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NERD RAGE GOES TO 11
February 4, 2012 10:31 AM   Subscribe


 
I just realized I missed an opportunity to title this post " What Happened To The Man Of Tommorow "
posted by The Whelk at 10:38 AM on February 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


Whatever.
posted by SPrintF at 10:54 AM on February 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


I saw this earlier today, and tried to watch. I really appreciated the cleverness and thought that went into it (especially the guy that spits out a mouthful of cigarettes in the 1930s early on), but five or six minutes in Our Host's that-guy-I-was-when-I-was-his-age tiresome douchey quality made me turn it off.

I was there when Superman died (and then came back to life), pal. You were what, seven? Don't make fun. You haven't earned it.
posted by Guy Smiley at 11:04 AM on February 4, 2012 [10 favorites]


That was twenty years ago?! Fucking hell. I was such a gullible rube that I bought both versions of Superman #75 - the one with the black cover, and the one with the flag. One of them came with an armband and I remember thinking how the storyline was very much overshadowed by the obvious knowledge that DC was just going to bring him back to life later.
posted by cmonkey at 11:07 AM on February 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Halfway through the video: enjoying it so far.

Man, this was such a big deal when it happened. I remember it being reported on the news, even. I was at the tail-end of my comics obsession at the time, and I'd never followed DC or liked Superman, so I only followed the storyline somewhat cursorily. My brother was still very much into comics at the time and he bought three or four copies of the black-bagged DEATH OF SUPERMAN comic (shown being gnawed-on in the video). He opened one so we could see the fight with Doomsday but it was way less impressive on paper than the idea of the death of Supes had been in my head.

From what I remember, it was more or less just mindless slugging across countryside and city until, yes, that stupid mutual haymaker that "killed" both of them. And the secret to hurting Doomsday was snapping his little bone protrusions? Really? It was lame to me even then.

Then came the four Supermans and how weird all that was and I stopped paying attention...and then Superman was back FOR REAL and he had long hair or some crap, I don't know, I really stopped caring, I promise, it's DC, who cares.

I still don't know much about Superman (or DC) storylines in general, but I still think the coolest thing I saw Superman do (other than FLY AROUND THE EARTH IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION OF ITS NATURAL SPIN IN ORDER TO GO BACK IN TIME! OMG!) was suck the life out of a field or a forest or whatever in TDKR. That's neat. This dying business was just so cynical.
posted by m0nm0n at 11:09 AM on February 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


There are a couple of other neat cameos in the video, but I don't want to spoil them...

I remember the first comic book I got when I was a kid was the issue where Superman kicks Robot Superman's ass, so this video brought back a lot of memories, but I had no idea how ridiculous this plotline was. Like the weird healing sleep thing? Superman is probably my least favourite superhero (I mean, you know he is always going to win), and this kind of reinforces that.
posted by marcusesses at 11:14 AM on February 4, 2012


That was wonderful.

My mother loves Superman. Like she is the quintessential Superman fan, has been since she was five or so (there are some adorable black and white photos of her from the early 40s of her in her pjs with a towel tied around her neck, holding a rag doll with a towel napkin around his neck). She grew up on George Reeves and the comics and there's something unabashedly pure about her love of Supe. She used to let me read what were left of her comics and they were all cheesy Silver Age stuff about Krypton. I was seven when superman "died" and she bought the comic, but wouldn't open it, not because she was worried it would someday be worth something but because it was too sad for her. We went to see the Routh Supe and she loved it so much because, oh, poor Superman, he's sad but also really babely and, look, Superman has a son!!! I'm generally pretty cynical and analytical about pop culture artifacts but I'm incapable of interacting with Superman that way thanks to her. Because he's wonderful. Why wouldn't anyone want to watch Superman punching people?! That's what Superman does!! It's kind of like how parents of little kids get to vicariously experience the magic of Santa. I get to experience the magic of Superman in a way no one else from my generation does, thanks to my 63 year old mother. Only I don't get a couple years like this, but my entire life.

