Friday, December 31, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 163

Clark Kent and Lois Lane are among the hundreds of thousands of people crowded into Times Square for the legendary New Year's Eve celebration. The event might not be as flashy as the one in Metropolis, but it certainly has its own charm. The couple is content to mingle with the crowd, listening to the live bands and enjoying the spectacle, hoping for a night where the excitement comes from the collective joy and anticipation of a huge gathering and not from supervillainous mayhem. Unfortunately, as the ball begins to drop, Clark notices that there's some foreign object inside of it, coated with lead. Fearing the worst, Superman stops the ball to investigate--but will he save New Year's, or ruin it?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 162

Habari gani, Superman? The Man of Steel arrives in New Orleans, where a one-time JSA member has formed a legacy team of his own! Markus Clay, the current Amazing-Man and the grandson of the original, has followed in that civil rights activist's pioneering footsteps, assembling Adili: a team of African-American heroes dedicated to promoting equality and providing a positive example. During this fifth day of Kwanzaa, the team is working to rebuild and improve the lower-class neighborhoods around Clay's home city, many of which are still devastated after Hurricane Katrina. Superman offers his assistance with the efforts, but not everyone perceives his presence as a positive. Adili member Muhammad X wants the Man of Steel to take a hike, and he's not the only one. Should Superman try to overcome the friction and work toward a common purpose, or does his very presence hurt their cause? This is one problem that superpowers won't solve!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 161

Superman makes a trip to San Diego, California, where he hopes to have a quiet day enjoying the sights and sounds, visiting the renovated zoo and dining in Little Italy. His plans are unfortunately disrupted when Soviet supervillains Hammer and Sickle show up, hoping to unearth a Cold War-era superweapon that sank just off the coast. But when the Man of Steel gives chase, he finds that he's not the only one in the sky! From the secret decks beneath the USS Midway aircraft carrier museum emerge the Barnstormers, the US Navy's superhuman special forces! Skyknight's flight of highly-trained metahumans join Superman in the fight against the renegade Russians, but will they be enough to stop the sunken superweapon from shattering San Diego?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 160

As he travels through Virginia, Superman is surprised to see donation boxes and solicitors for the Superman Foundation. The charity is dedicated to helping out those in need across the country, with specific emphasis on those towns that Superman is passing through on his journey. The Man of Steel himself dictates how the funds are distributed, taking a hands-on approach to helping people, even when he's not using his powers to do so. There's just one little problem: Superman has never heard of the group, and he hasn't seen any evidence of them following him around and helping the needy. He travels to the charity's headquarters in Alexandria, hoping to learn who has been using his name and what they've been doing with the money they've taken. What he finds is more sinister than he could have suspected. What corrupt criminals would besmirch Superman's reputation? Can the Superman Foundation be turned into a force for good? The answers will come from some unexpected sources!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 159

The artifact is written in song and legend, passed down through the ages. Like so many such devices, from the Starheart to the Helmet of Fate, it has taken many forms--usually some sort of scarf or helm. When it blows into Caribou, Maine, one of America's snowiest cities, it has taken on a fairly familiar, if antiquated form: a silk top hat. It lands lightly in a snow-covered park, where children had built a number of snowmen. And then, as with every other time the artifact had found its way to the frozen places, something was born. Something great and cold and powerful, birthed from the ice and snow and wind and hail with the force and violence of a blizzard. The birth of a new elemental is always a touchy situation, and Superman hopes to ensure that the powerful creature emerges as a benevolent force. Otherwise it will be a god of ice against a Man of Steel, and those odds are stacked against our hero!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 158

He's checking a list and making it twice! Phones have been ringing off the hook across the western United States and Canada in these dark hours of the morning after Christmas, with reports of strange burglaries--Christmas presents stolen and stockings emptied, with cookies and milk left in their place! NORAD contacts Superman as they track the Christmas crook's flight eastward, and the Man of Steel catches up to the figure over Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado. What he finds is an interplanetary traveler, hailing from the South Pole of a cube-shaped world, traveling in a flying sleigh pushed by nine tiny white reindeer: Bizarro-Santa! It's up to Superman to send Bizarro Santa back to his playshop and prevent him from undoing Christmas, but Bizarro-Santa knows that he's been very, very nice this year, and he has a sack full of coal as punishment--green, glowing coal!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 157

Ho ho ho, it's a special jolly-sized 64-page issue of Walking with Superman! As the country sleeps through the night of Christmas Eve, the Man of Steel receives an alert on the Justice League communicator system, from a long-time JLA reservist. He may not spend much time at the Watchtower, but this hero has clocked more hours of monitor duty than the rest of the DCU combined--it's Kris Kringle, aka Santa Claus! He's watched Superman's journey, and since he's making a cross-country trip of his own tonight, he's decided to ask little Clark Kent along for the ride! Superman accompanies Santa to each of the fifty states in fifty pages, but it's not all sugarplums and candy canes--there are dark forces who would do anything to stop Santa's annual journey! It all ends in the early morning hours on Christmas Day, as Santa returns Superman to Metropolis, DE. After all, he's been awfully nice this year.

But that's not all! Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen take the spotlight in a shocking second feature: The Terror of Toyland! When the intrepid reporters investigate strange happenings at one of Toyman's old hideouts, they fall into a trap meant for Superman! How can this dynamic duo survive a snare meant for a Man of Steel?

Friday, December 24, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 156

Superman takes a break from his cross-country trek to fulfill a Christmas tradition. Every year, the Man of Steel spends Christmas Eve reading and answering the thousands of letters addressed to him over the year, piled up in a back room of the post office in Metropolis, DE. The task is a hard one, not because it taxes Superman's amazing abilities, but because it weighs so heavily on his mind. The letters send him crisscrossing around the country, helping people in need. A young girl in Minnesota has been denied a simple life-saving medical treatment by her religiously-motivated parents. A whistleblower in North Carolina finds himself blacklisted from his field for trying to do the right thing. A family in Missouri thinks they know who kidnapped their son, but can't get the police to investigate. A housewife in Connecticut thinks she's becoming an alien after contracting a Coluan virus while working with alien refugees. Hour after hour, Superman does his best to solve these intractable problems and put his skills to use where they're needed. Those letters are the easy ones. The really tough ones, like one from a bullied gay teen in Kentucky, are the ones where Superman is too late.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 155

Clark Kent spends a few quiet moments walking through Seneca Falls, New York, thinking to himself. Superman has been traveling the country, after spending nearly a year in space, and while there have been cover stories for Clark's whereabouts, it seems like no one outside of his immediate family really noticed he was gone. He is Clark Kent, and he's learned time and time again that nothing could change that, that he could never give up his civilian identity entirely. But as he walks across the bridge over the Seneca River, he can't help but wonder if he might be a more effective hero if he'd never been Clark Kent in the first place--and with the help of a very familiar angel, he need wonder no more! Strangely and suddenly, he finds himself in a world without Clark Kent, a world where his rocket was found by the military, where his counterpart was raised by government scientists, and where a super-soldier called Skyman leads America's peacekeeping force, the Justice Squadron! Now Clark Kent must find his way back to the world where he belongs, even if he has to fight himself to do it!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 154

Clark Kent has always been a thoughtful gift-giver, especially when it comes to his wife. Lois Lane is one of very few people on the planet whose Christmas presents include jewelry from the moon and music from the future. But she's made it a tradition in recent years to ask her husband of steel to get something a little more down-to-Earth, to spend a little time shopping at a store instead of crushing coals in a volcano. Clark has, naturally, indulged the request. If he's going to shop in a store, though, he might as well shop at the best, and so he's come to Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles, the mecca of high-class shopping. And the devout capitalists seem to have all picked today to make their pilgrimage. Between the crowds and the price tags, the Man of Steel finds himself in over his head, and that's before he sees a strange necklace in the window at Tiffany'...a strange necklace with a familiar, glowing red jewel. And suddenly, it looks like Christmas shopping is a job for Superman--that is, Superman Red and Superman...Green?! In this case, two heads might not be better than one, and if the Red and Green Supermen don't pull themselves together, then they're going to have a very blue Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 153

With the holiday season well underway and one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, you might expect that the people of Yuma, AZ would be stressed and depressed. In truth, they're more satisfied than ever, and it's all because they're the test market for a brand new herbal remedy called Clementia! The supplement relieves stress, eases pain, and induces a feeling of calm, satisfied euphoria. Not everyone is so pleased with the substance, though, and a group of physicians and scientists contact Superman to voice their concerns. Clementia, they claim, has some serious side effects: lethargy, narcolepsy, hallucinations, a growing inability to distinguish reality from dreams, and a very high rate of psychological dependency. Perhaps most disturbingly, their analysis of the drug shows that it is indeed plant-derived, consisting mostly of spores and other fragments, but that the origins are almost certainly extraterrestrial. If that weren't enough to get Superman involved, then the identity and questionable ethics of the drug's proprietor would be. And when the Man of Steel confronts the sinister snake-oil salesman Funky Flashman, he learns the terrible, all-too-familiar secret behind Clementia...

Monday, December 20, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 152

Corvallis, Oregon is home to Holiday Tree Farms, one of the largest Christmas tree suppliers in America, providing evergreens to homes and businesses all over the nation. But after years of being chopped down, exploited, displayed, and left to dry on the curbside, the trees have decided to fight back--and they're not alone! Lovers gathered for a quick kiss under the mistletoe find themselves driven into murderous rages by the plant's strange pheromones, explosive holly berries cover innocent bystanders with caustic chemicals, and razor-sharp poinsettias prick people with poisoned petals! This floral revolt traces back to a single instigator: Poison Ivy has come to the Pacific Northwest, and she won't stop until the world is safe for firs! Only Superman stands between Corvallis and a pinecone apocalypse. But if Ivy can't liberate the trees, then she'll liquidate the humans, and even Superman might fall when she detonates...the Tannenbomb!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Bells Are Ringing

Another post eaten by this Blogger scheduling problem. Just pretend this posted yesterday at 3:00.

