Bookworm: 80 Years of Superman (Deluxe Edition)

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DC released a special collection of classic stories from Action Comics to celebrate its milestone 1000th issue. I thought I’d look at it and review each comic and article.

  1. “The Coming of Superman”–The first Superman story, where he can’t fly. It’s OK, for what it is. But I prefer a Superman who’s not as brazen with his powers.
  2. “The Mystery of the Freight Train Robberies”–Action Comics #1 didn’t see the debut of just Superman, but also Zatarra, father of Zatanna. I like Zatanna better because she doesn’t have the “Mandrake the Magician” rip-off feel to her stories.
  3. “Revolution in San Monte”–I still say I’m glad other people came on after Jerry Siegel and wrote a nicer version of Superman.
  4. “The Times”, a commentary by Tom DeHaven, a Creative Writing professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. He gets some points docked for scoffing at Supergirl.
  5. “The Origin of the Vigilante”–I’ve never understood why the Vigilante is a thing. He’s just your average cowboy crimefighter.
  6. “The Terrible Toyman!”–Toyman was a big deal in the Pre-Crisis days of Superman. Nowadays, not so much. In fact, I think the current version isn’t even a criminal anymore. Still, he’s actually not a bad villain here, for Golden Age style storytelling anyway.
  7. “How I Saved Superman”–Marv Wolfman talks about his tenure on Superman, a run I’m not familiar with. I knew Wolfman more from New Teen Titans and Crisis on Infinite Earths.
  8. “Too Many Heroes”–An unpublished story from 1945. Superman imposters ruin the real deal’s reputation. Not bad.
  9. “Clark Kent, Reporter”–David Hajdu talks about Superman’s alter ego, and how he’s just as impressive when he’s wearing glasses.
  10. “The Super-Key to Fort Superman”–The first appearance of the Fortress of Solitude. So glad they didn’t keep the original name. This starts the Silver Age section, and it’s pretty good. I love how he’s got stuff in it to pass on to his friends when he dies.
  11. “The Super Duel In Space”–Brainiac makes his first appearance! Loved this one! He’s one of my favorite villains.
  12. “The Supergirl from Krypton!”–Supergirl meets her cousin. I like that they found a good loophole by having her live on another planet before landing on Earth. I’ve always liked her because I like the fact that she constantly lives in her cousin’s shadow.
  13. “Endurance”–Larry Tye contemplates how Superman is relatable even with his god-like status.
  14. “The World’s Greatest Heroine”–Superman reveals Supergirl to the world, including her foster family. I like the part where the Legion of Superheroes shows up at the end and makes sure they don’t ruin the surprise for her until they meet her again and she already knows.
  15. “The Infinite Monster”–Supergirl gets a solo story! She fights a giant monster. It’s not bad.
  16. “The Assassin-Express Contract”–The Human Target’s debut. I really don’t get this “Oh by the way, here’s some stories that have nothing to do with Superman, but they were in his comic” idea. But at least we get some nice Carmine Infantino art

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Bookworm: Action Comics 1000

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When Action Comics hit 1000, I had to get a copy. But I had a problem–there was no comic book shop nearby. My nearest bookstore no longer existed. My solution? Downloaded it off the DC app.

Instead of posting one special story to celebrate this milestone, this issue actually has several stories, celebrating Superman and his legacy. I thought I’d review and rank all of them.

  • “From the City That Has Everything” (Team: Dan Jurgens/Norm Rapmund/Hi-fi/Rob Leigh)–10/10

Summary: Superman fights off a Khund invader and reluctantly returns to Metropolis, where they are celebrating Superman Day. Lois wants him to hear everyone’s testimonies, but he’s too nervous about the invaders.

Review: I liked all the testimonies, including the reformed criminal. It set the tone for the rest of the comic.

  • “Never-Ending Battle” (Peter J. Tomasi/Patrick Gleason/Alexandro Sanchez/Tom Napolitano)8/10

Summary: Superman battles Vandal Savage across space and time, reflecting on the life and battles he’s had so far while celebrating his birthday with his family.

Review: This may be one of the last stories Tomasi ever does for Superman, and if it is, then it’s a good farewell. Gleason’s artwork was great, but I’m deducting points for the Conner Kent cameo. Way to rub our faces in it, DC.

  • “An Enemy Within” (Marv Wolfman/Curt Swan/Kurt Schaffenberger/Hi-fi/Rob Leigh) 9/10

Summary: While Superman fights one of Brainiac’s drones in Japan, a principal in Metropolis has been hypnotized into taking someone hostage. What Superman doesn’t realize is that the drone he’s fighting is what’s controlling the principal.

Review: This story was especially unearthed just for this issue, and is the only story that isn’t new. (For those who don’t know, Curt Swan was one of DC’s most-celebrated artists, and died in 1996) It even ends with a Curt Swan-esque drawing in tribute to him.

  • “The Game” (Paul Levitz/Neal Adams/Hi-fi/Dave Sharpe)7/10

Summary: Superman and Luthor take time out from fighting each other to play a game of chess.

Review: This was a great scene and a classic-style story of worthy opponents with Lex at his hammiest. It seemed like something out of Superfriends, but I liked it.