She's was a big Edgar Rice Burroughs fan growing up, too, and we recently went to see Sherlock Holmes and she saw a John Carter trailer. She hadn't heard about the movie before, but by about 4 seconds in, she was practically jumping out of her seat. "John Carter!!!! BARSOOOOOM!!! OH LOOK GREEN MARTIANS!!" This, despite the fact that none of the (many) SF fans I'm friends with seem to have any idea who John Carter is. Can't wait to watch that shit with her. Should be some pure, unadulterated, gleeful fun.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:17 AM on February 4, 2012 [61 favorites]


That was really excellent.
posted by absalom at 11:19 AM on February 4, 2012


I didn't know Superman came back as Ronnie Dobbs!
posted by symbioid at 11:20 AM on February 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


This. This. 1000 times this.
posted by ethansr at 11:20 AM on February 4, 2012


The Death of Superman was a truly awful storyline (and they gave Doomsday way more of a background in this 15 minute video than he actually possessed at the time the comics were coming out), but to say that this was the moment where comic-book deaths became non-serious, reversible deaths is a bit rich.

The presentation put me off at first too, but I enjoyed this. With the lip-syncing it's reminiscent of drunk history.
posted by whir at 11:23 AM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


That was awesome. Can't wait to see Chronicle.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:25 AM on February 4, 2012


This was the greatest video about comics I've ever seen. EVER.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 11:37 AM on February 4, 2012


This was way better than I thought it'd be. Surprise cameo at the end! Also, informative.
posted by GilloD at 11:38 AM on February 4, 2012


I actually kind of liked the general storyline - the actual comics were pretty awful but the whole multiple-Supermans concept was pretty fun, Cyborg Superman of course turning out to be an enduring favourite.
posted by Artw at 11:43 AM on February 4, 2012


m0nm0n, are you me?
posted by clarknova at 11:43 AM on February 4, 2012


There was no chance of Superman remaining dead, as DC was betting on a surge of nostalgia from the general public. The knew it would happen, due to a marketing goof and Marvel Comics' own sales gimmicks.

In 1985, an enormous amount of press erupted in the wake of the New Coke fiasco, which was followed by a rash of grey-market sales and sudden nostalgia from the public. A year later, Marvel "retired" Steve Rogers, who would return to service in order to fight U.S. Agent, who wore the costume of Captain America and was passed off as such.

(This plot hook was was also a more elaborate attempt by Marvel to re-cash on its mini story arc involving Cap's temporary loss of his powers; the shock of something drastic happening to a long-established character briefly boosted circulation numbers, and assured a handy means of re-reeling readers back. They also knew it would work because of the interest generated in Beta Ray Bill's debut as the "new" Thor in 1983 as well as Spider-Man's black costume/alien symbiote saga in 1985.

Throw in the press coverage of the write-in campaign to re-cast Adam West as the lead for Tim Burton's 1989 adaptation of Batman, and you could see the dollar signs appearing in the eyes of DC Comics' execs. The similar frenzy that erupted when Hal Jordan returned as the de facto Green Lantern of Earth, as well as the whole Batman: Knightfall and Death in the Family sagas (not to mention the angsty makeover of Aquaman) proved that the catalog of titles were merely a revenue trough to run back to whenever necessary.
posted by Smart Dalek at 11:50 AM on February 4, 2012 [4 favorites]


TBH the 90s PR gimmick storylines that DC did look pretty tasteful and well thought compared to the random flailing mess that is DC right now.
posted by Artw at 11:55 AM on February 4, 2012 [6 favorites]


This video is better than the comics it was based on. Hell, it's better than the last few Superman movies.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 12:27 PM on February 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


This video has effectively saved me countless hours in the future. When I talk to friends who don't understand why I don't read comics, I no longer have to explain. I can just send them this Youtube link.

