MAYFAIR: THE SUPERMAN CONNECTION PART 1

In 1985 Mayfair Games unveiled the DC Heroes Role Playing Game.  Given how comic fandom and gaming fandom tend to cross paths from time to time this seemed like a good idea.  Marvel had put out a system through TSR a year before, which seemed to be fairly well received.  DC Heroes had it’s share of players but from what I understand it wasn’t as good.  I am not a gamer myself and have only played one or two RPGs in my lifetime so I am taking the word of friends of mine who either played or looked at Mayfair’s system and from what they tell me the structure of the game left a lot to be desired, particularly the way the stats and the gadget rules were laid out.  However those that played the system told me that once you got around that a fun time could be had by all.

A few years ago thanks to a good friend and some luck I managed to get my hands on both the original 1985 First Edition of the game (to go with a bunch of sourcebooks another friend gave me) and the 1989 Second Edition.  Now despite having no real desire to start a campaign or the patience to teach myself the system I was excited to get both of them.  They’re neat to look at and neat to own.  I’ll get into the two Superman Sourcebook that Mayfair published in future posts but for today I thought it would be fun to go through both of the Editions that I own and see what Superman type stuff they contain.

First up is the original box art from the first edition.  You can really tell that this edition was released in the mid-eighties.  The New Teen Titans are heavily featured right down to the “FEATURING THE NEW TEEN TITANS” logo.  The New Teen Titans was DC’s hottest book at the time and had a pretty big fan base, so it makes sense that they would be prominently displayed.  Then there’s John Stewart serving as Green Lantern on this cover.  Around the mid-eighties Hal had given up being GL, so it’s kind of interesting that they would use John on this particular licensed product since other merchandise, like the Super Powers action figure line, had Hal and seemed only mildly interested in what was going on in the comics.  Finally, you had the mid-eighties Brainiac ship in the background.  I have such a nostalgic love for that design and yes I know that has a lot to do with the fact that I was into the Super Powers action figures while growing up. 

It would have been really awesome if they had made a skull ship toy.  Apparently plans were drawn up for one as can be see HERE but, alas, it was not to be.

(In the interest of full disclosure I did not scan this cover image.  I snagged it from another site and now can’t remember exactly where I got it from, but the box was too big for my scanner.)

DC Heroes First Edition

You have to love the tag line for this edition.  “Be Part of the Legend”.  That’s almost as good as the Super Powers tag line, “Who wins? Who loses? You decide!” but doesn’t quite get there. 

Inside Superman gets some decent attention.  He and the old school, eighties power armor Lex Luthor (another design I will forever dig on because of it’s association the Super Powers line) are featured on the cover of the Gamemaster’s Manual.

Gamesmasters Manuel

He also gets the right hand side of the Game Master’s screen.

Gamemaster's Stand

Now that is classic, eighties Superman right there. 

To go along with the game (and I guess to make playing certain characters easier) Mayfair also included cards that had a picture of the character and their stats.  The Superman related cards were:

Superman (of course)

Superman Mayfair Card 1

Lex Luthor

Lex Luthor Mayfar Card

And Brainiac

Mayfair Brainiac Card

They also had smaller, stand ups type cards as well.

Stand Ups

The second edition of DC Heroeshad a sleeker look to it.  Gone was the George Perez group shot and in was a simple Superman/Batman shot.  The Superman image looks to be the one from the Gamemaster’s Screen.  Again, this isn’t my scan of the front of the box.

DC Heroes Second Edition

There were far less graphics on the various books inside the box and it seemed as if Mayfair was going for a sleeker feel to the system.  This edition also had the then up-to-date histories of the characters from the DCU.  I kind of feel bad for Mayfair when it came to the original system.  They had to put together all of that background material and right when they release the game DC goes and pulls a Crisis on Infinite Earths on them.   

Or maybe they couldn’t afford the rights to the graphics.  It’s fifty-fifty either way, really.

What this addition did have was trading cards…sort of.  Instead of the boxy kind of cards from the previous editions they went with a simpler character image on one side, stats on the back approach.  It was an interesting set, mainly because it included cards for characters from the Watchmen, which were kind of neat.

