Superman and Spider-Man: How to Have it All

Superman Lois and Clark 1 TeaserOne of the books I’m most looking forward to in the coming months – and this will come as no surprise to anybody – is Dan Jurgens and Lee Weeks’ Superman: Lois and Clark. At the end of Convergence (and consider this your spoiler warning) the pre-Flashpoint Superman went back in time to help stabilize the multiverse, taking with him his wife, Lois Lane, and their newborn son, Jonathan. When a comic about their continuing adventures was announced, I assumed it would be set on one of the other worlds of the multiverse. Last week week, though, Jurgens did an interview with Newsarama that showed me I was wrong. Lois, Clark and Jon have been in the Prime DC Universe, the one that we called the “New 52” until a few months ago, all this time. Hiding. Watching the exploits of this new Superman, trying to live their lives… but now they’re going to be forced out of complacency.

And I couldn’t be happier.

Oh, I was happy about the book before, even when I thought it would take place “elsewhere,” but this brings me to a whole new level of excitement. You see, the problem with any comic set on an “alternate” world is that it can be easily dismissed by readers as insignificant. True, DC managed to avoid that stigma with their Earth 2 series, but they did so by linking it to the New 52 Earth almost immediately.

Setting Lois and Clark in the Prime DCU gives it more weight. This Clark is a part of things, or can be. He can guest star in other titles. He can cross over during the next worldwide crisis. Hell, he could join the Justice League again, if the winds blew in that direction. And what’s more, this is my Superman. The one I grew up reading. The one who fought Doomsday and died, the one who turned electric blue for a while, the one who married Lois Lane and stayed with her. He’s back. They’re back.

Justice League V2 12The dissolution of the Lois/Clark relationship four years ago always stung. Ever since then I — and a lot of fans – have been waiting for the old status quo to resurface, but it hasn’t. Lois and Clark aren’t an item, and their story has taken such a turn that such a thing seems impossible. But that’s still what a lot of us wanted. So in a way, this new title even helps the current Superman. Those of us who never quite saw his romance with Wonder Woman as “real” may feel more charitable now that “our “Lois and Clark are back. For Superman fans, DC has found a way to have their cake and eat it too.

Which brings me to the point of all this. Although they would be loathe to admit it, Marvel Comics would be well-advised to take a page from DC when it comes to their own cosmic marriage annulment: Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson. With their own universe-restructuring story, Secret Wars, Marvel has shown us a lot of different worlds lately. One of the most commercially successful (and in my opinion, most entertaining) of the assorted spin-offs has been Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows, which shows us a world where Pete and MJ are still married and have an elementary school-aged daughter, Annie. This isn’t the only difference in that world, mind you, but it’s certainly the crux against which that whole story turns. We’ve seen them as parents before, of course, in the former Spider-Girl series, but that was Mayday’s story. Pete and MJ were supporting characters. This is something totally different, something that we once thought we may even have a chance to taste.

Amazing Spider-Man 545As much as Lois and Clark’s separation hurt fans, at least it didn’t feel like a personal attack. Not so, Peter and MJ. Whereas Lois and Clark were victims of a line-wide restructuring, one where many characters underwent similar changes, Peter and MJ were targeted. They were placed in a ridiculously convoluted situation and behaved out-of-character to get them to a point where eradicating the marriage was possible. It always felt — to me and to a hell of a lot of others — that MJ and her marriage to Peter were being picked on by a certain vocal former Marvel Editor-In-Chief, one who made no bones about the fact that he wanted to gleefully wipe it out. (The same story that wiped out their marriage also cruelly teased the notion of their daughter that Dan Slott is playing with in Renew Your Vows.)

The official line, though, was that the marriage made Peter seem too old, and Marvel wanted a young Spider-Man. The problem with that argument, of course, was that they already had a younger Spider-Man over in the Ultimate Universe. That Peter Parker was having his own teen adventures, so the notion that fans had nowhere to turn for such a thing seemed pretty disingenuous. Of course, that could be chalked up to the whole “alternate universe” thing again. No matter how good the Ultimate comics were, they still weren’t the “real” Marvel Universe, the one that had existed since 1961, were they?

Well, here comes Secret Wars, changing all that. And here’s a chance for Marvel to give fans the best of both worlds.

Amazing Spider-Man-Renew Your Vows (Secret Wars) 1We already know Ultimate Peter’s successor, Miles Morales, will be part of the new Marvel Universe, whatever shape it eventually takes. And we know that both Peter and Miles will go by the name “Spider-Man.” So Marvel has their young Spider-Man in the mainstream Marvel Universe in Miles’s book. How awesome would it be, then, if we opened Dan Slott’s new(est) Amazing Spider-Man #1 this fall and discovered that the marriage and Annie Parker had survived the transition into the New Marvel Universe? Miles would still fill the role of classic teen Spider-Man, and there are dozens of single male superheroes out there. But with the Fantastic Four still AWOL, does Marvel have any title left that features parents and their children? (Well, okay, Spider-Woman, but that’s a whole different dynamic of its own.)

