Tag: Lex Luthor

It’s Superman Day! Let’s Take a Look at What Many Consider to Be the First Superhero

Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! Who can achieve these remarkable feats! You all know him and you love him: Superman!

Superman is a cultural icon and in many ways, the first superhero of American media. He’s the Man of Steel, the Last Son of Krypton, the Man of Tomorrow, and the Big Blue Blur. You all know Superman, from his iconic wardrobe, to his fantastic array of powers, his supporting cast (Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Supergirl), his villains (Lex Luthor, Braniac, General Zod, Doomsday, Bizarro), and his setting of Metropolis. Superhuman is a fascinating character, both as a cultural icon and what he represents. Let’s take a closer look at this famous superhero of American myth!

 

Superman, in the famous cover to Action Comics #1, raises a car over his head and smashes it against a boulder as men around him flee

Image via Wikipedia

Superman made his sensational debut in Action Comics #1 in 1938. He made a strong impression, headlining the cover of the book, raising a car over his head and smashing it against a boulder as men around him fled in terror. The man himself was created by the duo of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Siegel wrote the storylines, while Shuster drew the art. The creators, both Jewish, initially wanted to create the superhero as a villain(!) but later redesigned him to be a hero instead. They drew inspiration from the Golem of Judaism, circus strongmen, and movie stars. His costume most obviously incorporated the strongman ideas, both for Superman’s feats of strength and his fabulous supernatural feats. Superman began as a figure to the lower class, a symbol of fighting back against the ‘man’, appropriate considering America was just pulling itself out of the Depression. As such, Superman tackled authority figures, fighting against men of the establishment like corrupt governors, oil tycoons, and con-men. His status quo was quickly established, with Lois Lane entering the picture as the object of Clark Kent’s affections, while Kent himself posed as a reporter at the Daily Planet.

Superman’s popularity exploded overnight, with his comic books selling more than any other comic book character in history. Due to his popularity, Superman was followed by a host of imitators such as Batman, Wonder Woman, Shazam!, the Flash, Green Lantern, the Atom, the Spectre, Hawkman, and many, many others. From all this came the foundation of the DC Universe, a host of imprints that DC eventually folded under one label, with Superman now sharing his world with dozens of other superpowered people. In fact, he became a founding member of the Justice League, the most famous team in comics history that brought its assorted heroes together.

 

Superman, showing off his power as bullets bounce off him

Image Via Alex Ross 

Superman’s popularity allowed him to expand from the comics, first in a radio show entitled The Adventures of Superman in 1940 and ran until 1951. The radio serials were fifteen minutes in length and aimed at a young audience but it made a huge cultural splash when it dared to go against a real life foe: the Ku Klux Klan. Seeing the Klan experience a resurgence, human rights activist Stetson Kennedy contacted the radio show and shared with them his research on the Klan. A storyline was created, entitled ‘the Clan of the Fiery Cross’ where Superman took on the Klan, stripping away their mystique of the organization and making them experience a severe drop in membership thereafter. So, Superman has always been a force for good, even in the real world. It didn’t hurt the storyline earned spectacular ratings as well.

Superman’s first cinema appearances were in the Superman theatrical shorts, each made for very lavish budgets of 50,000 to 30,000 for the time. The result was spectacular animation that blew audiences away and showcased Superman’s power on the big screen. The shorts were highly popular, created between 1941 and 1943, contributing to Superman’s ongoing popularity. He also had a TV show called Adventures of Superman, starring George Reeves as the titular hero and was highly popular in its hey day.

 

The three actors to play Superman stand side by side

Image via Comicbook news 

 

In 1978, the first big budget Superman film was produced, known as Superman: The Movie starring Christopher Reeve as Superman/Clark Kent, Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor, Margot Kidder as Lois Lane, and Marlon Brando as Superman’s father Jor-El. The film was directed by Richard Donner and lauded for its impressive special effect sequences, as well as Christopher Reeve’s portrayal of the titular superhero. Reeve managed to embody the classic character completely, making Clark Kent and Superman feel like truly different people, making Superman feel like a real character, rather than a archetype. The second highest grossing film of 1978 behind Grease, the series spawned three sequels, all of diminishing quality. But it remains a classic and Christopher Reeve, along with John Williams iconic score for the film, remain the definitive, enduring representations of the hero in the public eye.

Superman was portrayed further by Brandon Routh in Superman Returns and Henry Caville in Man of Steel, Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justiceand Justice LeagueBoth portrayals found themselves on the brunt of criticism, however, and neither reached the acclaim of the classic series. The character has further appeared in dozens of cartoons and video games, such as Superman the Animated Series, Justice League Unlimitedand Young Justice. However, his actual comic sales are in decline these days, although this is common for most comics these days, unfortunately. He’ll doubtlessly continue to be in even more adaptations, always flying onward into the future!

Superman remains a classic of iconography and will always be a classic! We can’t wait to see what the future brings for the Man of Steel but for now, celebrate Superman Day by reading his comics or watch one of his cartoons, TV shows, and movies! As the man would say: this looks like a job for Superman!

 

 

Featured Image Via Wikipedia 

 

 

4 Essential ‘Shazam!’ Comic Stories to Read Before the Movie

Shazam! comes out this Friday (April 5th) and its going to be great to see a favorite superhero of the comics, not to mention an icon who outsold Superman in his day, get his debut on the big screen. But before the movie comes out, it is probably best to get at least a little familiar with the character in his home series of comics. But where to start with Shazam? Well, have no fear, here are a few of the best and essential storylines of the so called Big Red Cheese.

