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Superman for All Seasons

If you’ve never read a Superman comic before, start with this one. Superman for All Seasons is a character study of who Superman is and what he represents. This isn’t an origin story. It doesn’t go into Superman’s alien past and how he came from a dying planet and all that hoopla. Jeph Loeb’s story is about Clark Kent leaving home and facing his destiny as Superman. Tim Sale’s incredible artwork brings a sense of grandeur and makes the icon more iconic.

There is no central narrator. Each season has it’s own narrator with their own view on Superman and/or Clark Kent. It’s kind of like Citizen Kane; you get a sense of the man through other people’s opinions of him. The first season explored is Spring. Jonathan Kent narrates as Clark Kent is on the verge of graduating from high school, and Clark is trying to cling on to memories but knows that he can’t stay in Smallville forever. Jonathan is worried about Clark’s powers and what he will do with them, but one day Clark saves a guy’s life and decides that saving people will be his calling. The boy becomes a man and goes to Metropolis to start his new life as Superman.

Lois Lane narrates the Summer story. Her perfect reporter world was turned upside down by the arrival of the Man of Steel. She’s still trying to grasp the fact that things have changed, that a man can fly, that the old rules don’t apply anymore. Superman saves Metropolis and Lois from a nuclear missile and submarine attack, because he’s Superman and that’s what he does. He feels lonely and homesick so he goes back to visit Smallville and is dismayed at how it doesn’t feel the same. Martha Kent reminds him that’s what happens when you grow up and to shut up and go back to Metropolis. He gets back just in time to save a lady from a fire and he scolds Lex Luthor’s flying soldiers for almost killing her.

Lex Luthor is the narrator for the Fall season. He is in love with Metropolis and doesn’t like the new guy who also calls it home. He hatches a plot to make Superman leave. It involves poisoning the citizens of Metropolis and making Superman come to him for help. Lex finds the lady that Superman saved from the fire in Summer, and brainwashes her into becoming Toxin. Superman goes to confront Lex, but time is of the essence, so he takes Toxin and they fly around spreading the antidote. And then Toxin suddenly dies and Lex manipulate Superman into thinking it was his fault that Toxin dies. Superman gets all sad and goes back home to Smallville.

It is now Winter, and Lana Lang takes over the narrating duties. Lana reveals that she wanted to marry Clark, but had to let him go be Superman. Clark and Lana spend some time together catching up and reliving old memories. They walk around Smallville, feeling nostalgic about being home again. There’s a huge flood that threatens the town and Clark comes to grips that he is Superman and that he has to do something because that’s what Superman does. The flood is a wakeup call and Clark goes back to the city and accepts his life as Superman.

This is not an exciting comic. There’s not much action scenes. It’s a reflection on who Clark Kent is and why he does what he does. It’s about the impact of Superman, about how he affects other people and what he means to them. The story is great and the art is amazing. There are several pictures that take up two whole pages, showing Clark and Jonathan gazing at a sunset or Superman flying heroically across the sky.

Superman for All Seasons is required reading for a Superman fan. It’s worth reading even if you don’t like Superman. It’s a coming-of-age story, it’s about finding your place in the world. Everyone can relate to that.

Critically Rated at 15/17

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Smallville (tv show)

