Welcome back to SBC’s The Panel, a chance for you to put your burning questions – comics-related or otherwise – to a group of comics professionals.
The Panel lives or dies by your contributions; please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll add them to the list…
This week’s question comes from me and is as follows:-
You have complete control of Superman. What do you do?
This week’s question was meant to be a bit of fun, a chance for me to see what The Panel thinks of Superman, which in turn would help me on a script I am writing for a documentary. Lots of answers this week, so here we go…
I would initially explore his alien condition, that is his internal organs (is Superman the same as us inside? Do all his organs work in the same way?); specifically I would look at the pregnancy of Lois Lane and how it affects Clark and his alien nature. The Kryptonian pregnancy is shared for the couple – the woman has some kind of physical change, (for example, she’s stronger, more energetic, dynamic and impulsive (even more than before in the case of Lois!)) and the man loses part of his force and aggression (in the case of Clark would lost some of his powers) but in compensation gains more sensibility and empathy with his environment…a kind of New AGE guy tremendously hyper-sensitive at all that happens. Therefore, in the Kryptonian world, the man is effectively pregnant also … cool eh?
So what we would have?
A pregnant Superman who has lost part of his powers (he would, for the first time, need transport to the places where he was needed – maybe a team of guys could help him?)
A Super Lois Lane that complements the loss of Clark’s powers with her new powers.
After six months (enough for a good story arc, and an adequate duration for a Kryptonian pregnancy), we would discover the son of Clark and Lois…if Lex lets that it happens, of course!
Imagine a Superman closer to Mr. Incredible…fatter…more clumsy…
It would probably be my first and last work as writer/editor or whatrever in the Superheroes world…
Hey, at least it would be a little original, no? Ha!
Pascal Ferry is an artist, he has drawn Superman in the past and did a good job of it too!
I’ll stick to what I’d do if I were an editor or a writer. Imagining I’m Superman is something I only ask others to do.
OK, as an editor. Superman is The Big Player of the super-hero set. He’s the MVP five days out of seven, and should be faced with the sort of world threatening events that ONLY he can handle. I can never understand why Superman, if he HAS accepted that he can’t be everywhere at once, didn’t long ago decide to deal only with those things that he, rather than anyone else, can deal with. Which means that he can’t be as “visible” to the public as he once was… because he’d spend half his time either out of Metropolis or doing research. And Clark Kent being ‘away on special assignment’ gives him the latitude to do this. His marriage? Well, Lois knew what she was getting into when she married him – she can hardly complain about it now.
As for if I had control over Superman as a writer… well, I’ve always detested the school of thought that says “everything you know is wrong”. Instead, I’ve favoured taking something that’s always been seen as a strength of a character and showing that in fact, in certain circumstances, it’s a weakness. And with Superman that HAS to be the dependence that others place upon him, the thought that he’ll always be there when it counts. So… what if he wasn’t?
I’d have Lois become pregnant, and in a fit of worry, Clark Kent accepts an offer from the Linear Men to go forward six months to see that everything’s going to be ok.
He gets six months in the future and finds the world’s gone to buggery while he’s been “away”. When he says “Ok, now let me go back and fix it,” they reply “what’s this ‘go back’ shit? We never said you can go BACK.”
Meanwhile the JLA are incredibly disappointed in him because as far as they’re concerned he pissed off for six months and everything that has gone wrong is HIS fault.
And, echoing Warren Ellis, now you know why they’ll never let ME write Superman…
Lee ‘Budgie’ Barnett is a writer of comedy and comics, firstly Imperium’s TRAILER PARK OF TERROR, then X-MEN UNLIMITED #4 (Aug 04). Online, he has GOING CHEEP at Pulse, and his novel YOU’LL NEVER BELIEVE A MAN CAN FLY here. Famed in UK Comics for Hypotheticals (devised with and presented by Dave Gibbons, and inspiration for ‘The Panel’), he’s been described as being to accountancy what Indiana Jones is to archaeology.
I grew up with Superman being a major icon to me, so any time I read a Superman story it has strangely more resonance than say Batman or Spider-Man. If I was an editor, I’d be getting the best creative teams on board to be pushing the boundaries of the titles. For me that would be sorting out any long outstanding disputes with Alan Moore and getting the Great Bearded One writing Kal El and getting great artists like Alex Ross and Dave Gibbons and Chris Ware drawing.
