On the Scene: Man of Steel World Premiere and After Party

I’ve been calling Man of Steel “the most important superhero movie of all times” but if you had told me that I would be attending the world premiere and after party, I would have laughed at you. But thanks to Nokia, at the very last minutes (like 2 pm) I was sponsored to go to both in return for tweeting using their new Lumia 925 phone. Seemed a fair trade off to me (and I’ll have more on Nokia in a bit.)

I’ll have a longer review of Man of Steel later on (I’m actually seeing it again tonight) but to the relief of everyone remotely related to Warner Bros and DC Entertainment, it was no Green Lantern. It was a rock ‘em sock ‘em reboot of Superman, eschewing the Daily Planet but establishing Kal-El/Clark’s alien Kryptonian heritage and mission for humanity. Henry Cavill was absolutely perfect and dreamy, and Amy Adams was smart and sweet. Michael Shannon made a fine tortured antagonist. I think Antje Traue as Faora-Ul will make anyone who wanted to see an incredibly kick-ass, super strong and deadly female character on screen wildly happy. The film has Christopher Nolan and David Goyer all over it in its sense of moody gravitas, and Zack Snyder used his considerable visual chops (heavily influenced by Frank Quitely, Alex Ross and Jack Kirby) to give us a harder, better, stronger, faster Superman. There were some flaws which I’ll discuss more in a longer review but the good news is this movie takes Superman in the direction he needed to go. A sequel has already been announced with Goyer and Snyder aboard and I have one word for you: Brainiac.

Man of Steel is the answer to the question mark over whether DC can move forward with a shared universe film slate of the kind Disney has excelled at. The Legendary/Nolan/Goyer brain trust has shown they can do two superheroes now…we’ll see where it goes from here.

The after-party was held in a warehouse-like area behind the 8th Avenue Post Office, done up with Superman logos and some Kryptonian qr codes. Between the humid pouring rain outside and the fog machines inside it was like being in the smoking post-doomsday scenario of countless superhero films, with the bonus surprise of shaved Brussels sprouts and Patron. Many of the stars from the red carpet were there, and DC personnel including Diane Nelson, John Rood, Jim Lee, Dan DiDio and Geoff Johns; as well as such comicksy folks as Paul Levitz, Scott Snyder and Brad Meltzer; the Legendary crew from Thomas Tull on down was also in attendance.

I will say using a new phone on the fly is kind of like suddenly having to do everything left-handed, so I didn’t snap as many pictures as I should have. Here’s a wee gallery:

DC co-publisher Jim Lee and wife Carla on the way to the premiere. The couple is expecting around the time of NYCC! Congrats!

For various reasons, I didn’t get to cover the Red Carpet, but there was a tropical storm going on out there. Yet somehow the stars remained only dewy and not damp. The miracle of show biz.

The after-party looked mysterious in the fog and mists.

A Superman exo-suit was on display. Although the shirtless hobo Clark Kent scene revealed that Henry Cavill does not need foundational garments, this suit avoided embarrassing questions about you know what by saying whoops, there it is.
I told you there was Tequila and red lights.
A band of drummers and a violinist performed some of Hans Zimmer’s score which I think is destined to be another classic from him.

I ran into Marv and Noelle Wolfman, two of my favorite people on earth. Marv was in attendance because the charcater created, Dr. Emil Hamilton (played by Richard Schiff), appears in the film. Marv’s penchant for creating scientists and cop characters over the years had served him very well in the superhero film world.

Marv had no shyness getting his picture taken with Cavill but I feared appearing next to someone so damned pretty.

Michael Shannon posed for a few pictures. I also saw Amy Adams, Kevin Costner and Christopher Meloni posing, but I dunno, I really don’t feel comfortable asking people I don’t know who aren’t in cosplay to pose for pictures—and it seemed kind of uncool for the folks who were at their 90th movie premiere, like Costner. Cavill was very approachable and happy to be seen, as this is his big break.

I did keep bumping into someone I later realized was Joey Fatone. Oops.


Oh and courtesy of Jim Lee’s instagram, here’s the proof i was there and horribly underdressed.

