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Author Topic: The New 52 - Six Issues On  (Read 16538 times)
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DakotaSmith
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« on: March 02, 2012, 06:07:53 AM »

Ok, so it's six issues in.  I've been reading Superman and Action Comics.  I have attempted to pick up some of my old favorites (Green Lantern, Legion of Super-Heroes, Justice League).

My thoughts so far?

It's crap.  In fact, it may be worse crap than before the reboot, if that's even possible.

I'm 47, and a life-long Superman fan.  I am in a somewhat unique position, inasmuch as I'm a man who spent his first fifteen summers on his grandparents' South Dakota cattle ranch.  Out there, the nearest paved road is 45 miles away.  The nearest town (Wall) is less than 2000 people (though during tourist season, it's much larger -- it's a tourist trap on the way to the Black Hills) and is 50 miles away.  The nearest city (Rapid City) is around 30,000 people and 90 miles away.  The largest city in South Dakota (Sioux Falls) is around 150,000 and 400 miles away.

So I've lived on a ranch near Wall, South Dakota.  I've worked the ranch.  I've herded cattle and fixed fences.  My family still owns some land, and it's my intent to ultimately retire there and perhaps keep bees.

Also on the ranch when I was growing up: a rather shocking supply of DC Comics from the 1950s-1970s.

(Did I mention that I have four uncles?)

I grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska, a city of about 150,000 at the time.  I lived the entirety of the 1990s in Chicagoland, where I earned a living in IT.

So let me tell you:  I seriously identify with Superman.  Smallville is Wall, SD.  Metropolis is Chicago.  Ma and Pa Kent are my grandparents.  Their ranch is the Kent farm.  I left the country to make my fortune in the Big City, same as Clark.  I had one or two interesting adventures there (nothing super-heroic, but I was almost shot in a drive-by -- I was a bystander, not the target).

For my money, there is no better Superman writer than Elliot S! Maggin.  Maggin got it.  He understands.  Maggin's Superman is someone I totally understand.  I sympathize, I empathize, and I am engaged by Maggin's Superman.

Maggin's Superman is the man I hope I'd be if I had powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men.  I understand how he thinks and what he thinks about.

I was engaged by Byrne's Superman initially.  Byrne also seemed to get it.  He didn't get it the way Maggin did, but he came pretty close.  I could still empathize.

Then the inmates started running the asylum and it all went to hell.

I could no longer identify with Superman.  To me, the shark was jumped when Smallville changed from Wall, SD to Lincoln, NE.  Let me tell you something:  there's a difference.  Let me give a concrete example:

The area around my grandparents' ranch has a high rattlesnake population.  This is bad for both humans and livestock.  If you see a rattler, you get the pistol out of the glovebox, load it with a shot shell, and kill the rattler.  Always.

You do not mess with rattlers.  You do not pick them up or do anything that might provoke them.  If for some reason you absolutely must pick up a live rattler, you are drilled from an early age on the procedure:

Find a stick about three feet long with a Y-branch at the end.  Break the Y so that it will fit around the snake's body just behind the head.  Use it to pin the snake to the ground from outside its striking distance.  Then you pick it up behind the head and immediately get rid of it -- preferably by killing it.

You do not do this for kicks, you do it only if absolutely necessary.  In my case, I had accidentally run over a rattler with a vehicle.  It was wounded, not dead, but lodged in a tire in such a way that if I'd driven any farther, it would have mangled the rattler.  It also might not kill it, and in any case, it would be a nasty thing to do to any critter.  It's not their fault that they're a dangerous pest.  You kill them quick and painlessly, not prolonged and painfully.

Anyway, the best thing I could think to do with this thing was use a stick to dislodge it.  That's the only time I can think of when you'd want to do it.

[As an aside:  I must confess that when Steve Irwin turned up dead, my only reaction was to wonder how he'd lasted so long.  Every time I saw him handle snakes, I would cringe -- literally.  He did everything wrong.  Everything.  You never -- I repeat, you never -- pick up snakes by the tail.  They're all spine and muscle, they have no problem striking at someone holding them by the tail.  You hold them just behind the jaws.  All they can do is open and close their mouths and whip their tails around.  I knew Steve Irwin's luck would run out some day.  He was an incompetent schmuck.]

Beyond that, you watch where you walk.  Rattlers like to live under logs and the like, so you always kick a log before you go standing on it.  If a barn or out-building isn't on a raised foundation, you open the door and stamp your feet and make some noise before you enter.

