Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Scott Lobdell On Changes In Superman

Yesterday, USA Today ran an article about Scott Lobdell and the direction he is going to take on Superman starting this Wednesday in Superman #13. Here is the link: http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/2012/10/22/clark-kent-superman-comic-book-series/1648921/

It lit something of a brushfire across the Superman fandom as it was announced that Clark Kent is going to quit the Daily Planet and become an internet crusader of truth and journalism integrity. Here is a blurb:

However, his still-strong feelings for Lois, combined with Daily Planet editor in chief Perry White getting on his case for not enough scoops on the Superman beat and his boss' boss Morgan Edge also giving him a hard time, leads to a Jerry Maguire-type moment where he quits in front of the whole staff and rails on how journalism has given way to entertainment — in a not-so-mild-mannered fashion. 

I have to say ... I don't get it and I don't like it. At least on first blush.

Let me digress for a second.

I have a great idea to revamp James Bond for current times. 

My James Bond will be:
1) Celibate
2) A pacifist
3) A citizen of France
4) Doesn't drink alcohol

I also have a great idea to revamp Sherlock Holmes.

My Sherlock Holmes will be:
1) Illogical
2) Superstitious
3) Lucky

And I also have a great idea to revamp Captain Kirk.

My Captain Kirk will be:
1) Celibate
2) Coldly logical
3) By the book military man
4) Scared of physical confrontation

Now maybe there are good stories out there about a French, celibate, pacifist, tee-totaling super-spy. But that isn't James Bond.

And maybe there are good stories out there about a supersititious, illogical, 'lucky' Detective in late 19th century London. But that isn't Sherlock Holmes.

And maybe there are good stories out there about a starship captain who is cold, by the book, meek, celibate. But that isn't Kirk.

Here is the current ideas floated around about the DCnU revamp of Superman:
1) Doesn't have a clear idea of who he is
2) Doesn't want to mentor someone
3) Is feared by half the populace
4) Floats all the time to show his distance from humanity
5) Isn't interested in Lois Lane
6) Doesn't work at the Daily Planet

Maybe there are good stories about this character but that isn't Superman.

When you start peeling away more and more about who Superman 'is', who he has been for 7 decades, you start to move farther and farther away from Superman. I know he worked for WGBS for a while. I know he wasn't always married to Lois. But more and more, the character I am reading sounds less and less like Superman.

After the rushed feeling of New Krypton, a time when Superman was off-earth. After the ludicrous Grounded arc where Superman seemed to be lost. After a year of Lex Luthor headlining Action Comics, you know what most Superman fans were clamoring for. Great Superman stories. Stories of Superman and Clark, in Metropolis, interacting with Lois and the supporting cast, and fighting his rogues, fighting for justice. And frankly we haven't seen that in the Superman title since the New 52 reboot. There is a reason why Superman has lasted for 75 years ... he is a great character. He isn't broken. He doesn't need to be fixed.

And in some ways it feels lazy. It feels like a shake-up of a character for the sake of doing something different. Is DC saying there are no more stories out there with Clark working at the Daily Planet, in love with Lois? No more stories where Superman is a great and trusted hero, an inspiration? Really? Maybe they should read what Morrison is doing in Action Comics.

Now I am not saying that comic book characters need to stay locked in amber. Swamp Thing went from being a muck-encrusted mockery of a man into a plant elemental. Hawkman went from archaeologist to space policeman to archaelogist/space policeman to ... something.

But Swamp Thing and Hawkman aren't Superman.

I'll go in with an open mind. Maybe Lobdell will pull it off. Maybe the stories will be great. But I wonder if it'll feel like Superman.


Anonymous said...

Bet ya it won't.
- saranga

Anonymous said...

If Supergirl is becoming "The Incredible Hulk" then I guess Kal El is on the road to becoming "Spider-Man".
I have my doubts because in both cases it isolates Kara and Kal from a supporting cast that is designed to give Superman/Supergirl some scale & human perspective.
If they are both seen as suspicious characters and untrusted...then why do they stay??
Without Lois Jimmy Dick Malverne etc, neither Kara nor Kal have any emotional commitment to Earth...And without that, the Superverse becomes a tier Marvel book.


