The Man Cave of Steel: A LIST

Superman’s Fortress of Solitude as often been described as a haven where the man of steel can cut loose and be himself. Most iterations feature an exotic zoo, a laboratory, and a trophy room. In recent years the arctic sanctuary received a face lift and expansion thanks to tesseract technology. How is the Metropolis Marvel filling all of that new space?

Marvel a the world's longest junk drawer!

 

A 5,000 seat arena for illegal polar bear fights.

Two turntables and a microphone, so DJ Big S can work out his fat beats

A 1:1 scale representation of the Fortress of Solitude.

17,000 head of cattle and a replica of the Rio Grande

Fizzy Lifting Drink

Spare capes.  Curiously, no spare outer-briefs.

Only the odd-numbered Star Trek movies

A refrigerator with a jar of capers and a half jar of green olives.

A room full of instruments that Clark has started to learn to play, but never picked up after the third lesson… it’s a pretty big room.

Dick Cheney's old heart is now kept in the FoS.

A Grammartorium

Every issue of Cat Fancy since 1962

Some Long-Overdue Reviews

Because of my hiatus on picking up new Marvel and DC comics, I’m a few months behind on some series as I wait for prices to drop and make sure I have consecutive issues to read.  Recently I had the chance to get caught up on a series picking up some serious buzz, a favorite I was reluctant to drop, and a new series by a favorite author.

Despite some morbid curiosity I’ve steadfastly refused to finance J. Michael Strazcynski’s Superman run, believing Superman’s walk across the United States to be a fascinating writer’s exercise but a dreadfully dull reader’s chore.  When JMS bailed on his own awful experiment I thought that was it for “Grounded,” but then something unusual happened: Chris Roberson took over the writing details and the book started generating some positive buzz.  Despite being saddled with continuing The Long Walk, Roberson has been able to act as the fans’ advocate and a) return Superman to his proper character, and b) explain why he went so far off-track for the past several months.

The results have been refreshing, and returns the “Super” to Kal-El that has been missing for more years than you’d think.  Seriously, aside from All-Star, Superman has pretty much been limited to flight, speed, strength, and heat vision for ages, and he hasn’t even been doing anything creative with those powers.  Now Roberson has him racing The Flash, re-routing rivers, and using super-speed to put out fires.  It’s a more modern sensibility rather than a Silver Age homage like All-Star — as it should be — but it does reclaim the Superman we all know and love.

There are still some rough spots here and there, but each issue gets better and Roberson is a writer to keep your eye on.

Superman #707-709
Cover Price – $8.97
My Price – $4.50
Average Wait Time – 89 Days

Pity Jeff Parker’s Thunderbolts.  It’s consistently one of Marvel’s best books but after several months of excellence my reviews have denigrated to the point where that’s all I can say about it.  Either you’re reading and loving it, or you’re not and missing out on an exceptional superhero book starring some of Marvel’s greatest villains.

The first and most important thing to note is that Parker gets characterization.  The T-Bolts team is comprised of very different characters, and by the dialogue alone you could tell any of them apart even without art.  They’re that unique.  Parker doesn’t just line up 6 characters and aim them at a challenge, they interact with each other in some very interesting ways.  Everyone has different motivations and methods, and I swear I feel the world-weariness of Luke Cage having to deal with these villains and their chaos in each and every issue.

Something not completely necessary but highly appreciated is most of the issues stand alone, even as they contribute to the larger story. This means almost every issue is a great jumping-on point, no .1 issues needed!  This shouldn’t be as novel a concept as it is.  These standalones also allow each team member some focus.  To that end we get a Ghost issue (and his decidedly old-school villain origin!), and even a Man-Thing issue, where we finally learn how Swampy feels about being the team’s Nightcrawler.   Adding to the overall story structure, Parker anticipates the necessarily high turnover of the team (a la Suicide Squad) by setting up the T-Bolts farm league, which will also create another dimension for characterization and friction among the team.

Thunderbolts 152-155
Cover Price – $11.96
My Price – $6.30
Average Wait Time – 70 Days

My love for Jason Aaron’s work has been fairly well documented at this point.  I just wrapped up “Wolverine Goes to Hell” and fortunately have several issues left to go through before I run out.  Credit Aaron and artist Daniel Acuna for being able to appropriately convey the oppressive bleakness of Hell.  While I’m usually able to support my protagonist, in a way just reading the book made me feel beat down by the environment even as Logan was not, and I admired his perseverance all the more for it.  There’s no surprises or gotchas here — other than a guest appearance by someone from waaaaay back in Logan’s past — that aren’t self-evident from the title, but that’s okay.  It’s about the journey.

