Chris Roberson Saved The Man Of Steel

I started working in the local comic shop a few months into Grounded. If you weren’t aware Superman lost his faith in the country and in himself and decided to walk across the country. This was a big thing since J.M.S. was writing it and they even ran a contest for Superman to visit different states and have adventures. We had a giant poster for it and everything.
The problem was this wasn’t Superman. Superman wasn’t being Superman. He’d been really beaten up about losing New Krypton but that was not Superman! Superman walking across the country is not Superman. The fundamental ideas of the Man of Steel were being challenged.
I learned about how bad Grounded was when people talked about Superman being a jerk – it didn’t make sense. When Superman yells at you for expressing distaste in what he does that is not Superman. That is not the archetypal defender of the common people, the anti-establishment hero taking down corruption so that freedom could grow.
I ended up ignoring Superman. When people asked for books I told them All Star Superman but to avoid the comic. It was sad because Superman shouldn’t be a hard person to write for. He is a person who above all believes in good. He is a person who so willingly gives of himself that he would die to save one person he might not even know. He is a person who will fight for those who can’t fight. He isn’t a petty person who gets angry like he was in the comics.
So when I heard Chris Roberson had taken over to do a good job I was surprised. I opened up his first issue and on that first page – he was faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. He was showing that trifecta of righteous powers. Soon after the Legion of Supermen literally came and said “Superman, you aren’t well. Something is wrong.” And they told the truth.
In the following issues, Superman became Superman again. Following loose instructions from corporate, Chris Roberson reforged the hero. He healed the wounds. He added support and he even shined up his past. He started saving people. He saw his friends in the Justice League, he met up with Super Chief. He had flashback about Lex Luthor stealing 40 cakes. And he hit on Truth, Justice and the American Way. When Superman came out, I was ready for it. More so than All-Star Superman, more so than Superman: The Animated Series, Chris Roberson turning around Grounded made Superman mean something to me. He made me day on those Wednesdays. I laughed, I shared and in the end I cried. Thank you Chris.

If you weren’t aware, Chris Roberson recently severed ties with DC Comics after ending his series iZombie. Besides a pre-agreed run for Fairest, he won’t be working with DC Comics anymore.
Because he doesn’t agree with how they treat creators. Because he looks at what happened to Siegel and Schuster and doesn’t like it. Because he sees Alan Moore asking a company he helped to remake screw him over time and time again. Because Chris Roberson is in many ways a Superman. He’s not just taking to the comments and complaining. He is not falling in line with corporate policy. I respect Mr. Roberson for that and I look forward to the magic that he will continue to bring in the future.

Thank you Chris.

Real Interviews – Chris Roberson

Greetings Chris Roberson of iZombie, Starborn, Elric, Fables: Cinderella, Superman, Superman/Batman and a load of other stories and comics. How are you doing?

I’m dandy, thanks!

For those people who are unfortunately unfamiliar with your work, is there any recurring theme through your work?

There are probably more recurring themes than I’m aware of, actually. I find that there are the things that the writer includes consciously, and then a whole lot of OTHER stuff that happens without the writer even noticing. My stories tend to deal with memories quite a bit, I find, either losing them or recovering them, or both. I also tend to take familiar character types or clichéd story tropes and try to do things interesting with them (I leave it to the reader to judge whether I’m successful at that or not). Also, talking animals.

Your new series Memorial which I haven’t been able to pick up yet has been getting a lot of buzz, you have a wonderful art team though. How would you pitch the series to someone so they pick it up?

Memorial the story of a young woman who arrives at a hospital one day with no memory of her previous life, and no clue to her identity other than a necklace she wears with the letter “M” engraved on it. A year later, she has managed to build something like a life for herself, with a job, an apartment, and friends, but she continued to search for clues to her previous identity. One day she notices a strange antique shop down an alleyway, one that she’s passed a million times and never noticed before. And it turns out to be one of those mysterious shops where you might buy a gremlin or a cursed monkey’s paw, and when you go to return the offending item, the store isn’t there anymore. Well, our heroine goes into the shop, and when she comes back out, she’s somewhere else. And that’s where the story starts. Tonally, it’s like Doctor Who meets Sandman by way of Miyazaki, with art by a supremely talented newcomer named Rich Ellis.
Also, there is a talking cat.

You ended up working on the last Superman arc taking it from a rather precarious position into what is honestly my favorite Superman story – it was those issues that got me to see Superman as an interesting character again. If you were the option to write for Superman again would you?

Thanks, I’m delighted to hear that you enjoyed it! The chance to write Superman for eight months was a childhood dream come true.
I knew when I took the job that it would only be for eight months, but I couldn’t help working out what I WOULD do with the book if I stayed on. I mapped out a couple of years’ worth of storylines, and actually started planting seeds in my eight issues of Superman that I could come back to, if given the chance. This was before I knew anything about the relaunch, of course, and as it happens very little of what I had in mind would work without the character’s past continuity to draw on. So I guess it just wasn’t meant to be!

