A Modern Life Lesson from Superman

The next time someone asks why I still read superhero comic books at age 29, I’m going to hand them a copy of Brian Michael Bendis's Superman #2. It opens with powerful reminder of the responsibility we all have to stay plugged into what’s happening in the world, even when it’s totally overwhelming — all under the guise of a superhero story. And it has the realistic, yet inspiring tone you'd want from a Superman story.

Green Arrow once privately asked me if my life was Hell.

"Hell?" I asked.

"Actual Hell! Because you can never turn off your super-hearing. You can't not see the madness of the world with your super-vision. You can't stop seeing and hearing all the horrors of the world."

First of all... yes, I can. I can turn it off anytime I want. I don't. I never have and I never will. But I can. We all can. I could leave the planet and never come back.

And yes. Some days it does feel like madness. The screams for help never stop. The hate never stops. Oh, and the ignorance. The ignorance sometimes never stops, and it just breaks my heart.

But, and it was my wife who pointed this out... she said: everyone knows there is suffering and hurt and war and disaster. All the time. Somewhere, someone is out there hurting someone else. Whether you have the superpower to hear it or not, you still know it.

But what a lot of people don't get to see or hear it what I get to see or hear: what happens after the scream.

People help. People reach out. More times than not, a scream -- and someone nearby helps before I can even lift a finger. People do their jobs. It's stunning to see. Beautiful, really. The police, firemen, EMTs, politicians, even.

Nothing is perfect, and it never will be, but the world works. Even during emergencies, tragedies, and sudden disasters. Especially during emergencies, tragedies, and sudden disasters.

Not all the time, and not everyone, but billions and billions of times a day, the world works. Billions and billions! I explained it to Ollie: that's what I get to see and hear every day. The sight and sounds of billions of people trying.

Does that sound like Hell?

DC Rebirth: It's About Heart

SPOILER WARNING: If you haven't read DC Universe: Rebirth #1, you'll want to do that before reading on. Besides, it's a great book. You'll thank me later!

The day comic fans have been looking forward to is finally here. DC Comics is saying goodbye to the New 52 and launching DC Universe: Rebirth. Not a full-on reboot (which Geoff Johns really, really wants you to know), but more of a soft refresh of the DC continuity and a return to focusing on what makes their characters who they are. Johns explained the reasoning eloquently in his interview with The Hollywood Reporter:

I sat down and I read everything, and I thought, I don’t feel any sense of history, legacy, hope, optimism, a cohesive universe — and by that, I don’t mean crossovers every week — emotional bonds was a huge one. Over the years, some of this stuff had been lost. Not just characters, but smaller things too, tonal things that are really hard to nail.
— Geoff Johns, Chief Creative Officer, DC Comics

Wow. Even the CCO of DC admitted that their books were lacking hope and optimism after five years of the New 52. That speaks volumes. I have to completely agree with him. There was a definite disconnect between traditional DC and the New 52 DC.

Since the New 52 launched in 2011, I struggled to keep up with DC continuity, even with the Superman titles which had always been my favorites. Their attempts to deconstruct the characters fell short for me. It seemed as though DC's leadership suddenly felt their characters weren't good enough and needed to be radically different, not only in their costumes but in their demeanors as well. DC heroes are often criticized for being a group of bland, goody-two-shoes guys in spandex  plus Wonder Woman. In my opinion, they went a little too far in the other direction with the New 52. The intentions were noble, but I think in trying to make their characters more badass, they lost sight of the hope and optimism that makes the DCU so special to its fans. 

I should mention there were a number of New 52 stories that I did genuinely enjoy. Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang's run on Wonder Woman had brilliant writing and absolutely gorgeous art. Geoff Johns and John Romita, Jr.'s all-too-brief collaboration on Superman brought my geek heart some much-needed joy. Certain storylines in Green Lantern and Superman/Wonder Woman were also really fun. But overall, the last five years felt like an alternate reality where the DC heroes weren't quite themselves. And Geoff Johns seems to agree. Here's his take on the New 52 interpretation of Conner Kent a.k.a. Superboy:

The emotional tie just severed, and it didn’t sever in the way that made me angry, it was worse than that: I had apathy for it. I didn’t care anymore.
— Geoff Johns, Chief Creative Officer, DC Comics
Even the splash pages from  Justice League  #50 (left) and  DC Universe: Rebirth  #1 (right) signal a change in tone. Grizzled warriors on the left turn into smiling, hopeful heroes on the right. It's like a microcosm for the shift that's happening. And both of these books were published on the same day!

Even the splash pages from Justice League #50 (left) and DC Universe: Rebirth #1 (right) signal a change in tone. Grizzled warriors on the left turn into smiling, hopeful heroes on the right. It's like a microcosm for the shift that's happening. And both of these books were published on the same day!

