Episode 6: The Superman That Might Have Been

For the sixth episode of the show I am joined by Trentus Magnus to discuss the Supeman that might have been. Back in 1999 the Superman titles went through a regime change when Eddie Berganza took over as editor and made some major adjustments to the creative teams. Gone were the likes of Dan Jurgens and Louise Simonson and Jon Bogdanove and in were the likes of Jeph Loeb and Joe Kelly and the hundred guys that wrote Adventures of Superman before Joe Casey took over the book. The thing is there could have been another team of creators entirely and the plans they had would have changed Superman even more than what eventually happened to the character in the early 2000’s. Writers Mark Waid, Tom Peyer, Mark Millar and Grant Morrison put together a proposal that would have revamped Superman for the next millennium with a direction that is both awesome and worrisome at the same time. Magnus and I go through the proposal and along the way talk about our thoughts on the elements that these four powerhouse writers wanted to change or keep (but mostly change). It’s a fun conversation that ended up taking longer to release than I thought and for that I apologize to both Magnus and you, the listeners.

After that I am solo with the usual listener feedback section as well as my thoughts on the return of the red trunks, Action Comics #1000’s many covers and the fact that Brian Michael Bendis is going to be the main writer on Superman starting in May.

The proposal Trentus and I are referring to can be found at Superman Thru The Ages and if you click this link you will be taken to the history of the proposal and the proposal itself.

Trentus Magnus hosts Trentus Magnus Punches Reality over at The Two True Freaks Podcasting Network. During episode I mentioned that Trentus did a fantastic look at the Pre-New 52 Legion and that I would put that episode number in the show notes. I don’t know if it’s the cold I currently have or what but I cannot find that episode number to save my life. Still, check out Trentus’ show. It’s good value.

Next Time: Something fun. I’m not sure what it’s going to be just yet but something fun.

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  1. This was an excellent episode, and well worth a wait. Thank you both for a fascinating discussion of the Superman 2000 Proposal. It sounds like something I’d probably have liked, overall, at the time, and not just in hindsight. I grew up in the Silver Age and read continuously through the Bronze Age, Crisis on Infinite Earths, through the John Byrne Reboot, and the Death and Return of Superman, and had become very disillusioned with what I saw as DC’s casting aside of much that I loved, to the point that, by the late ’90s, I was reading comics only sporadically. I think I’d have seen the implementation of this proposal, or as much of it as would have been accepted, as an acknowledgement, at least, of all that had come before. I wouldn’t have wanted fans of the newer version of Superman to have *their* version erased, but I’d have been pleased to have DC say, in some fashion, “Yes, there was value in the stories you loved, and we will not deny their importance, just because we no longer want to tell them.” As with any reboot, retcon, or revision, though, who knows how long it would have lasted, or whether it would have gone as planned? It’s interesting to think of, though. Also, I know I’d have LOVED that Fortress of Solitude.
    I was surprised to hear, in your discussion, reference to ideas like Luthor’s businessman “secret identity”, or of Superman’s being able to read people’s electrical auras, as new or newly expanded, in this proposal. I remember seeing these much earlier, particularly in “Superman: Last Son of Krypton” and “Miracle Monday”, two excellent Superman novels by Elliot S! Maggin, in the late ’70s and early ’80s. If you haven’t read those in a while, you might enjoy going back and revisiting them some time.

  2. Mazinger1978 says:

    Another great episode Michael.

    I feel the same way about Brian Michael Bendis. While I enjoyed Powers and some of his other creator owned stuff, his superhero books are hit or miss with me. But, I sull pre-ordered Action #1000.

  3. Martin Gray says:

    Terrific episode. While I like all the writers involved, I’m not sure I’d have enjoyed the proposal being implemented. All that aura reading – as Dave says, the idea wasn’t new, but emphasising it would only make Superman more alien. My Superman is a regular guy with some amazing tricks up his sleeve, not someone who tries to fit in but will forever be apart. I don’t want Dr Manhattan with an S on his chest.

    My reading started with Silver Age Superman too, if a few years after the books appeared – I was reading early Sixties stuff in handed-down comics at the same time I was buying Bronze Age books off the stands. And while I think there was the odd SA imaginary story with Superman depicted as an immortal, it’s not an idea I like – again, it distances Superman too much from those around him. I want Lois and family to be his happy ending, for them to grow old together. He’s aged normally so far, why would the process start slowing down?

    And what’s this idea that Superman has an open posture at all times because he has never felt pain? Yes, he should be super-approachable, but he also needs to be on his guard – he DOES have vulnerabilities, he HAS felt pain.

    Movie Clark spent 12 years in the Fortress with a Jor-El hologram? Glad I never noticed that, how depressing. I hate Jor-El holograms, especially that one on Smallville that manages to be a recording able to have conversations. Just one more reason I gave it up early on (whiny Clark and sobbing Lana being the main ones).

    As for Brian Bendis, he’s obviously a fan, he’s made some great comments about Clark and Lois… but I’m not sure his scripting style will fit the world of Superman… and what the heck is happening with the Supergirl comic, it’s vanished from the schedule with no FINAL ISSUE tag? Still, I shall give him a few issues.

  4. Ward Hill Terry says:

    Hi Michael,
    This was a fascinating discussion. I wish I had kept notes while I was listening. I do have one thing I’d like to share. I was intrigued when you read from the proposal about the changes DC had made to Superman about “every fifteen years.” In the broad context it made sense. However, as I was reflecting on it, I think the idea falls apart, especially at the time of this proposal. My view, from a long-way off, as I stopped reading Superman comics in 1987 or thereabouts, is this; from the time of the late 1980s re-boot to the end of the century, Superman had been in CONSTANT change! The NEW Superman; Superman is dead; Electric Superman; long-haired Superman; Superman Red and Blue; Superman is married; Clark Kent is dead…
    Furthermore, the books changed from stories to multi-part epics. It seems as though the writers kept trying to top the previous epic. It was no longer Superman vs. The Parasite, Superman outwits Terra-Man, Superman defeats Metallo. It was Superman-faces-his-greatest-challenge-yet-and-his-life-will-neve-be-the-same-again! Every time.
    This is what I glean from listening to you, and other podcasts. I have not read these stories, and the work of almost of the creative people you mentioned is unknown to me.
    IMHO, not that anyone asked, is Superman is highly aware of how different he is, and of his responsibility to to the best he can. As Clark, people will relate to him normally, and in that way he can feel connected.

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