Tagged: Jerry Siegel

REVIEW: Superman vs. the Elite

1000256214-w370-300x300-4442412In the 1940s, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster produced a two-pager for Life that showed if the Man of Steel were alive, he’d grab Hitler and Mussolini and bring them to justice, saving countless millions of lives. A nice bit of wish fulfillment during World War II.

In the 1970s, comic book writers began exploring what it really means to have someone as powerful as Superman operating in a world much like ours. Writer Elliot S! Maggin was among the first to bring up this theme more than once and was followed in subsequent years by a variety of others, reflecting the different perspectives of the creators and tastes of the audiences.

Just in time for Action Comics’ 775th issue in 2001, Joe Kelly became the latest writer to tackle the concept. After all, the world’s problems — ethnic strife, religious warriors, belligerent regimes, and destruction of the eco-system – could be easily handled by someone with the powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. But, does any one person be he human or Kryptonian actually have the right to impose a singular will on billions? As the problems appear to multiple, the need for a simpler solution can be awfully appealing.

Enter the powerful telepath Manchester Black. Accompanied by three others, his Elite appeared to be the heroes a stressed world population desired, offering a clear alternative to the hands-off employed by the World’s Greatest Super-Hero. With Doug Mahnke’s powerful artwork, the story was a nice, modern day take on the recurring theme.

Now, Kelly has adapted that well-regarded story into a 72-minute animated film, the latest from Warner Premiere’s direct-to-video series based on the DC Universe. Superman vs. the Elite, coming Tuesday, breezily handles the themes with heavy doses of action and wanton destruction. The film more or less follows the comic although there are changes for the format including the early appearance of Dr. Light to show this is a DCU tale. The Atomic Skull is also used as the recurring threat that practically begs for an ultimate solution and is a nice thread carried through the tale.

The story moves well, thanks to director Michael Chang who demonstrated a great facility for action with the wonderful Batman: The Brave and the Bold. And for a change, I found the score, from Robert J. Kral, to be exceptionally good. I tend not to notice the animated scores but this one stood out which is more than I can say for the lousy character design work. For a story based on the ultra-realistic work from Mahnke, this is overly cartoony for the subject matter. Superman looks like he has a broken nose and every character, save Lois Lane, is just too cartoony for their own good. For some unknown reason, the producers seem to think they need to redesign the look of the characters for each feature, a decision I strongly disagree with.

A saving grace, though, is the dialogue. The characters demonstrate real personality with affection, snark, humor, and a distinct point of view and it makes me miss Kelly’s work on mainstream superheroics. As delivered by George Newbern and Pauley Parrette, you feel the love that binds Superman and Lois. Robin Atkin Downes as Black and Melissa Disney as Menagerie are also terrific.

In a world where Superman is the premier hero, but not the sole super-powered figure, the arguments on the central theme is incomplete. At one point he says to Lois that Black targeted him alone, obviously because he was first and is the most powerful of the bunch, but it’s a discussion that should be held between the JLA (representing the full heroic community) and the world, maybe via the United Nations. As a result, the final arguments between Superman and the angry, power-mad Black fall flat and feel incomplete.

The animated adventure comes complete with the usual assortment of extras, although I’ve come to miss the DC Showcase shorts, often better than the lead feature. The commentary from Kelly and Eddie Berganza, the editor of the original story, is interesting, especially when Berganza questions Kelly about some of the choices he made in writing the animated script. There’s a 15 minute as Kelly discusses the Elite’s in-print appearances which is vaguely interesting but also incomplete as it doesn’t really give you a sense of their flash-in-the-pan role in the DCU (in fact, the two volumes collecting their Justice League Elite maxiseries are currently out of print). A variety of talking heads, including a soldier, academics, and animation exec Mike Carlin also explore the themes raised by the story, making for an interesting, if a little dry, featurette. The original comic is on hand in digital form although it’s a little tough to read and navigate but it reminds me of how powerful the art was, emphasizing the story’s point. Finally, there are some selected Superman Adventure cartoons from producer Alan Burnett and a 15 minute preview of this fall’s The Dark Knight Returns Part 1. Given the timing, it’s interesting to see a photo gallery for next month’s The Dark Knight Rises but no trailer for it.