 

‘Shazam! And the Monster Society of evil’ by Jeff Smith and Alex Ross

 

The cover to the Monster Society of Evil, featuring Shazam amidst a storm
IMAGE VIA AMAZON

Shazam! And The Monster Society of Evil is an all-ages condensed adaptation of Shazam’s origin story. Capping out at 4 issues, the story tells of how young Billy Batson got his powers, his first battle against his rogues gallery, and the introductions of supporting characters like Mary Marvel and Freddie Freeman. This story serves as a great introduction to the Shazam universe, as well as being well written, full of dynamic action, and showcasing Billy Batson’s inner hero for a new generation of readers.

 

Shazam! The Power of Hope’ By Paul dini and Alex ross

 

Shazam stands tall with his broad chin against the sun on the cover to this comic
IMAGE VIA AMAZON

Famed Batman: The Animated Series creator and writer Paul Dini takes a swing at Shazam with this comic, with wonderful artwork provided by Alex Ross. It’s a very simple story that shows the inherent purity of the character, showing Shazam visiting a terminally ill children’s hospital and granting their birthday wishes. Few comics capture Shazam so well and this one is his character distilled to its basic form, showing him without fighting villains or around other heroes, just doing what he does best: bring hope. It’s a wonderful, sometimes tear jerking read that excels in showing its character with minimal dialogue.

 

‘The Power of Shazam!’ by Jerry Ordway

 

The Power of Shazam shows Shazam standing, hands on hips on bricks with lightening bolts on them
IMAGE VIA AMAZON

A title so popular it helped launch an ongoing comic, The Power of Shazam! is an original graphic novel that offers another take on Billy Batson’s origin. Lushly painted and an epic in its own right, this comic chronicles Billy Batson’s first adventures against a backdrop of an adventure that takes inspiration from horror movies and pulp serials. Black Adam becomes Billy’s first nemesis here and the reader roots for Billy as he rises above his traumatic circumstances to become a superhero. Highly recommended and a great take on the character’s origins, even if some of the writing is slightly dated.

 

‘Superman/Shazam: First Thunder’ by Judd Winick and Joshua Middleton

 

Cover featuring Shazam and Superman in lightening
IMAGE VIA AMAZON

Superman and Shazam have always been connected, this team-up showing their strengths as superheroes as they team up together. When Superman meets Shazam, they initially throw down but afterwards, just talk and learn about each other, becoming fast friends over a mutual bond. Then, several villains including Lex Luthor and Eclipso team up, the two heroes joining forces to take them down. It’s a great story, full of fun character interaction between the leads, great action, and a fun contrast between the different worlds of these two iconic superheroes.

Are you looking forward to Shazam! this Friday? Which comics featuring the character are your favorites?

 

Featured Image Via Radiotimes

Batman 80th Anniversary

Celebrate Batman’s 80th Anniversary With His Best Scenes!

In honor of Batman’s 80th anniversary, we’re going to celebrate The Dark Knight with the most memorable scenes from his on-screen history. I also recommend DC’s celebratory Detective Comics #1000 special if you’d like to be hardcore with me.

 

Batman 80th Anniversary

Image via DC Comics

 

Now, you might be expecting a compilation of Batman’s best ‘fight scenes.’ This is not one of those compilations (especially since there’s only one live-action Batman movie that actually has incredible fight sequences—thank you, Zack Snyder). Instead, these are the scenes that truly speak to the Batman’s character.

 

 

1. Batman Begins – Bats Frighten Me

This scene perfectly captures Bruce Wayne’s ability to turn personal trauma into strength. He found the means to turn his own fears “against those who prey on the fearful.”

 

2. Batman: Mask of the Phantasm – The Birth of Batman

Bruce Wayne is frequently portrayed as obsessive and in need of the crusade against crime to define who he is. This scene shows a side of Batman that is rarely seen. He has moments where it is actually possible for him to let go of ‘Batman.’ Tragically, this was not one of those moments.

 

3. The Dark Knight – Joker Interrogation

There was nothing that Batman could have said to prove the Joker wrong here. The Joker is the kind of artist who laughs at your bullsh*t, successfully holds a mirror up to your world, and burns it down.

 

4. The Batman vs. Dracula – I am Batman

‘Most Ambitious Crossover’ status achieved. Yes, DC actually had the Batman square off against Dracula, the OG literary bat-master, and he won. Take that, Bram Stoker.

 

5. Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker – Crying for Mommy and Daddy

The Joker always had a difficult time getting under Batman’s skin in The Animated Series. It wasn’t until Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker that he successfully sh*t all over Batman’s way of life and took away the things most precious to him: his unwillingness to compromise and his ability to protect those he cares about.

 

6. The Dark Knight – Sometimes People Deserve More

The Batman was always meant to be something that defies our often unjust reality. The Joker’s victory and perversion of the truth would have destroyed all of the good that Gotham’s protectors had fought for. Therefore, Batman: 1, Truth: 0.

 

7. Batman v Superman – Luthor Spared

Batman’s character arc was quite something in this movie. After going off the deep end and losing his way, his encounter with Superman made him remember why he became a hero and chose not to kill in the first place: he never wanted to see loved ones separated from each ever again because of murder. He even had the chance to give Lex Luthor, a person no one would miss, a well deserved death, but he didn’t.

 

8. The Dark Knight Rises – Rise

Bruce Wayne won. The Batman won. The battle to end crime may be never-ending, but the legend of The Batman will live forever.

 

 

 

Featured Image via DC Comics