Usually when I talk about my personal life on the blog here, it's to give excuses about late posts, or to share something geeky and funny that happened in meatspace. This post is a little different. See, when this posts, I'll be getting married. And shortly thereafter, I'll be going on my honeymoon. Hooray!

On the blog side of things, you need not fear. Walking with Superman will continue to post daily, unless there's a serious snafu. Posts are scheduled through a day or two after the Honeymoon, and I'll be using all that time on the plane to plan some more. I might not get to comments or questions much, though, and my Twitter feed will likely continue to gather cobwebs. Such is life.

As far as the ceremony goes, I've been prepared by years of reading comics, and I totally know what to expect. I think I'll consider the shindig a success if none of the following things happen:
  • My fianceé being plucked out of the timestream and all memories of and references to her erased.
  • An ex-girlfriend showing up in an outfit made of leather straps to wreak havoc, fry the pastor, and try to kill us.
  • Electro and/or the Spider-Slayer showing up to disrupt proceedings.
  • Stan Lee and Jack Kirby being turned away at the door.
  • The event being rewritten at some future point due to a deal with the Devil.
  • One of us turning out to be a zombie who has hypnotized the other into going through with the wedding.
  • Changes to the timeline forcing one of us to go back to the past and distracting the other long enough for them to avoid being killed prematurely.
  • Our technorganic alternate future child showing up.
  • My father-in-law shooting my best man.
  • Our deaths at the hands of the dude who has been killing us over and over through a variety of reincarnations.
  • The wedding being a clever ploy by one of us to exploit the other's mental breakdown.
  • One of us turning out to be a shapeshifter.
I think if we can avoid any of those, we'll be in good shape. In any case, I'll be back and posting post-honeymoon. Take it easy.

Walking with Superman: Day 151

Superman's investigation into the TechniPetTM fad has uncovered an electronic crime wave and a deadly robotic toy in desperate need of a recall--as well as the dastardly mastermind behind the whole ordeal: Winslow Schott, the terrible Toyman! Having leaked the plans for TechniPetTM to Pawtucket, Rhode Island's Jaguar Electronics, it was child's play for the criminal genius to program the robots to steal information from personal computers and funnel money into his own coffers. But his goal is far grander than a little larceny. His robotic servants are positioned in every corner of the nation, hooked into countless computer systems, able to access personal information from millions of people. The havoc he could wreak would be considerable, and if the United States doesn't capitulate to his demands, the detonation of millions of electromagnetic pulses all across the country will send it screaming back into the dark ages. Can Superman stop Schott's TechniPetsTM from destroying life as we know it? One thing's for sure--this never would have happened with hula hoops!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 150

"Name it! Tame it! Train it! It's TechniPetTM! TechniPetsTM are the electronic pets that respond to your commands! They can walk, they can talk, and they can interact with other TechniPetsTM! Connect your TechniPetTM online for access to dozens of games! Will your TechniPetTM be a lover...or a fighter? With TechniPetTM, it's up to you! And when you upgrade online, TechniPet'sTM incredible nanotechnology upgrades your pet in real life too! With TechniPetTM, the only limit is your imagination! Collect them all!"

TechniPetTM is the breakout toy of the year, selling millions of units and causing stampedes at toy stores across the country. There's not much that the Pawtucket, RI-based manufacturer, Jaguar Electronics, could do to make the TechniPetTM more popular--except possibly a publicity campaign and some charitable donations courtesy of the traveling Superman. The Man of Steel is thrilled to help them donate over a hundred of the units to various charities. But when Clark Kent does a little research on the popular product, he discovers an alarming number of reports of strange activities from new TechniPetTM owners. Identity theft, bank fraud, computer viruses, and other electronic crimes seem to follow the mechanical critters. He decides to take a closer look at the inner workings of one of the pets, but it's none too happy about being dissected! The TechniPetTM has gone rabid, and Superman's going to have to put it down!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 149

Santa Claus, Indiana bills itself as America's Christmas Hometown. The shops and attractions are all Christmas-themed, and a group of volunteers called Santa's Elves help to answer Kris Kringle's prodigious stacks of mail. It's safe to say that the town of Santa Claus really gets into the holiday spirit. Even so, what Superman finds when he arrives in the festive village is a little excessive. Everywhere he looks, he sees white beards and twinkling eyes, cherry-noses and jelly-bellies, as every man, woman, and child in the town is transforming into Kris Kringle! If Superman doesn't find the source of the strange Santafication soon, the skies on Christmas Eve will be filled with two thousand extra Santas--and one of them might be wearing a bright red cape! Ho ho hurry, Superman!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 148

Up on a housetop, some thing creeps,
Through the chimney, madness seeps.
Lights flash with colors that should not be
from non-Euclidean Christmas Trees.

Superman isn't the only alien visitor to Newburyport, Massachusetts this week. A bizarre creature fell out of the sky onto the Howard family's suburban house only a few days before he arrived, and it has since caused no end of strange problems. Witnesses report different, often conflicting descriptions of the creature, and those who look at it too long or too closely have had an unfortunate tendency to slip into psychosis. Reality around it seems to have warped; light no longer travels in a strictly straight line around the shapeless visitor, and houses sag into impossible angles. Neighbors have complained of motion sickness and abnormal dreams, and the Howards have not stepped outside since it landed. Phone calls to the house produce only strange music, and those who have caught glimpses through the sagging windows have said that the Howards no longer look entirely human. And as the thing begins to stir, apparently waking from unconsciousness, slipping its tendrils around nearby houses and digging them into the ground, Superman decides to attempt communication. What he learns of the entity's origins is more bizarre than even its affects on Newburyport, and makes the problem of sending it away much more urgent. What is the secret of the thing on the housetop?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 147

Central City, Missouri has a bit of a love affair with men in red suits who can travel the world very quickly, so it's no surprise that they go all out for Christmas. So when Superman visits, he expects to find decorated streets, festive shops, and a jolly speedster or two. But though it's snowing in Central City, there isn't much Christmas cheer to be found. In fact, there's not much city to be found, just a wide empty field where Central City used to be, and at the center of it, a souvenir snow globe. The thousands of tiny screams that Superman hears as he reaches for the sphere confirm his fears--Central City has been shrunk! Thankfully, Superman has some relevant experience in dealing with shrunken cities under glass, but will that be enough to trounce the treacherous trickster who turned the town into a tchotchke, Abra Kadabra?!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 146

There are parts of Europe where, stories say, Santa doesn't travel alone. His visits are accompanied by the Krampus, a horned demon who carries a basket that he uses to take naughty children to Hell. Of course, the Krampus is just a legend, a boogeyman used to frighten children into obeying the rules. It exists only in statues and pictures and the people who dress in Krampus costumes for European Christmas celebrations. So when Jim Morrison, curator of the museum at the National Christmas Center in Paradise, PA, knocked over a two hundred-year-old covered wooden basket, decorated with images of the Krampus, his concern was only about damaging a priceless artifact. He was naturally shocked when the Krampus emerged, ready to begin once more its annual quest of punishment. It might not yet be Christmas, but he's got a lot of lost time to make up, and there are still so many naughty children for his basket. It's up to Superman to end this fiend's yuletide rampage before the children of Paradise are condemned to spend their Noel in Hell!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 145

David Yu is an extraordinary person. The Ohio native earned some local fame during his days at Findlay High School when he saved some classmates from a fire in his chemistry class. What his classmates never knew, and what the papers never printed, was how that incident triggered his meta-gene. Ever since, Yu has had superhuman strength and speed, and the ability to generate impenetrable localized force-fields. With such abilities, he could have put on a cape and become a superhero, but he opted for a different kind of uniform. Today, Sgt. David Yu is a soldier with the Army Rangers, where his unique abilities and expert training have allowed him to save the lives of his teammates and many civilians. But word of his undisclosed powers has reached his superiors, and now David Yu's career as an Army Ranger is in jeopardy. Failure to report metahuman abilities could earn him a dishonorable discharge; at best, he'd be moved to one of the military's special metahuman divisions, away from his friends and teammates, and in many cases, away from any place where he could be of use. As he waits, on leave, in Findlay for the orders that will determine his future, he seeks out Superman, whose travels have brought him close to Hancock County. The Man of Steel offers Yu his support, but wishes he could do more. After all, what can Superman do to change military regulations?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 144

For decades, Idaho's Salmon River canyon has been home to a colony of colorful loners, living off the land and making shelter in cavelike dwellings. They have cast off the trappings of modern society to live simply and deliberately, singing songs and gardening, taking nothing from civilization and asking for nothing in return. But when "Elk Sage Ed" Frey, the last of the original loner settlers, dies at the age of ninety-seven, the tribe's future begins to look bleak. Frey's family is seeking to have the whole cave-village shut down for health and safety concerns and sending the remaining residents back out into a world they've tried to escape. Superman steps in to help the loners retain their lifestyle and to assuage the community's fears by ensuring the safety of the dwellings, but what can he do when he finds himself rebuked and rebuffed by both sides?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 143

No blockade can stop them, no cop can catch them, and nothing can contain them but the open road. They are the Black Convoy, the criminal couriers, the exclusive freight service of the supervillain underworld. Their obsidian-black souped-up semis are piloted by the most treacherous truckers in the world, and while they specialize in transporting contraband, stolen goods, and doomsday devices, they'll haul anything--for a price! But as they carry their otherworldly cargo along I-40 through Oklahoma, the law will finally catch up to them! The Smokey of Steel is on their tails, flying shotgun alongside his partner in crimefighting: Capt. Chip Hammer, Oklahoma's hi-tech super-cop! These super-bears have their work cut out for them, though--ain't nothin' gonna get in Black Convoy's way!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 142

When a Boom Tube opens in the Ohio sky and sends an object crashing into Lake Erie, Superman is the first person on the scene. He dives to the bottom, fearing the worst--some Apokoliptian superweapon, launched as Darkseid's final posthumous revenge against the Earth, or worse, as a first volley to announce his resurrection. The Man of Steel expects a device designed to turn the midwest into a firepit or a biopsychological bomb that would unleash Anti-Life once more. Instead, he discovers a glowing capsule, pinging with the pained cries of a distraught Mother Box, and containing an infant boy. Now, with Intergang closing in, Superman must protect the precious cargo from the evil forces that would exploit or destroy it. Who can the Man of Tomorrow trust to raise the Last Son of New Genesis?