Overall, this is an above average offering, the fourteenth from Warner Animation, and makes for entertaining viewing. The distracting character designs should be forgiven since it tells a story with a strong narrative point of view, something missing from too many of the others.

MIKE GOLD: The Curious Case of The Ghost Rider

Last week, the Internets were all aflutter with the story about how Disney/Marvel successfully defended itself against Gary Friedrich’s Ghost Rider lawsuit. This was hardly surprising. Just ask Marv Wolfman or the ghost of Steve Gerber.

Then Disney/Marvel turned around and demanded $17,000 from Gary for the Ghost Rider prints he sold at comic book conventions – you know, just like hundreds of other artists do at every artists’ alley at nearly every comic book convention held in the past decade. This was very surprising. And quite disgusting. Not to mention overwhelmingly petty.

Well, those of us who followed Disney’s Air Pirates lawsuit weren’t surprised at all, but that’s another story.

When Gary filed his appeal and the noise went into the can for a while, I whipped out Marvel Spotlight #5.  On that very first Ghost Rider story, the credits read “conceived and written by Gary Friedrich.” (Emphasis mine.) That was unique for comics at that time. The lawyers discouraged publishers for printing creator credits lest said creators pull what is affectionately known as a “Siegel/Shuster.” I remember being a bit surprised – perhaps impressed is the better word for it – back when I read that issue back in 1972. Nonetheless, Gary lost his case.

This wasn’t the only thing that surprised me. I was also surprised that Marvel plowed over the name of their western hero, first and last seen in his own seven-issue series back in 1967. It was a clever use of recycling intellectual property.

I remembered that Ghost Rider rather fondly. It was a good, solid macabre western character told in then-contemporary Marvel style featuring some of Dick Ayers’ best art in years. So I whipped out Ghost Rider #1, cover-dated February 1967. And then I took a look at the credits.

Please note that both Ghost Rider origins were edited by the same person, a guy named Stan Lee. And Roy Thomas was involved in both – as co-dialogist on the western, and as “aider and abettor” on the motorcyclist. And Gary Friedrich was a writer on both.

That didn’t give Gary any legal coverage, but it’s an interesting chain-of-evidence. Core to the issue of who owns what – in a moral sense but not legal – is the derivation of the original Ghost Rider. The first one. The one before the two published by Marvel Comics.

The one that was damn near exactly the same as Marvel’s western, right down to Dick Ayers’ artwork and design. The one that was published by Magazine Enterprises in various of their titles, including one called “Ghost Rider.” That one lasted twice as long as Marvel’s. The feature got its start in their Tim Holt title. This original version was, as noted, drawn by Dick Ayers and written – some say created – by editor Raymond Krank, who later replaced himself with Gardner Fox. Many of those Tim Holt covers were drawn by Frank Frazetta, who also illustrated a Ghost Rider text story.

This wasn’t the first time Marvel assumed the name of a character they did not create, as geriatric Daredevil fans know all too well. But that, too, is another story.

Ghost Rider has had an interesting history, one that isn’t over. It’s a good example of how the whole comics creation thing is a can of worms. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman and Clark Kent and Lois Lane, but they did not create Perry White, Jimmy Olsen, and Kryptonite, among a great, great many other vital Superman concepts. If their estates wind up owning Superman, what happens to Perry and Jimmy and the rest?

Good grief. Back in the day, nobody was supposed to take all this seriously. But I think I know how either version of the Ghost Rider would have handled it.

Screw the lawyers. We’ve got us our six-guns, and one mother of a bike.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil

MINDY NEWELL: “Superman? He Must Be Jewish!”

“I am a stranger in a strange land.”

As Superman zooms down into the torrent of Niagara Falls to save that dumb kid who is falling into the torrential waters of Niagara Falls, we hear an off-screen female voice – whom I’ve always imagined as Rob Reiner’s mother – saying:

“He must be Jewish.”

It’s a throw-away line, a bit of Yiddishkeit humor, in a movie (Superman II) about a comic book hero whose underlying themes are – you can say – chock full of Jewish mysticism and Jewish angst and Jewish hope and Jewish dissimilation and Jewish fatalism.

Think about it.