Likewise I’d be getting the best of the indie crowd and letting them loose.
If I was a director of the new movie, I’d be waiting till the excellent Smallville finishes its run and have a buffed up Tom Welling in the suit instead. An established TV audience, an experienced cast, and a new twist to the legend with Clark and Lex’s friendship.
A worthy successor to Chris Reeve.
Writer, artist, editor and Liverpudlian Barry Renshaw is behind the ENGINE COMICS line of publications and a founder of the ACCENT UK collective, makers of among other things, REDEYE MAGAZINE, a quarterly for the UK comics scene.
“There were voices… and thunderings, and lightnings… and an earthquake.”
Bar none. Kingdom Come. I don’t know the plot of the new Superman, but with the casting I think it’s a pretty safe bet to assume it’s not Kingdom Come. I’m having a hard time understanding why this story hasn’t been transferred to the big screen. Is it because producers feel that having ‘three iconic’ characters on one screen to be too much? Is it because the story is exceptional and a tough transfer? I’m not sure but if, and possibly when, we see Kingdom Come handled properly, it will be the paramount superhero movie.
Kingdom Come saw the homage to Siegel and Shuster’s original character and it brought back the simple altruistic man with a simple plan.
To do good.
The parallel between comic and culture in this story was fantastic as we are always seeing media that’s becoming more explicit, more sexual and more aggressive. Superman was a throwback to our old morals and what we as a society used to believe in. But it was the romantic ideal of the old sheriff coming out of retirement, because he is needed for one last adventure, one last journey that would really compel me to pursue Kingdom Come.
Sean Patrick O’Reilly is Editor-in-Chief of Arcana Studios, and the writer of their book, Kade.
First off, if I was directing a Superman movie, I will stay true to the fans’ loyalty to the character. Doing the opposite really pisses them off. I will not blow the entire budget on mindless special effects which a lot of so Sci-fi films are adopting today and they wonder why their films tank at the box-office. I will not change the hero’s costume either just to give him a modern look. Superman is known for wearing his undies inside out. It’s worked for over fifty years, why change it now.
Secondly, I will focus on a story with substance that actually means something in our crazy world of today. What I would do is work on a story that captures the realities of the moment. Take for example the Pixar film ‘The Incredibles’ which was a brilliant film by the way; what they did with the story was use everyday situation of family life and work it into a super hero universe. Doing something as simple as that made the whole thing believable and creates the idea that superheroes can actually co-exist amongst us. Superman for me is a simple story of love, relationship, loyalty, trust and innocence. Let’s leave it at that and try not to screw it up!!
Daley Osiyemi creator of Brodie’s Law and co-founder of Pulp Theatre Entertainment where he works as producer and creator on various new media and comic projects. Writer and producer of online animated comic series None But Us, developed a character to help promote broadband and is currently working on a graphic novel and a film idea.
Hmmm. I think I’d have him do things like go back in time (like he used to do early on in the 40s and meet historical figures and get the real scoop on people like George Washington, John Adams, John Jay. Maybe he could even go back to the Constitutional Convention and show people that Thomas Jefferson didn’t write the Constitution (in fact he was in France until right before it was signed)! I’d have Superman get to know the REAL Founding Fathers, like Governor Morris (who DID write the Constitution), and find out a little about what he was thinking at the time. I’d bring in questions to make people think, like why have the Supreme Court BANNED 66 books that were the very basis of our Constitutional Republic? Or why did King George veto every single attempt to abolish slavery in Colonial America? That sort of thing. The sort of stuff that gets ignored by most modern writers. Ultimately I’d want Superman to give the public a clearer idea of the Historical Perspective that is so missing in our present society.
James E. Lyle is a cartoonist and illustrator, including co-creating titles Escape to the Stars, T.H.U.N.D.E.R. and Doorman, plus work on Fright Night, Cynicalman Sells Out, and the accurately-spelt Wiindows. More recently Lyle worked on Turok, the “missing” Paul Gulacy T.h.u.n.d.e.r. Agents, and DRASTIK #1.
Complete control of Superman? Did someone slip something in his drink? I’d much rather have complete control over Storm or Dagger or Blink (this list could go on and on). But then again I couldn’t go there either… I never could understand people who had to use drugs and alcohol to party.
Okay, enough of that. Since I probably won’t ever get to write Superman maybe I’ll give a peek into what my plans would have been for the guy. We’ve already established how mostly my whole exposure to Supes has been from movies or TV and how in comics I think he’s pretty dull with the exceptions of a few key “events” that DC turned back on to bring him back to the boring version everyone knows.