Fuck yeah!
posted by Mister Fabulous at 12:36 PM on February 4, 2012


A side note: What you also need to remember about this was that the (apparent) Death of Superman storyline got mainstream press attention TWO WEEKS BEFORE THE ISSUE SHIPPED so our store at least was overwhelmed with non-fan/civilian interest in a comic book of which our orders were already set, meaning NO copies were available for the latecomers. We kept a list of names of folks that wanted a copy (and limited quantities to one per person to be fair) and were "pre-sold-out" a week before the comic even hit the shelves. I still have that list in our archives.

Fun facts:
Copies sold of SUPERMAN #70 - 27
Copies sold of SUPERMAN #75 - 325 (not counting 2nd and 3rd printings)
Copies sold of SUPERMAN #82 - 125

(Please note that all opinions expressed/data presented reflect OUR store's info only... YMMV widely.)
posted by Ron Thanagar at 12:38 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


PhoBWanKenobi: Your mother sounds amazingly wonderful.
posted by JHarris at 12:39 PM on February 4, 2012 [3 favorites]


I was wondering how long it would take you to post this. Tons of fun.

Our Host's that-guy-I-was-when-I-was-his-age tiresome douchey quality made me turn it off.

Yeah, I almost did too, but the re-creations carried me through it. Especially the very last cameo.
posted by middleclasstool at 12:43 PM on February 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Is this the same guy who did the Knightfall video?
posted by 1970s Antihero at 12:46 PM on February 4, 2012


Well I guess that's the first and last time Bloodwynd ever gets a live action performance.
posted by PenDevil at 12:53 PM on February 4, 2012


Is this the same guy who did the Knightfall video?

Yup.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 1:14 PM on February 4, 2012


Huh. Go figure. He's the son of John Landis.
posted by ten pounds of inedita at 1:15 PM on February 4, 2012


none of the (many) SF fans I'm friends with seem to have any idea who John Carter is.

WAT
posted by erniepan at 1:31 PM on February 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


You were what, seven? Don't make fun. You haven't earned it.

You know who didn't earn it? Doomsday. He was a stupid character, stupidly created and stupidly written. if anyone was going to kill Superman, it should have been Lex Luthor. Now that guy, he earned the right to kill Superman. As a matter of fact, they should have had Doomsday beat the crap out of Superman only to get killed by Lex Luthor, who could go on to heal Superman back to full strength and then kill him just to show everyone how it's done. Jeeze, the guy has been waiting decades to do this, and you create some half-assed palooka with bones poking out of his body like he's already beat to hell do it? Lex Luthor should have killed the 90s DC editorial team, that's what he should have done.

And, with his time machine, he may yet do it.....
posted by GenjiandProust at 1:31 PM on February 4, 2012 [10 favorites]


I enjoyed this because I worked in a comic shop when all this crap went down and I refused to buy any of the issues because I knew it was all just B.S. which would be ditched once the hype had died down. Dan Jurgens and Louise Simonson both are mediocre writers IMHO and having them being the key writers on this storyline just made me throw up in mouth a little. It DC was really going to do this right they should have put their best writers on it from the start but instead they totally half-assed it. It was an obvious publicity stunt from the start.
posted by GavinR at 1:33 PM on February 4, 2012


Contra to what Smart Dalek says above, there was a chance that Kal-El wouldn't have come back, if one of the four characters that were basically auditioning as his replacement had caught on. (Only one, Superboy, had any type of staying power, and he's gone through a few different iterations since his creation. Steel managed to survive in the JLA; the Eradicator has come and gone; the cyborg pops up every now and then as a villain.) Superman and Wonder Woman have never enjoyed the sort of comic book popularity that their household-name popularity and occasional forays into live-action media would imply, which is why DC has repeatedly tinkered with them in a way that hasn't really happened with Batman. (That's not to say that Batman hasn't changed, but it's been more of an organic evolution.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:59 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, definitely should have had Luthor do the deed. And then Luthor could have been killed -- once and for all, no take-backs -- when you inevitably resurrect Superman.

