Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Recently Read: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow, Deluxe Edition

DC's Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?: The Deluxe Edition, collects the last "real" Superman story. Taking place in a sort of continuity limbo between the Superman of 1938-1986 and the new Superman created after DC's self-destructive miniseries Crisis on Infinite Earths, writer Alan Moore conveys the sadness of these editorial decisions in the emotional heft of his story. The famous panel of Superman in tears is apt, as there was a profound sense that DC's destruction of their own continuity and beloved characters was needless and essentially financially mercenary. Complex, long-form stories like Tony Isabella's Hawkman were cast aside to make room for dumber, more "edgy" versions of the proprietary names and trademarks.

Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? is designed as an end to the Superman Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created in the '30s and it incorporates concepts, continuity and iconography from nearly five decades worth of stories in order to do justice to the theme. It gains special authenticity from it having been penciled by Superman artist supreme Curt Swan, so when jaw-dropping events happen, the reader accepts it as if the book was a run-of-the-mill 1973 issue (George Perez, unfortunately, inks half of the story, threatening to break the illusion). Moore's willingness to go where other Superman writers hadn't, or couldn't, set the tone for decades of writers, picking up on his perceived maliciousness; the first issue of Whatever Happened... was released the same month as his Watchmen #1. (Ironically, Superman's co-creator, Jerry Siegel, had been writing violently adult comics in the back of Eclispe's Destroyer Duck a few years beforehand, making one wonder what a Siegel-penned last Superman story could have been like; Siegel was the first writer editor Julie Schwartz had approached, but legal issues kept that assignment from happening.)

For all the story's audaciousness, Moore gives the work a fitting, happy ending. Moore has an understanding of Superman and his world most mainstream writers didn't and don't, and the post-Crisis series ebbed and flowed in mediocrity for decades, starting with John Byrne's limited, small-minded view of the meanings and scope of Siegel and Shuster's creation. It makes you wish Moore could have written a hundred issues of Superman and Action Comics.

The Deluxe Edition is filled out with Moore's Superman/Swamp Thing tale, "The Jungle Line", ravishingly inked by Al Williamson, with hallucinogenic pencils by Rick Veitch, drawing upon Veitch's underground comics background. Also included is Moore and Dave Gibbons' Superman tale, "For The Man Who Has Everything". Even after being adapted several times for television and reprinted ad nauseam, the story bears repeated reading. Everything Moore touched of the Superman series was classic and will remain so.

I'm happy to report DC has published this book on matte paper, so no garish colors and light glare will detract. I recommend this book for every comic reader's bookshelf.
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Thursday, December 22, 2016

Comics I've Read Recently, December 22, 2016

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Monday, December 19, 2016

Magazines I've Read Recently, December 19, 2016

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Sunday, December 11, 2016

Still Missing the Kahiki

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Thursday, December 1, 2016

Are You Unlucky?

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