Facing annihilation as their world is torn apart by cataclysmic forces, loving parents rocket their child away in hope of their child finding refuge on an alien planet.

Facing annihilation as their world was torn apart by cataclysmic forces, loving Jewish parents in Hitler’s Europe spirited their children away into the hoped refuge of alien, Christian homes.

The child is raised in the Christian faith of his “foster” parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent of Smallville, Kansas, who do their best to keep the child’s true background a secret for fear that he would be taken away from them by the government and “studied” – or worse.

The Jewish children who survive the Holocaust learn the prayers and rites of the religion of their “foster” parents – Catholic, Protestant, or Muslim. All do whatever they can to keep the children’s true background a secret in fear of brutal, usually fatal, Nazi reprisals.

As an adult, the child uses his Earth name – Clark Kent – and religion as his “secret identity,” though he has learned that his true name is Kal-el, and that he is last survivor of the planet Krypton.

The Kryptonian “Kal-El” is close to the Hebrew קלאל, which can be interpreted as the “voice of God. The last name “Kent” is an Americanization of the name “Cohen,” and “Cohen” is a transcription of the Hebrew כֹּהֵן, or “kohen,” which means “priest.” Kohens were the priests in the Temple of Solomon in biblical Jerusalem – the last remaining remnant of which is still standing today, known as the Wailing Wall.

He is publicly known as Superman, a hero capable of God-like powers who uses those powers for the good of humanity.

“El” means “of God,” or just plain “God” in Hebrew, and is part of the names of the angels Michael, Gabriel and Ariel, who look human, but are agents of God who are capable of flying and performing great deeds of good through the use of their superhuman powers.

The schlemiel Clark Kent – schlemiel being Yiddish for an inept, clumsy, hopeless bungler – falls for the self-assured, brilliant, famous, respected and beautiful Lois Lane, but she only has eyes for Superman.

Jewish men are traditionally said to yearn for the forbidden shiksa – a non-Jewish woman – who represent the self-assured, respected women who belong to a world that is alien to Jews. These women traditionally ignore them in favor of the Don Drapers of the world.

So did Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster purposely create a Jewish superhero? The traditional answer is, of course, no. Siegel himself said he based the visual aspects of Superman on Douglas Fairbanks and Clark Kent on Harold Lloyd. But did he know that Fairbanks was actually born Douglas Elton Thomas Ullman, and was Jewish? Did he know that Harold Lloyd was the son of a Welshman and not Jewish? I doubt it, on both counts. But the subconscious does its own thing. To coin a phrase:

“Who knows what dreams lurk in the hearts of men?”

Or you can call it Jewish mysticism.

TUESDAY: Michael Davis

MARTHA THOMASES: Copyrights … and Copywrongs

MARTHA THOMASES: Copyrights … and Copywrongs

Last week, ComicMix, along with most of the Internet, protested against SOPA and PIPA, two bills that would have seriously compromised our ability to use the web to share information … and gossip … and pictures of cats.

The protests were so widespread that Congress backed down and sent the bills back to committee. It was a victory for those of us who spend all day enthralled by our computer screens, and, more important, it was a victory for the free exchange of ideas.

Still, I can understand the motivation behind the bill, despite how crudely and ham-handedly it was written. The purpose was to protect intellectual property. As a writer, I enjoy getting paid for my work. It would make me grumpy if someone else made money from my efforts and didn’t include me in the payday.

If anything, this hubbub shines a light on our wonky and unfair copyright laws. The purpose of copyright is not only to protect the rights of creators, but also to encourage creativity in a capitalist system. If my writing can make me money, I’ll be encouraged to write more. The same is true for songwriters, artists, choreographers, filmmakers, and comic book crews.

Unfortunately, our particular version of the capitalist system doesn’t work that way.

Songwriters, for example, collect royalties from those who record (and then sell) their songs. In many, many cases, they are not able to get their work published without giving away a large percentage (usually as a co-writing credit) to the publisher. As a result, a lot of musicians don’t care if their work gets downloaded illegally, because it increases their audience and they can make more money – which they don’t have to share – on tour.

On a larger scale, this is true in movies and television. We’ve all heard the stories about actors, directors or screenwriters who supposedly have profit participation in their films, but the studios claim there are no profits.