First up- permanent costume change. Basic look will still be there but give him a full body costume that stops mid neck, yellow shield, red “gloves” (because Kal has to have fingerprints from his birthing pod, right? I’m sure to work at a newspaper you’d have to have fingerprints on file and if you didn’t flags would pop up. Well he’s worked without gloves this long it really wouldn’t take long for the CSI team to discover Clark’s other identity), remove the red underoos and throw red designs on the otherwise blue bodysuit. Slap on a cape and there you go- everyone should be happy. I’ve drawn a few variations of this costume… if anyone wants to see it you know where to find me.
Second, I’d have to make the story more interesting to me without pissing off the hardcore fans (because I care like that). You know I have a problem with Superman being so powerful. The reason is because for a good story you need for the hero and the villain to be physically and/or mentally equal. Superman has no equal. So essentially DC doesn’t need any other superheroes… Superman can handle almost everything and not break a sweat (well, I guess this depends on which Superman continuity is used). So my first line of business is to give the man some better foes. People that only Superman can stop from physical might alone (like Doomsday before they watered him down) and I’d throw in some mental baggage as a plus. So I’d bring in more Kryptonians. The man has been “alone” for so long, I think it’s time to show other survivors of Krypton to not only add dramatic tension, but so Kal can finally know the truth about his homeworld (is it a cold place of science, a happy world of superheroes, or something else?). Besides Lois and Bruce Wayne, who else can Kal go to for regular conversation or to confide in? He needs friends on his level, so I’d add a few good friends of Kryptonian decent also. No, I’m not flooding the world with Kryptonians… I think there would be about 8 in total (Kal being one of the 8). Being so influenced by the movies, the main bad guy should be General Zod. I don’t know how he was handled in the comics, but I’m sure someone knows and would tell me and I’d write a way to bring the man back. Last, Lois has a raw deal in comics since she and Kal got together. She’s suffering the Mary Jane syndrome that’s in the Spidey books (Mary Jane was an untamed model and party girl, she gets married and suddenly she’s just a “wife character”). What happened to the spitfire Lois? I’d bring that personality back. Yes, I think strong women characters are hot. Oh, and I’d also finally explain how Kal and Lois have sex, which is a pretty small detail but has irked me for some time (I’m glad someone pointed me to that Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex article… I had the same thoughts for ages and it was cool someone wrote a whole essay on it).
So it’d take me about a year to introduce these changes and additions and about a year to follow up on it. By then I’d be so into writing Superman I’d probably do it for some time after that! So if I was in control of Superman I’d be the lead writer, make my additions and changes, and make sure DC has the balls to leave them all in place and no to go back on them.
There ya go… I can’t wait to see the more witty answers to this question. *grins*
Bart Thompson is the founder of Approbation Comics and creator of Vampires Unlimited, the Metamutoids, ChiSai, and Chaos Campus: Sorority Girls vs. Zombies. Be sure to pre-order Lethal Instinct from Alias Enterprises Myriad from Approbation!
If I had complete control over Superman. I would make him fight a villain that had the power to turn him Black. Once this change is made I would chronicle all the social problems he would face as a Black super hero. He would immediately be kicked out of the Justice League. The American government would not see him as a protector anymore. He would become a threat to national security. Batman would become the nation’s greatest super hero overnight. I would also highlight how he would be the same hero but the media would portray him differently. He would no longer be a savoir in the media’s eyes. He would be reported as being a show off, arrogant, a media hound and a self promoter with an agenda. I would deal with Lois Lane being condemned by white society for being married to a Black Man. I have him deal with the fear of his sexuality as it relates to Black and White women. The fear of him producing more super powered Black people. I would have him have conversations with Black Lighting, Mr. Terrific and Static Shock about how if you are Black in the DC universe you will always be underneath the White super heroes. I would have Super Man begin to question himself. He would not feel super while he is Black in a culture of White supremacy. The effects would be more deadly than kryptonite. Once Super Man defeats the villain and he is White again. I would make him realize that his greatest power of being accepted on Earth as an alien is because he takes on the appearance of a White Man. I would have him have this discussion with Jon Jonz. The green alien would tell him that racism is why he keeps his original appearance as a shape shifting green alien. The reason would be to remind him of the evil of humanity. This way he can never become comfortable with humans. He wants to be able to see all their flaws. Unlike, Superman until he becomes Black. DC should pay me to write this story for them.Alonzo Washington is the creator of Omega Man and a noted black rights campaigner.
