WHICH SUPERMAN IS IT? or BEING PICKY ABOUT LABELS IS A BLOGGER’S JOB

The past six months have been good for as a Superman fan.

Seriously.  It’s been awesome.  Tyler Hoechlin’s version of both Superman and Clark was amazing.  Comixology has been adding more and more Post Crisis issues to their site.  There have been a number of fantastic trade paperbacks and hardcovers and omnibuses coming out with more to follow.  On top of all of that the new comics DC has been publishing have been amazing and I look forward to each new issue.

I haven’t been this happy with just about everything involving the Man of Steel in years.

However…

There has been one thing that’s been nagging at the back of my mind since Jurgens started writing this version of Superman back in Convergence.  It’s seriously nit picky but it’s there just the same.

Which Superman are we seeing the current books?

Part of me wants to answer that which with, “It doesn’t matter.  The books are good.  Shut up and enjoy yourself,” but that’s not how my brain works.  I’m the guy that argues that the Earth-2 Superman from the Pre-Crisis days was not the Superman we saw in the Golden Age comics.  His backstory was largely taken from the books but in reality he was a character created in the late sixties and further developed in the seventies to be a version of Superman that started his career in the thirties and aged to the then present.  It doesn’t take away for the love and affection I have for that version of Superman.  Not in the least.  The Earth-2 Superman is one of my favorite iterations of the Man of Steel but calling him the Golden Age Superman implies that he is the Superman you saw in the early issues of Action Comics and he isn’t.

He’s “a” Golden Age Superman but he’s not “the” Golden Age Superman because he still worked for the Daily Star until the fifties and other minor inconsistencies.

What about the current Superman flying around in the pages of Superman and Action Comics and other books?  Some people call him the Pre-Flashpoint Superman.  Others are happy that the Post Crisis Superman has returned.  Still others probably don’t care but I’ve been curious about this since they announced that Superman: Lois and Clark was going to be a mini-series.  The Post Crisis Superman and the one that existed after Infinite Crisis are similar in character history but there are significant differences between the two, especially when it comes to Krypton and Lex Luthor.  The Krypton of the Post Crisis Superman was a sterile world full of bio-suits, funky headdresses and death and Superman met that version of Lex when he was an adult.  After Infinite Crisis  Krypton was more like the one seen in Superman: The Movie and Lex and Clark met in Smallville when they were teenagers.

The element that muddles the question the most is the fact that the current Superman is married to Lois.  While the Earth-2 Superman married the Lois from his reality he was never the main version of the character DC went with.  It wasn’t until 1996 that Lois and Clark tied the knot for reals.  This was something that the powers that be carried over after Infinite Crisis, which surprised me at the time because it seemed like the best time to make that change if they were going to do so.  I guess married Superman still had some pull until the New 52.  Superman marrying Lois is more associated with the Post Crisis version so the fact that the current Man of Steel is married it’s easy to assume that he’s Post Crisis all the way.

Thankfully the sleepless nights this question caused me (or would have caused me if I actually had any sleepless nights) are over.  On the second page of Action Comics #970 the question is resolved.

So there you have it.  This is definitely the Post Infinite Crisis/Pre-Flashpoint Superman.  The one that existed between 2006 and 2011.  Patrick Zircher even drew young Lex like Gary Frank did in Superman: Secret Origin.

In the end it doesn’t really matter.  That part of my brain that just wants me to shut up and enjoy the comics is ultimately correct.  My era of Superman has been over for nearly a decade.  As long as the Superman in the comics I read feels close to what I want to see in the character and as long as the stories are good I should be satisfied and for the moment I am.  The writing and art on both Superman and Action Comics have been top notch and most of the side books have been fantastic as well.

But for the record it’s not the Post Crisis Superman.

I mean technically it is because every story after Crisis on Infinite Earths is Post Crisis.  It’s just not that Post Crisis Superman.

SECRET FILES FRIDAY – CLARK KENT

Welcome to another installment of Secret Files Friday!  I have gone and run out of Superman related Who’s Who entries to post so I have moved on the the Secret Files and Origins entries that popped up starting in late 1997.  While they weren’t as detailed as Who’s Who I have a real soft spot for the Secret Files and Origins line so I wanted to give them some love.  The week’s entry is Clark Kent!

(originally published in Superman Secret Files and Origins #1, January 1998)

FORTRESS ARCHIVES – DC CO-OP AD SLICK: ACTION COMICS #643

This is one of those pieces that I don’t know much about but thought it was cool just the same.

