So right now, we’re halfway through Final Crisis, a crossover involving the weakening of space and time and all of reality being endangered. In the prelude one-shot DC Universe #0, readers were recapped about the fact that this is the third universal crisis to happen to the DCU (which isn’t entirely accurate and we’ll get into that soon).
But some of you folks may want a little more detail about what happened before this. Why is this the "Final" Crisis? And considering the fact that the previous two crises both involved history being altered, what do the heroes involved truly remember about them?
So here is not only a rundown of the previous crises, but the major events that have led into them and certain side stories that writer Grant Morrison may refer to again very soon.
Last night, Peter David and Mike Perkins did a midnight signing at the prestigious Midtown Comics in Time Square. Despite the late hour, there were several fans in attendance and each had the opportunity to be among the very first to purchase the debut issue of the new miniseries Dark Tower: Treachery and the premiere of the firstminiseries based on Stephen King’s other major work, The Stand: Captain Tripps.
The Dark Tower book series is Stephen King’s very popular opus. The Dark Tower comics, plotted by King’s aide Robin Furth (who also wrote The Dark Tower: A Complete Concordance) and scripted by Peter David (X-Factor, She-Hulk, Fallen Angel), have been serving as prequels to the series, showing the Gunslinger hero Roland when he was a young man and revealing other secrets of his home. Treachery is the third mini-series.
The Stand is perhaps Steven King’s most famous book, depicting how the last survivors of humanity cope with the forces of good and evil after a plague wipes out most of the planet. It is also a part of the Dark Tower series in that the demonic villain Randall Flagg makes an appearance in both. In fact, Flagg (also known as "The Dark Man", "The Walking Dude", and "The Man with no Face") appears or makes his presence felt in several other books and stories, earning him the title of King’s "super-villain." Mike Perkins (Union Jack, Captain America) is handling the art for The Stand.
Also on this occasion was the birthday of Kathleen David, Peter’s wife. Midtown Comics, being the classy people they are, were only too happy to hook up the party with a massive cake, sodas and many cupcakes.
When the signing and fan greeting was done, I sat down with Peter and Mike to ask them a few questions.
The major event in DC Comics in 2008 is Final Crisis, written by Grant Morrison. Unlike many summer crossovers, Final Crisis is not its own event so much as the third story of a trilogy (the first two stories being the crossovers The Crisis On Infinite Earths and Infinite Crisis).
The opening premise is that all of the New Gods (celestial beings who inhabit a higher dimension) recently seemed to die, except for Darkseid, leader of the evil New Gods. Darkseid has found a way to survive through human hosts, his power fueled by the faith of his new followers under the prophet Libra. Determined to become ruler of reality, he has been resurrecting his sinister forces (an ability Kirby established decades ago) by placing their life-forces in new bodies as well. And since he has now learned the powerful "Anti-Life Equation", a prize he has sought for centuries, he is able to destroy free will in any who hear the equation, thus creating a new army of slaves.
So evil god-like forces have been freely walking among us and because the super-heroes didn’t realize it, they’ve been vulnerable to sneak attacks and manipulations. In short order, John Stewart, Hal Jordan, Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman were all removed from the game board in one way or another.
But this is a Morrison story so that means there are usually layers to be peeled away. There are other things going on as a result of Darkseid now attempting to break the universe down to serve his will. There is, of course, the matter of the Multiversal Monitors, beings charged with maintaining the structure of the multiverse, one of whom is also living among us as a mortal man, unaware of his true nature. And there is the return of Barry Allen, the second Flash, a hero who became energy and merged with the universe even while saving it during the first Crisis over twenty years ago. Barry’s sacrifice saved the universe during that story and in DC Universe #0, it’s implied that the universe itself has brought him back so that he can save it again. It’s also possible he is here as a reactionary force to Libra, who is his opposite number in the sense that this a villain who also seemingly died years while merging with the cosmos.
And Libra and Barry are not the only dead men to show up in this story.
As most of us know, this year marked Superman’s 70th anniversary. And as if that weren’t enough to engender conversation about the Man of Steel, Brad Meltzer’s new novel Book of Lies has prompted quite a bit of discussion concerning Martin Siegel, who died during an armed robbery and whose son Jerome "Jerry" Siegel subsequently wrote the story of a bullet-proof alien who was invulnerable to all frailties.
So with all this talk going around about Superman’s beginnings, we here at ComicMix thought it was time to put together a small Superman time line. Please note, this time line is focused solely on Supermans’ adventures in the comics and not with his stories in other media.