My only real complaint is, having read it so close to his Manifest Destiny mini-series from 2008, the story arcs drift just a little too close to each other.  <SPOILERS> Wolverine gets in over his head, meets bad people from his past, overcomes all obstacles and wins, then becomes the new ruler.  And while the first three are staples of EVERY Wolverine story (and roughly 68.3% of all comic book stories), the last once should be used more sparingly.  </SPOILERS>  That said, my Aaron man-crush goes on unabated.  I have started but not yet finished Wolverine vs the X-Men, but it is as strong as story as the first arc, as the X-Men must deal with the after-effects of a possessed Logan (starring the Ghost Riders!)

Wolverine 1 – 7 (only 5-7 calculated for 2011)
Cover Price – $15.96
My Price – $8.64
Average Wait Time – 82 Days

There we go: that’s where I am at the moment.  I’m frustratingly close to being able to plow through Paul Cornell’s Action Comics run, along with the Adjectiveless, New, and Secret Avengers.  I’m fairly caught up on Batman, but have found it fairly generic and not really worth delving into. 

Read anything I’ve mentioned?  Argue with us in the comments section.

Superman — Citizenship Secrets!

With all the commotion regarding Superman renouncing his U.S. citizenship, it’s time to plumb the depths of his citizenship secrets!

Lex Luthor tried to convince the world I was born in Kenya next to Barack Obama, but no one was dumb enough to believe that.

Secrets!

I was hoping to get Swedish citizenship for the free healthcare but not having blond hair was a dead giveaway.

Secrets!

Lichtenstein offered me citizenship, but as I told them, I could never belong to only Lichtenstein, I belong to the world! Plus the coffee there sucks.

Secrets!

Do you know how easy it is to get an H-1B visa if you're a superhero? It's even easier if you hang out in D.C. for like, 20 minutes.

Secrets!

I'm an alien! I've never been a U.S. citizen! So I renounced, they begged me to come back, and they let me in for the first time. Suckers!

Secrets!!!

Game Tape

This week was the biggest week I’ve had in a while, and there were things to actually write about too. Let’s see if I remember how it’s done shall we?

No sense in not starting with the 900 lbs. gorilla in the room. DC got it right. Action Comics #900 was  worth reading. The black sphere saga ends and Luthor gets everything he ever wanted. Of course you have to be careful what you wish for. With the main story, Cornell shows that he really understands what makes both Luthor and Superman tick. In addition, we’ve got a strong start to the upcoming Doomsday cross-over. The back-up stories were pretty well crafted, but mostly forgettable. I can only assume the Donner piece didn’t get an artist because it would ahve upped the page count. A shame, because it could have benefited from being fully fleshed out. One other thing that this anniversary issue should have included is a recognition of other characters that have debuted or been featured regularly in Action Comics. Where’s the Blackhawk story? Congo Bill? Zatara? Wild Dog? Sure it’s primarily Superman’s book, but with an anniversary this big, there needed to be recognition of the history. At least he’s not going to start walking across the country.

Onward and upward then. FF #2 continues to be Hickman being Hickman. Dialogue and character are strong and clever. The situation continues to be dire and interesting too. Specifically, we learn in this issue what sort of deal Valeria made with Dr. Doom back in the pages of Fantastic Four. This issue also highlights one of Hickman’s greatest strengths. The ability to tell a whole story in a single issue while dropping crumbs to be picked up later. Seriously, there’s no reason not to be reading this title.

Age of X ended this week also. On the whole the story wasn’t bad. The world created there was sufficiently different and interesting, and the mystery created by jumping in medias res was well sustained. If anything, it ended a little too quickly and neatly. Still, it did manage to be a decent alternate universe story. It’s also interesting to see that there are small repercussions to be felt in the aftermath. So not everything is returning to status quo. Checking out the trade or finding the issues on the cheap wouldn’t be a bad idea.

I did pick up the second issue of the Godzilla book. I really liked the first issue. This one felt a little too disjointed. I’m curious to see where this book is going. In spite of the death and destruction, I’m inclined to root for Godzilla, but I’m not sure why yet.