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 141

While Superman and the Anointed One duke it out over Washington, D.C., dark forces are congregating in nearby Seneca Creek State Park. The demon-mother Lilith has not lightly taken her humiliating defeat at Superman's hands, and she has found some powerful allies in her quest for revenge. Procuring Eclipso's black diamond was child's play; smuggling it into Asmodel's heavenly prison was considerably more difficult, but well worth the effort. And from Perdition, she summons the giant Amalek, to lead her demon hordes. As they march toward the capital, Superman realizes the true meaning of Dreamer's prophecy, but the Anointed One is in no mood to give up the fight. Now the Man of Steel must convince the ancient warrior to join forces against the queen of demons and her fallen angel consort, before they lay waste to Washington--and then, the world! Even with Dreamer, the Anointed One, and Shadowpact on his side, though, can Superman defeat an infernal army Hell-bent on his destruction?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 140

Superman has an unexpected visitor during his trip to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, when the daring Dreamer accosts him in the Atlantean Artifacts exhibit. She tells him about an ominous vision she's had--evil forces rising out of the distant past, breaking free of their prisons, uniting to conquer the Earth, and waging a cataclysmic battle with Superman at the center. She believes that their only hope is to prevent the ancient evil from ever freeing itself and invading the present. Superman suspects that they'll require some magical assistance to ward off the danger, but he's scarcely sent the word to Oracle when a nearby Atlantean artifact begins to glow and tremble with arcane power, apparently responding to their presence. From out of the glowing rune-embossed urn, imprisoned since the Obsidian Age, emerges the Hebrew warrior called the Anointed One! Superman and Dreamer stand against the archaic alien, but can they keep the prophecy from coming true?

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 139

Superman visits Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, to honor the lives lost in the infamous attack of December 7, 1941. Those soldiers aren't the only ghosts lingering about the naval base today, though. The Spectre pays the Man of Steel a visit and sends him back into the past, to experience first-hand the attacks and the response to them. Superman learns how the mystery men of the 1940s were involved in the aftermath of the assault, and how the first battles against the metahuman forces of the Axis were fought on American soil. But can the Man of Steel resist the temptation to join the war effort and change the course of history, or will his well-intentioned meddling bring the Spectre's wrath down on his head?

Monday, December 06, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 138

Superman and Ragman have caught up to the source of the attacks that have left a swath of destruction from Gotham City to Brooklyn, and the situation's more complicated than either of them expected. The fallen angel Asmodel is seeking a way out of his heavenly prison, and has seized upon the hollow, soulless form of Golem--one time ally of Ragman and member of the Leymen! Since his angelic spirit is too strong to be contained by the simple clay body, he has come to Brooklyn to lure out the Monolith and add its divinely-animated material to his own! But the Monolith won't go down without a fight, and he has Superman and Ragman at his side. Can the heroes defend the clay hero and free their possessed ally, or will the heavenly villain add their strength to his own?

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 137

The Ragman has been investigating a series of strange, brutal attacks that began near his neighborhood in Gotham City. He has carefully followed the trail up the Eastern Seaboard, gathering evidence and closing in on the assailant. He comes into Brooklyn, NY, knowing that the culprit will be found somewhere in the city. Fearing that he may not be able to take the criminal down alone, he contacts the visiting Superman for backup. He explains the evidence so far: innocents injured and buildings demolished by someone with superhuman strength and little regard for bystanders, a swath of targeted destruction all along the Atlantic coastline, and traces of strange dirt at each crime scene. The signs all point toward a single culprit: Brooklyn's resident golem, the Monolith! But why would the clay creature lash out like this? And if it has truly become such a remorseless monster, can even the combined might of the Man of Steel and the Tattered Tatterdemalion take it down?

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 136

The Demon Mother Lilith has returned from the underworld, and her first stop is Leesburg, VA, home of the young woman who consigned her to Perdition years ago: Linda Danvers, the former Supergirl! Unfortunately for anyone wearing an S-Shield, Linda is nowhere to be found, but that won't stop Lilith from taking her revenge on Supergirl! Now Superman's on the hunt for his missing cousin, before a case of mistaken identity leads to her demonic dismemberment. Meanwhile, Kara finally learns about the legacy of her mantle, and Linda's old allies aren't about to let Superman defend Leesburg on his own. In fact, with all the familiar faces cropping up, there's just one question remaining: whatever happened to the lost daughter of the Superman family?

Friday, December 03, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 135

Rachel Hecht has a secret. By day she works as the sous chef in a high-end restaurant, but when trouble strikes, she dons an strange cloak and wields a steel bo-staff as Dreamer, the precognitive heroine of Rockville, Maryland! Her abilities make her formidable in combat and invaluable to the greater Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area, but few know that the source of her powers is her ancient coat, passed down along her family line since it belonged to the prophet Joseph! Unfortunately, rumors about the multicolored artifact have reached Egyptologist Victor Goodman, the villainous King Tut! The felonious pharaoh wants the garment all for himself, and he doesn't mind getting a little more blood on it if necessary. When Dreamer sees her inevitable fate, she realizes her only hope is to call for help from the hard-traveling Man of Steel, but once the future has been seen, can even Superman alter its course?

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 134

Winter in Wainwright, Alaska means long stretches of time where the sun never rises above the horizon. For some, such conditions can lead to depression or altered sleep cycles, but there's one being who would find it to be the perfect environment. And when a nearby team of climatologists dug up an ice core containing a strange black diamond, that entity was released. Now, Eclipso has taken over the small northern town, possessing nearly every one of the six hundred citizens. Superman has come to the North Shore to drive away the darkness, knowing intimately the dangerous consequences if he were to be possessed as well. So the Man of Steel has called in backup from a team with a little experience dealing with divine spirits of vengeance: the Shadowpact! It's eight heroes against six hundred innocents, each with the power of an evil god!

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Just a quick note

I think the Absorbing Man might be my favorite villain in all of Marvel Comics.

Yes, even more than Swarm.


I'm no longer taking the blame for the late posts. I don't know what's up with Blogger or the scheduling system, but two or three of the last several Walking with Superman posts have somehow gone from "scheduled" to "draft," missing their post times, and I don't know why. I mean, I'm checking after I hit "publish," and it was certainly working a couple of weeks ago. I'm going to spend some time tonight getting ahead and scheduling the posts for noon as usual, but I'll make sure they get up by 5:00 if they don't post on time. Hopefully this problem will clear up quickly.

Walking with Superman: Day 133

Circe has taken over Hawaii's Moloka'i island as her new home, changing the seven thousand residents into her savage slaves. The visiting Superman plans to stop her, but he's not the only one trying to defeat this mystical mythological menace. The Nazirite warrior Samson has returned from the distant past to challenge the Man of Tomorrow and prove his status as history's greatest hero. But when Samson's brash assault allows Circe to turn his hair into a tangle of poisonous snakes, it starts to look like he's bitten off more than he can chew. The constant snake-bites have crippled and blinded Samson, but cutting them off would mean losing all his powers--which are the only thing keeping him from dying of the venom! It falls to Superman to save the day, but will even he be able to stand against this wicked witch of the west?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

'Spider-Man': Threat or Menace?

By now you've probably heard about the disastrous Spider-Man musical's preview night, but it's still worth reading all the crazy crap that went wrong. At this point, I'm almost convinced that it's some big meta-joke, a budget-busting show about a character who lives paycheck-to-paycheck, a media disaster about a character who is loathed by the media, a threat to audiences and a menace to actors. I would be completely unsurprised if J. Jonah Jameson himself were bankrolling the project, sitting backstage and shouting "No, no, make him get stuck above the audience! I want him humiliated!" while chomping on a cigar.

Despite that, I've been getting into a Spider-Man mood lately. I picked up "Shattered Dimensions" on Black Friday, and it's gotten me back into watching "Spectacular Spider-Man" on Netflix. But at this point, I'm itching for some good modern Spidey comics, and I'd like to kind of stick to trades. I haven't been reading the Brand New Day era religiously or anything, but I've liked what I have read (BND volumes 1 & 3, "New Ways to Die," and the Mark Waid two-parter with the Shocker). So I'm looking for some recommendations: which current Spider-Man trades should I be picking up? What's the best of the best of the Brand New Day era? What should I avoid?

Incidentally, I'll spend the meantime reading Marvel Masterworks Spider-Man vol. 5, which finally just came out in paperback. I've been waiting for that since I was an undergrad. And I'm kind of shocked to see how Ditko-esque the early Romita style was. Definitely not what I was expecting.

Walking with Superman: Day 132

Baltimore, Maryland once had one of the highest violent crime rates in the country, but you'd never know that today. When Superman visits, he finds that front doors have been left unlocked, cars have been left running indefinitely in driveways, business owners have disconnected their security cameras, even traffic violations have stopped. The city is positively sparkling, and the people are incredibly friendly, without the slightest hint of fear or distrust or aggression. But when the Man of Steel discovers that the source of this sea change is the aggression-modulating Mother Box that once belonged to Orion, he's faced with a dilemma: leave the otherworldly device and allow Baltimore to remain an idyllic--but compulsory--paradise, or remove it and give the citizens back their freedom, but condemn them to their previous vices.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 131

It rarely snows in San Antonio, Texas, but it's a veritable winter wonderland when Superman comes to town. The whole city has been shut down by a freak ice storm, and it's definitely not of natural origin. Killer Frost, Captain Cold, and Icicle have joined forces to hold San Antonio hostage, and until their demands are met, they rule the streets. Superman plans to put their snowy reign to an end, but he's not the only one. Mr. Freeze wants a piece of the action--the biggest piece--and he's willing to put the competition on ice in order to get it! Can Superman save the deep south from this deep freeze, or will his death be merely the icing on the cake?

