosted by Jack Larson, the Jimmy Olsen from that show and in searching for the videos I posted above I also found the introduction of that marathon on YouTube

In addition to the magazine coverage and the news reports and the television specials the Smithsonian National Museum of American History had a year long Superman exhibit starting in 1987.  I was lucky enough to get to see the exhibit thanks in large part to the fact that I had two aunts that lived near Washington, D.C. and my family would make frequent trips to the Smithsonian.  I never got a chance to take pictures of the various displays but my good friend Alan Leach, Jr. did and a few years ago he sent them to me.  Today seemed like a good day to share them.

I’d like to thank Alan for sending me those photos.  Just like finding out that Superman and I had the same birthday the timing of me getting into the comics and this exhibit being shown to the public was just perfect.  It was also the first time that something in a museum spoke to me on a personal level.  One of the pictures above shows the tear-away shirt the Christopher Reeve wore in one of the Superman films and that was the first time I realized that the shirt he ripped open to reveal the S underneath was actually designed to be ripped open.  This exhibit was also when I learned that George Reeves wore two different colored costumes on the Adventures of Superman television series.

On another personal note I am glad that Alan got a picture of the “how a comic is made” display.  The artwork is from Superman (vol. 2) #8, which was one of the two Superman books that got me to start buying the titles full time.  I like when things line up like that.

I will admit to being curious as to why there is an issue of Captain America in one of the pictures.  That’s…strange.

One last image before I sign off for the day.  This is another picture I found through Google Images and thought it was too cool to pass up.

That is it for today, folks.  I hope you liked the images and the videos as much as I did.  This post has nothing to do with the Death and Return of Superman but I couldn’t pass up the chance to wish the Man of Steel a very happy birthday.  I know it isn’t his real birthday but if it was good enough for DC Comics and Alan Moore then it is good enough for me.

More to follow…

RANDOM DEATH AND RETURN OF SUPERMAN IMAGE

Things are kind of quiet around the Fortress these days.  As I wrote yesterday Jeff and I are at the halfway point with the Death and Return of Superman and we’re at the period of time when the regular titles were on hiatus.  So there isn’t a whole lot of content related to the story that I can post because, well, there isn’t a whole lot of content to be had.  So today I have a random image to share that I thought you might like

In the comics this is the plaque that was placed on the ground outside of the Daily Planet building to mark the spot where Superman died.  The art in this image is by Dan Jurgens and comes from Adventures of Superman #500.  I was scanning some pages from that book to post here in the weeks to come, came across this panel and thought I would grab it.  I am glad I did.  It is rather cool.

And that’s it for today.  I feel like I should have more to post but the muse is not there today.  Plus, random images are fun and don’t need a lot of explanation.

Next time: Happy birthday, Superman!

More to follow…

THE HALFWAY POINT

A few days ago Jeffrey Taylor and I recorded episode 128 of From Crisis to Crisis: A Superman Podcast.  In that episode we covered The Legacy of Superman special which was released about a month after the final chapter of Funeral For a Friend and features five stories starring the supporting heroes that were part of Superman’s world at the time.  As I was shutting down the computer for night after we finished recording the episode something hit me.

We’re halfway through The Death and Return of Superman.

Well, we’re not exactly halfway through.  Doomsday was seven parts counting the Justice League America crossover.  Funeral For a Friend was nine parts, again counting the Justice League America crossover.  Then there is Legacy of Superman, Supergirl and Team Luthor and Adventures of Superman #500, which depending on how you look at it is either an epilogue for Funeral For a Friend or a prologue for Reign of the Supermen.  So that adds up to nineteen books that we have covered thus far.  Reign of the Supermen is comprised of twenty comics counting the Green Lantern crossover.  So with Legacy out of the way, we are two books away from the halfway point.

Technicalities aside it is a bit surreal to actually be at this point.  I have talked and written in the past about the fact that getting to this storyline in and of itself was a bit strange because for the longest time (over two years in fact) it was this impossible goal that seemed way off in the future and “suddenly” here we were.  Now we’re at the halfway point and oddly enough the end of Reign of the Supermen still feels very far away even though I know Jeffrey and I will cover it in about the same amount of time as it took us to cover the first half.  So it is interesting that even now while we’re in the midst of this storyline the end still feels like it will take “years” for us to get to even though we’re a short three months away from having the whole thing wrapped up.

This journey through the Death and Return of Superman has been an interesting one.  On one hand I am reliving a very particular time in my life.  On the other hand I am looking at this story through the filter of not only being twenty years (or so) older but also having experienced another twenty years (or so) of Superman comics.  What makes me happy and comes as no small relief is that the bulk of the story still holds up incredibly well.  Sure I have had nit-picks along the way but overall the Death and Return of Superman as a whole has been a fantastic story that has been equal parts emotion and action.  I am curious as to how certain elements of Reign of the Supermen are going to hold up (I am thinking specifically of a villain called The Stinger) but overall I think the story will be a lot of fun to re-read.  We’ll see how that works out.

For the moment I will enjoy where Jeffrey and I are with the show.  I don’t know if any other storyline we cover will be as emotional or exhaustive as this one is turning out to be.  We still have a long way to go with our mandate of covering every Superman book from Man of Steel #1 to Adventures of Superman #649 and when I write “a long way to go” I mean fifteen years worth of comic books.  I’m looking forward to getting to all of that, though.  As much fun as this storyline has been there are a lot of good (and some bad) Superman stories still left to cover.  It should be a fun ride.