The three Avengers books we solid too. The two .1’s proved to be genuine in their desire to serve as starting points. In Avengers, we’re teased with a Spaceknight. We also see a MODOK with spider legs. To my mind, this is not an improvement on the floating chair design. Secret Avengers is a nice done-in-one that introduces readers to all of the main characters while giving Nick Spencer a chance to find his footing on the title. Not bad.

That’s a wrap for this week. Good solid reads all around with only minor missteps.

L.E.M.U.R. Exclusive! The Superman: Grounded Pitch

In another L.E.M.U.R. Comics Blog exclusive, we’ve managed to get our hands on J. Michael Straczynski’s pitch for his new Superman arc, Grounded.  It is printed here in it’s entirety*.


The protagonist is freewheeling reporter Clark Kent, nicknamed “Superman.” The character’s name refers to Clark Gable and Kent Taylor.

Exiting a congressional hearing about the “Hundred Minute War,” he is confronted with the notion that he has grown disconnected from everyday Americans he has been committed to watching over, and doesn’t truly know what his adopted people are like anymore. Feeling a responsibility to his adopted homeland, he begins a long journey where he will walk across the United States to reconnect with the everyday people he is committed to protecting.


During his trip he meets and has a meal with a rancher, whom he admires for his simple, traditional farming lifestyle. Later, he meets a hitch-hiker who agrees to take him to his commune, where he stays for a day. Life in the commune appears to be hard, with hippies from the city finding it difficult to grow their own crops in a dry climate with poor soil.  At one point, he witnesses a prayer for blessing of the new crop, as put by a communard: A chance “to make a stand,” and to plant “simple food, for our simple taste.” The commune is also host to a traveling theater group that “sings for its supper” (performs for food). The notion of “free love” appears to be practiced, with two women seemingly sharing the affections of the hitch-hiking communard, and who then turn their attention to Clark. As the reporter leaves, the hitch-hiker gives Clark some LSD for him to share with “the right people.”

While attempting to eat in a small rural Louisiana restaurant, the his appearance attracts the attention of locals. The girls in the restaurant want to meet him and travel with him, but the local men and police officer make mocking, racist, and homophobic remarks. One of the men menacingly states, “I don’t believe he’ll make the parish line.” Clark leaves without eating and makes camp outside of town. The events of the day cause him to comment: “This used to be a hell of a good country. I can’t understand what’s gone wrong with it.” He observes that Americans talk a lot about the value of freedom, but are actually afraid of anyone who truly exhibits it.

In the middle of the night, the local men return and attempt to brutally beat Clark with baseball bats while he is sleeping. He sleeps through the attack.

Clark continues to New Orleans and finds a brothel. Taking prostitutes Karen and Mary with him, Clark decides to go outside and wander the parade-filled street of the Mardi Gras celebration. They end up in a cemetery, where all three ingest LSD.  He does not experience a psychedelic bad trip.

Making camp afterward, Clark declares: “I blew it.” He realizes that his search for everyday people was a spiritual failure. The next morning, he continues his trip when two hillbillies in a pickup truck spot him and decide to “scare the hell out of him” with their shotgun. As they pull alongside Clark, one of the men lazily aims the shotgun at him and threatens and insults him by saying “Want me to blow your brains out?” and “Why don’t you get a haircut?”  The hillbilly fires at Clark as he speeds by. The story ends with a shot of Clark standing, suit shot and ripped, with his Superman uniform underneath. A single tear rolls down his cheek.  His journey has ended.

*Or, more accurately, ripped off completely from Wikipedia.

This Week’s Comics!

Yeah, that’s right…This week has earned an exclamation point and a trip to a PG-13 movie.  It’s a jumbo-sized batch of comics this week!

  • ASTRO CITY #1 – Great call on DC’s part my making the first issue of this stellar series available for only a dollar.  If any of the series they’re promoting will hook readers and suck them into buying more comics, it will be this one.  We don’t spend a lot of time discussing Astro City here — probably because of it’s  somewhat erratic schedule — but Matt and I are both big fans of this book.
  • BATMAN RETURN OF BRUCE WAYNE #3 (OF 6) – Caveman Batman?  Check. Pilgrim Batman?  Got it.  Pirate Batman…  This week!  I expected that we’d only see Batman in different time periods thoughout this mini, but there’s definitely a coherent story between his time-jumps…And the Justice League’s attempts to stop him have got me hooked.  Thank you, Grant Morrison!
  • SUPERMAN #700 – Despite not reading any of the Robinson run and not planning to read the Strazcynski run, I probably shouldn’t pick this up.  But I’m a sucker for an anniversary issue, and the transition stories (ending New Krypton by Robinson and starting up whatever JMS is planning) mean I can stay somewhat current on Superman current events without actually putting up the time or money to read the whole things.