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 130

Racetrack Playa is a region in Death Valley National Park, where stones slide mysteriously across the ground, carving tracks into the dry lake bed without any apparent propulsion. Several mechanisms have been hypothesized for the rocks' movements, but none have been definitively confirmed. But geologists have stepped up their observations in recent years, noting that the once apparently aimless tracks have been converging. Today, for the first time, three of the stones are expected to collide, and Superman plans to observe the event alongside the scientists. But when he lands, the stones become a lot more active! Not merely three, but dozens of the sailing stones lift into the air and collide with one another, changing shape and taking on a familiar, if shrunken, form. Years ago, when Superman had been split into a pair of energy beings, he sacrificed himself to save the world from three giants intent on remaking it. Now, standing before him, smaller but no less recognizable, is Cabraca, one of those three giants, reconstituted from the sailing stones of Racetrack Playa! The relentless mountain destroyer has returned to finish the job it started years ago, and its first goal is to kill Superman!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 129

A massive, unprecedented earthquake rocks the Eastern seaboard, and the epicenter is just north of Plymouth, Massachusetts. Investigators at the site discover a previously hidden cave opening, marked with warnings written in 17th-century English and bearing the seal of Plymouth Colony. The traveling Superman is asked to investigate, and what he finds is nothing short of amazing. Deep beneath the Earth, he finds a cavern lit by ancient torches, and two strange men--one, an unconscious Native American giant, the other, a rugged-looking European straining to hold a cracking, crumbling stone seal down over a dark pit. Superman revives the giant and assists the European, and he listens to their tale: a spawn of the Devil, like Leviathan, which dogged the Mayflower on its journey toward the New World. A teacher named Samuel Goodman thrown overboard, who tried to kill the creature and was blessed with strength and vigor beyond that of average men. On another shore, an evil spirit which spread corrupting illness which consumed even healthy warriors from within and made them into monsters. A legendary hero called Maushop who could battle the strange horror. Then, when ship met shore, two evils became one, and in the following winter they claimed hundreds of lives. So two brave warriors from two very different cultures locked it away in this cave and have guarded it ever since. But they are growing older, though neither truly shows it, and their nemesis has only become stronger. It is breaking through the seal; in its last assault, it was even able to overpower strong Maushop and shake the very foundation of the Earth. No longer can the beast be contained only by these centuries-old heroes. Superman stands alongside them, but if they cannot stop the thing beneath Plymouth once and for all, then America may be utterly destroyed by a horror from its earliest days!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 128

In Brightest Day, in Blackest...Friday? It's the biggest shopping day of the year, and at the biggest shopping center in America, that means enormous crowds of bargain-hunters looking for a head start on the holidays. To some people, that scenario sounds hellish, but it's music to Larfleeze's ears! The one and only Orange Lantern has come to the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN, to bask in the glory of unfettered capitalism. Unfortunately for him, the outpouring of greed all around him seems to have put his lantern in a giving mood! Suddenly the thousands of early-morning shoppers have become an Orange Lantern Corps, fighting over sale items with some of the most powerful weapons in the universe. Even Superman is overwhelmed by the crowds, and so he decides to fight power ring with power ring by calling in Green Lantern John Stewart! But will one ring be enough to stop a horde of orange hoarders? Or will space-cop Stewart need to take a Deputy of Steel?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 127

Clark Kent returns home to Smallville to help Ma with the cooking for their big Thanksgiving dinner. Lois and Lana fly in from Metropolis, along with Lana's niece Linda, and Conner even brings his friend Lori over. Everyone settles in for a nice, calm, home-cooked meal...until a knock on the door brings an unexpected party crasher! On the doorstep, bloody and disoriented, and crackling with strange energy, is Lex Luthor. The Kent clan takes him in, but what brought him to Smallville? Why is he in such a terrible state? What do you suppose will happen when his former Vice President stops by? This year at the Kent farm, the turkey comes with a heaping side of drama!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 126

Superman heads back to Earth, re-energized by the quick dip in the sun that purged him of his fusion-induced abilities, and hoping to resume his visit to Pennsylvania. But he's not coming back alone. Something was born in those roiling cosmic flames, forged from solar plasma and the strange radiation that generated Superman's new powers, from Kryptonian biological material and the Eradicator's sense of self-preservation, nuclear power given shape and flesh. It flies toward Earth, drawn by its connection to Superman and the exotic energies that gave it life. And when it feels the familiar resonance of the repaired, reactivated Three-Mile Island fusion reactor, it knows that its yearning for that energy could be sated indefinitely. It's up to Superman to stop this superpowered menace, before it uses the fusion generator to become a demigod. Can the Man of Steel stop this Nuclear Man in time to prevent him from raining atomic death across the Eastern Seaboard?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 125

A nuclear accident has given Superman a host of new powers, but the side effects are killer! If Superman doesn't find a way to stop his body from emitting deadly amounts of radiation, his heroic career--and life as he knows it--will be over! He's transported carefully to the S.T.A.R. Labs facility in Pittsburgh, PA, where they've brought in an expert on Kryptonian physiology and exotic energy: the Eradicator! His diagnosis is dire; the only way to cure Kal-El's condition is to radically reboot his solar cells. Unfortunately, that means intense exposure to Kryptonite followed by direct, unfiltered sunlight, making this one of very few medical treatments which requires sending the patient in a rocket toward the sun! But when Superman's radiation damages the guidance system, it begins to looks like his exposure to the sun will be a lot more direct!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Well, there goes any hope I had for the Superman reboot.

I had reservations about Zack Snyder as the director of the new Superman movie, seeing as I didn't really care for "Watchmen" or "300," and I certainly don't care for that style of CGI rendering that makes everything look like plastic and every background look like a matte painting. But I had high hopes, thinking that Warner might be learning from the successes of films like "The Dark Knight" and "Iron Man," and learning from the mistakes of "Jonah Hex" and even "Superman Returns." After all, with Christopher Nolan shepherding the project, it seemed like little could go wrong.

Unfortunately, if this is true, it looks like Snyder has left the pasture.

Where to begin? Matthew Goode wasn't bulky enough to play Adrian Veidt, let alone Clark Kent. He doesn't look terrible as a possible Clark in the shot on the Superman Homepage there, but I just don't see the presence. Plus, I have a hard time imagining someone who played the Veidt role as slimy as Goode did doing a decent job as wholesome farmboy Clark Kent.

But then, suggesting that Superman would be some CGI-enhanced actor? That's asinine. Let's leave aside the matter that Clark doesn't actually undergo any physical change when becoming Superman. We've seen a variety of actors convincingly (some more than others) make the shift from Clark to Superman just by changing their mannerisms, voice, stature, and so forth. A competent actor with the right physical presence should be able to do that job. I don't see how it would be wise or necessary to take an actor who lacks that physical presence and/or competence and try to shore all that up with CGI. The only reason to go such a route is if suddenly there were no more tall, muscular male actors in the world. And even then, there's Brandon Routh.

So hopefully this rumor is just a rumor, and will go precisely the same way as the Riddler's role in "Dark Knight Rises." If not...well, then I might find myself hoping that this goes the way of "Superman Lives" and Nic Cage's CGI-suited Superman.

On the other hand, the same page has this information about a casting call, which suggests a much larger pool of potential stars. It doesn't exactly rule out Goode, but it offers some room for hope.

Walking with Superman: Day 124

Three Mile Island was the site of the most significant nuclear accident in American history, but that hasn't stopped the technicians and researchers from trying to develop new ways of producing clean, sustainable energy. Today, they're activating a new experimental fusion generator. If successful, the mass production of such devices could end the world's energy crisis and make fossil fuels obsolete. Unfortunately for the workers at Three-Mile Island, Terra-Man is determined to show the world the environmental dangers of nuclear power, even if he has to manufacture the danger himself! He sabotages the fusion generator, hoping to make history repeat itself with far deadlier results! Superman intervenes, and though he's able to prevent a nuclear disaster and capture Terra-Man, there are some unexpected side-effects. Superman's body absorbed the fusion radiation as though it were sunlight, and it's changing him in unpredictable ways! But while Superman tries to handle his new powers, the plant staff are trying to handle the deadly radiation emanating from his body!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 123

When Superman arrives in Fawcett City, Indiana, the sense of despair is almost palpable. He searches for the town's noted protectors, but only finds an exhausted Mary Marvel, struggling to keep up with the negativity that seems to have settled into the once-vibrant city, particularly around William H. Parker High School. She explains to Superman that the past few weeks have seen a sharp rise in bullying, violence, STDs, and attempted suicides at the high school, that everyone seems to be on-edge and aggressive or listless and empty. Even Billy and Freddy have fallen into this malaise, apparently forgetting their powers entirely. She's been putting out literal and figurative fires all across the city for days, seemingly the only person who hasn't succumbed to this contagious attitude, but even the stamina of Atlas has its limits. She emplores Superman to help her find the source of this oppressive darkness and stop it from completely consuming Fawcett City!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Recent Snafus

If you're the kind of person who follows this blog through a feed reader, or if you're checking here every day promptly at noon for the latest installment of "Walking with Superman," then you may have noticed that this week has been a shaky one for the feature. Thursday's post was late by 50 minutes or so, today the post changed dramatically at one o'clock, and now you might be thinking "there he goes again, Tom's going to flame out on yet another promise. Yet another series of posts is going to go the way of Black History Month and Blue Prints and Fridays with Freakazoid and Silverhawks Sunday."

Not so, faithful reader. It's true that this week has been a tough one, but it's only through my stupidity (and a cold I appear to be catching, and a general lack of sleep). I accidentally scheduled Friday's post to appear on Thursday--which wouldn't have been a problem if I hadn't specifically filled it with details to commemorate hitting the 1/3 mark on Friday. The post that hit at noon today was initially going to be today's post, but after I tweaked the following posts and my basic ideas quite a bit, I decided to push it back to Monday. Unfortunately, I swapped the titles and timestamps on the posts, and the rough Monday post appeared today. I've corrected the error, but not before people got that ugly look at how the "Walking with Superman" sausage is made.

