Sunday, May 24, 2015

Superman Sunday : Maxima spin off post

As my post about Maxima gets longer and longer I have realized that my latest addition doesn´t really talk about her but of the wonderland of creative eruptions which were the Superman line of books in the 90s.

It was a far cry from Today´s wasteland that is DC with a few exceptions like WONDER WOMAN, ANIMAL MAN, SWAMP THING and AQUAMAN.

Speaking of Swamp Thing and Aquaman, they do have a crossover in the NEW 52 which is totally cool. I tell you, the AQUAMAN book is so good I bought hardcovers 4 and 5 in the last two weeks even though I already have all the single issues. The writing is wonderful and the art by Paul Pelletier is simply breathtaking. The chance to see his rendition of the Swamp Thing ..... okay, hardback number 5 is not all Paul Pelletier art but volume 4 is and I got both books for less than 15 euros. I tried to put the notice about this bargain offer on the blog but I was too busy with my physiotherapy and buying the right food for my diet and not sleeping enough these last few days that the price has already gone up again. 

But enough of the comic pimping and back to the superhero nostalgia.

Yes, let´s take another trip in the wayback machine to the 90s which were not as bleak a comic decade as some people might want you to believe. You are probably already sick of me saying that but I have read comics for a long time and I didn´t stop reading comics in the 90s. As every decade this had its amount of crap - which I admit might have been bigger than in other decades - but there was also a lot of good comics to read. Which is one of the reasons why I love doing these movie casting countdowns because it gives me an excuse to roll up my sleeves, dig deep into the comic boxes and unearth long forgotten - or at least ignored - jewels.

Growing up a comic reading kid I can´t really say if I read more DC comics or more Marvel comics since I did not think in these categories. While for an adult it is quite clear that the DC universe and the Marvel universe are separate realities a kid never wonders why Superman does not meet Spider - Man more often. Because we all know they have met since we read it in the comics. No, a kid thinks that because Superman lives in Metropolis and Spider - Man lives in New York they just don´t run into each other that often. Of course I knew that there were the heroes of DC and the heroes of Marvel which were like two different groups of kids that didn´t play with each other much. But aside from that they were not that much different. Once I got older I enjoyed the Marvel heroes more because unlike the DC heroes where the stories were much more plot driven and centered around beating the villain in the most clever way the Marvel stories revolved more around the heroes who were not as perfect as the DC heroes. Whereas the DC heroes were always shining examples to inspire its readers the Marvel heroes were more flawed and sometimes even lost a fight. The DC heroes were how we wanted to see ourselves, the Marvel heroes were ourselves. Soon my reading shifted more towards Marvel although I didn´t stop reading ROTER BLITZ or GRÜNE LATERNE but I really got into the DC universe after the Crisis on Infinite Earths.


After the CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS event most DC titles were restarted and the Superman franchise was completely overhauled by John Byrne in the now classic MAN OF STEEL series that introduced many concepts from the first Superman movie with Christopher Reeves to the comic version of Superman. When I first read the MAN OF STEEL series it was in the album sized DER NEUE SUPERMAN from Ehapa Comics that came out in 1987.  

John Byrne put a new spin on things, the whole comic had a more modern feel that was better attuned to the day to day life of that time and many things were changed like the relationship between Superman and Batman.

They may have still been world´s finest but they surely weren´t friends anymore. Superman even tried to arrest Batman for his vigilantism when they first met and Batman had to threaten the life on an innocent to get Superman´s cooperation. Batman also didn´t have the Batcave as he did all his forensics work in the lab that was in hte trunk of the Batmobile. In the years after that they came to a semblance of how they worked together before but it took a long time and they were off to a rocky start.

The relationship between Superman and his archenemy Lex also changed. In the pre Crisis comics Superman´s nemesis had been what I call a fighting scientist who went up against Superman mano a mano in his trademark green and purple jumpsuit ( the colors of evil, just ask Hulk ).

