Back in the ’90s Wizard: The Guide to Comics was pretty much the bible for most comic fans and comic shop owners. Today it’s somewhat tredy to look back and poke fun at the magazine and to be fair a lot of that poking of fun is well deserved. The thing is that as much as I look at Wizard as one of the prime examples of what made comics in the ’90s…well, comics in the ’90s I must confess that I look back fondly at my time buying the magazine on a monthly basis from 1994 to about 2002. It was fun…something that fit nicely into my life back then but that I wouldn’t do now.
One of the many accusations hurled at Wizard was that they focused mainly on Marvel and later on Marvel and Image and gave DC short shrift. They were kind of up front about this and it would be twenty-four issues until a DC character graced the cover and even then it was a heavily shadowed Azrael as Batman but there’s a story behind that cover which I won’t go into here. I am not usually one to hurl around the word “bias” especially when it comes to comic books but there was a definite bias against DC to the point that while Superman received his own special around the time Reign of the Supermen began (which I talked about here) Superman wouldn’t get the cover treatment of the main book even during the death and return saga. Even when Superman was discussed it was had to find on the cover if at all.
Back in the early nineties DC had this awesome little giveaway that you could find at the comic shop called Direct Currents. On the surface it was one big advertisement for their comics but it also served as a checklist for the DC books that were coming out in a given month. As the “magazine” was being published around the time of the Death and Return of Superman there was an edition dedicated to the first movement of that event. Back when Jeff and I were covering that story over on From Crisis to Crisis someone (and I am very sorry that I forget who that someone was) sent me scans of that edition and I just plain forgot to post it. So I am rectifying that today.
Enjoy and again sorry to whoever sent me this about the whole forgetting that you sent this to me. Let me know who you are and I will give credit where credit is due.
So this is probably going to be the last week of constant Death and Return of Superman coverage here at the Fortress. It’s been a wild ride and I have done pretty much everything I set out to do with not only synching up the content here with what Jeff and I are covering on From Crisis to Crisis and in laying out the history of the storyline as well. I am sure there are things I missed but hopefully I will uncover those artifacts at some point and post them here.
To close things out I have kind of a hodge podge of stuff to post. These are bits of business that I have scanned or were sent to me that I were sent to me last minute, couldn’t find a decent place for or I just plain forgot I had. Today I have an example of the first option as my good friend Shag (he of Firestorm Fan and the Fire and Water Podcast) sent me this a month or so back. For those of you that don’t know Shag managed a comic shop in the mid-nineties and apparently a local newspaper came to his store when Superman #82 hit the shelves. Shag saved that article and now I get to post it here.
I would make a joke about the fact that Shag has hair in that picture, but that seems a bit too easy.
This is an interesting article and I like the fact that they interviewed Roger Stern. It is kind of odd that they credit him as the creator of the Superman: Doomsday action cards but I will chalk that up to the obligatory mistake the writers of this sort of article makes. Unless he wrote the copy for those cards and the writer thought that meant that Roger created the series. It was also a surprise to see Books-A-Million mentioned as I thought that was a fairly recent chain but that only proves that if I haven’t seen it before it’s new to me.
Special thanks again to Shag for sending this to me.
Apparently I didn’t scan all of the interviews that were in that cool folder Alan Leach, Jr. sent to me. Here’s an interview, from PreviewsI believe, with the fantastically talented and all around nice guy (and former guest on From Crisis to Crisis)…JERRY ORDWAY!
In the last post I featured the Wizard Superman Tribute Edition. While Wizard was the most popular of the comic book magazines of the early ’90s it wasn’t the only one. Just about all of the periodicals concerning the four colored world had some sort of Reign of theSupermenarticle or interview and a few of them even made it the cover feature. Here are three of those.
While not as epic as the special they released around the time of the death (which I covered a few months back) the cover to this issue of Comics Values Monthly on this issue is awesome. I was and still am a big fan of the various S symbols they created for the various Supermen and wish they would re-issue the T-shirts that Graphitti Designs put out in the summer of 1993. The article by Neil Hansen is brief but solid and is mainly an interview with Mike Carlin with black and white preview images of the four Supermen to serve as the visuals. It even makes a brief mention of Lois and Clark, which I thought was rather cool.
