Tag: Daily Planet

Brainiac On Banjo: Superman Kills!?!

Brainiac On Banjo: Superman Kills!?!

“People say that life is good, but I just piss and moan. I got one foot on a banana peel, the other in the Twilight Zone.” Life Sucks And Then You Die, written by Mike Girard, Doug Forman and Rich Bartlett

It is well-known that the Man of Steel does not kill. However, that has not always been the case.

I just started rereading the first year of the Superman newspaper comic strip. It began publication near the beginning of 1939, five months prior to the release of the first Superman #1. Its circulation was mammoth, quickly appearing in virtually all major American cities and headlined by The New York Mirror, which ultimately had a daily circulation that was about the same as all three printings of Superman #1 combined. It is fair to say that, in these earliest days, the strip did quite a lot to maximize the Man of Steel’s popularity. The Adventures of Superman radio show, equally successful in widening the audience, didn’t start until a full year later.

Initially, the strip was produced by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s studio in Cleveland. Joe’s eyesight was pretty much shot by 1939, but he inked — at the very least — the character faces. The rest of the artwork was handled by Wayne Boring and Paul Cassidy. Continue reading “Brainiac On Banjo: Superman Kills!?!”

Brainiac On Banjo: It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s… the Mayor?

Brainiac On Banjo: It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s… the Mayor?

Oh, it’s a long, long while from May to December, but the days grow short when you reach September. When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame, one hasn’t got time for the waiting game. “September Song” written by Teemu Brunila, Ben Hudson, Jon Cobbe Hume, and John Paul Cooper.

If you haven’t been keeping up with the peoples of steel, well, I understand. It’s hard to find DC books that aren’t about Batman. It might come as a surprise that DC Comics still publishes Bat-less books. And now that DC’s daddy has licensed their Looney Tunes characters out to Dynamite Entertainment, it’s even harder.

But if you search the racks a bit you’ll see that there are quite a few DC titles that feature the many various Supermans flying around the ever-morphing DCU comics that do not have Batman grabbing the staples, at least not in every issue. In fact, you might be confused with all the different Super men, women, children and pets. If you’re in Metropolis, and you look up at the sky, if you don’t see a fast moving red blur, you’re probably visiting an Earth with four digits.

The fact that all these Supers, with the arguable exception of Krypto, keep trying on new costumes does not help lesson the mob mentality one bit.

So it might come as a surprise that some major changes have been going on and, even more shocking, these charges are evolutionary and not the result of typical obsessive-compulsive rebooting.

As we have seen in last week’s Superman #850 (an up-priced anniversary issue because it ends in “50”), Daily Planet E-I-C Perry White, on leave of absence, has decided to run for mayor of the City of Tomorrow. Before he took leave prior to his announcement, he put the Planet in the hands of his star reporter, Lois Lane.

Now, that would be unlikely to happen on whichever Earth we happen to be living on. Lane has won more Pulitzers than the next ten winners combined. She is worth far more to the paper as a reporter. But this isn’t our Earth, and on hers she deserves the appointment, if she wants it.

In 2023, the existence of a women editor-in-chief of a great metropolitan newspaper is no longer rare. In fact, as print papers have dwindled down to a precious few, women editors are doing better than the medium for which they toil. Yeah, that isn’t much, and if this were British opera you might take that as a sign of their end times.

Should Perry win, should Lois become permanent E-I-C — and either can happen without the other — all kinds of interesting plot paths come into being. How would the job affect her marriage to Clark? How would the job accept her marriage to Kal-El? To their kid, to their family, to the other Supers and to the Justice League members she knows so well? And… what about Lex Luthor? Besides, if she’s running the Planet, she is unlikely to have time to fall out of helicopters.

What kind of mayor would Perry be? Does he have sufficient political skills to get anything accomplished? What sort of enemies will he make, and how will they act out? Will Perry have any sort of relationship with the Planet and his old friends? Will Mayor White’s work place those friends in jeopardy? Hoe long will he be mayor — and what happens after that ends? Senator White? President White?

In fact, Perry White had been mayor of Metropolis on one of the best known infinite Earths. It was revealed that Perry had been mayor before he went to the Daily Planet in the hit television show The Adventures of Superman, a program whose exposure and longevity is among the highest in history — it’s in the I Love Lucy class. Which is vaguely funny as Superman crossed over into Lucy.