I'm not out of ideas or time yet, ladies and gents. And I've got some big plans as we get into the next year. I'm working this weekend on getting ahead of where I'm at, and that'll give me a little more buffer as we get into the season of holidays and certain bloggers' impending weddings.

But hey, you know what would be a real non-denominational holiday miracle would be to have a few more comments on these posts. I'd continue doing it until the end even if I didn't receive a single comment from here on out, but it sure would be cool to have a bit of feedback, or even some buzz on some of those big ol' comic news websites. That would be totally awesome.

Finally, since the movie came out this weekend and all, something else that's unauthorized and totally awesome:

Walking with Superman: Day 122

Superman's not the only one in demand on his cross-country tour. Award-winning journalist Clark Kent has been invited to speak to a group of graduate students in the Print and Digital News program at the Missouri School of Journalism. What started off as a lecture and discussion about modern investigative journalism became an experiential learning course when the campus went into full lockdown! Clark tries to find out the reason for the emergency procedures, but when several journalism students accompany him, they get a hands-on lesson in embedded reporting and grace under pressure! After the dust settles at Mizzou, will Clark and his students be writing the headlines...or listed in them?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 121

Superman visits Ft. Wayne, Indiana during the Three Rivers Festival, joining in the festivities and marching in the Opening Day Parade. But trouble comes in threes at the intersection of the Maumee, the St. Joseph, and the St. Marys, when Troika comes to town! She's a Carggian from the 30th Century, a member of the Legion of Substitute Super-Villains, and killing Superman would be her ticket into the major leagues! But she's armed with more than just Tri-Jitsu; each of her bodies has a different Kryptonian-killing superpower! One can project any kind of Kryptonite radiation, one can generate and control solar energy, and the third can draw upon 5th Dimensional magic! Superman stares three kinds of death in the face and makes his last stand at the Summit City!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 120

Superman visits Aspen, Colorado, where he meets Mountain Man and Yeti, superpowered agents of the crimefighting agency B.I.G.H.O.R.N.! The Rocky Mountains' premier defenders take Superman on a tour of the region, from B.I.G.H.O.R.N.'s mountaintop headquarters to the posh ski lodges, from the Art Museum to the secret reptilian city hidden inside Castle Peak. But the heroes' pleasant journey is suddenly cut short when they're ambushed by the snowboarding ninjas of Black Diamond! The sinister skiers have acquired a techno-seed from beyond the stars, and plan to use its transformative power to awaken their wintry avatar, the towering ice-demon called Avalanche! Can Superman and his newfound allies stop this calamitous cult before they unleash a frozen hell across the Earth?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 119

Predatory lending takes on a whole new meaning in Laurinburg, NC! Scotland County has one of the highest unemployment rates in the state, so when a loan negotiator came to town promising to solve everyone's problems, many jumped at the chance. And when it turned out that Mr. Hamlin offered not just money, but the fulfillment of their deepest wishes and desires, the people called it a miracle. Soon, the citizens of Laurinburg were living lives of fame and fortune, of timeless youth and preternatural beauty and eternal love. But now the loans are coming due, and it turns out there were some unexpected fees hidden in the fine print: sacrifices, souls, children. Those who can't--or won't--pay the premiums are faced with repossession and foreclosure on their lives! Desperation leads them to Superman, but though he can bend steel in his bare hands, is he strong enough to break an ironclad contract?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 118

The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., is looking to expand its three buildings with a fourth--dimension! Using bleeding-edge tesseract technology, the world's largest library would ensure that it had limitless space well into the future, allowing them to archive without end. Superman leads the ribbon-cutting ceremony, but that's when everything goes horribly wrong! A malfunction in the tesseract generator folds spacetime in on itself, trapping Superman in a bizarre infinite library containing every book that could possibly be written! Now the Man of Steel's only chance of escaping these lonely endless stacks lies in finding the book that explains how to get out! Better start reading, Superman!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Doomsday will Purple Rain

So, Doomsday is coming back. When the "Doomsday WIll Reign" teaser first broke, I rolled my eyes. Doomsday has existed for around eighteen years at this point, and yet he already feels played out. It's really a function of what Doomsday is, specifically that he doesn't have much depth. He started as an unintelligent, unstoppable force, designed (by the writers) to kill Superman. His second story gave him an origin (which, despite its terrible mangling of evolution, I don't really have many problems with), and his third story made him basically into DC's version of The Destroyer. After that, he showed up a few more times, but as far as I'm concerned the last Doomsday story that needed to be told was in "Superman" #175, where the Man of Steel finally confronted the now-intelligent monster, handily defeated him, and told him in no uncertain terms that he no longer feared him. And, of course, stories have since been told about Doomsday, none of them particularly good. So I was all ready to come into this post full of sighs and snarkiness about DC dredging up Doomsday for no good reason, rehashing old stories, and failing to let Superman have even a few months go by when his titles aren't embroiled in one crossover stunt or another.

But then I actually read the solicitations, and there's no Superman to be found. Instead, this "Reign of Doomsday" storyline seems to be starting in a "Steel" one-shot, then continuing in "Outsiders" (featuring the Eradicator), "Justice League of America" (featuring Supergirl), "Superboy," and some fifth to-be-announced title. And that actually intrigues me. Doomsday's not fighting Superman this time around, instead apparently going after the Superman Family, three of whom showed up as a result of Doomsday's first appearance (and Steel's origin is a direct result of Doomsday's attack). I wouldn't be surprised if the fifth book were "Green Lantern Corps" or a Cyborg Superman one-shot, but I also wouldn't be shocked to see "Adventure Comics" or "Legion of Super-Heroes" in that slot. Despite facing the JLA and Matrix/Supergirl early on, the vast majority of Doomsday's battles have been with Superman. It'll be quite interesting to see how the rest of the Superman family deals with Doomsday.

So interesting, in fact, that I'll be purchasing comics written by Dan Didio and James Robinson to find out.

You win this time, DC Comics.

Walking with Superman: Day 117

The Shalako School of Enlightenment outside Yelm, Washington, is often dismissed as a cult, trading in new-age nonsense to gullible people with disposable income. Founder B.X. Squires maintains otherwise, claiming that she truly can channel the spirit of a 10,000-year-old Atlantean warrior mystic named Shalako, and that her school actually teaches his benevolent wisdom--for a fee, of course. Now, as part of a fraud investigation, Squires' alleged ability is being tested by a team of relevant experts: magician and sorceress Zatanna Zatara, skeptical investigator and "ghost breaker" Dr. Terrence Thirteen, and Metropolis University's professor of Atlantean history, David Petersen. The event has drawn considerable publicity, including coverage by the Daily Planet's esteemed reporter Clark Kent. As the test begins, Squires settles into her usual trance, but things get a bit unusual when she actually summons an ancient Atlantean spirit! Unfortunately for everyone, she isn't channeling Shalako or any other benevolent spirit; instead, she's latched onto Gamemnae, the lethal sorceress who once absorbed Zatanna and impaled Superman! It took two Justice Leagues to take her down last time, and now the only thing standing between her and world domination are two superheroes and a parapsychologist!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 116

The Cowboy of Steel has come to Ione, NV, to take down the corrupt politician at the top, but the townsfolk don't take too kindly to strangers. Superman's going to have an uphill battle if he hopes to free these innocent people from the Mad Hatter's maniacal mind control! But why is Tetch even allowing him to mix with the citizens? What does he gain from kidnapping people to become involuntary historical reenactors? There's more to the Hatter's plans than meet the eye, and Superman aims to find out just what it is. Along the way, he'll have to eat in, speak out, saddle up, and showdown! There ain't room in this town for both Superman and the Mad Hatter, and one of them will only be leaving in chains.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 115

Ione, Nevada was a boomtown, springing up around a silver mining trade in 1863. By 1864, it was the county seat, with more than a hundred buildings and six hundred residents. But other cities grew nearby, while the silver mines dried up. Aside from a brief resurgence due to nearby mercury mines, the town has been in a steady decline for the last century. Today, Ione is basically a ghost town, populated with ruins proclaiming the glory days of the distant past.

At least, that's what Superman expected when he planned his trip through the city. What he found instead was a bustling town straight out of the old west. If not for the evidence of modern orthodontia and medicine among the citizens and the strange circuitry woven seamlessly into everyone's headgear, the Man of Steel might have thought he'd been sent back in time. But the unmistakable clues instead lead him to the office of Mayor Jervis Tetch, the Mad Hatter! Unfortunately for Superman and the oblivious townsfolk, victory won't come easily--any attempt to disable the circuitry or break the 19th century illusion or attack the Hatter himself would trigger a deadman's switch, terminating every last resident. If Superman hopes to save the innocent townsfolk, then he's going to have to play along with the Mad Hatter's twisted pageant. And so a stranger checks into the Ione Inn, with a mind set on bringing a new law to the town!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 114

A few years ago, a portion of San Diego fell into the ocean, taking with it thousands of residents, who would have died if an induced genetic mutation hadn't made them into water-breathers. For a time, Aquaman protected the region, dubbed "Sub Diego" by its residents, until he was able to raise most of it above the waves and restore the populace. But hundreds were left behind even then, joined by many refugees from various disasters that affected Atlantis. When Aquaman disappeared for so long, they were left without any defense against the ocean wilderness. Now, Superman's journey brings him to the frontier town of Sub Diego, where the residents have found a new savior in the form of the sorcerer Ronal! His shape-altering enchantments have made him a hero to the undersea denizens, but Superman fears that Ronal's motivations are less altruistic than they seem.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Superboy's Age

An amusing post over at Thoughtballoons poses the question of Superboy's age, which is kind of an interesting nexus of problems that only comic book characters face. To wit:
  1. Superboy is a clone who emerged fully-formed from his test tube, physically sixteen years old when he was 'born.'
  2. Several years in real-time, and an unknown amount of comic book time, passed, during which Superboy learned that he would not age beyond 16.
  3. In the "Sins of Youth" crossover, Superboy was artificially aged, then restored, but this (as I recall) fixed his inability to grow older.
  4. A few years in real time, and an unknown amount of comic book time, passed, and Superboy was taken one thousand years into the future, where he spent several months of real time and an unknown amount of comic book time with the Legion.
  5. Superboy returned to the present, around the same time that he left.
  6. A few years in real time, and an unknown amount of comic book time, passed, and Superboy died.
  7. Superboy's corpse was placed into a sort of suspended animation/regeneration matrix, where it remained for a thousand years of comic book time and a year or two of real time.
  8. After that thousand years or so, Superboy was revived by a different Legion of Super-Heroes, and he returned to the present.
So how old is Superboy? A few years? Nearly eighteen? That, plus a thousand?