In comics, at least in so-called mainstream comics, the price for a chance to work for a company that would distribute your creation was your copyright. The most famous example is Siegel and Shuster’s Superman. Things have improved, and if you work for Marvel or DC as a creator, you can now get health insurance and a contract (so you can get a mortgage), but you will still most likely have to agree to work for hire.

The major media corporations try to defend their anti-piracy efforts by saying they are protecting creative people. If only. As Kyle Baker  recently explained, the entertainment conglomerates treat creative people as interchangeable widgets. If one artist wants a living wage, ship the job overseas.


The Internet should make it easier for artists to communicate directly with their audiences, without paying the toll of working for a Disney or a Murdoch. It should level the playing field for all entrants.

It should also reduce the price of an admission ticket. Just ask Louis CK.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

Jerry Robinson: 1922 – 2011

Comics legend Jerry Robinson died this morning at the age of 89.

Best known for his work with Bob Kane during the earliest days of Batman, the Trenton, New Jersey born artist started off as a teenager lettering and inking the Batman feature in Batman, Detective Comics and World’s Finest Comics. As Batman rapidly grew in popularity, he progressed to the role of character designer and, shortly thereafter, penciler of the feature. It was Robinson who named Dick Grayson “Robin,” not after himself (as often reported) but after N.C. Wyeth’s famed illustrations of Robin Hood. Shortly thereafter, Jerry designed Batman’s most famed enemy, The Joker. His original art for that initial design, in the form of a playing card, has been on display at various museums across the nation.

(It should be noted that the late Bob Kane disputed this and most other creator-credits regarding The Batman. As a matter of contractual obligation, DC Comics gives Kane sole creator credit for the feature, a matter of significant dispute with Robinson as well as writer Bob Finger.)

In later years, Robinson started an international newspaper syndicate (the Cartoonists & Writers Syndicate) and wrote an important history of the comics medium, titled The Comics: An Illustrated History of Comic Strip Art. He also served as president of the National Cartoonists Society in the late 1960s.

His other comic book work included Bat Masterson and Lassie for Dell Comics, Black Terror for Standard Publications, Green Hornet for Harvey, Vigilante and Green Arrow for DC (with his friend and frequent collaborator, Mort Meskin), Green Lama and Atoman for Spark Publications, Journey Into Mystery, Battlefront, Crime Exposed, Strange Tales and Battle Action for Marvel, Rocky and His Fiendish Friends for Gold Key, and Astra for Central Park Media.

Jerry received numerous honors and tributes during his long life, including four separate awards from the National Cartoonists Society: the Comic Book award in 1956, the Newspaper Panel Cartoon in 1963 for Still Life, the Special Features Award in 1965 for Flubs and Fluffs, and the Milton Caniff Lifetime Achievement Award in 2000. He was inducted into the Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2004 and, in 2010, was the recipient of the first annual The Hero Initiative Dick Giordano Humanitarian Award for his “outstanding efforts in changing comics one day at a time.”

The Giordano award focused on Jerry’s less-well known work as a political activist obtaining the release of jailed and tortured cartoonists in Uruguay and the Soviet Union. He also joined Neal Adams and others in the creator rights movement and aided Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in their struggles with Warner Communications / Time Warner in obtaining recognition and financial security for their efforts.

[[[Jerry Robinson: Ambassador to the Comics]]], the definitive history of this critically significant cartoonist, was published by Abrams late year.

On a personal note, I had the honor and privilege of dining with Jerry and discussing both politics and comics on numerous occasions during the 1970s, 80s and 90s. When, last year, we met up at the Baltimore Comic-Con at the reception prior to his Giordano Award presentation, I found Jerry to be as gracious, as warm and as sharp as he had ever been, and he entertained my daughter with stories peppered with quotes from material I had written about him many, many years earlier.

It was one of the most wonderful moments of my life.

MIKE GOLD: The Bizarro Family – Marilyn Monroe and JFK!

Bizarro Mindy Newell’s column debut last Monday inspired me to trash the column I had in mind for today and instead tell you the story of Bizarro Marilyn Monroe and Bizarro John F. Kennedy. Well, let’s say postpone – the first rule of deadline writing is “thou shalt not never ever throw any idea out.”