You always wear cowboy boots.  South Dakota cowboys wear their jeans outside the boots, not tucked-in:  it's one more layer for a rattler to have to bite through.

There were always snake-bite kits in the house, in the barns, in the graineries, and in every vehicle.  We were taught practically from infancy how to treat a snake bite.

Failure to do otherwise is usually deadly.

Why?  Because the nearest hospital is so far away that if you're bit by a rattler you simply won't make it there.  If you're bit, you either treat yourself or you lie down and die where you happen to be.

Really.  That's how it is.

This produces an entirely different kind of personality than city-folk -- even a small city like Lincoln, Nebraska.  You are highly self-reliant, you learn to take precautions, you don't ask for help as a rule.

This is an environment that produced Superman.  It's the environment that Maggin and to a lesser extent Byrne got.

Nobody since has gotten it.  They keep trying to fix things that aren't broken, and in the most predictable, unartistic fashion imaginable.

So here we are, six issues in to the latest pointless reboot.  My thoughts:

Grant Morrison doesn't get it.  Sorry, but he doesn't.  I don't understand this Superman at all.  He is not a man raised on a farm near Smallville, Kansas (pop. 2000).  I don't know this guy at all.

Worse, he kind of strikes me as a jerk.  I don't know why, exactly, because he's written fairly sympathetically.  But he just strikes me the wrong way.

Maybe it's that he looks so damned young.  I'm sorry, but Superman is 29 and looks about as mature as when Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson drew him.  This Superman looks like he's 15.

And he always looks pissed off.  Whatever he's doing, he looks indifferent or angry in some way.

I'm afraid I must mention the costume.  I'm sorry, but it's crap.  It wasn't broken, so why did they make some lame attempt to "fix" it?

I put down comics back when Doctor Mid-Nite did an in-panel autopsy on the horribly burned body of Sue Dibney.  JSA had been my last bastion of decent, family-oriented, well-written, well-drawn, fun, engaging adventures.  Then they frakked even that up.  I've barely picked up an issue since.

Bottom line:  ain't no way I'm spending a penny on these hack-rags.  Call me back when you've replaced the editor with Elliot S! Maggin.

Dakota Smith
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DBN
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« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2012, 05:23:26 PM »

This version of Superman is not likely to resonate with anyone from the Midwest. Morrison is writing the character from a New England/Big City Eastern perspective. He said as much in early interviews that he was basing this version of Superman on Bruce Springsteen. Which would work if the character was raised in upstate New York or somewhere similar out East.

However, it doesn't work since the character was raised in Kansas. If your character was raised in Kansas and you are basing them off rock stars, then you obviously go with John Cougar Mellencamp.

Now, Mellencamp and Springsteen's views are similar, but their work is different and it resonates with different people. Farm Aid vs We Are the World, Rain on the Scarecrow vs The River.
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Great Rao
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« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2012, 01:51:22 PM »

Maggin once said that his Smallville was located somewhere in New England and that it was the Salkind movie that moved it out to Kansas.

It'd be nice if DC could get away with locating the New 52 Smallville back to the east coast, but I don't think they could get away with it at this point.  Removing Superman's super-briefs is one thing, but messing with Smallville is far too sacrosanct.
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"The bottom line involves choices.  Neither gods nor humans have ever stood calmly in a minefield forever.  Good or evil, they are bound to choose.  And when they do, you will see the truth of all that motivates us.  As a thinking being, you have the obligation to choose.  If the fate of all mankind were in your hands, what would your decision be?  As a writer and an artist, I've drawn my answer."   - Jack Kirby
India Ink
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« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2012, 03:46:29 AM »

I don't know if I would go so far as to say the Kansas location is sacrosanct.

In the early Superboy stories, it seemed like he was living in Metropolis or a suburb thereof. Eventually the town was established as Smallville, but this seemed to be close to Metropolis. So somewhere in the east, but not exactly clear just where. Just like it was never made clear what state Metropolis was supposed to be in.

Was it ever established just where Clark was growing up in Superman the Movie? I honestly forget, even though I remember a lot about the movie. I know that the scenes on the farm were filmed in farmland outside of Calgary, Alberta. I think Superman III was also filmed in and around Calgary.

On the Smallville TV show, those farm scenes were filmed in suburban/rural areas outside of Vancouver, while the Metropolis scenes were filmed in Vancouver. Unlike the modern comics, which seem to establish Metropolis as on the eastern seaboard and Smallville in Kansas--the TV show seemed to suggest that Smallville was close to Metropolis--which would mean that Metropolis was in Kansas or a neighbouring state and very far away from either coast. Yet Metropolis is on the water. The building that subbed for the Daily Planet on Smallville was the Marine Building which overlooks the Vancouver harbourfront.