In any case, I imagine he and Bart Allen have quite a lot to talk about. Frankly, they've got so much in common that I think we ought to see a lot more of Conner and Bart hanging out than Conner and Tim.

Walking with Superman: Day 113

Theodosia Burr, the daughter of Vice President and accused traitor Aaron Burr, was widely considered a brilliant, highly-educated woman at a time when such traits were not always viewed positively. It's little surprise, then, that Burr kept the true extent of her intellect secret, even from her friends and confidants. Theo Burr had a keen interest in natural philosophy, and became fascinated with samples of meteoric metal that were heavier than they seemed and gave off the most curious warmth. As she studied them, she discovered that thoughts and ideas came more easily than they had before, and she had periodic glimpses of people and objects nearly beyond her comprehension. These strange visions spurred her studies onward like never before, and she found herself building strange devices in secret that would rival any of the creations of misters Franklin or Volta. Indeed, she sought to test her most ambitious device onboard the ship Patriot on the eve of the New Year in 1812--and neither she nor anyone else on the ship was ever seen again.

Until today. Patriot finally returns to Georgetown, South Carolina, nearly two hundred years after it left port--not that it would be recognizable anymore. The schooner has become a time-vessel, sailing through history under her captain, Theo Burr--Temporal Adventuress! She has returned to her home state, if not her home time, pursuing her time-traveling nemesis, time-trekking treasure-hunter Percy Fawcett! But what is Fawcett's goal this time, and why does Theo need Superman's help to stop him? No matter what the answer, it's sure to be a team-up for the ages!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Gonna fly now

I'm as free as a bird nowYou may have heard that J. Michael Straczynski is more or less leaving "Superman" and "Wonder Woman" to focus on the next "Superman: Earth One" book. Meanwhile, Chris Roberson of "iZombie" fame and Phil Hester of "Green Arrow" and "The Darkness" will be taking over writing duties on those two titles.

You probably know how I feel about all this.

I like JMS, I really do. I've enjoyed his work on everything from "Real Ghostbusters" to "Babylon 5" to "Amazing Spider-Man" to "Thor." There have often been things I disliked, even strongly (cf. "The Other"), but in general, I've enjoyed his writing. His work on "Superman," however, has been awful. And while I didn't much care for "Superman: Earth One," it was a whole lot better than "Grounded." I'd even be willing to pick up the sequel to "Earth One," to see where the story goes, and in the hope that it would be a less redundant story than "Superman's origin, take fifty-seven."

I've been buying "iZombie," but after the first issue (due to that whole comic shop closing dealie) it kind of ended up on my "to be read" pile, and I haven't caught up. But given the excitement over his work by people I generally trust, I'm pretty excited to see him taking over "Superman." Sure, he's using Straczynski's story notes, but I'll be the first to admit that there's some potential in the conceit of "Grounded." The main problems with the story have all been with the characterization and other details, not so much with the basic plots.

Regarding "Wonder Woman," I've never actually read anything that Phil Hester has written, and frankly, it's unlikely that I'll be resubscribing to WW for the remainder of JMS's new-status-quo story. Somewhere under six issues of "iZombie" on my "to be read" pile is the first issue of JMS's "Wonder Woman," which I have never quite gotten around to reading, and which doesn't really excite me enough to seek it out. Depending on how it looks and what I hear, though, Hester's involvement may be enough to get me to check it out in trade, and I certainly hope it does well and he gets the chance to stay on the title beyond the fill-in work.

By the way, the best take on this news is right here.

As for me, I'm going to keep chronicling my own version of Superman's trek across the country. I'm almost a third of the way through; how could I stop now?

Walking with Superman: Day 112

When Superman visited the 14th Century on a mission for Thor, he and his viking allies imprisoned the wounded Frost Giant deep beneath Lake Superior. But when conditions are right at the lake, the Giant stirs, trying to escape its ancient bonds. It came closest on November 10, 1975, when hurricane-force winds swept across the lake during a terrible winter storm. In its thrashing, the giant managed to sink a freighter, and the legend of that wreck lives on. The lake, it is said, never gives up its dead, but today it will give up its imprisoned! Chill winds blow over Lake Superior, and the jötunn imprisoned therein has finally loosed his bonds. The giant wants revenge, and if he cannot take it from the Aesir and their brood, then he will take it from Superman!

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 111

Memory Lane is like a slice of the past, preserved in a privately-owned valley in Rogersville, TN. The small 1950s-style replica town is only typically open on Memorial Day, but lately it's been a little more active. Memory Lane is growing in both size and population, thanks to the nefarious nostalgiamancer who has taken up the mantle of the new Mad Mod! It's Mod rule on Memory Lane, as innocents are assimilated into the fantasy, adding to the villain's power. Superman steps in, but before he can defeat the Mad Mod, he's going to have to make it through The Pack--Peekaboo! Darci! The Folded Man! Johnny Angel!--Mad Mod's 50s-themed team of superpowered enforcers! Will Superman be able to stop the badnik beatnik, or will Rogersville become a permanent sock-hop?

Monday, November 08, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 110

The Allen-Bradley Clock Tower atop the Rockwell Automation building is the largest of its kind in the western hemisphere, keeping time for much of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It's also a prime target for Temple Fugate, the Clock King! Armed with a device that can manipulate the local passage of time, Clock King hijacks the tower, using it to amplify and direct the temporal effect. Police officers are reduced to infants, SWAT teams become geriatric, the National Guard, eerily frozen in place, and an entire city held hostage. Massachusetts' Governor asks the visiting Superman to intervene, but what can he do against someone with complete control over time?

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 109

Plymouth Rock has been shattered. Superman's visit to Plymouth, Massachusetts, comes at a time of shock and outrage over the symbolic attack. But when a weakened and wounded Uncle Sam calls on the Man of Steel for help, it becomes clear that this was more than mere vandalism. A magical strike broke the cornerstone of American history, and without it, the past is collapsing. Sam drafts Superman into service and, with his last bit of strength, shields him from the changes to the timeline. Now, with the world changing around him, Superman must find a way to save America--before it ceases to exist entirely!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 108

The Fermilab National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, IL, has long been at the forefront of particle physics in the United States. A current experiment with tachyons promises to make the lab even more cutting-edge, by allowing the researchers to get a glimpse of what the facility will look like in the future. But when that image of labs to come shows a smoldering crater where northeast Illinois used to be, the scientists call in Superman for assistance. Superman puts all his investigative skills to work to solve the disaster before it happens, but in trying to avert the destruction, might he end up causing it?

Friday, November 05, 2010

A penny for the old doc

Remember, remember, the fifth of November:
Capacitors, insights, and Doc.
He came to unravel the key to time travel
By falling while hanging a clock.

Walking with Superman: Day 107

A shape-shifting alien parasite turned extreme sports champion Zak Wheeler into the skateboarding superhero Kickflip, but professional disgrace and personal disillusionment have led him back to Newport, Rhode Island, to live in obscurity. But a visit from Superman makes Wheeler nostalgic about their one brief team-up years ago, and he seeks out the Man of Steel for advice on life after being a superhero. The meeting goes a bit off the rails, though, when a celestial entity shows up for Krypton's last son! Wheeler dusts off his cybernetic skateboard and nanotech-enhanced BMX bike, but when the threat is an ancient, world-destroying colossus, what use is a guy who can skate really well?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 106

Clark Kent is on the lam in the Mountain State! Wanted for the attempted assassination of the President, Kent has mysteriously disappeared without a trace--even Superman can't seem to find him! But as the Secret Service digs deeper into Clark Kent's life, Superman fears that his secrets may soon be revealed. And when the trail appears to have gone cold, the investigators call in their own superheroes: the Special Operations unit of the U.S. Marshals Service, the Agents of Liberty! The noose is closing around Clark Kent; if Superman doesn't clear his name soon, he's going to have to find a new one!

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 105

The President is holding a patriotic rally in Charleston, West Virginia, and he's invited Superman to share the stage with him. But when an attempted assassination nearly cuts down the Commander in Chief, suspicion falls on reporter Clark Kent, who was mysteriously absent from his place in the Press Box at the time of the shooting. Superman's caught between his duty to assist the Secret Service in their investigation, his need to keep his secrets safe, and his quest to find the real killer! And when the would-be assassin learns of the primary suspect, Clark Kent's life suddenly becomes a lot more dangerous!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 104

Every year, Los Atómicos travel Otero Mesa in southern New Mexico, where they gather with their allies and enemies from both sides of the border. Feuds and rivalries are forgotten as the heroes and villains set up a banquet table and construct a simple wrestling ring. Over a ceremonial feast, they tell stories of lost friends, allies, and mentors, reminiscing over their colorful history. And every year, many of those fallen colleagues join them at the banquet--and in the ring. This year, Los Atómicos have invited Superman to join their celebration, and he eagerly accepts. But what departed souls will join the Man of Steel at the table? Will his visit finally break the traditional peace?