It'd be interesting to make a list of characters that have died and have more or less stayed dead. Uncle Ben Parker, Thomas and Martha Wayne...?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:03 PM on February 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


[Curmudgeonly rant]

You know, I really hate it when people refer to Superman as "Supes." Fuck me; "Supes" my hairy white ass. I think that got started around 1975 or so with Keith Giffen. I was actually working on DC comics then and I just thought that whole "Supes" thing was the purest fanboy bullshit. Not even Jimmy fucking Olsen called him Supes back in the day. The only thing that would have been worse would have been "Supey."

[/Curmudgeonly rant]
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 2:06 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


Somehow I missed the fact there were famous people in this at first and was thinking the whole time, "wow this group of hot enthusiastic young people is going places". Then I saw Frodo, it all made sense.

Good video, I like
posted by Hoopo at 2:12 PM on February 4, 2012


if anyone was going to kill Superman, it should have been Lex Luthor. Now that guy, he earned the right to kill Superman.

I also would have accepted Mr. Mxyzptlk or Brainiac, maaaybe Parasite, but I think they were somewhat hampered by not being able (from an artistic standpoint, not a legal one) to use anything too much like Alan Moore's "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow" angles. Doomsday was the Ron Garvin of Superman villains.

And the worst part was that DC did the exact same goddamn thing with Bane.
posted by Etrigan at 2:18 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I always kind of liked Doomsday. Not a great character, but I liked the design, and I enjoy unstoppable forces of nature that force people to think around them rather than just heroically punching even harder to win.
posted by Grimgrin at 2:30 PM on February 4, 2012


You know, I really hate it when people refer to Superman as "Supes."

There was some comics writer a few decades back who wrote something like: "I am really bugged by that song -- you know -- 'Don't tug on Superman's cape.' Because, what's he going to do? Superman is nice. The worst thing that's going to do happen is he'll say 'Please don't tug on my cape; it's bothering me.' Don't tug on Batman's cape. Batman is crazy. He will kill you." Words to live not die by.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:36 PM on February 4, 2012 [12 favorites]


I liked it when the Astro City version of Doomsday got scooped up and thrown into the sun. Really for a guy with flight and laser vision Superman did not bring much imagination to the problem.
posted by Artw at 2:46 PM on February 4, 2012


There are sixteen ways Batman can get you off of his cape from that position. 8 of them cripple, 7 of them kill and one of them... HURTS.
posted by Artw at 2:48 PM on February 4, 2012 [13 favorites]


The takeaway from this is that Batman is still awesome and will always be awesome.
posted by Fizz at 3:34 PM on February 4, 2012


When this came out I successfully ignored the whole thing, so I didn't know until now that Superman was never really dead. Yeesh. At least when Marvel brought Jean Grey back they made some effort to write a silly, convoluted retcon for her.
posted by homunculus at 3:51 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


And Batman came back from a broken back by having, um, magic physio-therapy.
posted by Artw at 4:02 PM on February 4, 2012


I don't ever see mouth movements like that - desperately trying to prevent the tongue from escaping? I don't know - unless words are simultaneously issuing forth from quasi-erudite American youngmen, and it annoys me irrationally and deeply. The fake scotch put me over the edge. Which is a shame, because it was pretty fun.
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:22 PM on February 4, 2012


1992: The Death of Superman

1991: Pretty much the best eulogy to Superman that anyone could hope for
posted by Sys Rq at 4:39 PM on February 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Justice League animated show played off the death of Superman stuff when Doomesday came to Earth, but it was an alternate universe Superman who he fought who didn't have any qualms about killing or messing people up really bad. He used his heat vision to give Doomsday an instant lobotomy -- problem solved! That was at the beginning of an episode.

Yeah, the animated DCU was terrific. So of course they ended it. Sigh. (Although that did clear the way for Brave and the Bold.)
posted by JHarris at 5:45 PM on February 4, 2012 [2 favorites]


Pretty much the best eulogy to Superman that anyone could hope for

It's probably what gave DC the idea....