Way, way back in the days shortly after newsprint replaced papyrus and the stapler revolutionized the magazine industry, DC Comics published a monthly called Adventure Comics. At this moment in time – February 13, 1962 – Adventure’s lead feature was “Tales of the Bizarro World,” based upon the popular characters running rampant through the DCU of the era. If you’re even thinking about asking if these stories were in continuity, please immediately see your doctor about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

DC’s approach to humor at the time allowed for inside jokes as long as they didn’t interfere with the story. Batman #66, “The Joker’s Comedy of Errors,” is perhaps the grossest evidence of this. The editor of Adventure Comics was Mort Weisinger, and there’s been a lot of stories told about the guy. He was rough on writers – they would have to pitch several stories only to be rejected and fed a premise to work on instead. I’m told some pitches would then be given to another writer. Perhaps the writer was better suited for the concept; perhaps Mort was just a sadist.

Anyway, what is less known is that Mort Weisinger was pretty heavily wired into the political and celebrity scene. The DC job was a three day a week gig, and he did a lot of writing for “legitimate” publications such as the highly credible newspaper magazine insert, This Week. I don’t know how close he was to the Kennedy family, but he ran in those circles.

What people did not know during President Kennedy’s life was something that is common assumption today: JFK had quite a sweaty relationship with Marilyn Monroe. The media knew all about it, but back then they didn’t print such stuff.

Boy, how times have changed.

So we pick up Adventure Comics #294 (cover-dated March 1962) and we find the story “The Halloween Pranks of the Bizarro-Supermen.” That’s an odd story for springtime. Halloween being what it is, various Bizarros dress up as Jerry Lewis, John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe. Bizarro Superman #1 (don’t ask) donned a Mickey Mantle mask. Marilyn was almost always seen next to JFK.

Was this a remarkable coincidence? The story was written by Jerry Siegel and, for the record, was drawn by John Forte. It certainly is possible that Weisinger fed Siegel the gag. According to second-class mailing permit stats, the average sale of Adventure Comics in 1962 was 460,000 copies. Even if Mort sent copies to some of his friends, I’m guessing the number of readers who did not get the joke was around… 460,000. The story went into a different direction, evolving into a saga about the friendship between Bizarro Krypto and Bizarro Lex Luthor, with Bizarro Kltpzyxm (sic) and the “real” Krypto tossed in for good measure.

Whereas there is no physical proof of a relationship between the two celebrity Earthlings, Seymour Hersh’s The Dark Side of Camelot makes a pretty good case and various confidants of both individuals have acknowledged the liaisons over the years. Marilyn died (one way or another) in August of 1962, a half-year after Adventure #294 was published. JFK was murdered 15 months after that – 48 years ago last week.

Now we flash-forward to 1976. DC President Sol Harrison thought it would be cool if I met Mort Weisinger because of our mutual interest in politics. Mort and I had a fascinating conversation that ran about two-and-one-half hours. I asked him about the Bizarro Marilyn / Bizarro JFK story. At first I thought I made him angry, but his broad facial gesture turned into a huge laugh. “You know, you’re the only guy to ask me that!” And that was his only response.

A tip of the green visor to the Grand Comics Database for confirming the data, and to Bizarro Mindy Newell for pushing the snowball, umm, up the hill.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil

MIKE GOLD: 24-Hour Comics Day — Before

This weekend includes at least three elements: the Jewish holy week between the New Year and the Day of Atonement, the weekend, and 24-Hour Comics Day.

I note that first part just in case somebody reads this to my mother. Hi, Mom!

24-Hour Comics Day  was created by Scott McCloud and it is exactly what the name implies: comics creators get together in local conclaves (not autoclaves; that’s a completely different thing) “to create a 24-page comic book in 24 continuous hours.” It’s sort of a tribute to the days of yore when a creator would get an emergency over-the-weekend assignment and get a bunch of friends together to write, pencil, ink, letter and color the entire book over the weekend, deliver it on Monday, and hopefully get paid for their effort.

Of course, way back then comic books ran 64 pages – 48 pages after World War II hit speed. But today we’ve got to do all those poster shots and, you know, backgrounds and stuff so we’ll ignore the drop in pages.