There was a time when I was a faithful buyer of Comics Scene Magazine. 1992/1993 was not one of those times. I don’t know what led me to stop picking the magazine up every two months but I was not the collector then that I am today. The preview images look great on the slick paper and the article not only teases Reign of theSupermen but also discusses the reactions to the death storyline and the commercial realities of comic book publishing. Lois andClarkgets a mention and Superboy even gets his own sidebar with some quotes from Karl Kesel. Maureen McTigue wrote the article and she would go on to work at DC. I remember seeing her names in the letters pages in the late ’90s so it was neat seeing it here.
Comics Interview began publication in the eighties and was a fantastic magazine that featured, as the name suggests, interviews with comic book creators. I managed to get my hands on a decent run of these back in the late ’90s thanks to the manager at the comic shop I went to at the time. I was surprised to see that Comics Interview went on for as long as it did because most comic book magazines of the eighties were long gone by 1993. I am glad it hung in there because this interview with Roger Stern is twelve pages long and not only covers Reign of theSupermen but also a bit about his run on Spider-Man and other fun bits of business.
And that is all for today. I have recently scanned some more fun Death and Return related goodies and will hopefully be getting them out on a more regular basis now that Jeff and I are nearing the end of Reign of the Supermen. I can’t believe we’re almost there as it seems we have been covering the story forever. It’s been fun, though, and I know I will miss it when it is over.
The Death of Superman made headlines around the world. His return garnered news coverage as well just not on the same level. Christopher J. Warden was nice enough to send me scans of several of those articles and I thank him profusely for doing so. This first one is from the Detroit Free Press.
This next one is a scan from something called Meijer’s Collectors Corner. If the copy of this free giveaway is any indication Meijer was a chain of stores throughout the mid-western United States that decided to jump on the comic book collecting bandwagon because, hey, it was the nineties and everyone was doing it. If Google is any indication this chain is still around today.
I have no idea where this last article comes from but I am suprised that they used Curt Swan art for the piece. Not that I have anything against Curt Swan’s artwork. He’s not my favorite Superman artist but I do respect the man. My point, if I even have one, is that he had nothing to do with Superman’s return.
Today I am feeling kind of basic, which strikes me as a movie quote now that I think about it. Didn’t John Cusak’s character say that in the movie High Fidelity? I think he did. I love that movie. If I was a complete hack I would write my own version set in a comic book store instead of a record store because, let’s face it, that movie nails the collecting mentality and could easily be applied to just about any fandom. Sure the ending would have to change slightly but the heart and soul of the piece would still be there.
Today I have the last two articles sent to me by Christopher J. Warden about the release of Superman #75. The first one is from the Detroit News and it is…odd.
I am kind of curious where the writer, Rob Allstetter, got the idea that Doomsday had paws. Maybe he saw the four pages of Doomsday punching the wall that were at the end of the November 1992 Superman titles and thought, “Hey, that might be a paw.” Or maybe the editor added that later. In any case…weird.
After the confusion over whether or not Doomsday has opposable thumbs we move into the gossip and once again there are the, “Increase or decrease in powers,” and “Superman is going to be so much meaner when he gets back,” rumors followed by a new one (at least as far as my research goes) about Lois and Clark breaking up after the resurrection. It seems strange that a creative team that spent so much time and energy trying to get those crazy kids together would chuck all of that away after Superman came back from the dead. Then again rumors were probably flying fast and furious at the time, so this one is just as valid as the rest of them.
Finally there is a reference to Superman Returns, which surprised me a great deal. I know there was talk of a new Superman film at the time but those rumors centered around a continuation of the Christopher Reeve films or a “Young Superman” film with Gerard Christopher. The title Superman Returns has never come up in any of the articles I have read on the unmade Superman films between Quest For Peace and…well…Superman Returns, which doesn’t mean that it didn’t. I just haven’t seen it yet. I am curious where Rob got that name from.
I am also curious if the Rob Allstetter that wrote this article is the same Rob Allstetter that runs the Comics Contiuum. That would be cool to find out. An e-mail has been sent. Updates will be given as they happen.
Update: Yup, it turns out that the Rob from the article and the Rob from Comics Continuum are one and the same. Seems Rob worked as the Deputy Sports Editor for the Detroit News for about 15 years. And know you know.
It was neat that the Detroit News went with the Adventures of Superman cover as their graphic. In full color even. Awesome.
Before I close up shop for the day here is the final article I was able to find/someone sent me.
“It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a sham.”
And with that one sentence we have the most insulting of the articles I have read. At least they chose a good image to run with the text.
