Way back in April of 2011, Alex Knapp recommended a Superman Comic to me, Action Comics #775. The comic was “What So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way?”. Sadly, my comic book store did not happen to have a copy of it in the back issues and, sigh, I kinda forgot about it after that.

Until Now.

I picked up Superman vs. The Elite (and, no, haven’t watched it yet) and, reading the back of the box, realized HEY!!! THIS IS THAT COMIC THAT KNAPP TOLD ME ABOUT!!!

So this is going on my docket for this upcoming weekend. Check out the trailer:

While I haven’t yet seen it, I can’t exactly recommend it… but I can say that I am very much looking forward to it.


Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to


  1. Hrm. I think some of the elegance is going to be lost here.

    You might see if your library has the collected TPB: Superman: The Greatest Stories Ever Told, Vol. 1 (from 2006). Not sure it’s worth buying unless you have it used because it’s kind of an uneven collection.

    • I’m sure that some of the elegance will be lost in the translation but the DC versions of comic books are usually “not bad” at worst. Green Lantern: First Flight was better than the live action movie and Batman: Year One was so true to the comic that I could see someone wonder what the point was. Now, Justice League: Doom wasn’t as good as Towel of Babel, true… but it was still light years ahead of pretty much any Superhero movies excepting the Nolan Batmovies and the Raimi Spider-movies.

      (After I watch it, I’ll let everybody know if it was closer to the Green Lantern or Batman movies or closer to the Justice League movie.)

  2. I think there is a certain way to look at superheros and comic books that many adults just don’t understand. It can be difficult for many people to appreciate. I think that’s how we end up with the bastardized Hollywood versions of some of the great classics.

    • There’s an essay I have bubbling somewhere in the back of my head about superheroes being modern demigods/angels/daemons that allow us to tell moral stories to each other (where our various religions have calcified, at least when it comes to coming up with new stories).

      And you can always tell the difference between someone who sees any given hero as an opportunity to tell a moral story and someone who sees any given hero as an opportunity to have a 100,000,000 opening weekend with multiple marketing opportunities (fast food, toys, perhaps even an automobile manufacturer… we can have the protagonist drive a Toyota in one scene…).

      You’re much more willing to forgive the sins of the former, for example.

      But it hasn’t gelled yet.

      • Out of curiosity, Jaybird – which superhero movies in the last decade or so do you see as ones “intended to tell moral stories”?

        To me, most of them seem primarily geared towards making money. The Nolan ones, particularly the second and third, have moral messages, but they’re ones I find distasteful, so I actually prefer the “no moral message” films to them. The two superhero films I’ve seen recently that actually do seem to examine moral ideas and themes (albeit in a shallow way) are X-Men First Class and The Amazing Spider-Man – and in both cases, I’m positive that the studios made them for the money and for the sake of retaining the rights.

        You’ve got a lot more grounding in the genre than I do, so I’m interested in your thoughts.

        • Most of the moral messages that come in the Superhero movies are not really overarching themes to the movie (though they can be) but little scenes.

          The first movie to come to mind is Kick-Ass. There’s a scene where he’s interfering with a fight in front of a 7-11 and gives a short speech:

          Diner Fight Guy 1: The fuck is wrong with you, man? You’d rather die for some piece of shit that you don’t even fucking know?
          Dave Lizewski: The three assholes, laying into one guy while everybody else watches? And you wanna know what’s wrong with me? Yeah, I’d rather die… so bring it on!

          Now it’s a horribly violent movie and it has some pretty disturbing scenes on top of that and there are some seriously screwed up characters so my recommendation has caveats… but Kick-Ass is probably the superhero movie that has the most moral POV of any I’ve seen in the last decade.

          But other examples from other movies include Superman:
          All those things I can do. All those powers. And I couldn’t even save him.

          A moment of empathy for the omnipotent in that.

          From The Dark Knight (though Tiny Lister says this rather than Batman):
          Tattooed Prisoner: You don’t want to die, but you don’t know how to take a life. Give it to me; these men would kill you, and take it anyway. Give it to me. You can tell ’em I took it by force. Give it to me, and I’ll do what you shoulda did ten minutes ago.
          And then he throws it out the window.

          Compare to… oh, the Avengers. Or Captain America. Or the Iron Mans.