From your Twitter and a few other sources, I’ve picked up that you are a big fan of cartoons and animated series. What are some of your all time favorites?

My list of favorites is a weird mix of stuff. I love Futurama, Cowboy Beebop, The Venture Bros., Secret Saturdays, Adventure Time, and Scooby Doo: Mystery Inc. And I’ll always have a soft-spot for old Hanna-Barbera adventure cartoons of the late 60s, anything Jay Ward did, the classic Looney Tunes, and so on. Basically, I like anything GOOD.

If you were given full creative control over a superhero or character and didn’t need to follow established conventions – i.e. you got to define the characters completely from scratch if you wanted, what series would you like to write?

My first instinct is actually a character that I don’t believe has appeared in comics before, but was created by a group of comic book legends: Thundarr The Barbarian. That could be a lot of fun to try!

With more and more mainstream artists starting up webcomics, have you considered trying your hand at the webcomics game?

I’m intrigued by the possibilities of digital comics in general, both webcomics and digital delivery through things like ComiXology’s Comics app. So yes, I have DEFINITELY considered the possibility. And there MAY just be an announcement coming in July…

Thanks for the interview!

Chris Roberson is on Twitter @chris_roberson and his website is Chris Roberson.Net

Do We Need Articles About Needing Superman

We waited for the return of our hero, refreshing our browsers, flipping through channels and digging through old periodicals. We’ve spent days asking “where can I go to see if I need the Man of Steel or not?” Is this some innate desire that we have for our questions to be answered or is it something more?

The articles were printed all over questioning if we needed the man of steel. People argued bitterly over the topic. High schoolers wrote essays. There was no consensus. Now that time has passed, we can see that we don’t need articles about needing Superman.

Yes that very question was vital once upon a time but society hasn’t changed. We know the lessons that each article argued. We know how some people say that he slows us down while others say he inspires us but we have not changed. We are still the weak mortals that could be surviving with or without the man of steel.

The articles had moved papers. After his death they moved more and even more so after he returned but they turned into dark repetitions of questions that were unable to be answered. It became a rhetorical being that didn’t matter.

There are more important stories to be told through the print though. As not if we need the man or not, simply give us the entertainment and information that we want. If you want us to question if we need the last son of Krypton show him as a bastion of strength attempting to do what is right. Show him dealing with the threats that he must fight against. Don’t ask if we need him directly, let him interact with our lives that we might ask the question and come to our own decision, something that defines how we live.

DC Promises New More Horrifying Toyman

Fun Haus
What, this fucker ain't scary enough?

On their website today DC announced that a new more horrifying version of the Toyman would appear in an upcoming issue of Superman.
The new Toyman will feature a Toyman who will make the audience “shit bricks until their colons are empty and then they’ll lose the colons. We looked at Fun Haus and we were like ‘We can do worse’ In the test designs over 30 children and man-children have been sent to the fetal position – the thing is some of those people were the testers. SCARY!”
No news on whether or not the new Toyman will be a hero or a villain.

Pitch Week – Sector 2813: Krypton

One of those weird tidbits of information lost to time is that Krypton could have been saved by sunglasses. According to some of the canon the Green Lantern Tomar-Re was going to save Krypton with a giant rock that would cure the exploding core of the planet but a solar flare temporarily blinded him.
Now there are so many problems with this I mean the Green Lanterns seem to face suns all of time. That’s part of the whole space travel thing. What about if there was another Green Lantern who was there at the time like Rot Lop Fan, the blind Green Lantern? What if Tomar Re was wearing Tomar Raybans? What if the energy shield blocked the blinding light or what if Tomar took another path.
However it happens though and how is unimportant – Krypton is saved from the brink of destruction by outsiders, the people that Krypton has been unable to trust. The cultural and scientific mecca is suddenly open to the galaxy to expand and share. The Kryptonians decide to spread out once more. (I mean the only reason they stopped exploring is that they blew up the moon on accident which is honestly very horribly stupid. I mean how do you blow up the moon when you try and send a rocket and why would you give up? I mean did those people die for nothing and how would you even get people to the moon before without space travel.)
Soon the Green Lanterns and the Kryptonians eventually make peace and because the Kryptonians have no powers naturally minus their intellect and health (i.e. extended lifespan), they join the Green Lantern Corp and the newest recruit when we join in is Kal-El the defender of will, honor and knowledge – the new ideals of Krypton.
Unfortunately not all Kryptonians are as welcome to the changes brought on by the Green Lantern’s growing influence including General Zod, formerly chief weapon design. Zod begins a fear mongering campaign against the Lanterns but when his actions lead to the murder of a visiting Oan delegate, Zod and his followers are banished to the Anti-Matter Universe.
Meanwhile Kal-El begins his service serving the 2814th Quadrant taking over for a retiring Abin Sur. Superman becomes a symbol of the Kryptonian ideas and helps to expand Earth’s contact with space.
Zod meanwhile meets with the Weaponers of Qward, a race banished by the Oans who promise Zod a weapon to harness that fear that he has and creates giving him the yellow ring of fear which is shared with his followers. They soon escape and begin reactivating the exploding core that had brought the Green Lanterns there in the first place. An emergency signal is sent out to the Green Lanterns but it is too late and Kal-El arrives to see his planet destroyed. Powered by a will for justice and his new powers from Earth’s sun, Superman and the Corps are able to capture a majority of the Zod Corp for the time being though Zod escapes.
After suffering the loss of his home and his friends, Kal-El pledges to keep the legacy of his planet going as a Green Lantern and Kal-El and returns to Earth, serving as the defender of the sector.