Monday, November 01, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 103

Clark Kent's Metropolis University classmate Loretta York is running for the U.S. Senate in Delaware, and Superman must stop her at all costs! What strange circumstances would cause Superman to subvert the political process? The answer lies in the Secret Treaty of Oblivion, signed by President Martin Van Buren in 1838. Van Buren was the last President descended from Homo Magi, and during his political career helped defend the Union from three separate attempts to overthrow it through dark magic. Meeting at the Oblivion Public House on mystically neutral ground, he signed a treaty with leaders from all the ancient orders of magic, ensuring that the government would be protected from magical influences, and only the consensual will of the people could remove such a protection. Nearly two centuries later, and Loretta York is campaigning on her history as the Yellow Peri, and promising to use her magical powers to end the gridlock in Washington. What she doesn't realize--and what Superman has just learned--is that her election might open the floodgates to any warlock or wizard with aspirations of national conquest! Can the Man of Steel change the course of a mighty electorate? Will Loretta York bow out gracefully? And why does Superman have the strangest feeling that things might be even worse if her opponent, media mogul Colin Thornton, takes the office?

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Excerpt from If on a winter's night a monster

The novel begins with a very embarrassed monster.


Hello everybodeee! You are about to begin reading the latest book starring your furry pal Grover. It is called If on a winter's night a monster. Relax. Have a cookie. Wait, do not relax! Does that say "a monster"? It does! I am so scared of monsters, and I am not very fond of winter nights either! Close the door! Turn up the heat! Put on some fuzzy slippers! I will not put on fuzzy slippers, but that is because I am already very fuzzy. It is important that you keep warm, because winter nights can be very cold. You should find a comfortable chair, and perhaps you should make a mug of hot cocoa with marshmallows.

Why are we drinking cocoa again? Oh yes, it is because you want to read the newest book starring me, Grover. What is the title of the book again? If on a winter's night a monster?! This book has a monster in it! Maybe it would be best if you did not begin reading the latest book starring your furry pal, Grover. Get up, go for a walk. Be sure to take a coat, because you would not want to get cold. And you should not wear your fuzzy slippers to go walking outside. Make sure you have an adult with you, and that you do not cross the street without looking both ways first. That would be a good way to avoid the scary monster that is in this book. It is also a good way to get exercise, and you should get lots of exercise to stay healthy.

Yes, that would be much better than reading If on a winter's night a monster, which I remind you has a monster in it. Put the book back up on the shelf. Drop it behind the shelf so that no one will accidentally find it. Tape the cover shut, or tie it with rope. Better yet, have an adult help you with some paste or glue, and make sure that no one will ever make the terrible mistake of reading this book and finding the scary monster inside!

I notice that you have not yet stopped reading. Do you realize that there is a monster in this book?! A monster that lurks out in the cold winter night, possibly with sharp teeth and shaggy fur to keep it warm in the snow?! I know I am afraid of monsters, aren't you?

I know, you think that I, Grover, am playing a game with you. You must think we are playing a game of Simon Says. I do not know why you think this, because I am not named Simon, but I, Grover, will play along. Simon (or Grover) says to shut this book, put it away, and never look at it again.

You are not very good at playing Simon Says.

The way that you play Simon Says is that one person says "Simon Says do something" and the other person then has to do it. So let us try again: Simon Says to close this book and tie it up with shoelaces so that no one will ever meet the scary winter night monster in this book!

I am beginning to think that you are not listening to what I am saying. I did not want to have to do this, but now I am begging you: please stop reading! It is getting very dark and cold here and there are no more marshmallows in my hot cocoa and every word you read brings us closer to the winter's night monster that is in this book! And I am very scared of monsters, if you have not heard. I will ask you, one last time, please stop reading! Or at least put the book away until it is not so cold and dark here! I think the monster might be less scary on a summer's afternoon than on a winter's night. So please, listen to your lovable, furry pal Grover, and STOP READING!!!

Boy, if this is how you treat your pals, then I would hate to see how you treat your enemies! We are nearly at the end of this first chapter and I am afraid that the next chapter will have that terrible winter's night monster in it, especially since the title of that next chapter is, in big bold letters, "If on a winter's night a monster." This book certainly likes to repeat itself. I have tried and tried to get you to stop reading, to save us from the very scary monster, but nothing has worked. So I, your furry pal Grover, finally give up. If you are going to force this poor monster to continue reading on this cold winter's night a book where...

Wait! I am a monster! And it is a winter's night! That means that I must be the winter's night monster! Of course! It was all so simple!

And you wanted to stop reading. Well, hurry up, I want to find out what I am going to be doing on this winter's night! I hope I will be getting more marshmallows for my hot cocoa.

References: If on a winter's night a traveler by Italo Calvino, The Monster at the End of This Book starring lovable, furry old Grover.

Walking with Superman: Day 102

Anoka, Minnesota calls itself the "Halloween Capital of the World," but they've never seen Halloween havoc in five dimensions before! Mr. Mxyzptlk's trickery has made everyone into what they dressed as, and it's up to Superman to save the town from hordes of ghosts, vampires, and other assorted monsters. It's too bad he was dressed as a simple mild-mannered reporter at the time! Now the fate of Anoka rests in the suddenly superpowered hands of three Kryptonianized kids! Will these grade-schoolers of steel be able to win Mxy's game and set things right? If it means giving up their amazing powers, will they even want to?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Some initial thoughts on Superman: Earth One

I just finished reading "Superman: Earth One" (okay, except the article at the end), and I figured I should get some initial impressions down before they're all gone. Spoilers ahead.

  • First, this is basically "Marvel Comics Presents Superman." It's Superman's origin by way of "Smallville" and "Spider-Man," and while that's certainly not a terrible thing, it's also the latest in a long line of fairly pessimistic, dull-toned Superman stories. And more and more, I'm tired of reading those stories.
  • That being said, this certainly isn't as bad as "Grounded," which was a pleasant surprise. I'd still rather have someone other than Straczynski writing this book. Or another book being written, honestly. "Birthright," which did is still in print, did many of the same things and had the same general tone, while also being a much better introduction to the Superman mythos than this was. Meanwhile, "Superman: Secret Origin" is due out in collected form any day now, and it tells yet another version of this story. If I were working in DC's marketing dept., I'd frankly be a little worried-slash-upset that we were diluting the market like this. Seriously, take a look at the Superman graphic novels that are both accessible and acclaimed, and you'll find that a fairly sizable portion of them ("Birthright," "For All Seasons," etc.) are about his origin story. A story that has been a basic part of the cultural background noise since the '40s. I think DC would be better off focusing on telling accessible new stories about the Man of Steel than treading the most well-worn ground in comic book history one more time.
  • In that same vein, the new villain is simultaneously a good idea--introducing new ideas, freshening up that well-worn ground--and a bad one. This is one of the problems I had with "Birthright" as well, but Superman shouldn't be the kind of person who needs to be motivated by some sense of revenge or responsibility. Despite the fact that he lost his planet, Superman doesn't need, and generally hasn't really had, a defining tragedy to spur on his superhero career like Batman or Spider-Man. His driving force is and should be that it's the right thing to do. I don't understand why that's a tough concept for people to grasp, or why writers feel like they need to gild it with sci-fi tropes like "I hate seeing people's souls disappear" or "I must avenge my homeworld, and it's my fault that these aliens attacked Earth." Other superheroes take up the tights out of responsibility and vengeance. Superman takes them up because of his strong moral upbringing.
  • Moreover, the main villain, Tyrell (wow, that's the best alien name you could come up with? I know people named Tyrell), looks a little like "what if the Crow were a Final Fantasy villain." Alternately, "what if the Silver Banshee was a dude from the future." Not the most striking design, though I like the contrast between Clark's colorful outfit and his stark black-and-white.
    The final version swaps the darker and lighter tones on top, but leaves them intact on the bottom.
  • Speaking of Clark's colorful outfit, it's gotten some minor tweaks. There's some piping on the main suit and around the S-shield, the shield on the cape is now yellow-on-red, and the boots are a different shape. Fairly minor changes, and yet it seems like they didn't quite think it through. There are scenes where we can see Superman's armpit, and yet, we can't see the seam between the two colors that should exist there. The way the piping and the two-tone colors work, there should be a place where the colors separate. This seam could be in three positions: over the arm, possibly along the deltoid, so that most of Superman's sleeves are the darker color that predominates on his sides (both of Superboy's pre-t-shirt costumes do something like this); along the armpit, so that Superman's sleeves are the lighter blue of his torso (like that Cosmic Boy costume, but with fabric instead of naked Braalian); or along the arm, so that the sleeves are also two-toned (like Spider-Man. Do I need to provide an image?). Instead, we get no seam, no indication that any part of the sleeve is a different color than the rest of the middle/upper torso, and a question as to why, if you're going to design a new costume, you wouldn't consider that kind of detail.
  • Also, the shading on the top is reversed from the shading on the legs, which is a little weird, but I can imagine ways for it to work. It's the briefs breaking things up that makes it look weird; the eye expects the piping to be continuous, so the color swap looks weird.
  • I suppose I needn't mention my feelings about the nigh-indestructible costume. The same goes for the nigh-indestructible metals--Clark's indestructibility comes from his cells' absorption of yellow sunlight. Where does it come from in acellular metal?
  • I'm also not thrilled with the way that comics keep pushing the age of Clark's onset-of-powers. Writers, please, people have been realizing (all too occasionally) since the very beginning that a baby with full-on superpowers is not a good idea. Let's stop the creeping development before it gets that far again, thanks.
  • Not only does Clark need to learn how to use proper SI units (kilograms, Clark, not grams), but his "equation" is, not surprisingly, almost total gibberish. If you carry out the equation as written, going by the order of operations, then the term "1 mol H2O2" disappears, which means it's completely unnecessary. That is, of course, assuming it's "H2O2," because it's written without subscripts (and strangely, the computers used by the researchers use the same font that Clark writes in). The "ΔH" suggests that Clark's equation is describing a change in enthalpy, the total energy of a system, and that might be useful for researchers trying to get energy out of the system. Unfortunately, the likeliest way to get energy directly out of salt water is going to be to break the atomic bonds (breaking the ionic bonds in salt is already done once it's in the water; breaking the hydrogen bonds holding the water molecules together or breaking the molecular bonds holding the hydrogen to the oxygen both require an input of energy greater than the output), and the equations for that are different.