1933 – Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster publish their story “Reign of the Super-Man." In the story, the title character is a bald homeless man named Bill Dunn who gains telepathic powers from a mad scientist’s experiment and intends to take over Earth
. After this, Siegel writes up a new version of Superman who is secreatly named Clark Kent and is, in fact, an alien named Kal-L, son of Jor-L and last survivor of the dead planet Krypton. Shuster does artwork for the comic strip and they begin to submit it. The story is rejected by 17 different publishers over the next five years.
1938 – Superman/Clark Kent is finally introduced in Action Comics #1. Although Siegel has plotted out the name of Superman’s parents and planet, none of these are actually named in this issue’s origin story. Superman is said to have great strength, resistance to conventional injury, and is able to leap 1/8th of a mile.
1939 – In Superman #1, the planet Krypton is finally named in the comics. It is also mentioned that Clark Kent was raised by a kindly, elderly couple. His adopted mother is named “Mary Kent” and it’s said that she and her husband died soon before Clark moved to Metropolis.
1940 – In Action Comics #23, Clark’s newspaper The Daily Star is officially renamed as The Daily Planet and Superman has his first fight with “Luthor, the mad scientist.”
1941 – Superman #10 features our hero actually defying gravity for the first time by hovering in the air. Previous to this, it was always stated in the comics that he could only leap over great distances. Superman #11 confirms that Superman can now fly, just like in the cartoons and radio shows.
1942 – Superman #17 reveals that the Man of Tomorrow has a hidden base known as the Secret Citadel, located inside a mountain range nearby Metropolis.
1945 – The character of Superboy (an adolescent version of Superman) and his hometown of Smallville are introduced in More Fun Comics #101. Initially, this is treated as a separate continuity from the mainstream Superman stories.
1948 – Superman #53 names Clark’s adopted parents as “John and Mary Kent.”
1949 – Kryptonite makes its first comic book appearance in comics in Superman #61 (originally, it was only used in the radio plays). In this story, Kryponite is colored red but in all subsequent stories it is colored green (other forms of Kryptonite with different colors will appear later on). In this same story, Superman finally learns the name and history of his home planet Krypton, even though readers have known such facts for years already.
Laura Hudson (Publisher’s Weekly, Comic Foundry Magazine) interviewed writer Mark Millar and artist Tony Harris at Midtown Comics.
Along with discussing their new series, they also shared their thoughts on Robert Kirkman’s recent video concerning creators pursuing original characters.
MILLAR: "To me, it just seemed exciting, the idea of doing a no-holds barred super-hero war comic. I touched on a lot of this stuff in The Ultimates 1 and 2. And a lof of theses ideas I was going to bring in to The Ultimates 3 but we thought, we’re never getting away with this … We just thought, why not just go out and do our own thing? And he same thing happened with Wanted … That started off life as a proposal for DC Comics … We took risks that we wouldn’t have done with company-owned characters … Our time’s finite. We’ll always own Kick-Ass. We’ll always own Wanted … I do think there are a couple of good reasons for working at Marvel and DC. Kick-Ass would not sell … if we weren’t the Ultimates guy or the Civil War guy."
It’s been a rough week and I needed something to make me feel good about the world.
This past monday was the last day this year they were doing the Bryant Park movie. For you non-New Yorkers, HBO has sponsored movie screenings every Monday evening for the past 16 years during the summer, projecting films on a large screen at the edge of the Bryant Park. People gather with blankets and picnic baskets for when the lawn opens at 5 PM, and within 10 minutes there is an audience of well over 1000 people, all waiting for sunset when the movie begins.
This last week, it was Superman: The Movie (the director’s cut, specifically) with Christopher Reeve, Marlon Brando, Margot Kidder and Gene Hackman. I needed this and so I got a couple friends together to join me in the park. Some of us, myself included, were born after this film came out in theaters. Lucky for us, though, we still had the opportunity to see Superman: The Movie in something approaching that big-screen environment this week — because I’m quite certain that you haven’t truly experienced this film unless you see it on a massive widescreen surrounded by an enormous crowd. You can literally feel the electricity in the air that surges from a nearby person becoming a new fan.
