When Clark Kent Quit the Daily Planet

“I was taught to believe you could use words to change the course of rivers — that even the darkest secrets would fall under the harsh light of the sun…But facts have been replaced by opinions. Information has been replaced by entertainment. Reporters have become stenographers. I can’t be the only one who’s sick of what passes for the news today.”

Clark Kent, 2012

Scott Lobdell wrote this characterization of America’s most famous reporter, published in the final weeks of the 2012 election.  Superman was speaking here as a progressive; this is not a right-wing screed about fake news.

The point holds though, perhaps now more than ever.  The White House would like to bar reporters who ask questions it doesn’t like, and refuses to condemn the killing of dissident journalists overseas. 

When nothing is true, not even our most basic social mores, I suppose all news can convincingly be cast as fake by people with a vested interest in doing so. 

Part of this is on us.  We have tolerated decades of spin, of being lied to repeatedly by people in power.  Long before Trump, we’d bemoan the truth that all leaders lie, even as we kept electing them.  We’ve been in co-dependent political relationships for the length of the media age.  

Remember when some people thought blogging would save us? Or social media? 

It turns out democracy only works if we participate beyond the bare minimum.  If you’re too busy, too tired, too overworked, too impoverished to be more involved, consider whether the systems that govern your life have made that less or more true.  Then vote accordingly.  That’s a start.




Lawrence O’Donnell Takes Off The Gloves: National Defense Authorization Act, Soft Journalism, and the Spoonfed Two Party System

Taking a cue from the pages of Superman, Lawrence O’Donnell lambasted the mainstream media Wednesday night for their failure to cover the Third Parties debate and for failing to address this little nightmare:

Imagine if Congress passed a bill that the president signed that allowed indefinite detention without charge or trial. That would be issue one at any presidential debate, wouldn’t it? The media’s favorite debate moderator, Martha Raddatz, would have forced a full discussion of that one at the vice presidential debate, wouldn’t she? Well, Congress did pass that law last year and President Obama signed it and he never mentioned it on his list of his accomplishments in any of the debates. And he was never asked about it, not by the media’s second favorite debate moderator, Candy Crowley, and not by Mitt Romney. It never came up at the two-party presidential debates.

Watch the video here.  It starts with the drug war (I’m not for legalization, but am for reform), and if that bothers you, fast forward to the part about the National Defense Authorization Act.  I kind of like how someone on Examiner.com put it:

But in the most shocking segment, O’Donnell laid out a serious charge against President Obama and the failure of the media and the public to hold him responsible due to a certain law that he signed called the National Defense Authorization Act, which according to O’Donnell will allow the government to detain, interrogate, prosecute or just make people who it suspects to be terrorists disappear without a trial of any kind, and this includes American citizens! O’Donnell then blasted all of the moderators of the three presidential debates between Obama and Romney for not bringing this issue up, and then he blasted the cowardly Mitt Romney for also being to [sic] sheepish to ask President Obama about this issue, instead of crowing about how he would repeal Obamacare, when he should be repealing this monstrosity.”

O’Donnell encouraged people to vote for third party candidates, especially in swing states.

Good for you, Larry.  Even if you were a few hours late to the party:

DC Reboot: Superman #1, Batman #1, Flash #1

From when the New 52 was still new:

As you might recall, I really liked the social justice superheroics of Action Comics #1.  Last night, I finally got around to reading Superman #1, Batman #1, and The Flash #1 and wanted to share my thoughts.

Superman #1:  Very ambitious.  We have the struggles of new vs. old media, the problems with media conglomerates in general, Superman as guardian of the past, Clark Kent rejecting a sweet cable news deal because 1) he despises cable news and 2) millions of people would see his face every day, like, forever, a Perry White full of vim and vigor, saying “let’s show them the hard-hitting analysis that only print can deliver!”  A lot of things like that, which I eat. right. up.   The conflict between Supes and the actually “villain” of the arc wasn’t as interesting to me, but I do like the fact that the book serves as a one-shot while giving us the seeds of some classic arcs.  Clark loves Lois like Dobie Gillis loved Tuesday Weld.  And there’s even a young (much nicer) Warren Beatty type between them.

Unfortunately, the content of Clark’s exclusive story about Superman and the big incident, which we get in caption boxes, doesn’t feel like the front-page work of a great reporter.  I’m eager to give George Perez the BOD on this because 1) I’m a writer, and yeah, it’s freaking hard, and 2) he’s George Perez. Maybe Clark’s unpolished style is part of his cover?  There’s also a very strange crossover page from Stormwatch that makes Ben 10 look like Beowulf.

Overall, a good read with a lot of interesting things to say in the first half about history, time, urban renewal, economic decay.  I want to give it a 7 out of 10, but Action was so good, Superman feels more like a 6.5.  I’m conflicted.  I’ll go 7.  That seems high on a ten-point scale, but not as good when you think about it as a percentage and covert that to an an academic grade.  (This is why I blog).

7.