It’s enormous fun for participants and observers, kibitzers (Hi, Mom!) and hecklers. Since the last thing these 24-hour comics creators need is the sabotage of an admittedly grossly talented editor, I’m going to drop by Challengers Comics and Conversation in Chicago (1845 N. Western Avenue, about a block south of the Blue Line Western Avenue L stop) to do what I do best: mooch food and annoy people. There will be about 25 creators creating, fulfilling the “Comics” part of Challengers’ name, and plenty of kibitzers to meet the “Conversation” part. It all starts at 11 AM Saturday; I’ll probably wander in around 1 or 2 PM after everybody gets down to the hard work. But enough about me.

The type of creativity and camaraderie shown at 24-Hour Comics Day is the lifeblood of this medium. It’s been there since day one when young fans of pulp writing, science fiction and newspaper strips got sought out employment in the new form. Everybody in the biz was a kid back then; Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster, Bob Kane, Jerry Robinson, Joe Kubert, Gil Kane and many, many others weren’t old enough to get their driver’s license when they started out in comics.

This sort of enthusiasm endures to this day. I love going to “independent comics” shows such as MoCCA in New York just to soak in all that energy and see where the young creative spirits are wandering. Plus, I’m working on that incubus thing.

It’s pretty busy, so you’re trying to break into the racket 24-Hour Comics Day probably isn’t the place to schlep (Hi, Mom!) your portfolio. Call ahead to see if your local venue is receptive to walk-in presentations. However, it’s a great place to see how it all happens, how it’s put together, what people use as their tools (yeah, I know, laptops and iPads) and network. Not the Howard Beale type; you know what I mean.

Many venues are doing 24-Hour Comics Day in association with a local or national non-profit group, and that’s great – particularly in these troubled times. But, really, giving young and new creators the opportunity is a great thing in and of itself. Helping out, even by simply attending and hanging out (although buying a few comics would be swell) is a great thing as well. As we Ashkenazi-Americans like to say, it’s a Mitzvah.

Hi, Mom!

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil

DENNIS O’NEIL: Superman’s Two Daddies

When Jerry Siegel first conjured up Superman, some time in 1934, he really didn’t tell us much about the Man of Steel’s doomed homeworld. We were informed that it exploded and that only baby Kal-El survived the big bang because his father, Jor-El, shot him into space in a prototypical spacecraft which, for reasons not really explained, had room for only one subsize occupant. This was after Jor-El had appeared before some governing body or other and warned of impending doom, and was ignored.

Not a lot of information there. For openers, we might ask where, exactly, Krypton was located. I’m betting that Jerry had our solar system in mind, and why not? In the early 30s, not even degree-bearing scientists knew their way around our sun and its planets, much less a kid from Cleveland. If Jerry were doing his creation today, he might mention alien stars, or distant galaxies, and worm holes and space/time warps, and then he’d have to explain how someone so far away could know about Earth and an ecosphere capable of sustaining Kryptonian fauna. (Or maybe he’d just ignore the whole question. If so, he’d get no scolding from me, my friend.)

Jerry gave no hints about Kryptonian socio-politics, geography, religion, or customs. We don’t even know if the planet had any moon(s). Nor do we know why Jor-El was the Kryptonian version of Cassandra. (Remember Cassie, from Greek myth? She could foretell the future but was cursed to have nobody ever believe her.) Lately, I’ve been wondering if Jerry was himself a prophet, albeit of the accidental variety.

Let me elucidate:

We begin with raw speculation, but, not having information we can be forgiven for trying to fill in a few blanks ourselves. Let us, then, suppose that at the time of Jor-El’s Cassandra number, the Els had been recently removed from office – the Els being, or course, the legislative clan Jor belonged to. They were replaced in the chambers of Krypton’s odd government by their age-long rivals, the Les. (Long “E.”)

Among those who scoffed at Jor:

Chain-Le: Chain was an industrialist-turned-politician who saw an opportunity to enrich himself and his cronies by blaming the symptoms of impending doom on secret weaponry unleashed by another nation and having war declared on these presumed enemies.

