HALLOWEEN/SAMHAIN 2012

Happy Halloween/Samhain 2012, everyone!  To celebrate this awesome holiday I thought it would be fun to dust off a classic episode of the World’s Greatest Super Friends (which was the 1979-1980 season/iteration of the Super Friends franchise) titled Universe of Evil.  This one always spooked me as a kid because it was evil,”scary” looking versions of the Super Friends, especially Superman, from an alternate universe.  If you have never seen this I hope you get a kick out of it and if you haven’t seen it in a while check it out because it is quite the awesome.

Enjoy.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czLnzWiLooM

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfTcPBm-g2E

Scary Superman is scary.

I really like this episode.

More to follow..

YOUTUBE TUESDAY – SUPERMAN: TAS BEHIND THE SCENES

Welcome back to YouTube Tuesday, the day of the week where I get to be really lazy and instead of posting anything of substance I distract you with a shiny video.  This week I present one of the featurettes from volume one of the Superman: The Animated Series DVD box sets.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTOmvTv_SBg

Running kind of behind this week so no extended commentary.  Hope you enjoyed the video.

More to follow…

WHO’S WHO CLASSIC – SUPERMAN (POST CRISIS)

Welcome to another installment of Who’s Who Classic, an irregular feature here at the Fortress where every once in a while I will present an entry from the original series of Who’s Who comics that DC published between 1984 and 1988.  Superman was well represented in those series and I wanted to share the entries with you just in case you have never seen them.  Today’s entry…Superman (Post Crisis).

(originally published in Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe #22, December 1986)

Remember that you can click on the images to make them larger.

More to follow…

DC COSMIC CARDS – LEX LUTHOR!

In 1991 DC Comics (in association with Impel/Skybox International) jumped into the non-sports card market with the DC Cosmic Cards set.  Superman was well represented in that set.  Over the course of the next few months I’ll be somewhat randomly posting the Man of Steel related cards.  First up…Lex Luthor.

“Wait a second!” none of you are yelling.  “Shouldn’t you start with the cards featuring Superman?”  Part of me thinks I should.  Part of me thinks I should break things up a bit and that is the part that won out.  So I am starting with Lex but never fear, faithful Fortress follower, I will get to the Superman cards in due course.

DC Comics Cards were, in many ways, a response to the wildly popular first series of Marvel Universe trading cards that came out in 1990.  I remember that first series being hard to find and worth some money after a fashion.  The second series wasn’t.  Marvel Universe Series II cards were everywhere.  I bought an entire box of them at a grocery store during the summer of 1991.  So it made sense that DC would want to follow suit and while the two sets had aspects in common (listings of the heroes, the villains, major events, etc.) Impel/Skybox used the Cosmic Cards to showcase the fact that there were different versions of certain DC characters.  So instead of having one entry for Superman (and other characters like Flash, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and so on) they had three; one for the Golden Age, one for the Silver Age and one for the modern era.  This not only served as a hook for the start of the set but it was also perfect for those that put their trading cards in the little nine card sleeves that protected them from the elements.  It was kind of brilliant actually.  This is one of the many reasons I think this set is under appreciated.  Sure the art is spotty in places and Skybox/Impel didn’t have the rights to use the Batman characters yet but they were able to do quite a bit with the DC set, holograms and all.

There were two Superman related villains in the Villains Heritage section of the series which is probably two more than he would receive today if I can sound like a bitter old man for a moment.  Lex Luthor was first, which shouldn’t surprise anyone.

As much as I love this set I will admit that I chuckle when I see the Identikit photos on the back of the cards.  Most of them remind me of bad workplace ID photos.  The Silver and Modern Age Luthors look like they should either be working for IBM in the seventies or selling insurance.  The Golden Age Luthor looks like he should be cleaning the toilets at IBM in the seventies or at the place the latter two Luthor sell the previously mentioned Insurance.  All kidding aside the cards give you the essentials of the villains’ back stories and the art, with the exception of the modern Luthor, looks pretty cool.