That’s it for me.  What are YOU looking at?

Dream Team: An imaginary story

It’s not unreasonable to say that as much as Jesse loves Batman, I am devoted to Superman. It’s hard being a Superman fan because lately the quality stories and arcs are few and far between. Why? It takes work, imagination, and courage to find a readable challenge for a character who is so…super. It’s so much easier to write a story where he’s punching things. The thing is that most people forget that along with being super strong and super fast, Kal-El is also super smart. Many of his arch-nemeses are too. Instead of truly clever, bizarre, and intelligent threats, Brainiac and Luthor usually send woefully ill-equipped and unoriginal robots or bruisers to deal with/ distract the Man of Steel. At this point, we know he can punch things into submission.

For my money, the last time any one truly understood Superman and what the flagship Superman titles should look like was the Silver Age. I know what you’re thinking: no I’m not really one of those nostalgia pornographers like Geoff Johns. We don’t need Krypto or Kandor or multicolored Kryptonite back just for the sake of having them around. I’m also not saying that Superman should be quite as silly as as he was in the hands of men like Otto Binder and Mort Weisinger. What I am advocating is a return to the wholly ape-shit weirdness: the bigger than life stories and logic defying threats. Binder and Weisinger knew that Superman had to be super in all respects. He needed threats that annoy, hinder, and push the Last Son of Krypton to bring his A-game. Where are the mind bending stories of Superman saving Earth from evil living suns? Where are the distant planets where Luthor is a science hero? Where’s the time and dimension travel? Where’s my damn flying car?

Grant Morrison knows this. He exhibited these ideas in All Star Superman. He proved that Superman can be about the crazy of the Silver Age without being silly. Alan Moore knows this too. If the original Squadron Supreme is the greatest JLA story ever written, Alan Moore’s Supreme is one of the best Superman stories. Both Morrison and Moore understand that these stories need to be out of the box. Superman should attract strange in the same way that it flies to the Fantastic Four.

So in an ideal world, who’s writing Superman and Action Comics? I’m going to call Moore and Morrison on plot with Morrison handling the script. Here’s where I rein them in though. Both writers can get pretty crazy on their own. They need a strong editor to help guide them and keep them within the bounds that’ll keep the book from losing it’s grounding. Weisinger was quite the taskmaster, but Moore would walk. Let’s pull in someone who knows story in his own right. Kurt Busiek would be perfect.

Art chores? I like Kevin Maguire. He knows how to draw muscular as beefy. He also has a great penchant for facial expression. Can you imagine the mischief in Mxyzptlk? The gleeful malice in Luthor? I’d bring in Ed Mcguinness to handle chores when Kevin Maguire needed someone to do fill in issues.Mcguinness’s stout characters scream power. He’s just cartoony enough to keep things light and weird.

Just thinking about how awesome the granddaddy of all superheroes could/ should be makes my bags and boards itch.

The List: Superman’s Least-Utilized Powers

The Man of Steel.  The Man of Tomorrow.  Superman.

Strange visitor from another planet who came to earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men!  Sure, we all know about strength, flight, and heat vision, but surely that’s not where his powers stop.  Even Jerry Seinfeld wonders about that: “Why would that one area of his mind not be affected by the yellow sun of Earth?”

So, presented here for your enjoyment is this week’s List: Superman’s Least-Utilized Powers.

  • Super-Absorbancy

  • Super-Penmanship

  • Super-ability to figure out the tip

  • Super-Nudity (so nude he appears clothed)

  • Super-Able To Restrain Himself Around Cheesecake

  • Super-Gift Wrapping

  • Super-Thank You Card Writing

  • Super-Snuggler

  • Super-Birdcalls

  • Super-Parallel parking

  • Super-Accountancy

  • Super-Sphincter Control (Superman doesn’t poop until Superman is good and ready to poop!)


** Editor’s Note: Super-Inoffensive Gas was a finalist, but after investigation our research department learned that his is actually one of his MOST utilized powers and was thus disqualified.