Sunday, May 29, 2011

Smallville Finale review Part 3 - Observations

Just a few things that bear further consideration:

1) With The Cape, No Ordinary Family, Heroes, etc all cast to the wind, seems like there's going to be a niche to be filled for superhero genre TV. It'll will be interesting to see what springs up there. The fact that Smallville had the longest lifespan of any superhero genre TV says something about the market for the Superman Icongraphy.

2) In fact, if you lump in cartoons, Superman has spent a lot of time on TV the last quarter century:

Superman (Animated Series, 1988)

Superboy (TV series, 1988-1992)

Lois & Clark: the New Adventures of Superman (1993-1997)
Superman: the Animated Series (1996-2000) which lead into the Justice League and Justice League Unlimited Animated Series (2000-2006).

Superman and the Legion of Superheroes (2006-2008)

Smallville (2001-2011)

While Batman's probably going to edge him out (strictly in animation though), that's a long time for any franchise to consistently be on TV that isn't Law & Order.

3) One of the things I'm glad that most modern retellings of the Superman Mythos is doing away with is the idea of the Superman/Lois/Clark false triangle thing. It's probably one of the biggest holdbacks of the franchise, as seen in things like Superman Returns. Maybe it's time to face the fact that while a secret identity can work for Superman, the idea that he hides it from the person he cares about most is far less palatable to the general audience. It'll be interesting to see if this lesson is incorporated into any other Superman projects.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Smallville Finale review Part 2 - Fandom Clash

Perhaps the most interesting thing I've found about the Smallville finale is the reactions I've seen online, and the intersection and interactions between comics fandom and Smallville fandom.

Comics fandom, in general, was pretty dismissive of the finale, and Smallville in general. While neither the worst nor best of these types of fan reactions, I think the Smallvillains series by Chris Sims and David Uzumeri is a pretty typical benchmark for these types of things. And I have a couple things to say about what I saw both in the review and the comments.

First, a few commenters responded to reviews with "Well, you should review past seasons to get the whole context."

Where have we heard that before?

Congrats "Smallville" fans - you are now using a long-held fan-complaint normally used by science fiction, comic and fantasy fans.

And to Comics fans - do you see how poorly that argument works when you're the ones judging it? Think about that for a while.

And from comic fans, the complaint is some variation of "It's sad that Smallville is what people are going to think think of when they think of Superman in a modern context."

Do yourself a quick favor, do a google image search on "Crying Superman" see roughly what percentage of those image are from the era of 2001-2011.


The modern era of Superman comics (All-Star Superman notwithstanding) has been extremely uneven at best, and prone to many of the same problems comics fans complain about the show for.

So, currently, we've got Chris Roberson working incredibly hard to redeem J. Michael Stracyznski's "Grounded" story arc. He's doing a decent job, but he's also filling it to the brim with in-jokes and nods to a lot of heavy continuity to get that geek buzz going. Paul Cornell is fairing slightly better, if for no other reason he's mostly sticking to his own story, not filling in on someone else's notes. However, the accessibility problem is much the same, particularly if you don't care about who Vandal Savage and Secret Six and other "guest stars" are. But at least it's adaptable to other media.

Before this, there was "New Krypton", which will probably go down as the Superman equivalent of "the Clone Saga" in terms of creative failure. I found it funny at the time, because this was taking place at roughly the same time as Smallville Season 9 was also dealing with Kandorians on Earth. I feel confident in my opinion that Smallville did a better job.

Before that you had Johns on Action Comics, doing a bunch of "cinematic" story arcs, with Brainiac, the Legion of Superheroes, etc. These were entertaining comics, and probably some of the best (and most restrained) work Johns has ever done, but hardly world breaking. Pleasantly competent. And again, I have a hard time imagining most of Johns' work adapting to other media (Brainiac, perhaps, or the Legion as an animated DVD). On the other side, you had Kurt Busiek's aborted run. I'm actually not going to judge that too harshly, because you can tell that Kurt Busiek was gearing up for a multi-year long series of arcs, and we only ever really saw the first act of it. It might have even been great, but unfortunately, someone at DC Editorial felt otherwise. Busiek and Johns got things off to a really good start with the "One Year Later" story they did together - that was surprisingly competent and accessible.

Which they kind of had to do given the long brutal slog of terrible, godawful Superman comics that came out during the years leading up to "Infinite Crisis". Anyone remember Ruin? The Brian Azzarello/Jim Lee arc? Chuck Austen? Seagle's story arc in Superman? Outside of Gail Simone, it was a dark, dark time.

And before that, you had the era of Jeph Loeb; master of the dumb but occasionally fun story. His books didn't make a lot of sense, but they were popcorn when they wanted to be.

In conclusion, if comic fans want good Superman stories, maybe we should all focus on making sure there are good ones in the comics worth adapting? Just a thought.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Smallville Finale review Part 1 - In short

Sorry it's taken me so long to get to this, it's been a long time coming, but Real Life concerns took me away from serious blogging. Also, I wanted to make quite a few posters, and to break up my commentary, so expect more in the coming days.

And away we go.

(NOTE: I apologize but several of the videos I could not embed, so you will have to click on the links).

My thoughts in brief on the finale: While not nearly as awesome as this

It's not nearly as bad as THIS

So overall, it's about the same as THIS. Which is to say, the bog standard for Superman TV. Which was about what I was expecting, and what just about anyone should have expected out of this franchise.

More on this next post

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Monday, May 23, 2011

Newest poster and linkblogging

Check out Johanna Draper Carlson's latest Marvel reviews if you want to see how the "big name comic companies" are shedding their readership. It's quite something to behold really. I've always seen Johanna as one of the most even-handed reviewers out there, and if she's this...well, this brutal in her takedowns, then people, you should pay attention.

Also, you should really check out The Hero Business. It's a smart little webcomic I'm following these days and I recommend it. The latest strip, dealing with the "rebranding" of a classic-style hero, also does it's fair share of pointing out the shortcomings of the modern superhero comic genre.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Random bits

Just to keep you interested for now. More is coming, I promise. Been working on some new batches of posters just for you!

Monday, May 09, 2011

What If we lived in a comic book universe? Part 104

Wow. It's been a month. Sorry about that. Getting a few things sorted out, should have some real posts soon.

In the meantime, enjoy these.

And of course, if you have any requests, put them in the comments.