This is a chance to give everyone what they want. Marvel has Teen Spider-Man with Miles. They even have Teen Peter Parker in the recently-announced all-ages Spidey series. Elsewhere we have Spider-Girls and Spider-Women and Spider-Gwens and Spider-Pigs, all represented in one way or another. The only people who are still left out are fans of the Spider-Couple and Spider-Kid.

This is your Mulligan, Marvel. Your Get Out of Jail Free Card. Your chance to make it right. Secret Wars is already delaying pretty much the entire line, so take advantage of the time to make this happen. For all the talk of “diversity” in the new Marvel Universe, here’s your chance to give us the one thing that seems to be missing from every other title: family.

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Your Turn to Pick Episode 4: Swamp Thing

It’s time for another Your Turn to Pick! This week, in memory of the late Wes Craven, Blake chooses his 1982 DC Comics movie Swamp Thing. We talk about the movie, Blake suffers a tragic misunderstanding about the nature of two of the characters, and then we discuss Craven’s legacy as a filmmaker and which Nightmare on Elm Street movie is actually best.

And what’s cool this week? Erin is in love with Ms. Marvel, while Blake dug the finale of Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars and has found a new reason to anticipate the upcoming Superman: Lois and Clark.

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Your Turn to Pick Episode 4: Swamp Thing

Episode 316: San Diego 2015-We Weren’t There Either

Last weekend was the annual bacchanalia of nerddom known as Comic-Con International: San Diego. And just like every year, Blake and Erin… weren’t there. Instead, with the help of Showcasers on the Facebook Page, they spent the week gathering the coolest and most interesting info from the con to discuss on this week’s show. Their thoughts on the Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice trailer. New directors announced for Star Wars. The return of some classic comics and the launch of some new ones. This week, we go through it all…

And what’s cool this week? Erin enjoyed the first two issues of Starfire, and Blake gives his endorsement to Archie #1 and Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #2.

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 316: San Diego 2015-We Weren’t There Either

Your Turn to Pick Episode 2: Digging Up the Marrow

Blake and Erin return this week for another Your Turn to Pick movie podcast! This time it’s Blake’s turn, and he pulls out Adam Green’s (Hatchet, Frozen) newest horror film Digging Up the Marrow. They talk about the monsters, the nature of characters in horror movies, and what kind of movie is creepy enough to make Erin jump at her own ringtone. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, check it out before the Petits get super-spoilery.

And what’s cool this week? Erin loved Disney/Pixar’s newest flick Inside Out, and Blake doubles up with a pair of comic books: Evil Dead 2: Beyond Dead By Dawn #1 and Infinity Gauntlet #2.

Your Turn to Pick Episode 2: Digging Up the Marrow

Cutting out their genes to spite their face

As I mentioned on the podcast a while back, I recently spent some time in the hospital. Without getting into all that again, I will say that the one benefit of the experience was that I lost a great deal of weight very quickly — so much so that I needed to go out and buy new clothes because a lot of my old stuff was suddenly way too big. (My wife, Erin, particularly enjoyed this part, and she picked out about 90 percent of my new wardrobe.) And, being the nerd that I am, I added a few geek shirts in my new, smaller size.

I was surprised, then, a few days ago, when I saw that one of the shirts I’d purchased has become a point of contention over at Bleeding Cool. It concerned a shirt featuring the cover art from the original Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #1 (yeah, that was the full title of the original series). It was part of a large purchase of shirts and pants, and I didn’t really look that closely at it until I saw the Bleeding Cool piece… then the issue with the shirt became clear.

Left: The Shirt. Right: The Comic.

Left: The Shirt. Right: The Comic.

You’ve probably already seen what I missed when I bought the shirt — the artwork has been altered. Specifically all of the X-Men and Fantastic Four characters were stripped from the image and replaced with other characters. There’s been a lot made lately about Marvel allegedly pulling back on promoting characters from those two franchises as part of a pretty bitter dispute with 20th Century Fox, who owns the movie rights (and unlike Sony, who holds Spider-Man, Marvel’s relationship with Fox appears to be pretty cold). There has been an undeniable drop in merchandise featuring these characters, a drop that is especially noticeable among the once-golden X-Men franchise, and Marvel even made a huge deal about cancelling the Fantastic Four comic in what they solicited as “the most controversial Fantastic Four story of all time”! (It wasn’t. It was actually a very good story, courtesy of James Robinson and Leonard Kirk, but there wasn’t anything remotely controversial — or even final — about it.)