Smallville is a TV show about Clark Kent before he becomes Superman. Tom Welling plays a young Clark Kent and you see him go from a nerdy high school freshman to a reporter for the Daily Planet over the course of ten seasons. The early seasons are about Clark discovering strange new abilities and learning how to control them and he also starts exploring his origins. The later seasons are about him accepting his destiny, and there’s tons of characters and references to the DC universe. The cast changed quite a bit over the years as well. The early seasons were about Clark’s life in Smallville and growing up on a farm with his parents John and Martha (John Schneider and Annette O’Toole). He hangs out with his friend Pete and Chloe (Sam Jones III and Allison Mack) and has a crush on the smoking hot Lana Lang (Kristen Kreuk). Over the course of the series most of the supporting characters are phased out, but Allison Mack stuck around for most of the show’s run. In the pilot episode Lex Luthor (Michael Rosenbaum) hits Clark with his car and they both fall off a bridge and land in the water. Clark saves Lex and they become friends, but Lex becomes obsessed with how Clark escaped without injury. Lex and Clarks friendship dissolves over a few seasons and Lex gradually becomes a bad guy. Lex has one of the best character arcs of the series, even if Rosenbaum left after seven seasons. Clark pines for Lana for a few seasons and they even get together a few times, but eventually Lois Lane shows up. Erica Durance is pretty smoking hot too and you can’t have a show about Superman without having Lois Lane, so she was a great addition to the cast. There are lots of references to the Superman movies. Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder both guest starred on the show. Terrence Stamp (General Zod in Superman II) provides the voice for Clark’s biological father, Jor-El. Other DC characters joined the show. Oliver Queen a.k.a. Green Arrow (Justin Hartley) became a series regular and other members of the Justice League show up like Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg, Martian Manhunter to name a few. Bruce Wayne/Batman never showed up though. A few notable villains show up too. General Zod, Brainiac, Bizarro, Doomsday and other DC bad guys make appearances. The first season had a lot of one-time villains. Usually someone from Smallville has an encounter with Kryptonite and transform somehow before Clark tears shit up and gets things back to normal so that next week something else could happen. Later on the storylines become more complex and there’s more story arcs that last multiple episodes or span over a few seasons. Every once in a while there will be a random episode that doesn’t have much to do with the overall storyline, but that happened less and less as the show progressed. The special effects are pretty solid for a TV show. There’s some cool CG work when Clark is using his superpowers and there are some pretty awesome fight scenes. But there’s also a lot of soap opera drama going on. Sometimes the show was a little more Gossip Girls than a superhero series. But I’m ok with it because Clark usually punches something or someone and I like violence. Smallville isn’t the best show of all time, but it’s still pretty good. Ten seasons is a great run for a TV series. They turned it into a comic book, so you can keep following the ongoing adventures of Clark Kent. Give this show a chance if you haven’t yet. Superheroes, hot chicks, cool CG, cool fight scenes… that’s entertainment. Critically Rated at 14/17

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Superman Returns

Superman Returns is a very underrated comic book movie. It’s not a bad flick. It drags on in a few places, but it’s a pretty solid movie. The problem is that you either like Superman or you don’t. If you don’t like Superman, don’t watch this movie. Bran Singer (X-Men, The Usual Suspects) directs Brandon Routh as the Man of Steel. Kevin Spacey plays Lex Luthor and a horribly miscast Kate Bosworth plays Lois Lane.

This movie is as much of a tribute as it is a sequel to the Christopher Reeve films. The title sequence is like a time machine that takes you back to the original Superman movie. This movie is a sequel to the first two Christopher Reeve Superman movies and ignores the shitty third and fourth installments. Superman (Brandon Routh) left Earth to explore the remains of Krypton for survivors and returns after a five-year absence.

Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) has a kid and a new boyfriend named Richard White (James Marsden), the nephew of Perry White (Frank Langella), her boss and the editor of the Daily Planet. Lex Luthor (Kevin Spacey) is freed from jail and dupes an old lady into leaving him her fortune, and Lex is back in the game.

Clark Kent goes back to work at the Daily Planet. The only person who seems happy that Clark is back is Jimmy Olson (Sam Huntington). Lois is completely indifferent to his return and seems super preoccupied with her obsession with Superman.

Lex gets a hold of some Kryponite and devises a plot to create a new continent. Lex will get a bunch of valuable real estate and billions of people will die. So naturally Superman has to try to stop this.

Lois Lane is trying to find a story and can’t find a babysitter, so she and her son go onto Lex’s yacht and stumble into the middle of his diabolical plan. Lex catches them and holds them prisoner while he executes his plan.

The huge land mass that he creates causes some damage in Metropolis and Superman flies around saving people and preventing mass casualties before flying out to sea to rescue Lois. Shit doesn’t go according to plan and Lex gets the upper hand and Superman almost dies.

Superman doesn’t die though. He survives his coma and finds out that Lois and Richard’s son is actually his son from when he slept with Lois in the second movie. And now he has more of a reason to stalk Lois. The movie never discloses what happens to Richard. I think he killed himself. Wouldn’t you? You can’t compete with Superman, he’s fucking Superman.