  • “The Car” (Geoff Johns & Richard Donner/Oliver Colpel/Sanchez/Napolitano)

Summary: You know that car that Superman is picking up on the very first cover of Action Comics? We meet the driver in this story. 8/10

Review: “Hey what about the car Superman picked up on the cover?” sounds like a good “high concept” story idea. And I like Geoff Johns a lot, even with the controversy that seems to follow him wherever he goes.

Continue reading “Bookworm: Action Comics 1000”

My Top 10 Favorite Comic Book Writers

The main reason I like comic books is they are a great marriage of writer and artist. For the next two posts, I will be discussing my favorite writers and artists of the medium. For now, I will focus on the writers.

10) Chuck Dixon –For most of the 90’s, Dixon was one of the best writers on Batman and the various spinoffs. He helped Tim Drake break out as a new Robin in his solo book. He created Bane, one of Batman’s most dangerous enemies. And he helped establish Nightwing as a solo hero by creating his home turf of Bludhaven, Gotham’s sister city.

9) Jeff Smith–Creator and artist behind Bone, Jeff Smith gets the nod here for his mastery in humor. He is excellent at pacing his stories in order to time his jokes perfectly, but he’s also just as good at creating a rich lore for his characters.

8) Denny O’Neil–For most of the 70’s and 80’s, Denny O’Neil helped to redefine Batman beyond what he was in the Silver Age, becoming almost as important as Frank Miller would become years later. In addition, he also was the creative team behind the establishment of the Green Arrow/Green Lantern team, helping to show how comic books can be a viable medium for political expression.

7) Scott Snyder–the most recent addition to this list, Scott Snyder was recruited to Batman during DC’s controversial New 52 rebranding. While I had my problems with the New 52, Snyder’s version of Batman was not one of them. I’m so glad they’ve kept Snyder on in the Rebirth version of DC’s universe.

6) Dan Jurgens–a writer and artist best known for creating Booster Gold and his work on Superman, especially the “Death and Return of Superman” arcs. During his tenure on Superman, he showed that Superman could indeed be a relatable character.

5) Kurt Busiek–creator of both Astro City and Marvels, both of which also feature the magnificent work of Alex Ross. What I like about Busiek is that he often uses the POV of the ordinary person, allowing the reader to imagine what it would be like to walk among the giants of the superhero world.

4) Grant Morrison–while some may consider Morrison to be overrated, I don’t think he is. He is a very surreal writer whose imagination creates intricate stories that I often have to read more than once in order to fully grasp. I especially love his runs on JLA and Doom Patrol.

3) Chris Claremont–While Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the X-Men, I feel it’s the creative team of Chris Claremont and John Byrne that truly defined the team. He turned them into the dysfunctional family that they are best known as and weaved plots that often took a long time to pay off, but when they did, it was often awesome.

2) Neil Gaiman–Neil Gaiman is best known for his work on the Vertigo series Sandman, my all-time favorite comic book. It combined several genres–superhero, fantasy, horror, and mythology; weaving them all into an intricate tapestry that I would even recommend to those who don’t normally read comics.

1) Alan Moore–Time Magazine once made a countdown of the greatest novels of the 20th century, and bent their rules so they could include Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s epic miniseries Watchmen. This series is often celebrated for its excellent deconstruction of the superhero mythos. What I like best about Moore is his ambiguity. He often leaves the story up to your own interpretation. I think it’s great that he trusts the reader that way. And as for his worshipping a sock puppet, hey if his weird habits help him to create such awesome stories, then why not?

Come back next week, and I’ll talk about my favorite artists!

Bookworm: To Siri With Love by Judith Newman

boycotttosiriMy mom gets Reader’s Digest each month. In the October 2017 issue, they published an excerpt from Judith Newman’s book To Siri With Love. The excerpt piqued my interest, so I borrowed it from the library. On the exact day I started reading it, I saw a campaign on Facebook using the hashtag “#BoycotttoSiri” I read the articles about the book and was heartbroken.  This mother can’t be this bad, can she? Spoiler alert–she is.

There is a type of mother in the autism community called the “autism mom.” This is a mother who sees herself as a martyr because of the “suffering” she goes through for her child. She will complain endlessly about how terrible it is to raise a child. They rarely, if ever, celebrate the joys of motherhood because they don’t see it as joyful. They see it as a burden.  That is my first problem with this book. She even has the audacity to ask if her child is thinking and say she is unsure if autism should be cured. (The correct answer to that question that should never even be asked is NO! Not yes, or maybe, or unsure–NO!) The reason this is a problem is that these parents don’t seem to realize that EVERY parent has difficulty raising children, even the ones who aren’t autistic can be difficult! This does NOT make you a martyr.

My second problem is how she treats autism advocates. She is very condescending about them, almost as if she doesn’t value their opinion. In fact, when autistic YouTube personality Amythest Schaber called her out for calling her a “manic pixie dream girl” (a derogatory term for overtly cheerful women. Because autistic women can’t possibly be cheerful), Newman didn’t apologize–she gaslighted her! She made it seem as if, by not asking for her permission to be quoted, she was doing her a favor. A “nice surprise”, she called it. She then called her a brat because Schaber still persisted to criticize her dehumanizing book. In short, if you don’t share her POV, you’re not worth her time.