Of course, there’s a 500 pound gorilla with Kryptonite ray vision sulking in the corner waiting for a big-ass strike to be resolved. What will happen to all of this as James Gunn’s Superman Legacy comes out — July 11, 2025, as time currently is reckoned in Hollywood? Does that establish another “sell-by” date for the masters of seat-of-your-pants circumlocution at Warner Bros Discovery? Hell, given the past ten years or so, will Warner Bros Discovery still be a thing? I wouldn’t bet either way.

There could be some interesting and fairly original stories coming out of all this. Then again, it all could wind up looking like a 30-car pileup in a blizzard on I-80 in Pennsylvania. We can and need to pay attention to history, but be careful about taking odds on the endgame.

But I like the sound of a kick-ass Mayor Perry White.

Brainiac On Banjo #058: The Writer That Devoured Cleveland!

“Kick ’em when they’re up / Kick ’em when they’re down / Kick ’em when they’re stiff / Kick ’em all around.”

-Don Henley and Danny Kortchmar, Dirty Laundry

Popular culture is a living thing. It grows like amoebas on Viagra, constantly mutating into new life forms. This gives us an endless supply of new things and new people who create new things. Some of those folks last, others wish they didn’t take out that seven figure mortgage.

Brian Bendis was one of those new forces. He’s defied the odds — to say the least — by being on the comic writer’s A-list for, well, damn, over two decades. That’s quite a feat; but the fact that a dozen newer writers subsequently have joined that same A-list without pushing him off is nothing short of remarkable. He started out with the “independents,” went to Marvel, earned his way into getting screen credit for about a million movies and television shows while creating all sorts of cool characters, and then left the House of Mouse for Kryptonian pastures.

Anybody who can jilt Mickey like that deserves a guest shot on South Park.

I thought he had a slow start on the Man of Steel, but instead of annoying me (which is very easy to do), I was fascinated. He was taking risks and stepping on Superman’s cape — declining to adapt to overworked standards while working with the flow to scrape the barnacles off Superman. Watching that has been an interesting experience. Last week it all come together for this jaded reader.

Action Comics #1016 (whole number, 1016) is all about Superman’s losing his battle with a fairly new villain, the Red Cloud – not to be confused with either of the Red Tornadoes. The Daily Planet’s reporter / gossip columnist Trish Q is on the story, canvassing the neighborhood and interviewing those who saw the conflict. This is and of itself is pretty cool – as far as I can tell, the Daily Planet invented newsroom cutbacks 60 years ago by limiting Perry White’s on-panel staff to Clark Kent, Lois Lane, maybe Jimmy Olsen (who may or may not be the staff photographer who may or may not write stuff), and occasionally Steve Lombard and Cat Grant. Of course, lately Lois has been hiding in a very expensive Chicago hotel, doubtlessly searching for the world’s best Italian beef sammich like the rest of us. Trish is a very interesting character, and I hope she sticks around.

About two-thirds of the story is told through the comments made by Trish’s interview subjects. There’s nothing new about this storytelling technique, and it makes good use of Bendis’s gift for expository dialogue. But it is out-of-the-ordinary to tell the story of Superman’s defeat in battle in such a manner; writers usually focus on the flow of action with dramatic close-ups of the hero’s face being beaten to a pulp. In his “telling-through-interview” style, Brian is showing us the faith the citizenry has in the Man of Steel while avoiding the limp, overworked cliché of the masses turning on their champion for failing to defeat every evil that is foisted upon them.

In other words, this is a story about faith. It’s somewhat subtle, but faith is a subtle thing.

Bendis introduces his creation Naomi to the Justice League, creating another opportunity for him to play a bit with the world’s most psychotic costumed family jewel, the ubiquitous Batman. In the real world, such as it is, Bruce Wayne would be shackled to a wall in Arkham Asylum. In Bendis’s world, Batman is fleshed out a bit around the edges, giving purpose (legitimate or not) to his massive assholery. I’d read the story for this alone.

Much praise has been heaped on Brian Bendis over the past decades, and that, of course, makes him target for terminally obese trolls who dirty their own laundry. That’s how fame works. But if you think this guy didn’t earn his chops or that he’s past his prime, check out Action Comics #1016.

Special thanks to M.G. Krebs for the title to this week’s masterpiece. Brian Michael Bendis, like Jerry Siegel before him, is from Cleveland. To the best of my knowledge, neither are monsters… in the classical sense.