Next time: Doomsday’s Who’s Who in the DC Universe entry.
I believe this article comes from the November 21, 1992 edition of the Morning Call. For those coming in late the Morning Call is the main newspaper in Allentown, PA and from 1986 until 1995 my family lived just outside of Allentown in a sleepy little community called Wescoville. November 21st was a Saturday and I remember that weekend very well. I was a junior at Emmaus High School and that night was going to be the final performance of The Pink Panther Strikes Again, a fun little play I was in based on the 1976 film. My buddy Larry had crashed at my house the previous night and we were watching television when I found this article. That’s when it hit me.
Superman #75 had come out that week.
And I didn’t have a copy.
I plan on telling the whole “epic” saga of how I got my hands on the Doomsday storyline on an upcoming episode of From Crisis to Crisis, so I’ll end that particular story there. What I will go into is the fact that this article brings back a lot of memories for me. There are two comic shops mentioned in the article; Beachead Comics and Cap’s Comics Cavalcade. Cap’s was located near what is now called Lehigh Valley International Airport and was something of a mystery to me for years. I would hear about Cap’s from the other comic collectors I knew in junior high and high school but the one time my Dad and I went looking for it (in those pre-drivers license days) we just couldn’t find the place. I finally tracked it down when I was a freshmen in college and found it to be a nice comic shop that had the exact same back stock that all of the other comic stores in the area had. I am not surprised that Cap’s was one of the comic shops the reporter visited to get quotes for her article as it was one of the bigger shops in the Lehigh Valley.
Beachead Comics is a very special store for me. While it wasn’t where I kept my hold box in November of 1992 it was the first comic shop I ever went to. It was an old school comic shop that smelled like old paper and had mostly wooden fixtures. Every time I went there a large white dog slept or rested near the entrance. That was the shop where I bought Man of Steel and most of the Post-Crisis Superman comics I needed to complete my run when I got serious about collecting the Superman books. The building was on a corner and the front window, which you can see in what I consider to be the main picture of the article, was always covered in promo posters with Alfred was painted on the front door welcoming you in. The side of the building had an awesome mural on it.
I took that picture in July of 2001 when my wife (then girlfriend) and I visited Allentown so I could show her where I grew up. From the looks of it Beachead is still in business, which makes me smile.
As for the article itself, well it reads like the others I have posted. Once again we get the rumor that when Superman comes back he is going to be, as the reporter puts it, “one tough enchilada. Not what I would call the most professional journalism I have ever seen but I guess the writer saw this as a puff piece which, in all honesty, it kind of was.
I would love to post the other part of the article but I can’t seem to locate it. That means one of two things; either I have lost it in the various moves over the years or I never clipped it out. I am willing to bet I never clipped it out which until today has not been a problem. So on the off chance that any of you out there reading this lived in the Lehigh Valley in 1992 and clipped out this article (as unlikely as that sounds) I would appreciate a scan.
Odd to think that next year this article will be twenty years old. That means I have had this little scrap of paper with me for that long and it has lasted through nine moves, one from Pennsylvania to Georgia. It is almost comforting to know that I still have it.
Next time: I was going to post the contents of the collector’s edition of Superman #75 but I haven’t been able to get all of the bits of business scanned or photographed. So instead I will leave the subject of tomorrow’s post a surprise but I am fairly sure you will like it.
Today I conclude the awkwardly named Previews of the Death of Superman series with the solicitations for the final two issues of the Doomsday arc and the first two chapters of Funeral for a Friend that ran in Previews. These made for an odd read. As I mentioned in the first part of this coverage I am very familiar with the Previews of 2003 and onward so I have seen how DC and Marvel and other companies have hyped their bigger stories. This one was a little different. Until Jeffrey and I started covering the Death and Return of Superman I never thought about the business aspect of selling the story to the comic reading audience of 1992. I was afraid that the more I would see of “the man behind the curtain” the more I would become numb to the story. Oddly, surprisingly and happily this hasn’t been the case. If anything seeing stuff like this has added to my enjoyment of the story and event.
One of the first items I posted in the Fortress’ Death and Return of Superman coverage was an interview with Mike Carlin from Advance Comics. If you haven’t read that yet you can head on over here to check it out. Apparently Previews (to put it in poker terms) saw Advance Comics’ interview and raised it by interviewing not one of the creative minds behind the story but three. These were cool to find so I thought I would scan and share them with you.