Part of me misses the Super Powers era Power Armor Lex.  It really does

More to follow…

A LOOK BEHIND THE CURTAIN or HEY, THAT’S KIND OF AWESOME

It’s amazing what I don’t know about my own equipment.

(Insert “That’s what she said!” joke here)

For those of you that aren’t (as I am fond of writing) “in the know”  my day job is that of a department manager at a big box office supply store.  The title is misleading because I am not over a specific department.  It’s a catch-all title that says that I am the rope that is stretched between hourly associate and assistant manager.    While I can do pretty much anything in the building (including the copy center or as I like to call it “the black hole”) I am mainly over technology.  This involves selling a lot of techy things like cameras and computers and monitors.

And printers.

The thing is that I only know the basics of all of the stuff we sell.  I can tell you the main features of a monitor, camera, computer, printer, etc. but the nuts and bolts aspects elude me because I also have to do things like deal with angry customers and then deal with other angry customers and then move on to dealing with customers that are (surprise, surprise) angry.  So while I can tell you which printer you should buy based on your needs I can’t tell you every single thing the printer does.

I say all of that to say this…the HP software that goes along with my printer does something that is going to save me a crap load of time.

I’ve been scanning a good deal of stuff lately to post on this blog, mostly trading cards.  Trading cards are a bitch to scan, if you’ll excuse the language.  They are small and the initial scan that goes down before I use the software to make the images look nicer can take for-freaking-ever.  If the item I am scanning is larger this is fine and dandy, dandy and fine.  Waiting when the items are smaller is annoying.

As I type this (Saturday, October 20, 2012) I am scanning all of the Superman related trading cards from the DC Cosmic Cards set that came out in 1991.  There are quite a few of them as Superman was well represented in that line.  Currently I am working my way through the “Great Battles” section of the set, which devotes three cards to a particular event in DC’s history.  Why three?  Probably so they look neat when you put them in a nine card holder.  Anyway, Superman isn’t in every one of these cards but he is in most of them so between thinking it would be cool and my low-level OCD I decided to scan them all.  The problem is there are a lot of cards in that section and doing them one at a time was taking, again, for-freaking-ever.  So I thought, “You know, I could scan about four of these at a time and then break them up using Photoshop  and that would just save time.  So I went about doing this and that is when I made a really neat discovery.

If you line up four trading cards along the edge of the scanner the software will look at each card as a separate scan.  So instead of one big image you have four smaller ones.  Then you can go in, play with the resolution, play with the shadows to make the image darker and then enhance the color (which works much better on older comics than newer ones, by the way, probably because of the paper stock) and then make the final scan.

This.  Is.  Awesome.

You might ask why I am so excited about this.  You might also ask why I take so much time with the images I scan.  Well, I am excited because this is a HUGE time saver.  Four cards at a time instead of one.  I am working under the assumption that this feature was originally designed to allow a person to scan more than one photograph at a time.  More often than not someone buying a printer with a scanner for home use wants to scan photos. Scanning more than one photo at a time is a nice feature with the benefit being you save time on doing so since, as I said, scanning things one at a time is a pain in the ass.

So yeah…this is cool.  To me, at least.  You were probably bored by this peek behind the curtain.  Normal content will return tomorrow.

More to follow…

THE NEW 52 WHO’S WHO ENTRY or MAYBE THEY SHOULD HAVE WAITED ON THIS

Given the fact that I am a fan of the various Who’s Who and Secret Files and Origins series DC has put out over the decades you would think a new version of the idea would have me excited.  To be honest I’m not.  Oh sure, when I read that DC would be including new Who’s Who pages with their recent zero issues I was intrigued but that’s about all I felt outside of having a few basic questions.  What would they look like?  How detailed would they be?  How would they stack up against the previous iterations?  Would they be any good?

Turns out the answer, at least to the last question, was, “Not so much.”

