Unlike some of our readers who may not have been born yet, I was a regular in the comic book stores in 1992 when DC pulled the ultimate publicity stunt and killed off the Man of Steel. His death in Superman #75 sold 3 million copies. It was a perfect storm. You had regular comic readers interested. Former comic readers interested. Non-comic readers. The young and old. Fans of the Superman movies or various TV shows. Everyone was talking about it. It was during a time when the death of a character seemed to actually mean something and didn’t happen every other day. Especially to such an iconic character. Sales were also boosted by occuring during the comic market boom as people were buying multiple copies as investments, hoping to cash in down the line. Especially the variant black polybagged version which featured the logo above. “Fans” were buying two copies. One to open and read and one to lock away in a pressure sealed vault for safe keeping.
As we know, the market boom crashed not long after and this issue has often been attributed as having a major role in that. But that’s a different column. We’re here today to talk about the potential latest death of Superman. More (including spoilers) after the break on the ongoing Final Days of Superman storyline in Superman #51, Batman/Superman #31 and Action Comics #51.
From 2005-2006, writer Grant Morrison had an interesting narrative experiment going on at DC Comics. He took the old concept of the “Seven Soldiers of Victory” story from Silver Age JLA/JSA team-ups, and did a new version. Original foe of the team the Nebula Man was back, though not as the main villain. Other hallmarks of the original group were brought up, but the main idea was Morrison would take seven DC heroes of varying levels of obscurity and put them on a team that needed to save the world. To make things more interesting, the seven heroes would never meet. Yes, aside from one or two brief run-ins between a couple members of the group in the last chapter of the story, the Seven Soldiers Morrison was using would be off doing their own things, each of which would add up to ultimate victory against the evil Sheeda and their queen Gloriana.
One of the Seven was a new hero named Bulleteer. She would have preferred not to get involved.
Last week, I covered a character that was mostly used by one creator during a comic run for a team book. That was DC’s Faith. It seems only fair to do that again this week for Marvel. Only this time, the creator in question was writing that team for a very, very long time.
This may also just be a retcon gone wrong. This week, we’re looking at Sage.
Many of the Secret Wars tie-ins have familiar names like Infinity Gauntlet, Planet Hulk and Civil War. For most of the series with names you have heard of before, reading the original series is not usually required. I found E Is For Extinction to be the opposite of that.
While I guess I cannot really say because I haven’t read the original run by Grant Morrison, I really felt like I was missing something with this series. Not that I couldn’t understand it, but for 4 issues I felt like there was an inside joke that I was missing out on. Tom Kelly has also made some comments about them nailing the tone and feel of the run.
After the cut I’ll take a spoilery look at E Is For Extinction #1 thru #4. For those that have read Morrison’s run, feel free to jump in and let me know what I’m missing, or what would help me understand this series better.
The deconstruction of the superhero genre is something that has been going on for a few decades now, and is often rather repetitive. Generally, it is an excuse to show classic or recognizable characters doing things that normally they wouldn’t, often of a more R-rated variety.
That said, when the deconstruction is done right, such as in Watchmen, the work says something about the genre’s conventions and tropes in a way that can be highly entertaining for the reader, while also giving the reader a chance to think over the sorts of things that are taken for granted.
But one of the best deconstructions out there doesn’t just cover superheroes, but pulp literature and genre storytelling in general. That would be the comics series Planetary, written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by John Cassaday.
Superheroes, for the most part, don’t age. Marvel and DC have their superhero universes set in some sort of sliding scale timeline, where almost everything that’s happened since the superhero line was created somehow only occurred over a ten to twelve year period. That means that even though there are Fantastic Four comics depicting Reed Richards and Ben Grimm in the trenches of World War II, today neither of those gentlemen are that old. Aside from a handful of World War II era heroes and villains who have managed to stay active and keep their ties to the war (Captain America, the original Justice Society), or even the rarer other type (Frank Castle is a Vietnam vet), heroes are pulled from eras they existed in to avoid explaining how Batman swings through the streets of Gotham without a walker.
But there are ways to allow heroes to age, and one of them DC used to have was Earth-2. Originally the home of the Justice Society of America, Earth-2 was the place where the Golden Age heroes did their thing. And while none of them quite reached the state we’d consider “elderly,” some of them did marry and have children. One of them was the Earth-2 Batman, and he had a daughter, and oh man, is this one messed up history.
I’ll admit I ran out of steam and interest with the release of Convergence #8. It took me awhile to get around to completing my reading of the tie-ins, and it didn’t help they were some of the weaker tie-ins of the bunch. Plus Secret Wars was full steam ahead over at Marvel and I was excited to move onto that. As such, this final post on DC’s big early summer event got lost in the shuffle.
But since I am contractually obligated to finish these posts, I’ll make a very late attempt to clue things up after the break.
Be sure to catch up on all the Convergence happenings with coverage of:
Read on for Week Eight spoilers after the break for Convergence #8, Convergence Action Comics #2, Convergence Detective Comics #2, Convergence Blue Beetle #2, Convergence Booster Gold #2, Convergence Crime Syndicate #2, Convergence Infinity Inc #2, Convergence Justice Society Of America #2, Convergence Plastic Man And The Freedom Fighters #2, Convergence Shazam #2 and Convergence World’s Finest Comics #2.
One of the most intriguing things DC Comics did after the original Crisis, though technically starting before it with Alan Moore’s phenomenal Swamp Thing run, was the creation of the Vertigo line for mature readers. The initial Vertigo books were ostensibly set in the same universe as the rest of the DC line, so while it was unlikely, it was possible in the early years before it became its own imprint and even sometimes afterwards for DC and Vertigo heroes to meet up. This era is what gave us excellent remakes on classic DC standbys, using old characters as building blocks for more thought-provoking, mature, or even barely related characters appearing in the aforementioned Moore’s Swamp Thing, Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, and Peter Milligan’s Shade the Changing Man. Most of these new writers were British imports, including a little known at the time Grant Morrison, who would use this line to springboard into mature revamps of Animal Man and The Doom Patrol.
While Morrison’s Animal Man was used as an early opportunity to explore the writer’s ideas on metacommentary in superhero comics and his burgeoning vegetarianism (seriously, in his last Animal Man issue, he appears as himself to tell the readers to consider joining PETA), Morrison’s Doom Patrol is remembered for being just plain weird.
And in the middle of that weirdness, there was Crazy Jane.