I take him on vacation; teach him how to scuba, ski and how to limbo. The guy never gets a break. He’s a workaholic and that’s a condition that will drive him insane if he doesn’t get it under control. The last thing we need is an insane Superman running around. I shudder at the thought.
Fiona Avery created No Honor at Top Cow, and currently writes Amazing Fantasy for Marvel.
Let go of him – very, very quickly, then make it clear it had nothing to do with me.
Stephen Holland runs Page 45 – a comic shop in Nottingham – with Mark Simpson and Tom Rosin. He can also be found, monthly, in Comics International.
“Why are you people so damn interested in these basketless guys in circus muscle-man outfits? Is it a fetish, or what? I just do not GET it.”
Give him grey hair (which at his age he’d deserve). Symptoms of some weird onset disease nobody can identify and which he’s beginning to suspect is just something that used to happen at a certain age back on his planet. It comes with migraines and loss of bladder control. And what’s with the knees?
He loses his job — just as the Bushites privatize social security. He has to move. Have New York’s Sandhog-tunnelling jobs-production system finally hollow out the ground enough under his week-rent hotel that the whole thing collapses while he’s asleep. He wakes up in the rubble and is pissed off to find a brick in his ear.
Have the Jewish guy at the Mexican/Chinese deli him why he doesn’t get off his dead ass and stop the truly evil people in the world, like the companies that strip-mine forests. And the Manga doll in the back eating fried won-ton and stuffed peppers snorts at his look of surprise like, yeah, right, he really thought nobody knew about the whole (air-quotes) “Secret Identity” thing.
Give him a dog that doesn’t like him. He smells funny — he’s not human, after all, and possibly related to the thing in the PREDATOR movie, but his folks never used to talk about that side of the family.
And hand the role to Robert De Niro (and I assume you’ve all seen FLAWLESS?)
Oh, and get Kevin Smith and those two Fargo guys to go halfsies on production.
Donna Barr has books and original art at www.stinz.com, webcomics at www.moderntales.com, www.girlamatic.com, and has POD at www.booksurge.com Nothing she won’t try, at least once…including writing a column for SBC at this link!
Heh-Heh…. do you want the Adults Only answer, or the family-friendly one?
Roberta Gregory is the creator of “Bitchy Bitch”, who not only stars in Roberta’s Naughty Bits comic book (ex from Fantagraphics), but also appears on television worldwide in animated adventures, the latest being the “Life’s a Bitch” series on the Oxygen Network.
Ok guys above are the views of The Panel but I decided that I quite liked the answers I had got so and in order to get more opened up the question to the staff and reviewers of this very website… and this is what I got:
Rob Irwin writes:
Easy. If I was sitting at the top of the Superman franchise, I’d break it into two streams of monthly comics. One would be deeply, deeply traditional.
It would be the 1950s forever and there would be a cavalcade of bad guys ever week for Supes to punch up. Why would I do this series?
Easy. I look at what’s been done to the franchise – particularly in the last decade – and it just seems to be getting away from what Superman was and, for many, still is. So this traditional series would be the antidote to that; preserving a ‘perfect’ Superman specimen, month after month. In these modern times, I also think such a series might be a kinder, friendlier world to reflect on and that could have some appeal, too. Meanwhile, the second stream of my Superman comics would be the experimental arm. This is where the timeline moves with us; where Supes can be killed off, wear a different costume, have an affair with the office intern or have a mullet and it just doesn’t matter. Anyone who complains will be directed to the traditional series.
Stories in this experimental series can be edgier, grittier and should try to push the boundaries. Naturally, it can’t turn into something like Millar’s “Wanted” series, but should strive to be as diametrically opposed to the other series as possible. In this way, I think we’d get the best of both worlds when it comes to Superman. Fans would probably buy both books, while parents might buy the traditional series for young children. The experimental series, meanwhile, would possibly attract new fans as it would be allowed to shrug off more of the Superman trappings than any other Superman series to date. This is what I think Superman needs to do in order to keep moving forward, so that’s what I’d do.
Rob Irwin is a former magazine editor and journalist in Sydney, Australia. He now works in public relations and likes to ‘keep his hand in’ with regular contributions to SBC.