I like the song OK, but it's very un-Superman to steal Green Lantern's credit for fighting Solomon Grundy, though. Couldn't they have gone with a line like "Superman never made his wallet thick saving the world from Mr. Mxyzptlk?" Is that so much to ask?
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:10 PM on February 4, 2012


They should have made Superman's super healing coma transform him into a younger looking person with slightly different quirks and catchphrases. Maybe he could wear a fez, I don't know.
posted by Winnemac at 6:16 PM on February 4, 2012 [5 favorites]


That video was really well done. Like others, I enjoyed it far more than I had expected.

I wrote out a really long comment with my analysis of just how the Doomsday storyline went bad. It really had an amazing amount of potential, but the writers just totally squandered it.... But then I lost my comment, and I realized that no one actually cares for analysis of why a 20 year-old comic series everyone knows sucked sucks.

But the video! Opposite of suck! Quite nice.
posted by meese at 8:40 PM on February 4, 2012


Was there even a storyline? In my recollection it was pretty much just "suddenly Doomsday showed up, beat up every superhero, and then killed Superman." It's like something you'd expect to be in Axe Cop, if Axe Cop wasn't totally awesome. Admittedly I wasn't following Superman incredibly closely before that, though, but I don't recall a lot of nuance to it.

The whole nonsense with Jean Grey could easily fuel a second helping of this video, or better yet the Spiderman Clone Saga.
posted by whir at 9:02 PM on February 4, 2012 [1 favorite]


I spent the entire video hoping that Grey Hulk would punch the storyteller guy to death.
posted by mrnutty at 10:54 PM on February 4, 2012


I was an entertaining video, thanks for letting me know about it.

However, Superman did not start the trend of non-death deaths in comic books. It was just another entry in a long standing tradition.

So good video but with a bullshit conclusion.
posted by Bonzai at 11:10 PM on February 4, 2012


It wasn't about who had earned a right to kill him. It was a demonstration that Superman had limits, that he could physically have his ass handed to him, no tricks, no advanced tech, no magic spells, no mysterious rocks. Just him getting the shit kicked out of him.

Because he's no fun as a character, because you are never concerned about his well being. I mean, that problem already exists with any main character, pretty much, but its much worse with Superman. People make the logical fallacy of assuming that since Superman only has one physical weakness (kryptonite), if kryptonite is not involved, he can't be harmed at all. But someone can be harmed by things, even if they don't have some sort of "weakness" to it. It's just harder.

It was fricking awesome for DC (especially DC) to try and demonstrate this. But Lex Luthor would not suffice for this, nor Brainiac or Mr. Magic Name. None of them are ass kickers. None of them could actually go toe-to-toe with Superman. In fact, Superman is just so ridiculous that there was no one in the DC universe that you could consider a serious threat to Superman. That's why they needed to create Doomsday. He needs at least one nemesis with the same skill set. (This is the same reason why Quantum Leap introduced the Evil Leaper.)

When Doomsday appears in a story you know two things: that this a bad ass that Superman can lose to, and the publishers may actually let Doomsday kill Superman. Of course they'll bring him back, but you now have more opportunity to have concern about Superman. You can actually give a shit, instead of thinking "oh, it's Superman, he can't be hurt." Now you can think "Oh shit, this might be it. They might actually kill him." This why the Joker and the Green Goblin are great nemesises. They've actually done something.
posted by BurnChao at 2:40 AM on February 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


I also would have accepted Mr. Mxyzptlk or Brainiac, maaaybe Parasite,

Only an iconic arch-enemy should be permitted to kill an iconic hero. But DC has never really understood that.
posted by mhoye at 2:42 AM on February 5, 2012


These little marketing ploys are what finally turned me off of superhero comics pretty much forever.
posted by Renoroc at 7:02 AM on February 5, 2012