As for creators I’d love to be the writer and I’d want someone like Frazer Irving on the art.

Salad Days: Brubaker on BIBBO

This week, when it was announced that celebrated scribe Ed Brubaker would be penning the silver screen adaptation of his critically acclaimed crime fiction series, cleverly titled CRIMINAL, fans rejoiced. Why wouldn’t they? Brubaker is one of the biggest and most successful comic book writers in recent memory not named Brian Michael Bendis and CRIMINAL, though blandly named, is a reliably brilliant addition to any shelf it sits on. This is the man who killed Captain America, brought Bucky back to life, saved Matt Murdock from getting raped in prison by Stilt Man and brought the semi-relevant ¾ of one of the eight X-Men teams back from space. His work deserves to reach the widest audience possible.

There was, however, a time before Ed Brubaker was a household name. Before he took a ride- along through Gotham and hypothesized how a Steven Bochco Batman TV show might look, Brubaker pitched a tent in Metropolis, and that tent was named BIBBO.

Superman's Pal Bibbo

In late 1994, just before Brubaker and Eric Shanower’s criminally underrated PREZ reboot (PREZ: SMELLS LIKE TEEN PRESIDENT), Vertigo editor Karen Berger accidentally left an issue of Dark Horse Presents in the passenger seat of Jerry Ordway’s car after a lunch meeting. Brubaker & Shanower’s serialized tale “An Accidental Death” lay therein, sparking Ordway’s long dormant twentysomething urge to tell a darker crime story and his current, burning passion to one-up Frank Miller’s SIN CITY. DC commissioned the newcomer to pen a 4-part miniseries starring the legendary SHAZAM penciller’s co-creation, Bo “Bibbo” Bibbowski.

Bibbo had long been portrayed as Superman’s punch drunk, cranially challenged erstwhile pal. In professional wrestling vernacular, if Lois Lane was The Man of Steel’s Miss Elizabeth, then Bibbo was his Brutus Beefcake; a loyal, meaty, if less than mentally available compatriot. Brubaker set out to poise Bibbo as a classical noir protagonist, a tough and determined brute beset upon by dishonest dames, labrynthian plot dynamics, and painfully opaque exposition delivered through terse, double entendre laden dialogue. It was an exciting effort.

The story began with a lowly drug dealer on the run from Intergang enforcers seeking sanctuary in Bibbo’s bar, the Ace O’Clubs, which for whatever reason, was drawn to look exactly like Hell’s Kitchen dive bar Josie’s from DAREDEVIL. The dealer is killed by Livewire, moonlighting as a contract killer for Intergang, at the end of the first issue, leading Bibbo to solve the mystery of why the thug was on the run with the help of the girlfriend he left behind. Clever appearances from Bibbo’s scientist brother, Professor Bibbowski, Morgan Edge and mild mannered reporter Clark Kent were worked into the twisty tale’s house of wet playing cards narrative structure. Every chapter break was telegraphed by Bibbo being punched in the face before fading to black and a smirking “to be continued…” tag promised even more noir theatrics the following month.

After the third issue hit the stands and Frank Miller took serious (potentially litigius) offense to Ordway drawing Bibbo to look more and more like SIN CITY’s Marv, DC pulled the plug on the miniseries, choosing to conclude the dark tale in a Dan Jurgens written and drawn eight page back-up story in an Action Comics annual. Brubaker’s proposed grisly ending was written to feature Maxima and Knockout as a pair of lesbian femme fatales murdering members of Intergang after a double cross using only their hilariously thick thighs, where Jurgens’ new ending had the Guardian team up with an updated version of he Newsboy Legion to get to the bottom of the mystery using a simple combination of fisticuffs and journalistic integrity.

Needless to say, Brubaker found his tastes better suited to the darker adventures of the Caped Crusader and the rest was history.