John Voulieris writes:
In regards to mainstream exposure – I think the movie is in good hands – Signer has proven that he can create intelligent dramatic and action packed flicks with the X-franchise. Plus I like the fact that we are not getting an origin story again. Everyone on earth knows his friggen origin and we don’t want to spend another hour in Kansas watching a young Clark learn to fly again (snore).
The whole Superman returns idea is brilliant and will be a big hit.
So now we need comics to capitalise on the movie’s success: cut down the number of titles – we only need Superman and Action Comics. The All-Stars approach is best – Superman when bogged down by soap opera elements and continuity (will Pete Ross ever find true love – WHO CARES?) is flat and boring. We need iconic stories that play to the characters strengths. Superman is busy saving the world or the Galaxy while the Lois Lane subplot grounds the series.
We don’t even have to be married to a monthly schedule anymore – just give us great runs by top creators that are continuity free: Morrison/Quietly, Simone/Byrne, Busiek/Immonen, Johns/Pacheco, Azzarello/Lee – finite runs by top names.
Top talent for a top character…no fill in issues focusing on Gangbuster or Turpin!
Make sure there is a nice backlist of classic iconic tales out in trade: Man of Steel, the Alan Moore stuff, etc…
The best Superman stories have been the timeless ones – not the topical ones that focus on the social issue of the day. Morrison gets it…follow his run by Marl Millar and Bryan Hitch and then Supes will be a mainstay in the top ten.
Oh yeah and put out a Christopher Reeve tribute book for Christ sakes – that man has done more for Superman than any other creative type – plus he is a real hero – donate the proceeds to his foundation.
Just my humble opinion.
John is on staff at SBC and lives in Canada.
Michael Deeley writes:
As writer or editor of the Superman comics, I would emphasize his Christ-like nature. He’s the perfect man trying to save a world that doesn’t want to be saved. He becomes more aware of himself as a public figure, and tries using his image to spread a hopeful message.
‘Superman’ shows how he interacts with other people, “comes down from the mountain”, and tries to show everyone how everyday life can be “super”, if you just look at it that way. ‘Adventures of Superman’ is multi-part stories blending traditional action and character drama. ‘Action’ is wall-to-wall fighting. It’s Superman defying physics with powers we didn’t even know he had.
I’d also re-introduce some sci-fi fantasy elements to create the feeling that anything could happen, and Superman lives in a world rich with possibilities. More visits to alien worlds, alternate universes, magical creatures, etc. I’d also bring back Bizarro World, as a darkly comic social/political satire.
If I was Superman, I’d take over the country, put all the liberals and intellectuals in charge, and beat anybody who disobeys them. “You WILL be the best you can be, or else!”
Michael writes reviews for SBC.
Kelvin Green writes:
No seriously. Superman’s invincible. You can’t hurt him physically. He’s got complacent. So kill off Lois, and see what effect that has on DC’s greatest hero. Of course, I’d install a get-out clause for the inevitable moment when I’ve left the book and DC decide they want Lois back, but during my tenure, I’d make sure that Lois Stays Dead.
Dump the soap opera stuff and show us what the most powerful being on Earth can really do. This is what the first Majestic series got right. Big concepts, all the time.
Cut the books down. No one needs four Superman books a month, plus JLA, Batman/Superman, etc. Keep one or two Superman core books in-continuity, and have a “Superman Tales” book which would let people do what they like with the character, with no impact on continuity, or more importantly, merchandising (although I wouldn’t stop someone doing an in-continuity story if they wanted to).
Keep him in JLA, but dump the JLA-lite books like Superman/Batman. If someone comes up with a “Superman plus X” story, then they can stick it in one of the existing books. Don’t saturate the market. He’s not Wolverine.
Kelvin writes reviews for SBC.
Barb Lien-Cooper writes:
My immediate answer was going to be: Kill Superman. Everything’s been done.
But the fact is, that’s been done too. We could do it again, but it wouldn’t stick then, either. You can’t retire him by sending him into space or into isolated seclusion; that’s where he was at the start of DC One Million, Kingdom Come, Supreme, and Dark Knight Returns.
You can’t have him be lost in another dimension somewhere– that’s what we did to the JSA for years.
You can’t have him start growing old and retiring– DC One Million and a few other stories have already established that he’ll be around for many thousands of years.
Reboot his entire continuity with a more modern spin? Been done.