That was great, but yeah, the conclusion is off. Death in comics was dead, dismembered and buried in lead coffins on different planets ages ago, long before Jean Grey. Hell, it was never really alive to begin with.

the random flailing mess that is DC right now

Anecdata: a comic store owner told me last weekend the DC reboot added over 120 new subscribers to his store, 75 of whom are still around five months later. That seems like a lot; I was surprised. The stories are kinda shitty, I hear from most folks, but from his perspective DC's move is so far an obvious economic success. So not so much with the flailing, maybe.
posted by mediareport at 8:09 AM on February 5, 2012


Opportunity cost, 0. Think of all the ways Superman could have died or been killed. They're still possible. It'll be just as shocking when his end finally comes.
posted by wobh at 9:38 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


I always knew Supergirl was a cutter.
posted by Paul Slade at 11:37 AM on February 5, 2012


I'll take the end of All Star Superman where Superman "retires" into the sun after Lex Luthor gives him fatal solar poisoning over a big dude hitting jim until he is nearly dead while he forgets he has the power of flight, personally.
posted by Artw at 11:59 AM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


(SPOILER: He does come back from that a million years later though)
posted by Artw at 12:00 PM on February 5, 2012


if anyone was going to kill Superman, it should have been Lex Luthor. Now that guy, he earned the right to kill Superman.

Something more like this?
posted by homunculus at 12:24 PM on February 5, 2012 [2 favorites]


If anyone was going to kill Superman, it should be Jimmy Olsen. In a stupid accident (throws a kryptonite dart or something over his shoulder by mistake, and turns around to see Dead Superman). And then six issues of black farce with him trying to hide the body.

This is one of the many reasons I don't write comic books.
posted by Grangousier at 12:44 PM on February 5, 2012 [19 favorites]


Only an iconic arch-enemy should be permitted to kill an iconic hero.

No, because then the enemy wins. Superman's goal is to make people's lives better. That'll never be done. It's one of the key parts of many of the great Superman stories. Luthor's goal, on the other hand, is to get rid of Superman. He can do that once, and then he's done. It's part of why a post-Superman world never really works. Like how people die soon after they retire, Luthor wouldn't be the success he is if he's not measuring himself against Superman.
posted by Etrigan at 12:50 PM on February 5, 2012


Enjoyably meh. Wasn't impressed with the hoopla in '92, and this video doesn't change it.

I liked it when the Astro City version

You know as much as I like Astro City, I'm on the brink of saying fuck it and just forgetting about it. If someone wants to let me know when they pull their heads out of their ass and stop releasing the TPB's a year after they release the hardcover, I'd be a happy camper. Trying to fucking siphon a extra money from their loyal readers with this hardcover bullshit needs to stop.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:20 PM on February 5, 2012


Hen. I came to it late and had the option to just read most of it in one go in paperback... and it's a comic I can't recommend enough. I'll probably read the rest of if it in a big burst when that's out in paperback too.
posted by Artw at 1:52 PM on February 5, 2012


Yeah, no, it's a fantastic comic. It's just garbage that they basically want people to buy the hardcover, and to ensure that they wait a full year before they re-release it in paperback form.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:10 PM on February 5, 2012


No, because then the enemy wins. [...] That'll never be done.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why Superman is crap. When you know how it's going to turn out, why bother reading the story at all? Bad guy does bad stuff, then Superman saves the day. Over and over and over again for seventy-five years.

I mean, even the issue we're discussing -- the one issue that dared to break from the grinding tedium -- spoils the ending right in the title! Not to mention in the manufactured media blitz; even people who didn't give a shit knew how it was going to end.