This movie’s biggest flaw is that it acts sort of like an origin story, or a reintroduction to a classic character. The problem is that everyone already knows who Superman is and what he represents. Just get to the fucking action already. And Superman is a super man… it’s boring to see him face off with someone mentally rather than physically. I want to see him fight Doomsday or someone who would put up a fight. Superman versus Lex Luthor has already been done multiple times on the big screen, something new would have been nice.

Kate Bosworth is hot. She just sucks in this movie. She is way too young to be playing Lois Lane. It’s not believable that she would have a five-year old son. She doesn’t do anything to assume control of the role. Margot Kidder is way better than she ever could be.

Brandon Routh does a good job as Superman. He looks a lot like Christopher Reeve, but still does subtle things to differentiate himself. He had big shoes to fill, but he did as good of a job as anyone could do. He makes Clark Kent and Superman two different people.

Kevin Spacey is having a lot of fun as Lex Luthor. He isn’t overacting as much as Gene Hackman, but he plays him over the top at times. Sometimes he is downright scary. He can flip a switch and go from merry to maniacal in a half second. Kal Penn is his henchman for some reason.

I saw this movie in 3D IMAX. The movie was almost all in 2D except for a few scenes. A little icon in the corner of the screen would prompt you to put on your glasses and the effect was amazing. If you wear 3D glasses the whole time, the effect wears off. But if only a few scenes are in 3D, the effect is more apparent and more relevant. Only a few key sequences were worthy enough to convert to 3D so you appreciated it more.

Yeah, this movie drags. Yeah, there could have been a better villain. But it brought Superman back to the big screen and that’s worth something. This movie was not a flop. It almost made $400 million. But people still hate on it and I don’t get why. If you appreciate Superman, you should like it. It’s not the best Superman story, but it’s not the worst. It is what it is, and it’s better than a lot of comic book movies.

Critically Rated at 13/17

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Superman: Red Son (comic)

Superman is an American icon. But what if he wasn’t? Mark Millar’s story puts a simple twist on the Superman legend… what if baby Superman was twelve hours late and crash-landed into the Soviet Union instead of America? In this alternate universe, Superman lands in the Ukraine and comes to embrace Communism. Instead on an S on his chest, he sports a hammer and sickle. He makes the Soviet Union the dominating world power, while the US goes on the decline. The story is presented in three acts. The first act is establishes who this different Superman is and what he stands for. He is still a hero, he wants to help people, he is selfless, but he embraces the Soviet ideals instead of American ideals. The first act also introduces the other key characters, like the brilliant American scientist/genius Lex Luthor and his beautiful wife Lois “Formerly Lane” Luthor. There’s a Russian version of Batman who is leading a rebellion against the Soviet dictatorship. There’s a version of Wonder Woman that is also familiar and yet different. The second act is about Superman taking control of the Soviet Union. He doesn’t do it because he wants power, he does it because he feels obligated to help because he can help. Russian Batman is continuing to fight back against a dictatorship that’s headed by an all-powerful alien. With the help of Lex Luthor he lures Superman into a trap and nearly defeats him, but Wonder Woman saves Superman, even though it costs her a lot in the process. The last act finds Superman facing off against Lex Luthor, who is now the President of the United States. Lex is able to bring the US back from the point of total economic and social collapse, but it’s just the first step in his plan to destroy Superman. President Luthor uses Hal Jordan, Wonder Woman, and other tactics to wage war on Superman. I don’t want to give away anything major, but there is a great twist. So here is a spoiler alert – in this alternate universe, Lex Luthor saves mankind and sires a long line of brilliant descendants, one of which is named Jor-L who sends his infant son into the past, where he crash-lands in a field in the Ukraine. Mark Millar does a great job of reimaging Superman as a Russian. He is recognizable, but his upbringing changes aspects of his being. The best part of this story is how they use familiar characters in different ways. You’ll recognize a lot of DC characters, from Oliver Queen to Brainiac. You’ll even appreciate the historical figures that pop up, like Stalin or JFK and his Hollywood lover named Norma Jean. The artwork is great, but it’s the story that stands out. It’s just a cool take on a character that everyone knows. Superman is the most important character in the DC Universe. He affects everyone and everything. You will like this book, even if you’ve never read a Superman comic before, but you’ll appreciate it more if you have a greater grasp of his origin. Critically Rated at 13/17

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