Change his powers? Been done. Clone him? Been done. Split him up into two different parts? Been done.
Kill him again? It wouldn’t work.
My answer: Bring back the type of story I loved in my youth: The Private Life of Clark Kent, where we actually deal with Clark Kent as a man, as a reporter, as a guy with a stressful job, as a guy with a wife who’s very ambitious in her field, as a guy with annoying neighbours, make him have to be like the rest of us. Have him get a tax audit. Have Lois and Clark deal with wanting kids. And having kids. Or dealing with the difficulties (and what difficulties!) of getting pregnant. If they can’t, have them deal with the process of adoption.
It’s not about the powers; it’s about the humanity of the characters. Once you lose that, there’s no purpose in keeping them around anymore.
So since I don’t know how to kill him again and make it stick, I say, give him back his humanity.
He’s got concurrent titles running. Let the others be about the powers and the villains and saving the world. Make one of them (Superman, perhaps?) be about a person again.
Barb Lien-Cooper is Co-Writer, The Park and Barb Show, Writer, GUN STREET GIRL.
Ray Tate writes:
First thing, I would do is hire Jim Aparo as the artist. I’ll take a shot at writing the adventures of the Man of Steel.
The first two pages of my first comic book–I wouldn’t have any alternate numbering–would establish the reference points needed to understand my run of the book. So, panel one rocketed from the doomed planet Krypton. Panel two found by the Kents. Panel three, powers developing in Smallville. “Faster than a locomotive!” Next page, panel one bullets deflecting off his S-shield. Panel two, shaking hands with Batman. You would see Batman’s arm and gauntlet, a flicker of cape and the cool Jim Aparo Batman shadow on the wall. Panel three, flying among the Justice League–my book, so this would be the Cartoon Network’s Justice League before Starcrossed.
The third page would begin a long run of stories that would simply be powerful, fun and sometimes both. There would be no story arcs. At the most, two part or three part stories ranging from urban crime to far out sci-fi. Superman would work with the JLA and Batman. This would be a world with a Superman. So things would be different. No planes being smashed into skyscrapers. No really horrible things happening because the Big Red S is watching out for you.
Lois Lane would be looking to out scoop Clark Kent. They would still be married, but it would be a kind of Cary Grant/Rosalind Russell type of relationship from “His Girl Friday.” Sparring in the day time, sparking at night. I’d definitely get them a better looking apartment or maybe have them doing the hotel scene since they are globetrotters. Lana Lang, reporter for GBS, is their best friend. She does not know Clark is Superman.
Lex Luthor would still be around. I think I’d probably revert him to a Gene Hackman persona. We’ve seen the lethal, depraved Lex in Byrne’s run of Superman. We’ve seen the Legion of Doom Lex and the urbane, shady businessman Lex on “Superman the Animated Series.” It’s time for a change. So Lex would not hate Superman. His goal is to use his genius to obtain wealth and power. He simply has anticipated Superman’s interference as he moves toward those goals. I might even include a Miss Tessmacher and an Otis type hench group. I’d show that Lex actually has real affection for his screwballs in some ways but not so much that he’d let them stand in the way to his ultimate goals. Superman’s death is not on his agenda. He sees that the world really does need a Superman. He simply believes he can outwit him long enough to succeed.
Supergirl is still in Superman’s life. She’s Kara, the original. As history shows, there was no point for her to die. So, she’s back, and her best friend is still Batgirl who was never crippled by the Joker since she never gave up being Batgirl. Krypto is the original Krypto. It always made sense to me that Jor-El would test his rocket and be forced to use Krypto as a guinea pig due to an intense lack of time. There would be the three Phantom Zone criminals, and that’s the end of the Kryptonians because I agree that there were too many even if it did on occasion add to the fun.
Perhaps the most unique thing about Superman’s adventures for these books is that the real enemy are Christian Fundamentalists who feel threatened by the presence of a real life demi-god spouting such “nonsense” as “I’m here to fight for truth, justice and peace for all humankind.” The big bad would be a televangelist racist who preaches a gospel of hate and his flock of millions as well as an inner circle who intend to assassinate or lethally humiliate Superman and his allies in any way they can. This would lead to some dicey situations, but ain’t nobody going to knock down the Man of Steel. He’s Superman, and nobody gets murdered on his watch. He’s Superman. Incidentally, I would also reduce the price of this book to seventy-five-cents. It would be the cheapest yet most gratifying book out there for all comic book fans and new readers.