My first reaction when I saw this entry was, “Wow, that’s unattractive.”  Beyond the “trade dress” for the entries I really don’t like the main image.  I didn’t care for it as the cover to Superman Annual #1 and I don’t like it here.  For one thing I am not a fan of the scratchy art style the artist used.  For another it’s just not what I consider to be a dynamic, iconic shot of the character.  Finally, it has the “flaring red eyes” thing that DC seems to think is fantastic and I think has become a complete and utter cliche.  I know that the current thinking for Superman is that he should be a hero that protects a people that fear him (because that’s edgy and cool I guess) but I’ve been putting up with the “red eyes” thing for nearly a decade now and it has become tiresome.

Personally I would have gone for an original image for this but if they were going to use a pre-existing shot of the new Superman why didn’t they go for the one they used as the in-set picture?  You could argue that I am saying that because it was drawn by Dan Jurgens and while that does have something to do with it I also think it is a more iconic looking Superman.  Here is the Man of Steel saving someone and looking pretty cool doing so.  The only thing that detracts from the image is that he is covering the S shield, but another Jurgens image or even one from Perez or Nicola Scott would have been preferable to the main image they ultimately went with.

Artistic quibbles aside there is another big problem with this entry.  I don’t think enough has happened or been revealed in the New 52 to warrant Who’s Who style pages.  The history is not set in stone and the framework for the new Superman hasn’t been finished.  This makes the History portion feel light and incomplete, which kind of goes against the idea of DC’s past Who’s Who series, which for the most part were fairly extensive once they got the ball rolling.  Sure you had the odd entry that was light on content (like the Doomsday entry that appeared in Who’s Who in the DC Universe Update ’93) but for the big guns of the DCU the History part of the entries was usually a meaty affair.

In the interest of fairness I could be complaining for no reason.  The point of these Who’s Who in the New 52 entries is probably to bring new readers (or I guess in the case of the New 52 new, new readers) up to speed on the characters at the one year mark.  These seemed to give the audience a quick and dirty break down of the character and what they can do.  Maybe they’ll do something a bit more detailed down the road.

Given how often continuity changes in the DCU I find this unlikely.

More to follow…

FCTC EPISODE 147: REIGN OF THE SUPERMEN MAILBAG

Episode 147: Reign of the Supermen Mailbag

Welcome to the one hundred and forty-seventh episode of From Crisis to Crisis: A Superman Podcast!  This podcast has a simple premise; examine just about every Superman comic published between Man of Steel #1 in 1986 to Adventures of Superman #649 in 2006 in an informative and hopefully entertaining format.

Part index.  Part commentary.  Part history lesson.  All podcast.

Welcome to another edition of FROM CRISIS TO CRISIS MAILBAG!  In this special DEATH AND RETURN OF SUPERMAN edition Mike and Jeff read through the entirety (at the time anyway) of the e-mails they have received since the last mailbag episode.  Many of the e-mails details how some of the listeners discovered Superman, the DEATH AND RETURN saga or both in some cases.  Others lead to long and rambling conversations between the boys.  How does Mike respond when he’s compared to Max Landis?  Why didn’t Mike and Jeff cover WAR OF THE GODS in as much detail as they could have?  What are some of Mike and Jeff’s thoughts on the upcoming MAN OF STEEL?  Listen to this episode and find out!

You can subscribe to the show in two ways. First there is the RSS Feed and there is also the iTunes link.

If you want to comment on the show or contact the hosts you can always private message Mike and Jeff, at the Superman Homepage, leave comments here or at the Homepage or here or email them by clicking this link.  All questions, concerns, fears, trepidations and cheap shots are welcome.

Next time: It’s a night/day/afternoon/whatever time of day you listen to the episode at the movies with Mike and Jeff’s commentary for SUPERMAN: DOOMSDAY.