          • The Cap movie seemed to have some similar scenes.

            I don’t want to kill anyone. I don’t like bullies, wherever they come from.

            The moment after he gets booed off the stage, where he realizes that for all the good intentions he went into this with, he’s just a propaganda figure.

          • By the way, have you seen the new Spider-Man movie? I thought it was really good; and certainly the most uplifting of this year’s superhero movies.

          • I haven’t seen the new Spider-Man movie. I was told by a dear friend that the movie was one that he enjoyed very much and that he thought that I should wait for DVD.

  3. I can’t say why exactly, but I just can’t get myself up to see or read a superman anything. I mean, if it’s a JLA, or with someone more compelling like Batman, sure.

    But I really don’t get the appeal.

    • I’ve always seen Superman as one of the greatest supporting characters ever who just shouldn’t be asked to hold up his own book. Sure, give him a miniseries from time to time, give him a one-shot, and have him show up in *SOMEBODY’S* book every week.

      He’s supposed to be the superhero who sets the standard for everybody else. The guy who is always in the back of everybody’s head when it comes to “what should I do next?” The person whose opinion means everything… a Superman who shows up and expresses disappointment is the beginning of a 30 month arc that ends with a Superman who shows up and says “you’ll get it.”

      When he has his own book, he runs the risk of being saddled with writers who run out of ideas… and just have him punching things.

      • JB – I like this. The ultimate ‘golden age’ superhero that the rest of them look back at and wonder, why were things/people so much better back then?

        • Yeah. Someone who is that good and everybody knows is that good and, in their presence, your own focus is how… inadequate everything you’ve attempted to this point really is.

          Like standing in front of Mr. Rogers.

          Only it’s Superman.

      • Exactly what I was about to say. Exactly.

        Very few Superman stories are good, but Superman makes a heck of a guest star. If you ever get your hands on it, Hitman #34 is just spectacular. Hitman (you can guess his occupation) is waiting on a rooftop to take someone out and is visited by Superman, who is decompressing after having saved a spacecraft. It’s gold. It only works because Superman is Superman.

        • Oh, I’ve got that one (and the rest of Hitman, and The Demon, and Ennis’s Hellblazer, and Preacher, and all the way back to True Faith) in a bunch of bags in a bunch of white boxes in the little storage area next to the bedroom. Waiting for some boys to hit, oh, 15 or 16 before I can dump it on them and gain their mother’s everlasting ire.

        • Yes indeedy. Hitman (along with Preacher and Sandman – but it was the tipping point) is what got me back into comics in my early 20s, and that story is always what I want people to read when they don’t like Superman. Except, you know, you kind of need some Hitman backstory first. Which is OK since Hitman is so damn good…

          Uh, that was a really long “me too”, huh?

          ME TOO.

          • Maribou, this is not the thread, but should you or JB ever want to discuss Sandman in this space, I would be down. One of my all-time favorite stories, not just comics but prose too.

          • Sounds like someone just volunteered for a guest post! (Seriously, I’d like to take a week or two off of big essays the weeks surrounding October 5th and that’d be a great one.)

          • I might need to go back and re-read it, but I don’t think that all that much backstory is required. I’d read the Bloodlines Annual (which, to be fair, is the origin) and Tommy’s appearances in the grand finale of Demon (which was AWESOME, but doesn’t tell us that much about Tommy). That was the issue that convinced me to go back and read everything else.

          • I’m quite interested in Sandman, both because Watchmen wore down my resistance to he form and because it’s Neil Gaiman. The publication history seems pretty complicated, though. Where do you start, and what counts as canon?

          • Also in Astro City, because Kurt Busiek is an old Usenet acquaintance of mine, and he’s a hell of a good guy.

          • Astro City is worth your time. The collected editions (and order) are listed on its Wikipedia page.

            Never read Sandman, but enjoyed the (non-Gaiman) Sandman Mystery Theatre.

          • Mike – I’m afraid this won’t help much, but I am very much of the ‘all of it, repeatedly’ school. It’s 75 issues in the original run and while some ppl would say you can skip the initial arc and some of the one- offs, I feel this misses a lot of the emotional and stylistic range that makes it great. Yr local library probably has a copy and you could probably knock it out in a weekend.