Every April Fool’s Day, I would take a holiday and have Keith Giffin as guest artist/guest writer do an annual Ambush Bug/Superman team-up–if you can call it that.
Ray Tate writes reviews… lots of reviews
Darren Schroeder writes:
I’d sell him to the highest bidder and use the money to support the publication of creator owned small press comics across the world.
Darren Schroeder handles the small press side of SBC.
Mike Storniolo writes:
Well first I would start him out just on Action Comics, than around a year or two later give him a new book to branch out into, maybe call it Superman. Than say 47 years later I’d get a nice English lad to really break the barriers and tell a terrific story.
Than have an at the time prolific creator come aboard and breathe new life into him. Complete with rage, mullet and all. And start a brand new book, Superman to host him in and revert the old Superman to maybe Adventures of. Come say six years later have him killed off, only to be resurrected yet again…but four years latter have an accident and be turned to pure energy, red and blue, only to be reverted back to the original yet again.
Wait a minute, that was what..oh..oh damn..oops!
Mike Storniolo is the monthly WLG Columnist here at SBC, and writer of S.H.I.T: The Super Heroes In Training, and The Advocates of Authority coming from http://ronin-studios.com in 2005!
James Redington writes:
Superman needs to be unique, in the DC universe he is no longer special in terms of powers etc. He is still one of the most powerful heroes about, but there are other guys running around in tights who can match him – who are heroes. So I would first of all streamline the DC Universe make Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern and a few other heroes the ONLY heroes on Earth. There are too many heroes who are similar which take away from the big guys.
Superman The Animated Series got it right I think, Superman is not a planet mover but he is still ‘Super’. Metropolis Clark should be an act that the real Clark puts on, the guy in costume is the real guy, to everyone who knows the secret this is the guy who grew up in Smallville. Story wise, it needs to big on action and scale – but also need the human aspects of his life which make do what he does. Challenge his beliefs, his is what Action Comics #775 got right, action on a big scale and they attacked Superman through his morals. Great comic period.
From a fan’s point of view I want a Superman comic every week, that’s the geek in me. I like the idea of All Star Superman, looking forward to that iconic version of the character. The suit itself should not be changed in any medium; I think the animated series went just right in their design. Superman Returns should be great, as long as the costume is right. Fan boy rant over.
James Redington runs his own small press company www.portentcomics.com and writes reviews for SBC, and works very hard.
Shawn Patty writes:
Interesting question. I think this is a situation where the whole Superman franchise needs a reboot. Scrap all the past continuity and start over anew. As it stands, Superman’s history is just way too murky. Do you stick with “Birthright” or do you go with “Man of Steel” or do you stick with the original continuity?
This is a case where DC’s new “All-Star” treatment makes sense. Start fresh, stick to one continuity and tell really interesting stories. I mean, here’s a guy from another planet who is arguably the most powerful person in the DCU who goes out of his way to stand up for everything that’s good about mankind even though he’s an outsider and will never really fit in with the people he has sworn to protect.
I’m not saying that Superman should be overly serious in tone, but there are a lot of different, interesting stories that could be told. Some of the best Superman stories that have been told have taken a different slant on the whole Superman mythos, like Red Son or Secret Identity.
There is a lot of interest in Superman right now with the show “Smallville”, the “Justice League Unlimited” cartoon and the upcoming “Superman Returns” film. DC should really capitalize on this opportunity and get some quality writers and artists on a Superman book ASAP. There is no reason why Superman shouldn’t be outselling any book with an X on the cover each month.
Shawn is SBC’s dedicated newshound.
Realistically, all three would be the same. I don’t think Superman should be different in comics or on film. Well, comics are more live TV, because they are episodic in nature. The problem is all the oddball stuff they add onto the character year after year.
I would go back to basics. As a concept Superman is the best there is at everything, but as an execution he is not always the best selling comic.
I would deal with concepts of what it is like to lead a duel life. How hard it is to make friends or maintain friendships if you have to be Superman 24/7 and hold down a fulltime job. I would deal with the difficulty in maintaining the job, and still saving the world. He would not show up for work on time, miss deadlines, etc. At the same time he would miss get together with friends, while saving lives.
I would not put Superman and Lois Lane together; I would have him avoid Lois, while she tries to figure up who Superman is.
I would show how uncomfortable he is in adjusting to live in such a fragile world. From his perspective he isn’t super strong, the world is super fragile. Everything breaks with the slightest touch.