Martin Gray said...

Great post, Anj - I really miss Superman having an actual status quo. When there's no status quo, why should we worry about the latest changes? Superman never needed to be 'grounded' - the Daily Planet and the people it brought Clark into contact with grounded him. The people Superman saved daily grounded him. How many other heroes took a break from the macro crises to answer Christmas requests?

I'll give the new team a chance, but I hope they remember who Superman actually is.

Supertorresmo said...

Anj, I disagree with you a little. For me this change is still grounded in what Superman really is. You see, it is not Superman who's changed, it is the Daily Planet. The Planet was bought by a corporation that wants journalism to be entertainment, and Clark is not on board. So he keeps his ideals and is fighting the change. For me that guy is Superman!

And it also is grounded in reality, where more and more news sources are turned in entertainment sources and we don't know in who to trust.

mathematicscore said...

Supertorresmo is right, Lobdell is updating the curtains, not rebuilding the foundation. Also, Lobdell does name check "strong feelings for Lois," so I don't think this is a major departure. I for one find it a little refreshing that he's trying to make this aspect of Superman's life realistic; successful, effective journalists are working less and less in print media (and in major corporation backed media)all the time. Shouldn't the Man of Tomorrow work in the medium of tomorrw?

Anj said...

Thanks for all the comments.

It isn't just leaving the Daily Planet that worries me. I agree, a more modern look at news would be interesting to look at.

But it is all these things they are doing to change Superman that worry me. The higher ups simply don't seem to understand him as a character.

We'll see ...

Wayne Allen Sallee said...

So Clark likes Lois, but Superman makes out with Wonder Woman? I have not been reading Superman, dropped it after issue #3. Can't blame Perez, though. I understood his constraints.

Why doesn't Superman "think" about Lois in Justice League, or have a talk with Batman about the kiss?

That adds to the directionless Superman (the reason I dropped the book), how he is portrayed in JL. And not just with the WW scenario.

Anonymous said...

Anj: Please do calm down. Breathe. Exhale...
The satanists inside the Rockefeller building are going out in a few more weeks. Same as all garbage still clung to this planet, including the Bushes, who blew up the WTC, then blamed the muslims for it.-
By spring 2013 no satanists will be inside DC...Marvel has already conceded and Ms. Marvel is already top honcho in there...our girl will emerge triumphant, and so will her cousin.-
You can believe this. Or you can delete it and cringe in fear in the cellar.-

The League said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The League said...

I've dropped Superman. I'm done giving DC money and time in the hope they'll produce a Superman I recognize and want to spend money on. I think like a lot of folks I talk to, I was sticking around, spending money, hoping that something would change and that I'd be there for it when Superman got back to his roots or whatever I thought was going to happen. But with modern comics shops, Comixology, etc... I don't need to worry about that. If it happens, I'll jump back in and catch up when its relevant. Since the New52, I was just enabling DC by spending good money on bad comics. They can have my $3 again when someone who can put together a coherent story is assigned the book.

PRgirl1294 said...

I think you need to slow down a bit. The Superman that you're more familiar with is the more experienced, more mature Superman. The Superman that they're portraying is the younger, only-been-on-the-job-for-six-years Superman. You can't expect those 2 Supermen to act the same way. I'd give them some time to make Superman grow.

The League said...

I'll take them doing some basics like establishing Superman's cast and setting before "shaking it up" has any inherent value. To date, DC has not succeeded in establishing a new status quo other than a few glimpses here and there. Its just poor management.

Anj said...

Thanks again for the discussion.

I do think that coming out of the new 52 shakeup, Batman had a clear direction. Wonder Woman had a clear direction. Hell, even Aquaman had a clear direction.

Superman in the 'present time' seemed rudderless. The stories felt muddled as if the writers didn't know how to present him.

And now we get these new changes when I still don't know what the foundation of the character is.

It is disheartening.

Martin Gray said...

I expect you've read the new issue by now, Anj. Will you be reviewing?

Anj said...

Putting it together as we speak Mart. Will be up tomorrow.

Succinctly, I am worried. More distancing.

Lovely art though.

batman costumes said...

superman is a classic...really miss him