When the "S"-shield blazed across the screen and the John Williams theme soared from the speakers, over 1000 people roared and cheered and applauded. When Clark Kent donned the costume for the first time, again, the entire park was filled with cheers and screams and shouts of "YEAH, CLARK!" It was like the moment in a sports game when your team makes an incredible play and you feel the joy of everyone around you. We laughed at Hackman’s sarcasm, we sighed at Lois and Clark’s flight over the clouds, and again, cheered our hearts out when Superman saved the day in the end and said "We’re all on the same team."
Early in July, I spoke with Greg Weisman about the acclaimed Gargoyles animated series he created and the new comics that continue the storyline of that project (and feel free to check out that interview, by all means). Afterward, I had the opportunity to speak with him about the Kids WB animated series The Spectacular Spider-Man, which I reviewed a few weeks ago. Weisman developed this new cartoon series for television along with Victor Cook (Hellboy: Blood and Iron, Darkwing Duck) and which features voice talents such as Josh Keaton, Lacey Chabert, Josh Lebar, John Dimaggio, Phil Lamarr, Robert Englund, Clancy Brown, Jeff Bennett and Vanessa Marshall.
Taking place a few short months after Peter has gained his powers and learned that "with great power there must also come great responsibility," the cartoon showcases a 16-year-old superhero who is still learning the tricks of the trade when folks like the Green Goblin, Electro and Dr. Octopus start showing up. When he’s not web-slinging, Peter spends his days trying to change how people at his high school view him, since his super-abilities have given him the confidence to stand up for himself rather than just be the nerd who’s picked on. But it’s not easy — and even when he’s surrounded by people who love him, like longtime friend Gwen Stacy and his doting Aunt May, Peter still feels alone, unable to trust anyone with the secret of his double-life.
Here’s what Weisman, the series’ Story Editor and Supervising Producer, had to say about the first season of the series.
COMICMIX: As Story Editor, how did you approach the development of the series and the character himself?
GREG WEISMAN: When I got the job, I went and bought the first seven volumes of The Essential Spider-Man and re-read them. I’d read them as a kid, I grew up on Stan Lee and John Romita, Sr. and later went back and read the original Stan Lee, Steve Ditko stories. So, I re-read them and took copious notes and tried to get the voice of those early stories.
COMICMIX: Of course, you’re still putting your own spin on some of the origins and the costume designs.
GREG WEISMAN: Right. With the new series, we wanted to create something that was coherent, cohesive, contemporary and classic. Those are the four Cs we always go back to. We’re retooling and redesigning things for the modern day but we want the characters to still be iconic. We want you to see our updated version of the Vulture and still say “yep, that’s the Vulture” and “yeah, that’s the Green Goblin.” It’s a contemporary version but the changes aren’t there just for the sake of making changes. It’s still true to what Lee, Ditko and Romita did.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Back in June, comic book historian Alan Kistler provided ComicMix readers with a Countdown Breakdown, an illustrated guide to the 52-part event that preceded the Final Crisis storyline currently unfolding in the DC Universe. This feature was so popular that we convinced him to flex his creative muscles once again, and provide an analysis of one of the key groups of characters receiving the spotlight in Final Crisis: the Jack Kirby-created New Gods. Where do they fit in and what should you know about them in order to understand Final Crisis? Read on and find out! -RM]
Well, readers, some of you have no doubt been checking out DC’s crossover Final Crisis. Personally, I’ve been enjoying the heck out of it. But I can understand that some of it might not have as much impact if you’re relatively new to the DC Universe.
For instance, a major part of the crossover revolves around those Jack Kirby creations known as the "New Gods of the Fourth World."
So who are these New Gods? How are they related to the Greek gods who speak to Wonder Woman on a regular basis? What do they have to do with that powerful giant called Gog who’s been appearing in the pages of Justice Society of America? Why does Darkseid say he’s from the “Fourth World,” whereas Gog claims he’s from the “Third World?"
Well, look no further, faithful fans! ComixMix is here to oblige! So, because you folks requested it after seeing our illustrated Countdown Breakdown, here are the New Gods in a nutshell:
The Envelope of the Los Angeles Times has reported that actor Christian Bale is alleged to have assaulted his mother and sister. Despite these allegations, he was allowed to attend the London premiere of The Dark Knight, after which he turned himself in to the police.
The alleged incident was believed to have taken place on Sunday night at Park Lane’s Dorchester Hotel in London where Bale is staying.
Bale’s mother, Jenny, 61, and sister Sharon, 40, are said to have gone to a police station in Hampshire to make the allegation, which was subsequently referred to the Metropolitan Police.