Frankly, I was never impressed with the Kansas location. I have no sense of Kansas, as I've never been there--I've only been to a few of the United States and none in the midwest. But it seemed like they were picking it as a stereotypical state--because that's where Dorothy was from.

Since most comics have avoided naming where Metropolis is (although some writers try to put it in New York or New Jersey), I think the same should hold true for Smallville. It's part of the whole mystique of Superman that he exists in this surreal world that corresponds to our own but isn't clearly identified with landmarks of our world.

I think that made Superman more accessible not less. I know some people think the reality of Marvel Comics make them more identifiable, but I was always put off by the fact that all the heroes lived in New York. Which was this impossibly far away place. It was a lot easier to imagine that the DC fictional cities were not so far away.

Because my parents grew up on farms in Saskatchewan, I could identify with Superboy and believe that his world was like the world of my parents.

But I don't read the new Superman comics, so it doesn't make much difference to me what they do now.
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India Ink
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« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2012, 06:13:40 AM »

I did live in Kansas for a short time as a kid and I found the Kansas in Smallville kind of funny. It doesn't have mountains and hills, it's just flat. Remember that scene in Superman Returns that showed young Clark leaping over fields? THAT is Kansas. Nothing but corn and sunflowers as far as the eye can see. For a young kid with developing super powers, it's not a bad place to grow up. You have plenty of room to use them. At least in terms of practice.

As for the new 52, I just find them boring. I'd been collecting Action, Superman, and Justice League and to be honest, Justice League is the most interesting among them. It's like Morrison is trying too hard to tap into the thirties Superman and while that's an admirable goal, he's squeezing in too much, too soon. Brainiac kidnaps half or Metropolis just after Superman escapes from the military?

The flashback scenes with him as a kid are odd as well. He can't fly but he still has the cape. Um...okay. And the purpose of that is what exactly? Jeans and a T-shirt in the early days I guess I can get over but what is he doing wearing that cape around his neck? He isn't even being Superboy. My feeling is the same as it was after SO came out, they don't know what they want to do with him and are trying to appease everybody.

I hope things get better once they move onto the next storyline or flesh out his backstory a little better but to be honest, I probably won't keep spending the money if it doesn't.
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Adekis
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« Reply #5 on: March 21, 2012, 03:48:47 AM »

He's got a reason why he wears in cape in Smallville, it's just kind of a silly, Silver Agey kinda explanation.
It's his security blanket. That's why he keeps it in his pocket at all times, even while hiding the rest of his action suit elsewhere. Weird, no?

Anyway, I rather like the New 52's take on things. There may be a lot of stuff and a lot of ideas crammed into too little space, but with Morrison that's par for the course. I might have liked to see jeans-Superman for a little longer, but we'll always have flashback story-arcs like Batman has so many of, especially since it's coming out that people are interested in that early era of Superman.

Anyway, it makes sense that the new interpretation is being knocked in a site largely devoted to the Silver and Bronze age versions. I like most past versions of Superman, obviously, or I'd never have joined this site.
I do enjoy the New 52 as well though, even if that makes me a minority around here. Oh well.  Grin
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Shazam!
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« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2012, 01:21:11 PM »

I can assure that our abilities to fly does not come from our capes!  I mean we can do it with out them.  They are just fancy accoutriments.  Batman for instance he has no flying powers but he utilizes his cape so much that all the things he can do with it give him a tactical advantage in most everything he does.  He can glide with it because he solidify it when given an electrical charge. His technology is so advanced that it almost becomes a super power.  I like my white with gold trim.  I can still do what I do though if I went and put it on a hook for a while.   It's just in our circles they say that if a super hero hangs up his cape, he is done.

  Now, I had seen this overlay map once, where Our cities like Metropolis, Gotham, Central City, Fawcett City all our cities were shown where they would be in relation to the other cities.   Metropolis would be New York, Gotham would be Chicago , I think Central City would be Milwaukee,  Fawcett City would be Gary Indiana.    Anyway something like that. 
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The Real Captain Marvel!
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« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2012, 07:45:03 PM »

I have enjoyed the Superman issues so far, moreso than the Action Comics ones. They really harken back to the spirit of the early 70s. I do like the fact that the Legion comes to Smallville to meet him, though I doubt we'll get Superboy (the real one) back.

I've actually been enjoying Aquaman so far  Cool
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