In John Byrne´s relaunch Lex Luthor was a billionaire and the owner of a multibillion dollar corporation with hundreds of companies strewn all over the world who owned not only Metropolis but everybody in it. Yes, this was the time of movies like WALL STREET ( we knew back then that the stock market would ruin us all one day ) and the Gordon Geckos of the world were the truly evil CEOs. So it was only logical that John Byrne made Lex rich. Of course Lex totally abused his power which was really put under the spotlight in one of the best stories about Lex Luthor ever were he makes a waitress a very special offer. I was tempted to post the final page but I do not want to spoil it for those who have not read it yet.

Of course an ego as big as Lex´s has its downsides and it lead to one of the funniest moments in John Byrne´s run on the Superman books. After another bout with the Man of Steel Lex wonders why Clark Kent is always getting the big scoops about Superman and if there is a connection.

So he has one of his employees going over all the data about Superman and Clark Kent but when her computer comes to the conclusion that they must be the same person he fires her because he just can´t believe that someone with Superman´s godlike super powers would ever pose as an insignificant little nothing like mere Clark Kent. Talk about an epic fail.

Another old adversary of Superman that was different was Bizarro. In the old comics he was just a silly goofball who was the opposite in almost everything. When Superman had heat vision Bizarro has cold vision for example and Bizarro did everything backwards. He even had his own way of talking " Bizarro speak " where " No " really meant " Yes " and instead of " Hello " he said " Goodbye " and there was a full planet of Bizarros. Jeph Loeb used this very clever in his final issues of SUPERMAN / BATMAN.

In the new MAN OF STEEL series Bizarro was more of a tragic figure with an exterior like Victor Von Frankenstein´s monster. I know that most people would say he has a Frankenstein - like exterior but remember that Frankenstein is the name of the creator, not the monster who has no real name - but I think calls himself Ishmael in the book. In the end Bizarro sacrifices himself to give Lois Lane´s sister Lucy her eyesight back, sob. 


Speaking about Lois, she was possibly the character that was affected the most by the relaunch besides Lex Luthor. In the old comics Lois Lane was always either trying to prove that Superman was Clark Kent or getting him to marry her. Most often than not she tried both at the same time. She also got super powers every other day and was handling them terribly.

Or she was so good with them that she was a much better hero than Superman which lead to a huge inferior complex. In one case it was so harsh on Kal - El that she left earth forever so he could be a hero again.

Of course there were some really weird stories among them like when she asked Superman to turn her into a black woman for a day for a reportage.

Maybe this was not the best idea but I like that when Lois asks Superman if he would still love her if she was an afro american woman Superman explains to her that for him all earthlings are alien so who cares about something as superficial as skin color ? And black Lois looks kind of hot.

And I don´t even care what this story is all about. Way too freaky for me.

Anyway, when I read the first SHOWCASE PRESENTS SUPERMAN FAMILY I noticed why it was cheaper than the other volumes. There are only very few issues of SUPERMAN´S GIRLFRIEND LOIS LANE in it which are way more fun to read than the Jimmy Olsen stories. It´s always the same : Jimmy gets in some kind of jam and in the end Superman has to bail him out. The Lois Lane stories are way more fun especially those drawn by Kurt Schaffenberger. He has a very cartoonesque style and the more inventive stories look much rather like spoofs from an issue of MAD magazine than stories from the actual continuity of the DC universe.

Lois has all kinds of adventures and while she always returns to the status quo ( which makes most of the stories where she marries Superman or some famous guy a dream, a hoax or an imaginary story ) Lois Lane gets around from ancient Egypt to Sherwood Forrest and the outer reaches of the solar system. But while the things that happen in those stories stretch the imagination the goals of Lois are always the same : get married, have kids, be a good housewife, she never escapes the traditional role models.

John Byrne´s Lois Lane on the other hand is a very emancipated woman, she´s very successful in her job and in fact she is the top dog at the Daily Planet until the arrival of Clark Kent. She also doesn´t immediately fall heads over heels for Superman although she tries to find out more.