            As I am considering taking JB up on his kind offer and you seem like a potential audience, can I ask…would you be more interested in a detailed overview or analysis that includes spoilers, or would you prefer something as largely spoiler -free as possible but that would necessarily be then less-detailed?

          • Since I haven’t read it yet, I’d prefer no spoilers, or at least spoiler warnings.

          • Here is my advice wrt Sandman. The reason you will be reading the comic, at least at first, is going to be the Season of Mists storyline. That’s the TPB that collects volumes 21-28.

            Now, you may say, “wait… volume 21? What about volumes 1-20?”

            Those are good too. They aren’t, however, the books that will keep you up at night. They aren’t the books that will have you telling people who don’t even read comic books that they need to read *THESE* comic books. Season of mists will have you fumbling for adjectives.

            You’ll want to get Preludes & Nocturnes, The Doll’s House, and Dream Country as necessary background and foreshadowing and setup and whatnot and each of these contains some really, really good stories.

            They aren’t the stories that will have you considering quitting your job and becoming a writer, though. Seasons of Mists is that story.

          • SANDMAN: Start with volume 1. Read on from therre.

            SEASON OF MISTS is good, but it’ll be better if you know who the players are. And THE DOLL’S HOUSE is good. DREAM COUNTRY is wonderful.

            PRELUDES & NOCTURNES, the first volume, has its grossout moments, but it’s a fine introduction.

          • HOLY CRAP KURT BUSIEK!!!!

            Well, the great thing about the Astro City books is that you can, pretty much, read them in any order so long as you read The Dark Age Book One and The Dark Age Book Two last.

            You know the whole “before I can tell you that story, I have to tell you this one” thing that life has going on? Well, comic books have this thing going on as well and The Dark Age is Busiek’s Epic Story. There are so many things going on in there that you can enjoy by themselves, of course… but they’re so much better when you know the significance of *THIS* character showing up. Of *THAT* superhero not seeing killing as a big deal.

            Now, I read “Family Album” before I read “Confession” and I read “Confession” before I read “Life in the Big City”. I did not lose anything thereby… but, you know what, I went back and read the books in the right order again.

            I’d start with Life in the Big City to get an idea of what Busiek is doing.

            While Watchmen deconstructed the superhero story (and then everyone else on the planet went on to deconstruct superheroes), Busiek said “let’s take all of the deconstructed pieces and put something back together.”

            The first story of the first book (Life in the Big City) is a story about The Samaritan but I read it as a Superman story. It’s a story that will have you sympathizing with the big guy and glad that he’s around. Well, around Astro City anyway.

            The hook for so many of the stories told in Astro City is that they aren’t about the heroes exactly (though several are) but they’re about the people who live in Astro City. What would it be like to look up at night and see the Spectre? What would it be like to hear thunder even though it’s a clear day and then to know that two gods must be fighting? What would it be like to walk through a supermarket and see stories about who Johnny Storm is dating right next to stories about Kim Kardashian’s workout? In some ways, it’d be terrifying. In some ways, it’d be exhilarating. In some ways, it’d be irritatingly banal.

            Start here. Life in the Big City. If you remember being a kid, get the next one. While it feels like it starts out with stories for children, the crescendo is a discussion of what we, as a country, would have done with our “American” superheroes in the wake of Vietnam, the wake of Watergate.

            But I get ahead of myself.

            There are a great many stories out there that help you feed your superhero habit.

            These are the stories that remind you why you developed one in the first place.

  4. I will need to get that movie soon. Enjoy most superhero movies.

  5. Since there appear to be a couple ‘Superman’ guys here, and my general feeling on Supes is similar to Tod’s, can you give any recommendations on where to start if I want to try to give ol’ big blue a fairer shake? The two that I see crop up most frequently are ‘Red Son’ and ‘All-Star Superman’ (though I have a bit of love/hate relationship with Grant Morrison).

    • I’d suggest Astro City, first. The very first issue… I’m pretty sure it’s in “Life in the Big City”. Sort of a palate cleanser before stepping back into the DCU.

      • Those things never happened.

        You get this comic book and you say “WOW LOOK AT THAT COVER!!! I BET THE STORY INSIDE HAS SOMETHING TO DO WITH IT!!!” and, you know what? It never does.

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