But this seems a bit too far, I thought. This isn’t simply a case of not including the X-Men in their newest action figure line. This is a case of actively stripping the characters from the past and replacing them, notably, with characters that are currently in various stages of production from Marvel Studios: Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Black Panther, the Inhumans, Dr. Strange… all characters who, it should be mentioned, didn’t have squat to do with the original Secret Wars.

They also cut out Captain Marvel II, Monica Rambeau, which makes no sense, unless they’re afraid that fans will somehow confuse this character (who isn’t even identified by name in the original artwork) with the current Captain Marvel, Carol Danvers, currently in film pre-production. Most baffling of all however, was stripping the Wasp from the original image, but failing to remove her shadow from Captain America’s shield. Janet Van Dyne may not be appearing in the upcoming Ant-Man movie, but Evangeline Lily’s character seems poised to be a replacement of sorts.

All of this, it should be noted, not only strips the artwork of the characters not currently under the Marvel Studios banner, but it also removes four of the five women from the original artwork and replaces them with… well, zero. Marvel’s been under enough scrutiny lately for the way they’ve cut the Black Widow out of the Avengers: Age of Ultron merchandise, and its parent company Disney hasn’t been doing much better with their Star Wars line. I wondered, initially, why they wouldn’t at least put an 80s-era Black Widow picture on the new artwork, if they were going to alter it anyway, but I suppose I’ve answered my own question.

The story didn’t end there, though. Like I said, I’ve had to buy a lot of new clothes, and I actually bought a second shirt based on a piece of Secret Wars artwork. This one came from Destination XL, a shop for big boys like me. (I may be a smaller big boy than I used to be, but I’m still a big boy.) And lo and behold, when I went to examine it more closely, I found that once again Mephisto had evidently struck a deal with Kevin Feige to wipe out all trace of the FF or X-Men…

Left: The Shirt Part II. Right: The Comic Part II: The Sequel.

Left: The Shirt Part II. Right: The Comic Part II: The Sequel.

This one isn’t as immediately obvious, because the changes are smaller, but look in the lower left-hand corner. Mr. Fantastic and the Thing are no longer behind She-Hulk, resulting in a nicely comical Bulldozer hurtling through the air after having been hit by nothing. On the right we’ve still got a gout of flame, but the Human Torch is no longer inside it. And in the upper left-hand box with the character faces Marvel used to have on every cover (side note: am I the only one who misses that part of the trade dress? I wish they’d bring it back) Wolverine, Storm and the Thing have been replaced by Captain America, Hawkeye and Wonder Man (another character who had nothing to do with Secret Wars and, to the best of my knowledge, isn’t in movie talks at the moment), while Reed Richards has tellingly turned into a gaping hole that evaporates into nothingness.

From a purely business standpoint, I kind of understand what Marvel’s agenda is here. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to support a property that you can’t benefit from, so why go to the effort? But that’s in the case of new merchandise. This is a case where they’re taking pre-existing artwork and releasing it in a new form. In this instance it takes more effort to actively strip the characters from the artwork than it would to simply release it as-is. And although they won’t ever actually say such a thing it feels more and more like Marvel — at least as far as their merchandise department goes — is behaving like that kid who wants to take his ball and go home, spoiling the game for everybody else.

Episode 314: Free Comic Book Day 2015

Free Comic Book Day rolls around once again, and once again Blake and Kenny — joined for the first time by Erin — man a table at BSI Comics in Metairie. This time around the gang chats about recent events in the Flash and Gotham TV shows, give their thoughts on Divergence, All New All Different Avengers, Fight Club, Dark Circle and the other Free Comic Book Day titles, and then come back with a review of Avengers: Age of Ultron.

And what’s cool this week? Kenny is having a blast with LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham, Erin is totally biased and chooses her husband’s new book Everything You Need to Know to Survive English Class but slightly less biased with a viewing of the classic Akira, and Blake is still reeling from Batman #40.

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

Episode 314: Free Comic Book Day 2015

One-Shot #20: Free Comic Book Day 2015 Preview

After a bit of a rain delay, Blake is back with this year’s Free Comic Book Day preview! Which books is he looking forward to? Will Marvel’s wars remain a secret? Just how divergent can DC Comics get? And how can Archie Comics put out two books with no Archie?

And what’s cool this week? Blake’s having a blast with Scott Sigler’s Infected series!

Join the Showcase crew this Saturday at BSI Comics, and get an early copy of Blake’s new book, Everything You Need to Know to Survive English Class!

Music provided by Music Alley from Mevio.

One-Shot #20: Free Comic Book Day 2015 Preview