This version of Lois was pretty much the blueprint for her character on THE ADVENTURES OF LOIS & AND CLARK where Teri Hatcher played the tough ace reporter who was just as ready to use her fists to get info as use her curvaceous body to go undercover to get a story. She always called Clark " Smallville " and the reason why she never suspected that he was really Superman was that she never paid much attention to Clark Kent.

Well, aside from the episode where they all got hit by pheromones.

Teri Hatcher really got some great legs and her breast ..... I mean best performance on the show as a busty drugged out horny harem girl really sold me on the idea that Superman wanted to be with her instead of JLA hotties Big Barda, Wonder Woman, Starfire or Zatanna for the first time.

For me the pre Crisis comics never did a good job of explaining the attraction of Lois Lane for Superman and I think the comic that brought that across the best is Thomas F. Zahler´s LOVE AND CAPES series. 


Coming back to the relaunched Superman at first I was only interested in the issues drawn by John Byrne but by the time Maxima made her big entrance into the DC universe I was reading all three Superman titles with George Perez, Jerry Ordway and Dan Jurgens as the artistic trifecta.

That´s not to say that the writing wasn´t up to the task because it was well and beyond above what you might find in Today´s regular DC comic of any given title. The writers of SUPERMAN, ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, and ACTION COMICS ( and later on MAN OF STEEL as a fourth title was added ) could write entertaining, funny, action packed and intellectual single issue stories that could be enjoyed for themselves, yet still build up to a greater story along the line as you see in the issues with Maxima.

In ACTION COMICS 645, which is the first appearance of Maxima, we see Superman having his powers recharged by Starman Will Payton after a team up against the Parasite in STARMAN 14, Superman visiting Lana Lang in the hospital after what happened with Matrix in Smallville and Professor Hamilton calling Superman to give him an update on Jimmy Olsen´s health after a virus gave him stretching powers for a time.

Not only do these parts help readers who didn´t read all three titles to get up to speed with what has happened with the supporting cast in the other books it also shows the approach the writers had for Superman back then.

At the very core he was a very human character because even with all his powers he could not always prevent his friends from being badly hurt.

ACTION COMICS 651 does not have that many subplots going on since it´s part of the DAY OF THE KRYPTON MAN story but there is the last page that plays into the story of Draaga which is one of the best arcs of that time.

Draaga starts out as a one dimensional character who is the arena champion of Warworld where Superman ends up after The Supergirl Saga.

He fights Superman in the arena but Superman is more concerned to topple Mongul´s despotic reign and so there is no final outcome to their battle. After Superman has left the planet Draaga follows him to settle the matter between them in a duel to the death but during his search for revenge he comes to Earth during the PANIC IN THE SKY storyline. 

What I like about the character arc of Draaga is that he evolves to a totally different being because his search for revenge brought him into close vicinity of people familiar with Superman and the ideals he fights for. This exposure to ideas which are totally alien to Draaga force him to reevaluate things, first because he thinks he can trick Superman´s allies better if he poses as one of them and therefore tries to understand these things. And through understanding he realizes that he can´t go on like before especially when he sees Superman´s allies fighting for something else without expecting something in return. This story is like the space opera version of A Christmas Carol in Thunderdome with super powers. You can see an extremely shortened version of this in the JUSTICE LEAGUE cartoon in the episodes 12 and 13 from the first season titled WAR WORLD. Even though Bruce Timm had to leave a lot of it out the core essence of the story is still in tact. Like Superman says in the finale of the episode : the real test of honor isn’t how you die. It’s how you live.

It´s a really highly recommended story and the repercussions were even bigger since SUPERMAN : EXILE is where the Eradicator came from.

