Saturday, November 30, 2013

The New 52: Part One What Doesn't Work or The Man of Tomorrow Today


     Clark Kent stares out the window of the Daily Planet.  The paper he has devoted his life to is a thing of the past.  This new world has made the newspaper business obsolete.  We have turned to blogs, TV, and the internet for our news and information.  No one plops down a hard earned quarter or fifty cents for a copy.  He must look elsewhere now to ply his trade.  The good thing is Mr. Kent has a double life.

    Superman can still took to the air and fight crime.   He is a boy scout of the highest degree.  He will not kill, he will not break the law, he will live by a moral code embedded into him by his Earth parents the Kents.  Superman strives to be the best of humanity. The thing we all should be.  He is generous, kind, and never cruel.  He uses his powers for good and never truly toward his own selfish needs.  He is in all words the Man of Steel.

    Yet even in this he finds himself to be left behind.  Every one is no longer colored in black and whites anymore.  The shade of gray covers us all now.  Heroes are finding themselves morally challenged and subcumbing to their darker selves.  No one believes in his silly old mantra of Truth, Justice, and the American Way.  He shouldn’t believe steadfastly in anything, he should challenge every thought.  This isn’t who he is, he is in all sense The Man of Steel.

    He stares out the window down on the street.  He sees the spot where the creature
killed him or so thought.  He thinks back on that day and his eventual resurrection.  He smiles as he thinks about this.  No one kill the Man of Steel.  In this he is correct no one can kill him.  One man however can kill in the things that he believes makes him the Man of Steel.  That man is Grant Morrison.  This is the world of The New 52.

    The New 52 has been in print for two years now.  Superman has been under the direction of this man Grant Morrison.  He only writes one of the titles in the Son of Krypton’s universe (Action Comics) but all other titles must reflect his.  So, he is in a way as the showrunner of the Superman universe.  

     Mr. Morrison has been writing comics for many years now.  He is not in any way a bad comic book writer.  I thoroughly enjoyed his work on The New X-Men for Marvel.  He also had a good little collection of Batman comics.  (This was of course before he sent Bruce Wayne time travelling)  Morrison has been knee deep in some far out ideas.  Most are played out for some good comics.  In some ways they have played for some pretty crappy comics.  This is most apparent on his New 52 run of Superman.


    The problems start for me in the character of Clark Kent.  Clark is the mask that Superman wears.  Clark in the past is always presented as clumsy but overall decent.  He is a man of impeccable character.  This however is quite different in the Grant Morrison version.  Here, he is brattish and self centered.  He treats people pretty shabbily.  He doesn’t lord over them, just sends out an air of superiority.  Clark reminds me of a whiny James Dean from Rebel Without a Cause.  I keep expecting him to shout, “you’re tearing me apart".  Clark doesn’t always do the right thing anymore.  He seems to have no moral compass.  I guess you could say that Morrison is showing his growing pains.  This however does not mean he has to be a total dick.  

     So, if Clark is an attitude prone jerk what does that mean for Superman.  He’s not much different at all really.  Again, Morrison kills the persona of the Superman we have come to love.  He seems to be fight crime out of boredom.  He doesn’t seem to have the sense of right taught to him not only by Pa Kent but by his own Father Jor-el.  As I said before this Superman only seems to care for himself.  

     I won’t complain about the artwork of Rags Morales.  He is a truly exceptional artist.  I think Superman art wise has never been better.  The things he has been asked to draw are the ugly part.  I’m not talking about the uniform.  The uniform is stupid make no mistake.  Not because it’s not the original it’s because it seems all the uniforms in the DC universe have to be similar now.  None of them can have the shorts and seem to resemble battle armor more than costumes.  Superman is the last hombre in need of armor.  When Supes starts out he does only wear jeans and a T-shirt.  Hell, in fact he pretty much wears the same thing when he’s Clark.  The only difference is he doesn’t have a big S on his shirt.

     Where things have gone wrong is they’re trying to make Superman be more in tune with the world.  This is a giant mistake.  Superman has always been more of a symbol than anything.  He is there to show us how good we can all be.   The Man of Steel strives to be good in all things.  He would never lower himself to the acts of a villain.  He would never kill a human being or any alien for that matter.  He will use violence to stop evil but never destroy the perpetrator of it.

      DC  is afraid that we won’t understand or find him lame.  This could not be any more false.  We love Superman because he so whole these truths to be dear.  He is a man of principle and has a true north on his moral compass.  The other heroes always made fun of him for his beliefs.  That did not change who the man was.  He wasn’t going to change because he was thought to be uncool.  That was who he was raised to be.  Ma and Pa Kent weren’t perfect but they were good souls.  They helped implant these morals into him.  The problem isn’t that Superman is out of date it’s that we are losing what makes us good.  Superman shouldn’t reflect us, he should be the bar we set ourselves to.
     Now in the scheme in relation to other comics has been atrocious.  The editors of the Superman universe relied on Morrison in the beginning.  He would set the tone and history that the other writers would follow.  George Perez a titan of the industry was the writer and artist of the Superman comic.  He was regularly coming against deadlines because he didn’t know what was going on.  He would ask the editors if he could use Ma or Pa Kent or were they dead.  They could not answer these quandaries because Morrison had not told them.  This became a regular problem and soon he just resigned.  Perez is known the industry as a gentleman and true professional.  If he can’t possibly be bothered with answers to important issues than who can be.

      Morrison himself left the comic after nineteen issues.  He was supposed to be replace by Andy Diggle.  Diggle is probably best known for his series The Losers.  He wrote one issue of Action Comics and then quit.  He will be replaced by Scott Lobdell.  This issue of writers and artists either being fired or quitting plagues the whole 52 universe.  Clark and Superman have paid the price dearly though.

      So, in summation what are the problems.  Grant Morrison being tight lipped and not sharing his plans.  Plans that affect how every other Superman universe comic is affected.  Editors who do not know how to treat their talent.  They have the worst turnaround that I have seen in years.  They’ve even gone as far to fire Gail Simone and rehire her the next day to fan outcry.

        The biggest problem though is Superman is more like us.  He is a spoiled brat.  He is a mightier than thou asshole.  He is immature.  He is just not Superman.  He is our shining reflection.  I miss the Superman I grew up with.  I know kids growing up now won’t care because this Superman will be their Superman.  He isn’t for me and my generation anymore I guess.  He should be for every generation .  We shouldn’t look at Superman and see who we are but who we should be.  I’m an old man who’s slowly seeing the world he knows change.  I can accept it, it’s the way it should be.  I’ll just say I’ll always believe in Truth, Justice and the American Way.  Even if Superman doesn’t.



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