Apparently the Post Office is going to get retrofitted into a new Penn Station since they tore down the beautiful one. Sigh. The original Penn Station is my planet Krypton.

Skin care now a thing for superheroes

Which superhero has the best grooming habits?

You may never have considered this, but a couple of ad agencies for skincare have recently teamed up with superheroes to present the idea of male grooming as a manly, bench-pressing activity. And who’s to say it isn’t practical? After a long day in exercising in anything from a leotard to a complete exo-skeleton, even the doughtiest hero will need to cleanse and exfoliate. [Read more…]

Man of Steel in Minecraft and other weekend trailers

Steelehouse Digital has recreated the Man of Steel trailer in Minecraft, and it looks great. While I was googling for more information about this trailer, I discovered two OHER Man of Steel Minecraft railers…which aren’t as good, but I guess hit is as good a hobby as any, right?

An actual new Man of Steel trailer was also released.

This one focused on Kal-El’s relationship with his father, played by Russell Crowe.


There was also a profile os Man of Steel director Zack Snyder and his takes on the characters in the by Dave Itzkoff in the NY Times this weekend. Thankfully it does not dwell on how important this movie is for the studio blah blah. Instead it discusses how hard it is to adapt this super good character in an interesting way.

It is strange that Superman, the smiling, soaring Moses-Jesus hybrid who ushered in the era of superhero comics, should be struggling at the multiplexes in an age when every other studio movie seems to feature a man in a cape, a mask with pointy bat-ears or a high-tech suit of iron. The qualities that have made Superman timeless have not necessarily made him relevant to this particular time, with its roster of ironic and loudly violent protagonists, but it was this paradox that made Mr. Snyder eager to take him on in “Man of Steel.”

“He’s a really cool mythological contradiction,” said Mr. Snyder, who is still boyish and scruffy at 47. “He’s incredibly familiar Americana and alien, exotic, bizarroland, but beautifully woven together.”

He added: “All of us, in a weird way, are that same kind of contradiction — no one’s that simple.”

Snyder and producer Christopher Nolan and co-conspirator David Goyer have decided to focus on Superman’s alien nature, which sounds promising.

For what it’s worth, I finaly went to see Star Trek yesterday and saw many of the big CGI movie trailers, and Man of Steel looked by far the best. For one thing, it did not destroy New York. For another, it did not feature endless scenes of CGI critters storming towns and aircraft. It far outclassed the trailers for Thor: The Dark World and The Wolverine because those are such familiar, formularized films by now. The score is also excellent. Plus, it must be said, Zack Snyder is quite a visually interesting storyteller, and he knows how to make super things look super. Finally, Henry Cavill: thumbs way up. So yeah, feeling good about that.


§ Spider-Man 2 is filming around New York and shots of Aleksei Sytsevichin what appears to be the pre-CGI rig for The Rhino were snapped.

§ Longer promos for AGENTS OF SHIELD have been showing up every time you turn on ABC. Here’s the collection of them.

The Legal View: Siegel Court Issues Final Judgments


The Superman and Superboy lawsuits are officially over, pending appeal. [Read more…]

Studio Coffee Run: Amazing Spider-Man 2, Iron Man 3, X-Men, Man of Steel, Thor 2

Darlings, gather your coffee, cross your legs, and sit on the floor as you read about what’s been happening in the comic-book movie world over the last few days. Culture is happening!

[Read more…]

Superman and Lois Lane are 75 today

Joe Shuster - Original Superman Illustration (DC, 1940s).jpg
ACTION COMICS #1 was published 75 years ago today.

And the world was never the same.


Sue at DCWKA also points out that it is Lois Lane’s 75th birthday. She’s a pretty enduring character as well, so we’ll wish her a happy one too.


The Daily News has a nice roundup of Superman-related birthday news.