More to follow…

SUPERMAN IN WHO’S WHO: 90’S EDITION PART 21

This is it, folks.  After about three straight weeks Superman in Who’s Who: 90′s Edition concludes today.  It has been a long and somewhat strange journey.  I hope that those of you that have never seen these entries before liked them and maybe even learned a thing or two about the characters.  To those that have seen them before I hope this was a fun bit of nostalgia about a very particular time in the life of the Man of Steel.

Today I wrap things up with the Geography and Technology related Superman entries.  I feel kind of bad ending this series with an image dump (for lack of a better term) but I didn’t feel that any of these entries deserved their own day.  I also feel bad that I have to do something I really don’t like to do and that is swipe an image from another site but in the case of the Fortress of Solitude entry I couldn’t get a really good scan of the image because it was one of the four fold out entries that was in this iteration of Who’s Who.  So while the entry itself is my scan the “front” part isn’t.  I actually copied it from a DC Wikia page.

And here we go.

And that is that.

Posting these entries has been a lot of fun.  I have been meaning to do this for years and now it is done and I feel an odd sense of accomplishment.  Come back on Monday and find out what I have in store for you now that I don’t have the crutch of a bunch of image files to rely on for content.

More to follow…

SUPERMAN IN WHO’S WHO: 90’S EDITION PART 20

Superman in Who’s Who: 90′s Edition continues today with the eleventh (and final) in a fairly lengthy series of posts about the men and women that opposed the Man of Steel in the late eighties and early nineties.  Today I present a handful of villains that were all strictly Post Crisis.  Some are good.  Some are bad.  Some are silly.  Enjoy.

I disagree that the next character is a villain, but I guess they had to classify him somehow.

And that is it for the villains, everybody.  It was a long and strange journey but we got through it together.  I hoped you liked this leg of my Who’s Who related posts.

Next time: Krypton!

More to follow…

SUPERMAN IN WHO’S WHO: 90’S EDITION PART 19

Superman in Who’s Who: 90′s Edition continues today with the tenth in a fairly lengthy series of posts about the men and women that opposed the Man of Steel in the late eighties and early nineties.  Today we have another Bronze Age idea with a late eighties/early nineties makeover and not for the last time it involves something created by Jack “The King” Kirby.  It is fair to say that Jack Kirby’s fingerprints are all over the Post Crisis Superman.  As a teenager I didn’t get much out of all the Kirby references.  As a young man in my twenties they did nothing for me.

Now…now I think they are awesome.

Enjoy this Intergang entry.

Next time: A heaping, helping dose of the “newer” villains from this era.

More to follow…

SUPERMAN IN WHO’S WHO: 90’S EDITION PART 18

Superman in Who’s Who: 90′s Edition continues today with the ninth in a fairly lengthy series of posts about the men and women that opposed the Man of Steel in the late eighties and early nineties.  The members of Superman’s rogues gallery are mostly male, but there are a few ladies in that group and today I have two of them for you.  Their motivations are wildly different.  One was looking for a husband and would eventually join the Justice League.  The other liked used book stores and was looking for revenge on the men in her family that done her wrong.  Both are compelling in their own ways and both would eventually find their way to Smallville, which I find amusing for some reason.  In any case, here are Maxima and the Silver Banshee, which to me sounds like the name of a sitcom from the late seventies/early eighties.

Next time: Intergang.

More to follow…

SUPERMAN IN WHO’S WHO: 90’S EDITION PART 17

Superman in Who’s Who: 90′s Edition continues today with the eighth in a fairly lengthy series of posts about the men and women that opposed the Man of Steel in the late eighties and early nineties.  This time out I present a couple of villains that originally appeared in the Bronze Age but eventually received Post Crisis makeovers.  I liked both of these revamps quite a bit.

Yes, even Terra-Man.

Next time: One’s looking for a husband.  The other is looking for a book.  Frankly I think the sitcom writes itself from there.

More to follow…

SUPERMAN IN WHO’S WHO: 90’S EDITION PART 16

Superman in Who’s Who: 90′s Edition continues today with the seventh in a fairly lengthy series of posts about the men and women that opposed the Man of Steel in the late eighties and early nineties.  Today we have a character that is listed as a villain and at the time this entry was published I would have agreed with that label.  Later on…not so much.

Next time: A couple of Bronze Age villains gets a “modern” makeover.

More to follow…

SUPERMAN IN WHO’S WHO: 90’S EDITION PART 15

Superman in Who’s Who: 90′s Edition continues today with the sixth in a fairly lengthy series of posts about the men and women that opposed the Man of Steel in the late eighties and early nineties.  Once again you are getting another one-two punch of villains this time with a supernatural theme.  Actually, I would argue that the first character is truly  a villain.  In a recent episode of From Crisis to Crisis I referred to him as chaotic good but the more I think about it the more I believe he might be more chaotic neutral.  In any case these two characters are related, so I thought it might be a good idea to post their entries on the same day.

Next time: Another character that I hesitate to call a villain, especially when you consider his ultimate fate.

More to follow…