The Superman related cards were:

Superman

Mayfair Superman Second Edition

Lex Luthor

Mayfair Lex Card 2

And Mr. Mxyzptlk

Mr. Mxyzptlk Card Second Edition

I am kind of curious as to why they included Mr. Mxyzptlk.  Maybe it had something to do with the fact that at the time Superman did not have any visually appealing villains.  I mean they had to include Lex Luthor.  That was kind of a given, but the rest of the Man of Steel’s rogues up to that point weren’t the most impressive in the looks department.  Still, you have to give the Mayfair people props for including the imp from the Fifth Dimension.  Sure he got some face time on the Super Friends and Super Powers animated series but other than that he was pretty obscure.

In the next “thrilling” installment: the first Superman Sourcebook.

More to follow…

SO, THE SMALLVILLE WRITERS HAVE BEEN READING THE COMICS

Saw this and had to laugh.

Lois Lane #29

I mean it totally makes sense, right?  If Batman came on to the show he’d probably get a shot at Lois too,

In the interest of full disclosure I did post something similar to this on another blog I was doing and my Live Journal, but today has been hectic and I wanted to get something out.

More to follow…

ACQUISITIONS FOR 03-25-08

I tend to collect a lot of things involving Superman.  These posts are the newest additions to that collection.

This one was a good deal.

As much as I want to fill the bookshelf with a complete collection of Superman trade paperbacks and such the fifty dollar price tag that most of the DC Archive Editions have is something of a bridge too far for me.  I can’t justify spending that kind of bread for a book no matter how nice they look.  Luckily help is available thanks to my old friend eBay.

Superman Archives Volume 3

I bought Volumes 1 and 2 about ten years ago at this place called Book Nook that used to be in Riverdale, GA.  They were ten bucks a piece and I just couldn’t pass up the deal.  Since then they have been the only Archives on the book shelf until now.  I found this one on eBay a few weeks ago and it had a starting bid of $14.95 with a five dollar shipping charge.  I plugged in a fifteen dollar highest bid and sat for six days completely convinced that someone was going to come in at the last moment and snipe me. 

Thankfully that didn’t happen and I got Volume 3 for twenty bucks.

Can I get a boo yah?

I thought I could.

More to follow…

THAT KIND OF BUGS ME

Just got through with the first season of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman

You know what?  I had forgotten how much I enjoyed the first season of this show.  I guess the third and fourth season (or at least what I saw of the fourth season) left such a bad taste in my mouth that it’s hard to remember that when this program was first on the air nearly fifteen years ago I was a huge fan of it.

I mean it was Superman on television.  How could I not be into it?

Well, at least at first.

The thing that bugs me is that I was listening to the commentary to the pilot episode (because I am that kind of guy) and watching the featurette where the show’s developers and directors and actors talk about how the series came to be the people involved, especially Deborah Joy LeVine (the woman who developed the series for television) they all talk as if they were the first ones to come up with this take on Superman.  LeVine makes it seem as if the Kents being alive, Clark being the real guy and Superman being the costume and the romance of Lois and Clark were all her idea.

This irks me because most of what people seemed to like from the show all came from the comics, specifically the revamp that John Byrne did in Man of Steel and what Marv Wolfman, Jerry Ordway, Roger Stern, Louise Simonson, Dan Jurgens and the rest had done in developing the Superman books into a good mix of super-hero action and soap opera. 

I don’t know why this bugs me, but it does.

Of course the argument could be made that LeVine didn’t do a whole lot of research into the comics before developing the series, but the fact that there is a character named Cat Grant in the first season pretty much shoots that theory to hell.

LeVine bugged me in other ways too.  I could go into how much I hate when producers and directors and writers say things like, “You know, I didn’t want to do a Superman (or any other comic book character) series, but I would like to do a series with the same characters but in a different way,” but that’s a post for another time.

More to follow…

BLOODLINES: THE TRADING CARD CONNECTION

I own a good number of Superman related items.  These posts are meant as a kind of showcase for them.