(That said, DC has a terrible poker face. It was obvious even to 11-year-old me that they were bluffing. It was all just a desperate PR stunt intent on renewing interest in a franchise that was already long dead, and since there's not much point in renewing interest in something that immediately ceases to exist, there would absolutely, undoubtedly have to be a hasty resurrection of some sort. I must admit, however, that the supreme lameness of said resurrection was pretty unexpected.)
posted by Sys Rq at 3:05 PM on February 5, 2012


That's, um, every returning character ever, including Batman who *could* theoretically be beaten up by some dude.
posted by Artw at 3:25 PM on February 5, 2012


Yes. Yes it is.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:27 PM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


What really bugged me at the time was just how stupid everything round Doomsday was. He was just a very big strong creature with neither flight nor superspeed demonstrated. Which means he (a) shouldn't have been able to land a punch on Superman and (b) should have been put in orbit round something. Or played keepy-uppy with by Superman or Green Lantern.

Not just a bad gimmick - a badly written story,
posted by Francis at 6:08 PM on February 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, because then the enemy wins.

Not necessarily. Let's say Luthor kills Superman. The thing about Luthor is, as he is usually written, he's a genius scientist/businessman who has an irrational hatred for Superman. So, he's won, right? He's finally killed his nemesis or whatever. Now he can finally get around to curing cancer or making tiny dog-headed homonculi or whatever takes his fancy. The thing is, the world is lousy with villains who want to rule the Earth or destroy the Earth or turning people into robots or whatever. And these plans are going to, inevitably, interfere with Luthor's well-earned post-Superman plans, because, Superman used to stop them. Furthermore, all the psychos who were gunning for Superman because he was the biggest gun around now are going to be looking for Luthor, the guy who is now the biggest gun. So Luthor can't get on with his post-Superman plans, because of all the craziness. He can't just kill all these villains, they are like cockroaches -- there are always another couple dozen waiting in the wings. Soon enough, they will be even a bigger pain in his ass than Superman was. And that's what he gets for screwing up the super-powered ecosystem. So Luthor is going to have to become a superhero or make some super heroes who can deal with Superman-sized problems, or Luthor is never going to get around to making his cat-powered solar glider.

Basicall, Luthor is damned if he does and damned if he doesn't. He might as well bring Superman back from the dead, because, well, that's what mad scientists do. So the comic goes on.

Poor Luthor.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:16 AM on February 6, 2012 [6 favorites]


Superman's ultimate victory over Lex Luthor would not be killing Lex Luthor, it would be reforming him.
posted by Artw at 11:22 AM on February 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


GenjiandProust: if anyone was going to kill Superman, it should have been Lex Luthor

If I remember correctly, there's a page which is basically all about Lex Luthor trashing his office in a rage that anyone else but him killed Superman.

Anyway, I can't remember who said it (Alex Ross possibly) but someone made the point, which I agree with, that the best Superman stories are the ones that read like old myths. He's more akin to a hero of Greek legend than a realistic character. I wouldn't be surprised, decades from now, someone will write an Epic of Superman that will be great and wonderful. The problem with the comics is that most of them (with some sterling exceptions) try to use Superman to tell human-sized stories. It just doesn't work. He should be as strange and weird and alien as Theseus.
posted by Kattullus at 11:28 AM on February 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


the best Superman stories are the ones that read like old myths.

Mostly, although there are exceptions. There is an episode of Hitman where our protagonist runs into Superman who is kicking himself because he was only able to save two out of three astronauts or something similar. Monaghan, as I recall is like "Dude, you are crazy! No one else could have done anything; they were all completely dead, but you saved two people! That's super enough for anyone!" Which I thought was a kind of nice moment -- Superman is so used to being super that he can't see that he's not omnipotent and therefor notomniresponsible.

Superman's ultimate victory over Lex Luthor would not be killing Lex Luthor, it would be reforming him.

There was as plot in the late 60s or early 70s where Luthor had a planet he would travel to where he was the beloved guardian and provided solutions to many problems. The idea was that, without his pathological rage at Superman, Luthor was a really good guy. They were kind of ridiculous stories, but I thought it was a fun idea.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:43 AM on February 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


Morrison had a nice spin on that in All Star - that's who Lex *thinks* he is, but he's not, and really blaming Superman for that is just an excuse.
posted by Artw at 11:51 AM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Some of the ground suggested here regarding a Superman-less Luthor is covered in Superman: Red Son .. including the rehabilitation angle, through a distorted window.