Batman #1:  The best of the bunch.    Bruce’s new contact lens tech is great, the Batcave looks great, and the internal monologue that stitches most of the story together is top-notch.  Bruce’s love for Gotham, and his investment in its future, could be a template for the philosophies of hope surrounding some very pressing real-world reclamation projects.  He exudes a strong ethos, suggesting that forward-thinking and risk-taking for the common good are moral virtues.  I’m not saying this was a civics lessons disguised as a comic book, but it was uplifting and hopeful.  Not something you tend to expect from a Bat-book.  And did you notice that I keep saying “Bruce”?  That’s an effect of good writing and successful character development in a matter of pages.   This still isn’t a book for kids, as a crime scene near the end (central to the hook for issue 2) reminds us.  If you’re looking for a Batman title for younger readers,  The Brave and The Bold is good  if you don’t mind mostly slap-stick violence.

8.6

Flash #1:  There’s a very special place in my heart for the Flash.  But my Flash is and always will be Wally West.  Jay Garrick is my second favorite.  That’s not a comment on my feelings about Baby Boomers in general…Wally is the Flash I grew up with, an imperfect hero struggling with all kinds of emotional issues and mentored by an icon from the Golden Age.  What’s not to love?  I totally get that Wally’s favorite Flash is his uncle, original mentor, and former partner, Barry Allen.  I totally understand the overwhelming sense of loss that pervades Wally’s Flashness, especially in the 90s, is what makes his character so compelling.  I also love that he’s a screw up.  I’m not 100 percent sure where he’ll shake out in the new DCU, but I hope there’s a prominent place for him.  I hope he’s not de-aged like all the Robins, but I suppose he has to be if Barry and Iris aren’t married yet.

Onto the Barry-centric book at hand.  Loved the splash page.  Captured the Silver Age feel that brought us Barry in the first place.  The story moved quickly (ha) and ended on a cliff-hanger that has me interested.  It felt like a younger read, something akin to those titles from DC’s early-90’s Impact line.  (The Fly was my favorite).  Since Impact was meant to introduce new, mostly younger readers to old characters at an accessible level and the reboot is meant to do the same, mission accomplished.   The Flash has always been one of the most kid-friendly of the major DC heroes (emotional issues that we adults love aside), and I think that will continue.

It was a fun read, which is the point of a Barry book.  I don’t like the new suit.  Too panel-y.

8

A good mix, but nothing touches Action.

The Superheroics of Social Justice or “Action Comics #1: Awesome Then, Awesome Now.”

Action Comics #1 (June 1938), page 1: Superman...
Image via Wikipedia

You probably know about the DC Comics relaunch.  I picked up the new Action Comics #1 and really, really liked it.  Supes looks like Woody Guthrie.  He can’t fly (yet?) and is a wrecking ball for social justice.  He trifles with authorities and struggles to pay rent.  A hero for our times if there was one.

Commentators have been talking about this as a return to Superman’s activist origins.  Indeed, a read through the original Action Comics #1 from 1938 reveals a bold American character, an immigrant, “champion of the oppressed, the physical marvel who has sworn to devote his existence to helping those in need!”

I love this guy.  Read the original Action #1 here, and cheer with me as Supes dispatches the governor’s butler in a last-minute attempt to save an innocent woman from state execution.  Like I said, a hero for our time if there was one.

Will DC’s Relaunch Mean More Sales? (And He-Man Comics from the 80s).

Sadly, no, DC’s relaunch does NOT include a new line of He-Man books in the classic continuity.  DC did do a He-Man miniseries in 1983, which I now proudly own in its entirely thanks to my LCS (local comic store) and one Alexander Hamilton.

Dropped in on the LCS yesterday to ask if they were anticipating an increase in sales with the re-launch.  Was told that many regular customers are adding many of the new books to their lists. And then I did something I’ve never done in all my years of comic-book-nerdiness and narrative obsession.

I set up my own list.

JLA, Batman, Superman, Flash.  I’m hook, line, and sinkered on the idea that this is a really cool time to start collecting or, in my case, to start collecting again.  Comic sales live and die by big events (The Death of Superman is what got me collecting seriously in the first place.  It did not have the same effect on my 13-year-old love life, but whatevs.), and companies succeed when initial interest from casual fans can be sustained.  So I hope the relaunch isn’t something that gets undone in 18 months.

Did I mention that I got a DC He-Man mini-series from the 80s?  You have no idea how pumped I am about this (is what I also said to the cashier).

Will the relaunch mean more sales in the short term?  I think so.  We’ll see if that can be sustained, and let’s not forget that people adding the titles to already established lists are not casual fans crossing over into collecting.  They’re a captive audience already.  The degree to which DC gets more people like me excited remains to be seen, but I expect them to lead in sales at least through Christmas.

You want to see pictures from the He-Man books, don’t you?  I know, I know. But they’re in the car and it’s pouring.  I’ll do better next time, I promise.

Should DC Have Revisited “Titans Tomorrow” for the Superman Reboot/Redesign?

I think so.

I’m still not a huge fan of the red belt pictured here, but it’s a huge improvement over what they’re actually giving him:

Must. Collect. All. Thundercat. Emblems.

I could have sworn that one of the panels I saw during the Titans Tomorrow storyline showed a belt that stopped on both sides before reaching the abs. Even if I’m misremembering that, I like it better than either of these options.  For an even better old revamp than the Titans Tomorrow design, check out what artist Sean Izaakse did in 2006:

Super, regal, updated, and iconic.

Here, the collar, cape, and shield work together to really say something about Superman’s power  Change the waist banding to a red semi-belt and that’s your rebooted Man of Steel, friends.