This was part of something called DC Comics Co-Op Ad Slicks.  My assumption is that at one point DC Comics would partner with comic shops for cross promotional services.  The blurb on the first page of the eight page packet states, “Remember…all co-op ad expenditures must be approved in advance by your authorized DC Comics distributor to guarantee your eligibility for reimbursement.  All DC Comics co-op ads must include proper DC Comics, Inc. copyright and trademark notices.  Ads submitted without proper notices will not be eligible for full reimbursement.”  My educated guess is that DC would send these packets out to comic shops and the shops could then use the artwork as part of any ads it placed in newspapers or maybe even the phone book and DC would somehow reimburse the shop for the advertisement as long as it met the copyright requirements.

Why does that matter?

DC (and Marvel and Disney and basically any company that owns intellectual property) is very sensitive about how their copyrighted characters are used.  When a comic shop would advertise in a newspaper the shop owner would pay money for that ad and if that ad featured Superman and Batman that newspaper would be making money off of printing something that featured characters DC owned.  This is why having the proper copyright notices in place is important.  If the copyright notices are there and the whole things was approved by the authorized DC Comics distributor then DC knows that the ad is legit.

Again, I have done no research into this but my gut tells me that someone in DC’s marketing department or maybe even their direct sales department got the bright idea that if they partnered with comic shops to help shoulder some of the advertising costs for that shop their characters would be featured in the shop’s promotional material.  It’s not free advertising because DC is paying out some money but having their product featured in the ads means they get a little more light on them.  This is a common practice in retail.  Companies will pay stores to feature their products in key locations.  Next time your at the check-out at the grocery store pay attention to what products are offered near the registers.  The companies that make those products made a deal with the store to put those products there.  If someone sees an ad in the paper for a comic shop and Superman is featured that person might be more likely to buy a Superman comic.

To be honest the main reason I bought this package is that I love Perez’s cover to Action Comics #643.  It’s a beautiful homage to Superman #1 and I was so excited when this book came out back in 1989.  It was the continuation of a great era for Superman and finding it in this format is neat.

The other ads are cool as well.  There are three Batman related ads which is not a surprise considering this was sent to shops in 1989 so DC was pushing Batman trades (Dark Knight ReturnsBatman; Year OneBatman: The Killing Joke and Batman: Son of the Demon), the official movie adaptation and Batman Year Three in three separate ads.  There is a Question/Arrow ad hawking their team-up in the Question and Green Arrow annuals from that year.  Hawkworld, the three issue prestige format series, gets an ad as did The Art of Walt SimonsonEl Diablo (the Gerard Jones/Mike Parobeck series) and there was even a Justice League International ad featuring JLI trades, annuals and the latest issues of both Justice League America and Justice League Europe.

I love theme time capsules.  I really do.

FORTRESS ARCHIVES – SMITHSONIAN POSTCARD (1987)

Superman’s 50th Anniversary was a big deal.  I’m not writing that because I’m a fan of the character and constantly have my rose tinted contacts in.  DC and Warner Bros. went all out in celebrating the Golden Anniversary of the Man of Steel.

I mean there was a network television special that aired on February 29, 1988.  It’s not all that good but that’s significant.

The party went all the way to Washington D.C.  The National Museum of American History, part of the Smithsonian Institution, had a year long exhibit called Superman: Many Live Many Worlds.  Two of my mother’s sisters lived in reasonable driving distance of D.C. so my family made frequent trips to the Smithsonian and one of those trips fell during the Superman exhibit.  I posted pictures sent to me by Alan Leach, Jr.  from the exhibit back in 2012 so be sure to click on this link to check those out.  Today I’m sharing a recent acquisition that I found on eBay.  The following scans are of the front and back to the postcard you could get at the exhibit.  It’s not the most spectacular looking postcard but I thought it was neat.  I am fairly sure I grabbed one of these back in 1987 but that one is lost to the ages.  Now I have another one and I think it is a fun addition to the Fortress Archives.

Enjoy the scans!

HAPPY NEW YEAR 2017!

Well…it’s a new beginning for the Fortress at any rate.  Plans are in motion to bring this blog back online with regular posts in the near future.  It might take a few weeks but between having some episodes of From Crisis to Crisis in the can and mapping out some new features plus getting some old features up and running again I should have this place back to a five post a week schedule.

I hope everyone had a great holiday season and New Years.  It was relatively low key here at the Fortress but I got some fun Superman stuff for Christmas which I’ll be sharing soon.  I know it’s been dark around here for a long time but I’ve got the green crystal back in the chamber and between the 20th anniversary of the Electric Blue Superman and a few other things I’ll have plenty to discuss.

Especially around June…when a celebration will begin.

A celebration marking three decades of a certain someone collecting the Superman books.

More to follow…promise!