Rev-Le: Rev was a clergyman who said that according to scripture, the world wasn’t supposed to end until half-past the next millennium and so, not only was Jor wrong, he was a heretic who should be stoned.

Iggy-Le: Iggy was another politician who thought these scientists, like Jor, were just a bunch of snooty eggheads who ought to be ignored, though Iggy thought that maybe Rev-Le had something with that stoning notion.

Geo-Le: Geo, the most powerful official in the legislature, didn’t actually join in the condemnation of Jor because Geo was a puppet. It seems that ancient and ill-understood Kryptonian custom allowed hand puppets to occupy the position of head-of-state if the electoral process somehow became hopelessly subverted. The only explanation for this anomaly was written in a long-dead language and has been translated as: Why not?

We could possibly go on but…hey – is it just me or is it globally warm in here?

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases

JOHN OSTRANDER: Superman – Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

This is an amazing Superman. Not totally invulnerable, can only leap mover tall buildings and not fly, defying authority, fighting criminals and corrupt politicians, on the side of the little guy – really amazing stories. What? Grant Morrison’s Superman? No, I’m not talking about that. I haven’t read his new version although I’m sure it’ll be good; Morrison wrote All-Star Superman, one of my favorite run of Superman stories.

No, I’m talking about the original run of Superman stories, by the creators – Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. I read them in one of the DC Archive books and I was floored when I read them. This was not the Superman I grew up on; he was actually a lot more interesting.

In one story, he gets a bad guy to talk by throwing him off the roof of a building, catching him, and then throwing him off again. He keeps doing this as he worries about whether or not he might have butterfingers. In another story, there’s a series of slums that are public housing and the buildings are in terrible shape. Supes’ solution? He pisses off the authorities to the point where they try to bomb him. He’s running in and out of the slum buildings that wind up flattened so that the authorities have no choice but to build new ones. And he’s laughing while he does it. The man’s a maniac – a Supermaniac.

In another story, an innocent man is about to be executed. Supes gets proof he’s innocent and goes to the governor. It’s almost midnight and the governor is in his pajamas and robe. There’s a storm and the phone lines go out. No way they can contact the prison in time. Supes grabs the governor and hurtles through the night, running and leaping at high speed to get the governor there in time to pardon the guy.

In another, Superman deals with a wife-beater and gives the jackass a taste of his own medicine.

Is the art a little primitive by today’s standards? Perhaps. Are the stories a little simple by today’s standards? Maybe – but they move like a speeding bullet. Superman at the start was very much a character of his time, born in the Depression, where the public’s confidence in their political institutions were low, where crime seemed rampant, and the little guy/gal seemed to have no-one on his/her side. Superman wasn’t bound by the courts or the law; he was an outlaw for justice.

Sound like today? Oh yeah. A Superman that hearkens back to his roots might be just what we need. I don’t know if that’s what Grant Morrison is doing but, from interviews he’s given and fro9m what I read in articles, it sounds to me as if he read those old stories, too, and has gleaned from them a basic, more primal Superman. Yesterday’s Man of Tomorrow written for today? I could get into that.

MONDAY: Mindy Newell

Marvel Wins Summary Judgments In Jack Kirby Estate Rights Lawsuits

Marvel Wins Summary Judgments In Jack Kirby Estate Rights Lawsuits

Photo of Jack Kirby at the San Diego Comic Con...

Jack Kirby. Image via Wikipedia

Deadline reports that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has delivered a summary judgment for Disney/Marvel and other studios Sony, Universal, 20th Century Fox and Paramount Pictures against the Jack Kirby Estate in the matter of notice of copyright termination.

The estate of Jack Kirby, co-creator of Captain America, Fantastic Four, X-Men, The Avengers, Iron Man, Hulk, Silver Surfer and Thor, sent notices terminating copyright to publishers Marvel and Disney, as well as film studios that have made movies and TV shows based on characters he created or co-created, including Sony, Universal, 20th Century Fox and Paramount Pictures.

The federal judge not only granted the studios’ motions for summary judgment but also denied the Kirby cross-motion for summary judgment.

The Kirby estate is represented by Marc Toberoff, who is also currently representing the Jerry Siegel estate against DC Comics in the copyright termination case regarding Superman and Smallville.

More information as we get it.