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Annah’s World: The Second Interview

A few years back, I conducted an interview with Annah, the main character from Clay Gilbert’s book of the same name, and the first in his series, Children of Evohe.  In that time, he has had to change publishers from the now-defunct PDMI to Dark Moon Press. He has now published two books simultaneously. This time, I interview her two “sister-friends”, Chelries and Liara. To Annah and her people, friends who are especially intimate are considered family, so they are both her sisters and her friends.

  1. It’s been a year since Holder and Annah have married. How are you adjusting to coexistence with humanity? *both laugh* We have never really had any difficulty “coexisting” with humans, at least those who are willing to coexist with us. Yes, there are terrible images of what humans did to Evohe in our people’s shared Memories of what we call the Breaking of the World, but Holder, Goodman, the Maestro, Maria Cantriel, and even Brian Stelson–so many humans never personally treated us badly. I think we both agree that misunderstanding is harder one on one.
  2. I’m told Annah has started a group called “The Circle” and one of its members is autistic. What is your impression of him? Chelries: “Our circle is a thing that does not really have a name–unless Annah is talking about it, she does pronounce it with that sound you give it, that “thing” sound–but even she just thinks of it in terms of what it does, and not so formally. Liara: “That is not the point of what he is asking, sister. He is asking, I think, about friend Jason. Jason Treader. That’s a subject I know you like. Chelries: “Oh! I do like him, very much He is less guarded than other humans sometimes, even less so than Holder.  That is very comforting. And he does not mind dancing with me, and can even keep up. Liara: (smiles) I like him too. He likes stories, and has even told me some of his own, and those of his world. This ‘autism’–I have heard him speak of it as well, but I do not think of it as separate from him, or a thing he ‘has’. It is merely a part of who he is, and that is all.
  3. What other members of the Circle have you found the most challenging to teach and learn from? (Liara and Chelries look at each other, as if trying to decide who’s going to answer first) Chelries: I think we both had some difficulties adjusting to Maria Cantrell, when she was with us. Liara: Yes. We were not entirely sure what to make of her in the beginning, but we trusted her, because Annah did.  And then we came to see what Annah saw in her, and we loved her.  And then she was gone. But we remember her fondly. Chelries: There has also been Brian Stelson. It is truly remarkable how much he changed, even more so than Maraia did. Liara: Sister, that may be because there was even more in friend Brian that needed chaning. Chelries: I suppose that is true, and I suppose that is the point.
  4. Your culture seems to place great emphasis on music. What is your favorite thing about human music? Chelries: The rhythms! Human culture seems to have found many more ways to make a beat than we have, but then I suppose they have more ways to do it. It is wonderful, anyway. Liara; The fusion of melody and verse. We do not have so many songs with words here on our world, not ones of our own. Song-shapers like Annah, and word-shapers, like myself if I may say so, may one day change that. Chelries: And then I will dance to those new songs! *laughs*
  5. What is your opinion of our food? Chelries: Very tasty. Holder and Anah talked Llew and Danae, Annah’s parents into making a human meal called ‘pizza’ from a recipe he had found.  It was delicious. Liara: I agree! I could have eaten at least half of it by myself. Chelries: Hmph! I would not have let you

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Bookworm: The Outsiders

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Last year, I did anniversary posts for the Adam West Batman TV series and my top 10 best and worst Star Trek episodes in celebration of their 50th anniversaries. 1967 is also a great year for pop culture. Pink Floyd started off their career with Piper at the Gates of Dawn. The Beatles released their landmark Sgt. Peppers’ Lonely Hearts Club Band. The Peanuts gang debuted on Broadway with You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown. And in Tulsa, Oklahoma, SE Hinton published her debut novel, The Outsiders. It would be followed by That Was Then, This is Now, Tex, and Rumble Fish. All of these encompass what I personally call the Ponyboy saga, because he’s in all four books. (although in the “sequels”, he’s not as important as he was in the first book.

The story focuses on two gangs–the Socs (the rich kids) and the Greasers–Ponyboy, Dallas, Two-Bit, Soda Pop, and Johnny  (our heroes). Most of the Greasers are orphans, with Dallas being the stand-in parent.

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Bookworm: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

cursed childYears ago, I reviewed all seven of the original Harry Potter books on this site. Last year, two new stories were added to the mythos, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and a prequel, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It’s only right that I review these on this page as well. Since I just finished it, I’ll start with Cursed Child.

Cursed Child is actually published as a play rather than a novel. I realize that using the script as my source for this review may not be the best way to review a play, but I probably might not get to see an actual performance, so here we are. Oh, and spoilers from here on out. You’ve been warned.

Let’s start with what I like. The story starts by replaying the epilogue from Death Hallows. It is now 19 years later.  Hermione works for the Ministry of Magic. Ron has taken over Fred and George’s joke shop. (since one of the twins died in the last book, in case you don’t recall.) The story mostly focuses on Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy, the son of Draco Malfoy.

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