And that brings us to today. Today, DC published Justice League #50, Superman #52, and DC Universe: Rebirth #1. Effectively tying up the major New 52 storylines and introducing the new continuity. And it was everything I could have hoped for.

I haven't been nearly this excited to read a comic in years  maybe even since 2009's Blackest Night. For someone who was obsessively reading and collecting comics for several years, that is a long time to muddle through hoping for something to make you care again. I'm hoping that I can officially close the book on that time now. I absolutely can't wait to buy new comics again next Wednesday.

Rebirth is exactly what it should have been. It puts a bow on the current New 52 stories, but it doesn't set them aside completely, either. It manages to keep the events of the New 52 intact while re-folding the pre-New 52 events back into continuity. We learn that the reason for the disconnect of the last five years was that some unknown force outside of time had been disassembling pieces of our heroes' lives. And now, Wally West has tapped into the Speed Force and is trying to alert everyone to what's happened and remind them of their lost memories. In classic Geoff Johns fashion, the old and the new are married in a way that is greater than the sum of the parts. No need to put one down to raise up the other; old and new enhance one another.

Then comes the big reveal. Fans of Watchmen will recognize the dialogue as it is revealed that Dr. Manhattan is that unknown force behind the trouble in the DCU. This scene beautifully interprets Dr. Manhattan's last lines in Watchmen and explains exactly where he went: to create the universe of the New 52. It's a mind-blowing moment that makes me smile and gives me hope for the direction in which this universe is headed.

It's been a long time coming, but I think I am finally ready to embrace the DC Universe again. If DC can harness this positivity and inject it into their films too, I'll be the biggest DC fanboy once again. I look forward to Wednesdays as eagerly as I did years ago. I find genuine joy in the books I'm reading because they have hope. They have optimism. They have heart. And I couldn't be any happier about it. 

🔗 The Trouble With Superman | The Atlantic

This piece in The Atlantic does a good job of summarizing the way I feel about the way DC Comics has been handling Superman over the last several years. There are some things I don't agree with here, but I think the overall message is pretty on point: they very obviously don't know what to do with the character. The more they try reinventing him, the more disservice they do him.

Behold! I give you the problem of Superman. It’s a problem that has less to do with the character himself and more to with DC Comics, which found itself stuck with a flagship character it thought needed fixing. In trying, it broke him nearly beyond repair.


The Trouble With Superman | The Atlantic

The Road to Dragon*Con 2010

Well, I can't believe it, but it's finally here. Tomorrow night (well, technically tonight), I board a plane to North Carolina. I'm meeting up with friends and driving down to Atlanta for Dragon*Con! I bought my pass way back in November, and already it's time to head South and enjoy a weekend of fun and geekiness!

Dragon*Con is one of the biggest sci-fi/fantasy/pop culture conventions on the East Coast, featuring novelists, comic book creators, TV and film actors in panel discussions, signing autographs, and just hanging out with their fans. I've already been to New York Comic Con and Big Apple Con, but from what I hear, this is supposed to be a very different experience. I can't wait!

I'm looking forward to getting to know my friends Faith and Ky a little better, as well as meeting my friends Chris and Louis in real life for the first time. It's going to be great to hang out with these people who I know from Twitter.

But of course, it wouldn't be Dragon*Con without some good geekery! I've loaded up on comics to read while I'm in line for panels and autographs (10 trades and about 30 single issues on my iPod Touch), and I've got a mental list of people I need to meet before the weekend is out: Summer Glau, Kevin J. Anderson, Timothy Zahn, Veronica Belmont, Tom Merritt, Brian Brushwood, Jeff Lewis, Sandeep Parikh, and a few others. Also, I'm excited about getting to sit in on some panels and enjoy some great parties. If all goes well, it should be a great weekend.

If things go right, I'll be checking in here each night during the convention and throwing up a quick post filled with the latest from that day. Can't wait!

Team Fake Comic Con FTW!

Enemies & Allies

Browse Inside this book
Get this for your site

Fans of Kevin J. Anderson will be ecstatic to learn that the master is at it again. After the much-acclaimed Last Days of Krypton, which told the story of Superman's home planet of Krypton in the days before the Baby of Steel was rocketed off to Earth. This time around, he's telling the story of Batman & Superman meeting for the first time. It takes place at the height of the Cold War. I can't wait to pick it up, and now I don't have to wait quite so long. A 57-page preview has been made available through Harper Collins Publishers. Check it out and enjoy the first eight chapters!

World of New Krypton TRAILER?!

Wow, I certainly wasn't expecting this. DC Comics has put together a video trailer for their upcoming maxi-series "Superman: World of New Krypton." At first I was extremely skeptical about this book, almost to the point of refusing to read it, but NY Comic Con turned that around for me. Now I can't wait to pick it up when it starts coming out!