Bloodlines Logo

I think it is safe to say that Bloodlines, a crossover that ran through DC’s annuals in the spring and summer of 1993, was pretty awful.  The plot wasn’t terrible (alien shapeshifters come to Earth looking for a meal and end up creating a bunch of new metahumans in the process) and the concept was noble in a comic book sense (create a bunch of new heroes and villains) but the execution was terrible.  Simply terrible.  

Not that I knew that at the time.  I was blissfully unaware of Bloodlinesat the time of publication.  I was seventeen at the time and didn’t have a steady source of income, so comics were kind of a luxury.  I bought Adventures of Superman #500 when it came out (on the evening of my junior prom in fact) but it wasn’t until the latter part of the summer that I got caught up on Reign of the Supermen and a year or so after that before I got around to picking up the annuals. 

Steel, Superboy, the Last Son of Krypton (later revealed to be the Eradicator) and even the evil Cyborg were not so fortunate.  In Superman: The Man of Steel Annual #2 Steel was present at the birth of a character named Edge, who could hurl blades, which is cool, right?  Superman Annual #5 gave us the Cyborg dealing with a character named Myriad, who was the trainer that clipped Lex Luthor the Second in Superman (Vol. 2) #77 and was later killed for that act.  Action Comics Annual #5, written by Jeph Loeb, saw the Eradicator dealing with Loose Cannon and Adventures of Superman Annual #5 was the place where Superboy and Sparx met for the first time.  Later the two would star in the very regrettable Superboy and the Ravers.

Since it was the nineties and Bloodlines was a big time comic book event type thing you would be correct if you assumed that it had a trading card set associated with it.  In fact, there was a preview card for the set forced uponus enclosed in the polybagged edition of Adventures of Superman #500.  I always found this kind of amusing.  To me Adventures of Superman #500 always felt like the red-headed stepchild of Superman #75.  Where Superman #75 had the neat, black cover with the bleeding “S”, a poster, an armband, a “newspaper” clipping and a preview card to the Death of Superman trading card set Adventures of Superman #500 had the comic and a preview card for the Bloodlines set.  It’s like the difference between eating a steak at Longhorn or Outback and getting a steak at the Waffle House.  Sure they’re both steak but one is certainly fancier and tastes a whole heck of a lot better than the other.

Like the annuals that were to some an affront to man and God I didn’t get around to buying the trading card set until about 2002 or so.  The only upside to the comic book market crashing in the nineties is that the dealers who were stuck with a bunch of inventory from that time are unloading it on eBay for a song.  I think I paid ten bucks plus shipping for an entire, unopened box, which is good because if you are going to own something awful it is always best to not pay a lot of money for it.

(Comic book trading cards are one of my vices.  I just can’t help myself.)

As I was going through the set I noticed that all four of the supposed Supermen had there own cards.

Steel

Steel Card

Cyborg

Cyborg Card

Eradicator

Eradicator Card

Superboy

Bloodlines Superboy Card

Cyborg even got his own chase card.

Bloodlines Cyborg Chase Card

As I was going through my packs of cards (at work, actually, because I had the closing shift at this convenience store and my boss was pretty cool with what I did between customers as long as I got the side work done) I came across this.

Redepmtion Card Front 

I was intrigued and flipped the card over.

Bloodlines Redemption Back

I was a bit bummed out.  I wanted a “One True Superman” card but it was well past the January 15, 1994 expiration date.  Actually it was nearly ten years passed the expiration date.  If I had found this card back in the summer of 1993 it would have soon looked a lot like this.

Redemption Card Filled

Yes, I remember my address from way back then.  I lived there for nine years.  The house you grew up in and it’s address tends to stick with you.

So I filed the cards away and thought, “Well, that’s that then.  Never going to get that card.  Another grail that slipped through my fingers.”  It never occurred to me to, you know, go back to eBay and search the card down.  Last year the thought finally hit me to do so and soon it was mine.

One True Superman Card

 Neat, huh?  Sorry about the scans of both this and the chase card.  They had a foil look to them and those tend not to scan well.

At some point I’ll track down the other chase cards, but having the “One True Superman” card is good enough for the moment.

