All things considered it’s been a pretty good decade to be a fan of Superman.
It’s kind of odd to write that considering the fact that over the last four years of the previous decade were a slow slide into me dropping the titles, but when you look beyond the comics this has been such a great time to be a fan of the Man of Steel at least in terms of what is available to us in terms of the films and animated series and action figures and all of that. I started thinking about not only what’s available and about my own collection but also what I had as a fan at the beginning of the decade and what I have now and thought it might be worth a lark to discuss.
At first I thought that the main difference between the number of comics I own now compared to the number of comics I owned in the year 2000 would be the number of new issues that have been published since then but it hit me that my personal collection has exploded over the past ten years because I made a concerted effort to bulk up my Pre-Crisis collection, which went from a handful to every main Superman book from 1979 to just a few months ago and a near complete run from 1971 to just a few months ago, so on that front the collection has grown considerably.
In terms of trade paperbacks, though, this has been a huge decade for Superman. Sure there were a number of Superman related trades released during the nineties, but not only is DC putting out every story from the Post-Infinite Crisis era into a hardcover and then a softcover but they are putting out a lot of the older material as well. In 2000 I had a couple of Superman related trades. I estimate that I had at least ten, maybe a few more. Now…well, now the Superman section on my bookshelf looks like this.
And it’s not just the material from the past few years along with the Golden and Silver Age stories. They put out an entire line of John Byrne era trades as well.
So even if you aren’t digging what they are doing in the monthly books there are so many other Superman stories that we now have access to, which is awesome.
At the beginning of 2000 the Superman section of my home video collection consisted of the following:
- Superman: The Movie1
- Superman II, III and IV: The Quest For Peace
- Superman and the Mole Men
- Superman: Last Son of Krypton3
- One or two really cheap copies of the Fleisher Superman animated shorts from the forties.
And that was pretty much it. I also had stacks of VHS tapes containing episodes of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Superman: The Animated Series and a sweet widescreen edition of Superman: The Movie that AMC would show every once in a while, so while I wasn’t hurting for Superman movies and television series to watch it wasn’t the best of quality.
Now, with the exception of the Filmation animated series DVD release, a few of the Super Friends DVD sets, the team-up episodes of The Batman and seasons 7, 8 and soon to be 9 of Smallville I have everything else and that includes doubles of movies and episodes of the various animated series because they would release a couple of four episode DVDs of the Super Friends, Justice League and Superman: The Animated Series followed by the box sets not to mention the fact that I bought both the initial Superman film series box set back in 2001 and then the truly epic 14 disc set that came out at the end of 2006. I have not purchased the various single disc releases of the films nor did I pick up the one or two sets of the Christopher Reeve films because I had them already, but still if you want those movies or Superman Returns or the George Reeves series or Lois and Clark or the animated series or the serials or even the Ruby Spears series from 1988 you can get it.
Heck, they’re about to release the Superboy shorts that Filmation produced to go along with the Superman series. Now if Warner Bros can get off their butts and release the rest of the live action Superboy series from the late eighties and early nineties I could have all of it as soon as the funds are there to buy them, but that doesn’t look likely.
Video games? There was Superman: Shadows of Apokolips, Superman Returns, the Xbox Superman game and he appeared in the Justice League: Heroes game and and the DC vs. Mortal Kombat. Some games were better than others but it is still kind of awesome. I rather liked Shadows of Apokolips except for the ending. Then again I am not much a gamer, so the only one of these I own outside of Justice League: Heroes is the Shadows game though Superman Returns for PS2 is on its way4.
Then there are soundtracks. Before 2000 there was an LP, probably an eight track, cassette tape and CD release of the Superman: The Movie score5. Superman II and III had LPs of their scores6, though in all three cases it was an abridged score. It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s Superman had a cast recording on tape and CD7. There was a CD featuring selections from the music of Lois and Clark8. I think there was a similar release for the George Reeves Adventures of Superman series, but that could have been after 20009. There was an extended score for Supergirl10. There was also a soundtrack to the Steel film11 The cherry on top of all of this there were several collections of the radio series released and the BBC produced Superman Lives/Superman: Doomsday and Beyond12.
So when you look at it there was a lot available to us in terms of Superman music, especially when, towards the end of the decade, there was that Varese Sarabande re-recording of the Superman: The Movie score with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Superman: The Ultimate Collection, also put out by Varese Sarabande13. How could you possible top any of that?
Enter Film Score Monthly.
In 2000 Rhino Records put out a nice two-disc complete score to Superman: The Movie. I was very excited to get this. Also Superman Returns had a score released, but that was abridged and the best cues were not on that release. In 2008, though, things changed when Film Score Monthly released Superman: The Music (1978-1988).
(Cue angelic choir.)
Not only did they have two discs worth of Superman: The Movie. Not only did Superman II and Superman III finally get a full score release. Not only is there a CD full of extras including alternate takes and cues and other random sort of music but…BUT…there is also two, count them TWO, discs worth of the Superman IV: The Quest for Peace AND a disc worth of music from the Rudy Spears Superman animated series.
Awesome doesn’t even begin to describe this. I plunked down the hundred or so dollars to buy this bad boy. I am so freaking happy to have this.
So yeah, there hasn’t been much in the way of new releases and such but what we got was choice.
And let’s not forget the fact that Smallville, Justice League, Justice League Unlimited, Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes, Krypto: The Super-Dog and The Batman were all on television and Superman Returns was in theaters.
Sure, Superman Returns had some serious problems, but man it was great to see Superman on the big screen
Going into the new century I had a fair amount of Superman action figures. Between the 1995 Kenner line, the 1996 animated line, the Total Justice figure and the JLA exclusive to K-B Toys figures I was doing pretty good. I didn’t have them all but looking back I am impressed at the number of Superman related figures that were available but it is a drop in the bucket compared to the number of Batman figures that came out during the same time period, but Batman did have a successful until that last one film franchise and a popular animated series as well.
The past ten years have been very good to Superman on several action figure fronts. For one thing once he started getting DC Direct figures the floodgates were opened and I bought a whole bunch of these. Too many in fact. I mean look at these shelves.
Not only that but Mattel has released a good number of Superman figures as part of their DC Universe lines as well as a whole bunch of Superman Returns figures.
So it has been a good decade on that front as well.
All in all I think the last ten years have been good for the Man of Steel. Sure Superman Returns wasn’t everything we wanted it to be but if you look at the comics and television and music and video games, etc. it’s been pretty cool. Maybe I am the last person that should be saying this considering how negative I can get about these things but with everything we have available to us now it doesn’t matter what type of Superman fan you are there is something for you.
Now if I could just find the room for all of this crap I own.
Next time; YouTube Tuesday!
More to follow…
- Two versions; one that was, at the time, a more recent copy that had a line through the bottom of the screen no matter how many times I returned it and got a new copy and an original VHS copy that is just neat to see. ↩
- Yes, I own Steel, it’s bad, big whoop, wanna fight about it? ↩
- The first three episodes of Superman: The Animated Series. ↩
- I paid five bucks for it on eBay. Awesome. ↩
- I only owned the cassette and the CD of this score. ↩
- I never owned either of these, sadly. ↩
- Had the cassette and eventually bought the CD. ↩
- Got it. ↩
- Have this too. ↩
- This is a really good score and I was happy to find it. ↩
- Yes, I own this too. Again, sadly. ↩
- So yeah, own these as well. ↩
- Bought these both on the same day ↩