Great book. Really great, actually.

Anyway, I never understood the whole "Superman is boring because he's omnipotent" thing. Superman is interesting because we're not omnipotent, and he almost is. There was a Superman game that recently came out for iOS devices, and playing it is fascinating because it is pretty much impossible to die. Instead, the condition for losing is if too many innocent people die. Your "health bar" is a miniature landscape of Metropolis burning, and the worse you do the more it burns.

Superman is the ultimate micro-manager, constantly zipping around putting out fires, often literally, which is an aspect of the character central to Superman: Red Son.
posted by striatic at 2:44 PM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nah, he's not boring, he just gives bad writers less to fall back on when it comes to plots involving people hitting each other.
posted by Artw at 2:46 PM on February 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


The invulnerability argument really doesn't make sense, since there are other characters that are just as invulnerability but nobody complains about them. It's obviously not the Invulnerability that pisses people off, but the presentation of the character.
For instance, they threw the Hulk into a black hole and he ended up with a headache. But his storyline rests upon the idea that he's an anti-hero and goes around fucking everything up, which is probably what makes it harder for people to get their nerd rage on about his invincibility.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:45 PM on February 6, 2012




Morrison had a nice spin on that in All Star - that's who Lex *thinks* he is, but he's not, and really blaming Superman for that is just an excuse.

That is certainly one way to address it, and some villains can certainly be self-deluded (heck, pretty much all of Batman's are), but I think there is something in having villains who have a legitimate point of view. X-Men is may more interesting when the argument between Magneto and Professor X isn't bad mutant/good mutant but the legitimate struggle over identity vs assimilation. If Magneto is just a bad guy (see his writing the the 3rd X-Men movie), it's just a kind of dull melodrama. If the question is where you would feel safer -- a world where mutants fit in or a world where normal humans are too scared of mutants to mess with them -- that is a space for a more interesting discussion.

In a similar sense, I kind of like the idea of Latveria as a relative paradise -- assuming you can fit into to Dr. Doom's relatively restrictive idea of good citizenship, you are healthy, happy, and well-protected (men apparently have to wear lederhosen and grow bushy mustaches and I am guessing women get kuche, kinder, and laboratory assistance, but, hey, it's give and take, right?). Compare that to Reed Richards, a "scientific genius" who never seems to make anything that helps any normal person, ever, not even Tang. Is Doom a bad guy? Well, if you value freedom, self-determination, and not being made into a necrobo guard after death, yeah. If you want 3 squares and no cancer, maybe not.

And on an on. I kind of like Luthor as a flawed character who, if he could just get rid of this gnawing hatred and jealously of Superman, would be a really great asset to the world rather than evil businessman/scientist, but that's me.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:43 AM on February 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


To get back onboard my "Superman works best as Greek myth" train...

Lex Luthor is exactly the kind of character the Greek tragedians loved to write about. His pride and hubris brings him low.
posted by Kattullus at 9:39 AM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


I kind of like Luthor as a flawed character who, if he could just get rid of this gnawing hatred and jealously of Superman, would be a really great asset to the world rather than evil businessman/scientist, but that's me.

I think this is an appealing perspective because there's a certain rightness to it.

Think about this. Take a hypothetical copy of our world, the same in every way. Now add Superman. Is the world better or worse than it was before? One would think, naturally, better -- there's less crime, and there are planet-threatening disasters we have some way to take care of them.

But the world isn't that simple. The existence of a powerful solution to problems always creates its own problems, and one of the biggest of those problems is Lex Luthor. To a degree, the existence of superheroes creates supervillains. And now, even if Superman went away we couldn't be sure that Luthor would decide to start playing nice.
posted by JHarris at 12:35 PM on February 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


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