More to follow…

AH, WELL THAT EXPLAINS THAT

I’m going through my Post-Crisis on Infinite Earths run of Superman again.  I haven’t read those books in a while and I like to reacquaint myself with them every few years.  Not only is this my favorite era for the character but re-reading those books bring back a lot of good memories.

Plus, I just wanted to, which is the best reason to in my opinion.

The next issue that’s on deck to be read is Superman (vol. 2) #28.

Superman (Vol. 2) #28

This issue kicked off the Exile story arc, which is flat out my all-time favorite Superman story ever.  Love that story.  I’ll get into the whys and wherefores later but something on the cover caught my eye.  Something I had literally never noticed before, which is kind of odd really because I bought this issue off the rack when it was first published.

Here’s what I noticed.

Issue 28 Cover Signature

The “After Steranko” thing just got me curious.  Curious in a way that makes it rather annoying that I had to go to work.  When I got home I did a little research (read: I typed “Steranko covers” into the Google search bar and clicked “Go”) and found the Steranko cover that Kerry Gammil and Dennis Janke were paying homage too.

Nick Fury #6

Now that’s a neat cover.  I have never been a huge fan of Steranko but I like his work and I respect what he brought to the table.

I scanned the cover to Superman #28.  I copied the Nick Fury cover from the Grand Comic Database because, well, I don’t own it.

Mystery solved.  I can sleep peacefully tonight knowing the origin of one of my favorite Superman covers.

And now you know too and knowing, of course, is…something.

More to follow…

ACQUISITIONS FOR 03-21-08

I tend to collect a lot of things involving Superman.  These posts are the newest additions to that collection.

One of the more recent and now out of control sub-genres of my Superman collecting is trade paperbacks, graphic novels, hardcover collections and the like.  Frankly this is the more questionable section of the “archives”.  I own eighty-five percent of the comics that are in the trades sitting on my bookshelf but I like owning them just the same and as much as they are sort of useless they can be quite convenient. 

I mean the choice between having to move and sort through a bunch of short boxes to get what I want to read and simply walking up to the booksshelf is kind of a no-brainer at times.

Today I came home and much like yesterday there was a package for me in the mail.  I ripped open the packing envelope and inside were two trades; Superman: Our Worlds At War Books 1 and 2, both of which were first released in 2002.

Our Worlds At War Book 1 Front

Now what makes this purchase kind of crazy is that I already own the Superman: Our Worlds at War Complete Edition that DC put out in 2006.  That’s the big, honking edition that has the entire saga in one volume, which is quite unwieldy really.  I mean the thing is huge.  I didn’t need to buy these editions, but they are quite nice to own just the same.

Our Worlds At War Book 2 Cover

Plus, I got both for $9.99.  The shipping was free, so that breaks down to nearly five dollars a book.  And they’re in great shape too, so there’s that. 

So yeah, kind of insane to have bought them, but it was a good deal and I like having them on the shelf.

More to follow…

ACQUISITIONS FOR 03-20-08

I tend to collect a lot of things involving Superman.  These posts are the newest additions to that collection.

Today I came home, checked the mail and found a small package that once I got through the wrapping contained this.

Making of Superman Front Cover

This was a book that I barely knew existed and only got interested in tracking it down because they showed Superman Returns co-writer Michael Dougherty reading this on the plane ride to Australia in that exhaustive making of documentary that could be found in both the two-disc special edition release of the film and the 14 disc set that I just had happen to possess.  I re-watched the documentary recently, saw the book, hit my best friend eBay and lo and behold there it was.  I ended up paying $20 all told but that was with shipping and I really wanted to own it.

So that’s awesome.

Here’s the back cover.

Making of Superman Back Cover

I look forward to reading this.  Don’t know how soon I’ll get to it because I have a back log of reading right now, but I think it will be enjoyable.  I’m a bit concerned actually because despite this book being in pretty good shape I am paranoid that once I open it for the first time the thing will either snap in half or crumble to dust in my hands like it just drank from the Holy Grail or something.

I let you know how it goes.

More to follow…