YOUTUBE TUESDAY – MORE DELETED SCENE FROM SUPERMAN RETURNS

Welcome back to YouTube Tuesday, the day of the week where I get to be really lazy and instead of posting anything of substance I distract you with a shiny video.  This week I present more deleted scenes from Superman Returns.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=us9Eundzxk8&feature=context-vrec

I have mixed feelings about these scenes.  The Scrabble game between Martha and Ben Hubbard only works if you include all of the Ben Hubbard material that was cut from the film.  Personally I wished they had left that small, mostly unimportant but character driven sub-plot in.  For those of you not “in the know” one of the many aspects cut from Superman Returns was the fact that not only was Martha in a relationship with Ben Hubbard (a character mentioned by Clark in Superman: The Movie but was never shown) but the two were planning to sell the farm and move away together.  I guess Ben took Clark’s request to look after things to their natural conclusion.  To my mind showing that Martha, like everyone else on Earth, had moved on after Superman left would have given the first act of the film a bit more heft and played into the feelings of doubt Clark was feeling after being gone so long.

Clark waking up isn’t a deal breaker but again it would have given the first act a little more emotional heft.  The Photoshopping of the currents actors faces onto the old photographs looks a little weird.  The scenes showing young Clark learn about his x-ray vision followed by current Clark heading into the cellar and finding Lois’ article works for me but I can also see why it was axed.  It would have changed the dynamic of Clark finding Lois’ Pulitzer win once he returned to the Daily Planet.  It’s a good sequence with some interesting special effects but ultimately it is the one scene that I can look at and say, “Yeah, I can see why they cut that one out.”

That’s it for this edition of YouTube Tuesday.  Next time?  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll talk about Superman Returns some more.  Maybe I’ll move on to something else entirely.  Stay tuned.

More to follow…

WHO’S WHO CLASSIC – SUPERMAN (EARTH-2)

Welcome to the first installment of Who’s Who Classic, an irregular feature here at the Fortress where every once in a while I will present an entry from the original series of Who’s Who comics that DC published between 1984 and 1988.  Superman was well represented in those series and I wanted to share the entries with you just in case you have never seen them.  Today’s entry…Superman (Earth-2).

(originally published in Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe #22, December 1986)

Remember that you can click on the images to make them larger.

More to follow…

SUPERMAN SKYCAPS or YES, THEY REALLY MADE THESE THINGS AND SOLD THEM TO THE PUBLIC PART 2

Last time I posted the more heroic side of the Superman related SkyCaps from the 1993 DC Comics set.  This time out I bring on the bad guys.

This is a weird one for me because I believe this is art from Adventures of Superman #497 which was then used again with the “stamps” that were included in the bagged edition of Superman #75, which you can see by clicking on this link.  No matter the origin it is a cool shot of Doomsday.

Another piece of art taken from the 1991 DC Cosmic Cards set.  This isn’t the best shot of Mxy that I have ever seen but it is serviceable.

This awkward looking Lex, like Mxy, is from the 1991 DC Cosmic Cards set.

Not trying to insult the artist or anything but Lex looks constipated here.

I have no idea where this particular shot of Brainiac comes from.  Once again I am stumped…stumped I tell you.  It’s a decent image of the character but not one that I recognize.

Ok, this one almost got me.  I racked my brain trying to remember if I had even seen this image before.  Eventually I realized I had…in black and white.

So there you go.

Congratulations, SkyCaps.  You have completely and utterly stumped me on this one.  I should know the source material for this one but I don’t.  I give up.

So I am going to lump these last five images all in a row as they are part of the six “Foil Stamped Bonus SkyCaps” that were part of the set.  Again, it was the nineties and just about every trading card series had bonus cards in addition to the base set.  A lot of these involved foil.  It was weird.

I apologize for the quality of these images.  My printer is far from lousy but sometimes certain images, especially holographic or foil laden ones, come out a bit odd.  Consider this your warming and my mea culpa.

And there you have it, faithful followers of the Fortress.  SkyCaps…Superman style.  All kidding aside these are kind of cool.  Silly as all get out but cool nonetheless and serve as artifacts (reminders some might say) of a bygone era that will (probably) (hopefully) never come about again.

More to follow…