On the Scene: WonderCon 2013, ‘What Makes an Icon?” with Nocenti, De Matteis, Mahnke, Slott, Waid

A panel on Friday, March 29th, the first day of programming at WonderCon brought together a rather iconic cast to discuss “iconic characters” and what keeps a character “true” to their origins over long periods of time. Mark Waid opened as moderator by pointing out that the table full of seasoned pros had more than 125 years of comics experience between them and most had worked on longterm characters and newer creations alike. The essential question posed by Waid was how to “vault” characters “into the 21st century without losing what keeps them special”. The question seemed particularly pertinent to Waid, whose ongoing work on DAREDEVIL has evoked critical acclaim. Waid asked his panellists how they handle the “core elements of characters” to face this challenge.

mbrittany_mwaid_1J. M. De Matteis introduced an image that stayed with the panellists as a reference point for discussion. He felt that creators handling long-lived characters work “within a cage”, so they can’t “go wide” with the character in term of change, but they can “go deep” in terms of making new discoveries. For De Matteis, personally, it’s all about the “Big Why” of characters, figuring out what makes them tick. He prefers working with super-villains to pose questions about the formative impact of their past histories because there’s “always a little corner of the psyche to dig into”. Ann Nocenti, however, in her recent work with Catwoman found that “her archetype was pretty clear” as a troubled kid originally, “on the streets” originally, and moving through “foster homes”. Her intuitive approach is to “play with a character and see what feels right” and she doesn’t mind the fact that later creators will do the same with long-term characters. It’s “like treading water”, she said, “You give a sense of constant, dynamic action, but you’re really not moving far”, and she expects later creators to be under the same constraint.

[Read more…]

Review: Action Comics, the Grant Morrison Edition

Grant Morrison’s run on Action Comics has been met with both high praise and no small measure of bewilderment. But this is a legendary run – you just need to think five dimensionally.

Action Comics #18

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Review: It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane…It’s Superman

I saw the final night of the ENCORE! concert staging of the Adams/Strouse Superman musical last night and I truly wish I had seen it earlier so I could have written about it earlier and told everyone to go see it because it was a DELIGHT! But the theater was jammed so I guess it didn’t need my rave! (I spotted Joss Whedon among those taking it in!)

Everything about this production was charming and fizzy and fun, starting with the bold splashy sets filled with pop art benday dots and explosions. Originally produced in 1966, this was very much a period piece, but people were a lot more sophisticated in 1966 than we give them credit for, from Lois’s kicky mod dresses to the sly suggestion that Superman is a little more into his celebrity than his heroism might indicate.

The cast was note perfect, from Edward Watts’ strapping, slightly goofy but always sincere Superman; Jenny Powers as a pert, yearning Lois, David Pittu and Will Swenson bringing down the house as a pair of villains.

This musical came out a few months after the campy Batman TV show debuted, a reminder that the DC superheroes were already a significant part of the cultural consciousness. It’s a Bird’s Superman plays on the same kind of cartoonish approach to the idea of the Superhero—both Batman and Superman are just “good guys” who solves petty street crimes and vanquish the occasional wackadoo with an unlikely hairdo—but it’s a lot more amenable to the idea that we need an amazing hero to look up to, even if he is a little bit slow on the uptake about a few things, like romance and mad scientists with evil schemes.

All the singing and dancing and acrobatics were outstanding, and I left the theater humming the tunes…something I could not say about SPIDER-MAN: TURN OFF THE DARK. Different stories for different times.

Anyway, great fun, and I’m really glad I got to see it.










On the Scene: Celebrating Golden Age Comics at Columbia University

On January 23rd, Columbia University Library acquired a double-bill of Golden Age related comics materials, including the research materials Larry Tye compiled to write his Superman biography, The High Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero, and six 1940’s BATMAN scripts from the estate of Jerry Robinson. These add to the ongoing Rare Book and Manuscript Collection at Columbia under the steerage of Graphic Novels Librarian Karen Green, already including Chris Claremont’s 2011 X-Men archive donation, and the large ELFQUEST bequest announced in early March. Columbia University, and a standing room only audience on March 7th, decided it was time to celebrate the donation, with a panel and reception entitled “Comics at Columbia: The Golden Age”, fortuitously coinciding with Will Eisner Week throughout the country.