    But it's clear from the fact that 1.00 mol H2O2 is about 34.0 g H2O2 that Clark just left out some important parentheses. Inserting them where they ought to be in this equation gives us the meaning of what Clark is actually doing: first, converting grams to moles (34.0 g/mol is the conversion factor for hydrogen peroxide) then multiplying by the enthalpy of reaction of the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide (-98.2 kJ/mol), the reaction that spontaneously occurs when hydrogen peroxide is exposed to...well, most things, really. If you've ever used peroxide for anything, you're familiar with the way it bubbles and fizzes; this is because it is unstable and decomposes into water and oxygen quite readily, releasing a small amount of heat in the process (as Clark's equation notes, about -2.89 kJ for every gram of H2O2, or about .69 Calories).

    What's not clear is why any of that is significant. The amount of energy is miniscule, the equation is pedestrian, and none of it has anything to do with salt water, which is what the researchers were supposedly working on. "Give this man a job, he just told us that hydrogen peroxide fizzes!" This is one place where the writer, artist, letterer, whoever's to blame should have gone with a less-is-more strategy. Don't show us the revolutionary equation, because then you have to come up with a revolutionary equation.
  • I'll leave aside the idea that an electron microscope can image normal atoms, that such an image would show atoms as spheres connected to each other by rods, and that you could write on electrons. It's comic book science, I know, and it'd be almost clever if it weren't so not-even-wrong.
  • Similarly, when reading Perry's speech to Lois, my first thought was "hey, Perry actually sounds like an editor here." My second thought was, "actually, he sounds like someone read about editing somewhere." Much like the science thing, what's meant to sound kind of profound and insightful is really kind of bog-standard. "Use active language" is the kind of thing that every editor already knows; it's the kind of thing that any reporter should already know. And so the speeches Perry makes in his first scene read not so much like the words of a seasoned editor, but the words of someone who's just started out editing and has learned all these things in school, and is meeting his team for the first time. These are the conversations that I had with my writers when I edited my college newspaper; these are not the kind of conversations I would expect an experienced editor to have with professional reporters. "So you don't think a reporter should give her opinion of the story she's covering?" Really, Lois? Is this your first day in the News section too?
  • The dialogue in general is kind of problematic, really. The characters all kind of sound the same, making the same kinds of quotes and references, and that's to be expected to some degree in any work by a single writer. But these are characters who all have fairly well-established voices, and I didn't really feel like we got much of that at all.
  • Moreover, and this is a problem carrying over from "Grounded," too many characters seem to exist primarily so other characters can bounce speeches off of them. In that first scene with Perry, that's the only purpose served by Lois. In the two later scenes with the scientist, he's only there so that Clark can smugly moralize at him. Too much of the story is geared toward setting up particular speeches, and that's kind of a serious problem. It shows that Straczynski wasn't following the advice he had Perry give to Lois: "You fell in love with the words and put yourself too far into the story. Write about what you're writing about, not about you writing about what you're writing about."
  • Speaking of writing advice:
    how exactly do you bury the lede in the headline? Way to fall asleep on the job, Perry. In fact, now that I'm looking at the interview, the paper looks a bit amateurish. Fix the justification, guys. There's also way, way too much of Clark in that article. It all seems a bit...self-indulgent. Superman should never seem self-indulgent.
  • I actually like the idea of Clark trying out using his powers for personal/familial gain. I would have been more happy to see some more moral development here--a note about fairness, at least with respect to football--but I think it was generally a fairly reasonable and well-played set of scenes--the terrible science aside. That being said, though it touches on the issue, it really doesn't answer the question Straczynski posed at the beginning of "Grounded"--if Superman has the power to do things like, say, tell scientists what everyone already knows about peroxide how to get energy from salt water, then why doesn't he put his powers toward ending hunger or the energy crisis or cancer or whatever? The answer here seems to be "he doesn't really want to, and his mom said that he doesn't have to," which I suspect would be small comfort for that lady in the "Grounded" prologue.
  • Jimmy Olsen was pretty awesome in this, I have to admit.
  • Um, yeah, so...Superman sure killed a lot of aliens in this.

And aside from that last point, I don't think "Earth One" is terrible. It's not the kind of Superman origin I like seeing, but I guess for anyone who's coming to the character through, say, "Smallville," it fits that tone and style fairly well. Clark even looks like Tom Welling at a lot of points, and I don't think that's an accident. There are some barely-patched-over holes (the justification for the S-shield is particularly weak) in the story, and I think I've done a pretty thorough picking of certain frustrating nits, but it's not as awful as I expected it to be based on "Grounded."

That being said, I'm glad I didn't pay $20 for it. It actually makes me want to revisit "Birthright," which boggles my mind a bit. It also makes me wish that someone, anyone, would take a page from the John Byrne book and write a Superman origin that was upbeat. I guess "Secret Origin" has a lot of smiling in it, but it's still not as brightly-colored and brightly-toned as "Man of Steel" all those years ago.

Walking with Superman: Day 101

The Master Jailer and Lock-Up have turned Alcatraz into the world's finest prison for the World's Finest team! Batman and Superman are trapped inside, along with dozens of their most dangerous enemies, and they're all determined to ensure that the only way out is in pieces! Even with all their powers, all their cunning, all their skill and experience, escaping this lethal super-prison is going to take a Miracle. It's a good thing that he's already on his way! Shiloh Norman guest stars in this supermax-sized prison break spectacular!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Walking with Superman: Day 100

Today, The Fortress of Soliloquy brings you an exclusive three-page script preview of the milestone Walking with Superman #100! Check it out below the fold!


PANEL ONE: Wide shot. Superman is standing atop one of the supports of the Bay Bridge, watching the sun sinking slowly toward the horizon through the San Francisco skyline. His back is to us, his cape is swaying slowly in the breeze.

1 CAP: San Francisco, CA.

2 CAP (SUPERMAN): What a beautiful city.

PANEL TWO: Closer on Superman's face. He's smiling.

3 CAP: I take it all in.

PANEL THREE: Split into many small panels, each showing some San Francisco locale or random resident or object, snippets of the things Superman is experiencing.

4 CAP: The people,

DIALOGUE (Unattached bubbles): I'll have the mahi-mahi.

SFX: Aurk aurk! (sea lion noise)

5 CAP: the sights,

DIALOGUE: Lombard and Laguna, thanks.

6 CAP: the smells,

DIALOGUE: DNA tonight?

SFX: Ding! Ding!

7 CAP: the sounds...

DIALOGUE: Over by Pier 39.

SFX: Thum-thump

PANEL FOUR: Close on Superman, looking surprised.

8 CAP: I hear it before I see him, of course. That's the way he is.

PANEL FIVE: Superman takes off toward the skyscraper at 201 Mission St.

9 CAP: Jimmy has his signal watch.

10 CAP: Lois calls my name.

11 CAP: J'onn has that telepathic link.

12 CAP: But when he needs to contact me...

PANEL SIX: Superman lands on the ledge, where Batman is perched, looking down at the city.

13 CAP: He just turns off the gadget that masks his heartbeat.

14 BATMAN: Took you long enough.

15 SUPERMAN: It's not exactly a spotlight, you know. I assume you're not here on vacation.


PANEL ONE: Batman holds out a small holographic projector, which displays dossier images of Carl Draper, Checkmate Pawn and former supervillain.

1 BATMAN: Checkmate security chief Carl Draper, aka "Deathtrap," and "Locksmith."

2 SUPERMAN: We've met.

3 BATMAN: Twenty-five days ago, he disappeared from his apartment.

PANEL TWO: Wide shot from behind Batman's shoulder. His holographic projector is now displaying a wide set of images of various Superman and Batman villains. Superman looks on from the other side of the translucent panorama, arms crossed over his chest.

4 BATMAN: Since then, there have been over two dozen similar disappearances.

5 BATMAN: Killer Croc, abducted during prison transfer.

6 BATMAN: Riot, vanished from his cell at Stryker's.

7 BATMAN: Bloodsport, never made it to arraignment.

8 BATMAN: Firefly, The Riddler, Parasite, Metallo.

9 SUPERMAN: And so on.

PANEL THREE: The hologram flips to an image of the Film Freak, tied up on the steps of the Gotham City Police Department building. He is unconscious and dressed in a gray jumpsuit.

10 BATMAN: This morning, the Film Freak was dumped on the steps of the Gotham City Police Department, dressed in a gray prison uniform. His identification listed the name Robert Stroud.

11 SUPERMAN: The birdman of Alcatraz?

PANEL FOUR: Batman looks Superman in the eye, and points at him in a somewhat accusatory fashion. Superman is skeptical.

12 BATMAN: On the day that you arrive in San Francisco. Not a coincidence.

13 SUPERMAN: And you think Draper is behind the disappearances? He's reformed.

14 BATMAN: If you call working for Checkmate reformed.

PANEL FIVE: Batman produces a small baggie of prescription pills from his utility belt.

15 BATMAN: Draper's rehabilitation involves a cocktail of strong anti-psychotics. I tested his most recent prescription refill. Placebos.


16 SUPERMAN: This still doesn't seem like Draper's style. Where's the challenge in trapping prisoners?

17 BATMAN: I don't like it either. There are too many missing pieces.


PANEL ONE: Batman pockets his evidence, while Superman watches the sun setting over the ocean.

1 SUPERMAN: So I suppose this means we're breaking into Alcatraz?

2 BATMAN: I don't see another option.

PANEL TWO: Superman turns back toward Batman. Superman is wary, Batman is almost eager, having pulled out his grappling hook.

3 SUPERMAN: And you realize that this is a colossal trap.

4 BATMAN: Of course.

PANEL THREE: Close on Superman's face, with an expression of staunch determination.

5 SUPERMAN: All right, then. Let's go.

PANEL FOUR: Large panel. Superman flies and Batman swings north across the city, toward Alcatraz Island, as night falls over the west coast.

Script by TOM FOSS
Someone's been kidnapping the enemies of the World's Finest team, and all signs point to Alcatraz! Superman and Batman are breaking into the Rock, but what sinister secrets await them inside? It's wall-to-wall action in this landmark hundredth installment!
On sale OCTOBER 29 • 64 pg, FC, $3.99 US