If you want to read both issues you have to go to the back issues with ACTION COMICS 645 because the MAN OF STEEL trades ( of which I am a big fan because I get to read the issues which were not by John Byrne ) have only reached ACTION COMICS 600 in the latest trade but ACTION COMICS 651 is part of ERADICATION ! THE ORIGIN OF THE ERADICATOR which contains the complete DAY OF THE KRYPTON MAN story. And for the REAL origin of the Eradicator you can read the SUPERMAN : EXILE trade.

That was the time of the big Superman sagas because with four monthly titles they could do a twelve part story and be done in three months.

With four books coming out each month you had a new one every week, or almost every week because while you did have four books each month that meant that at the end of the year you had only forty eight issues of Superman comics. But the year has fifty two weeks. Because most months don´t have exactly twenty eight days and with all the days here and there you have four weeks where no Superman book comes out. Keeping track of the Superman books was a difficult task but then DC came up with the little triangles on each book that would indicate the order in which the comic were supposed to be read. So to make all this easier and to have a Superman book that came out on those special weeks a new book was created called MAN OF TOMORROW and it came out four times a year.

The first 5 issues were by Tom Grummett, the rest by Paul Ryan except for the last ( Ryan Sook ) and the ONE MILLION issue ( George Jeanty ).

I think this was the time when the saturation with Superman books sat in, at least for me and I fell off the whole Superman wagon for a little while.


But that is a story for our next part as I should explain THE SUPERGIRL SAGA which I remember buying in one of those collector sets. Back in the 80s there were not that many trade paperbacks around and especially DC did not have many of those. There was the DEATH IN THE FAMILY, TEEN TITANS : THE JUDAS CONTRACT and LEGION OF SUPER - HEROES THE GREAT DARKNESS SAGA ( which for some strange reason I never bought even though I´m a huge Legion fan and there were not that many trades around ) but apart from that there were just some scattered DC trades.

So when DC had a story that readers were interested in but they couldn´t put it in a trade they made these special collector sets were you have all the single issues in a cardboard box. I got two of them, the SUPERGIRL SAGA - were I lost the cardboard box and only have the issues - and THE FINAL NIGHT where I still have the collectors box. It is one of my favorite stories and for years it had a special place on my shelf porn until I had to take it out and put it on my desk. But I know where it is at all times because it´s one of the stories I like to read again from time to time.

Okay, the Supergirl Saga. When John Byrne relaunched the Superman universe he decided Superman should be the only survivor of Krypton.

In the Pre Crisis comics Superman was the only survivor of Krypton. Well, apart from his cousin who was also put into a rocket and shot to earth.

And because Superman arrived first on earth he bullied her. No, really, Superman was really mean to Supergirl in the Golden Age. She had to live alone in an orphanage because Superman insisted on it. He told her she had to keep her existence a secret so she could be his special weapon against crime but if you ask me he was just afraid of the competition.

I think he was afraid that she was going to be better at being a hero than him. I mean why did she have to hide under a secret identity in a little orphanage where lots of people were coming by every day and she runs the chance of being discovered ? She could have been hiding as good - or even better - in a secret fortress of solitude in the middle of nowhere where nobody comes visiting because nobody has even the slightest idea where it is. No, the truth is Superman didn´t want Supergirl around.

Unless he was using her to kiss Jimmy Olsen in disguise to lift the curse of the werewolf or make out with her. Yes, Superman and Supergirl were kissing cousins in the worst way. In ACTION COMICS 289 in the story Superman´s Super - Courtship Supergirl tries to hitch up Superman with various female members of the adult Legion. As these attempts fail Superman confesses that if he ever did marry he would prefer someone like Supergirl. In fact the only thing that prevents Superman from doing this is not the feeling that this might be wrong but because there is a kryptonian law against it. And it gets even worse when Superman finally finds a suitable candidate in Staryl who looks like an adult version of Supergirl. They don´t end up as a couple because Earth´s sun is like kryptonite to Staryl but Superman was all ready to get busy with a Supergirl lookalike. Because he already had a taste of her kissing skills.

That´s right, way back in ACTION COMICS 260 in the story called Mighty Maid Superman has had enough of Lois constant attempts to get him to marry her so he finds himself Mighty Maid whom he intends to marry.