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Chris Sprouse Steps Away from Orson Scott Card’s Superman Story

Artist Chris Sprouse, who would have been drawing controversial writer Orson Scott Card’s contribution to the upcoming Superman anthology Adventures of Superman, has stepped down from the project today. He cites the media furore over the comic as his reason for dropping the project. As a result, the first issue of this digital-first series will feature stories from Jeff Parker/Chris Samnee, Justin Jordan/Riley Rossmo, and Jeff Lemire.

DC have also issued a statement hoping to see Sprouse on a new project soon. Hopefully this will be a Superman one as well, because his Superman is super-aces —

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Review: The Death of Superman

Nowadays we think of it as the pre-mullet era of Superman, but at the time The Death of Superman was an incredibly big idea for DC. A story which killed off their main signature hero was not only an eventual inevitability, but also an idea which would actually have some resonance for the company. Superman is rightfully viewed as an inspirational ideal, both in the pages of the comics and in the real world – killing him, really, would have an impact no matter how well the story turned out. And his death became a slight watershed moment for DC as a company, leading them down a misery well which soon after broke Batman’s back and blew up Green Lantern’s hometown.


But anyway, the story itself. How did that turn out? DC have collected a new trade paperback of the seven-part storyline, so finally I have a chance to find out.

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Dallas Retailer Leads Way in Active Boycott of Orson Scott Card’s Superman Comic UPDATE – DC Release Statement

There’s been controvery over the past few days following DC’s decision to hire Orson Scott Card, a pioneer in contemporary homophobia, as one of the writers on a new digital-first Superman anthology series. And although the internet has been going back and forth on the subject for the past few days, the first active step towards boycotting the book happened in Dallas today, as shop owner (and Eisner award-winner) Richard Neal has announced his shop will not be stocking the book once it comes to print.

[Read more…]

Poisoned Chalice Part 1: From the Start of Superman to the End of Captain Marvel

Poisoned Chalice Part 1: From the Start of Superman to the End of Captain Marvel
[Previous chapters: Introduction]

Action Comics 1 Superman, co-created by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster, first appeared in Action Comics #1 in June 1938, published by Detective Comics Inc, a fore-runner of National Periodical Publications and DC Comics. Virtually overnight it became a huge seller, and is running to this day, with uninterrupted publication for well over seventy years. A vast amount has been written over the years on the history of Superman, and by people substantially more qualified than I, but one claim, that Superman was based on the character of Hugo Danner, from Philip Wylie’s novel Gladiator, (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1930), has some relevance to the larger story of Marvelman and, although I decided that it might be too far back to start this series of articles, if you’re interested in reading what I have to say about it, you should go read this article, and then meet us back here.
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DC moves to end Superman, Superboy lawsuits

Justice League 16.jpg
Yesterday’s summary judgment filings confirm that settlement talks have been ongoing–and the Siegel side is in disarray. [Read more…]

Superman is back on stage in “It’s a Bird” revival

One of the most colorful ephemera of Superman lore is his stage appearance in the show “It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman!” a musical with book by David Newman and Robert Benton, and music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Lee Adam (That’s the guys behind Bye Bye Bride and Applause.) The show is being revived for a seven performance run at New York City Center from March 20 through 24. Tickets can be purchased here.

Starring as Clark Kent/Superman is Edward Watts, recently seen on Broadway in Scandalous in the dual roles of Robert Semple and David Hutton. He’s also been seen in Finian’s Rainbow, The Fantasticks and New York
City Opera’s production of The Most Happy Fella.

More casting news is to come. The new production will be directed by John Rando with choreography by Joshua Bergasse and music direction by Rob Berman.

The original production of It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman opened at the Alvin Theatre (now the Neil Simon Theatre) on March 29, 1966 and ran for 129 performances. It was directed by Harold Prince and starred Bob Holiday as Superman, Patricia Marand as Lois Lane, Jack Cassidy and Linda Lavin. The show features the songs “You’ve Got Possibilities,” “You’ve Got What I Need,” “I’m Not Finished Yet and “The Woman for The Man.” Below is an archival photo of BOb Holiday in the original production.