I would show how his sense of duty to the entire world is greater then his senses of self. I would reinforce this with flashbacks of the Kent’s showing him strong Midwestern values. I think Superman like anyone who joins the police force, fire department, or military for the right reasons. He has a strong sense of duty to others. I think this will compounded with his duty overtaking every other aspect of his life.
I would show that being Superman was a tremendous burden and also show how this alienates Superman from everyone else. Superman is an alien, he doesn’t look like one, but he understands he is different form everyone else.
….. is on staff at SBC
Craig Johnson writes:
I presume you mean that I can’t just cancel the books? Or fill it with reprints of stuff like Stray Bullets, Strangehaven or Strangers in Paradise to widen the circulation of these fantastic, yet woefully underrated, books?
OK. As editor I would keep the current books and hire three different creative teams to deliver a different experience to each book, each of which is independent of the others and none of which pander to any continuity other than their own from a new #1. Action Comics should be action-packed. Superman should be stories about the Man. Adventures of Superman should be mind-boggling adventures, the likes of which you’ve never seen before in comics. I’d also want a fourth monthly book, an anthology of shorts…
…which creative teams? I’d have an open audition for each book, based on the precepts above. The writer/artist team who convinces me that they want to write the big three ongoing books for a committed period of two-three years, that they want to write Superman because of the character and the stories they have to tell, people who don’t just look at it as another hack job. Then I’d get the hell out of their way and let them tell their stories, their way. The anthology book would be open for submissions, for people with any length tale to tell, creators who have a short tale in them about Superman, but not a series – I’d definitely get Donna Barr to write one.
If I wrote the book, I’d have to take it back to first principles, and show that the power this guy has, his alien heritage and genes, would not result in him growing up an All-American Mom’s Apple Pie Boy Scout, but a Messiah figure. He can do ANYTHING, there would be no Clark Kent, there would be no vestige of humanity left – puberty would hit and his alien genes reassert themselves….
…which probably explains why I’m not a writer, and have no intentions of ever becoming one.
See, I now hate you all, because I haven’t been able to stop thinking about this all day, about how the best way to reboot Superman would be to take him back to first principles. It’s the 1970s, Ma and Pa Kent are in their late 40s/50s, Clark is turning sixteen. They found him as a kid and brought him up in this small town, hick community, where the people are strongly prejudiced and tremendous bigots – great suspicion of outsiders…basically, your typical insular small-town old folk of that era.
For example, gays are feared and hated and remain in the closet for fear of violence or excommunication. Blacks are almost non-existent in Smallville – maybe we see one family has moved in and has a huge struggle for acceptance, they haven’t been there for generations, and are shunned by the community. Clark has noticed a few strange things whilst growing up, but kept them quiet – he’s a good Christian, and anything different is feared and hated…and he’s beginning to suspect he’s a little different himself. Pete Ross is his best friend; he’s a weedy, brainy kid secretly in love with Clark but can’t declare his love. Lana Lang loves Pete for his brains, and tries to get Pete to notice by flirting with Clark…who of course loves her desperately. On his sixteenth birthday, Ma and Pa Kent decide to come clean about his heritage – he’s an outsider, an alien, he’s not one of us. Years of conditioning to hate outsiders drive him to the edge and he flees to Pete’s to find out if Pete knew this – Pete mistakes Clark’s tears for a stronger feeling and blurts out the truth…
…what happens next? Do we fast forward 20 years and gradually fill-in the rest in flashback? Does Clark destroy Smallville in a fit of madness, striking back at everyone who he thinks has betrayed him? Does he try to find Krypton (seen briefly at the start of the book, aliens speaking an alien language) to discover himself? Does he decide mankind should be punished, saved, or ignored? Does he turn hedonist?
Well, I know the answers, ain’t telling you lot!
Craig Johnson is the second-in-command of SBC, Senior Reviews Editor and general photocopying lad. And he hates Superman.
Thanks for reading this week and I hope you have enjoyed the panel this week, if you have an opinion on this week’s question go to the forums and let us know! Remember if you have a question for “The Panel” email me
“The views and opinions expressed on the panel are solely those of the panellist who has written them. They do not reflect the views or opinions of silver bullet comic books or myself. Freedom of speech is great isn’t it – James”
Have the Panel gotten it right?
Have your say on the hot topics of the day at the Panelology message board.