Which would be fine if it wasn´t Supergirl in disguise who he kissed.

According to Superman it was all part of a plan to prevent some aliens who hated Kryptonians from killing them both but I think he could have found a way to defeat them without the need of Supergirl dressing up like his sex fantasy. I mean, really, padding ? It´s a safe bet that he was trying to give her a Power Girl sized chest because you know that´s where the padding went. Supergirl is just lucky that they only kissed because I think Superman would have tried to convince his cousin it was necessary to consummate the marriage or otherwise their cover would be blown.

Man, Silver Age Superman really was determined to get into his cousin´s pants whom he tried to turn into his personal living blow up sex doll. It´s a wonder he never slipped Power Girl a kryptonite roofie and tied her to his bed in the Fortress of Solitude to use her as his helpless lust slave. 

Anyway, this weren´t even Supergirl´s worst dates because she also made out with her super horse which had turned into a guy. Is it just me or does this sound like the plot of a porn movie ? Typical girl meets horse story.

The writers from that time had an unhealthy fixation with super powered pets like Comet, the super horse, Streaky the super cat, Beppo the super monkey and Krypto, Superman´s super dog that also came from Krypton. Why do I have the feeling that without any editorial supervision those guy would have given us stories about intergalactic cock fighting arenas ?

And speaking about arenas I have to wrap things up but we will continue this in my next post where we will speak at length about the Supergirl Saga and Kal El´s participation in the superhero fight club Warworld.

There are not many links on Today´s post but I want to add AV WORLD´s review of JUSTICE LEAGUE : WAR WORLD if you want to know more about it and since I mentioned him in this post COMIC BOOK RESOURCES Comics Should Be Good has the archive of A Year Of Cool Comics where Day 92 talks about Roger Stern and Tom Lyle´s run on STARMAN which should be interesting. And SCANS DAILY shows the origin of Starman Will Payton .

In our next post we will come to discuss the SUPERMAN : EXILE story - or not - so to give you a taste of things to come and because this post is one big spinoff here´s a trailer for the new ARROW and FLASH spinoff show.

You know I had to put Teri Hatcher in the video section when I mention her in the post. I´m sure these videos will disappear very quickly - which is why I put some animated GIFs of her in the post - but just in case here are two of Teri Hatcher´s best scenes from LOIS & CLARK. With sound.

Damn, this show should really be in my DVD collection. What I do own is another series where Teri Hatcher had some moments that wrote tv history : DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES although I have to say I still haven´t watched the final two seasons and I also still have to buy the first ones.

Now everybody who knows the show also knows what my favorite scene is : Teri gets mistaken for a stripper at a party. I tried to find this clip on YouTube but it seems I already uploaded the video to the blog previously.

We´re staying on the subject of Lois Lane with this video about another hilarious story where she travels back in time to date Superman´s Dad.

In SUPERMAN : EXILE Kal El sported a new look so here are 25 alternate versions of him that don´t suck. Not like the NEW 52 Robotech version.

One of the biggest influences on John Byrne´s relaunch of Superman was the 1987 movie starring Christopher Reeves so here is a making of.

After I finished the first JLA casting post I realized that I had missed my opportunity for a Yaya Han video. I try not to change my posts too much after finishing so I´m putting it here. I hope I haven´t posted this.

New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN : top ten posts / more posts of interest / best of the best


Terry Hooper-Scharf said...

ahhhh. Teri Hatcher....sigh. Anyway, mega post and until now I never realised just how perverted the Superman comics used to be! Seriously...well, okay, Olsen getting to drag up should have been a clue I guess. But GREAT post!!

Terry Hooper-Scharf said...

Meant to write -nice new blog header!

SUBZERO said...

I´m glad you like it. Hmm, it seems this post will get into a next part. Because I can´t finish the whole SUPERMAN EXILE here.

Oh, we´ll see. I´m still working on it.