Friday, February 12, 2010

Superman: Secret Origin #1-4

One of the things I liked the most about Geoff Johns' run on Action Comics was the commonsensical, kitchen-sink approach to what I call "the Mythos". Johns' stories all grew out of earlier Superman stories, but there was something agreeably laid back about the way that, say, "Last Son" (co-written by Richard Donner) riffed on the Superman movies and "Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes" picked up from old (i.e., three or four retcons ago) Legion comics without any unnecessary time spent performing any kind of stage management duties. Johns seemed interested in using the strongest (or at least most personally relevant) elements in the Superman mythos, regardless of whether or not this use was coherent according to the nuts-and-bolts of continuity. Johns' approach was similar to the one Grant Morrison had been taking in his Batman stories: the idea that anything from any Batman comic ever was fair game and that no number of fictional, multiversal crises could ever get rid of earlier, weirder, or off-model takes on the character.

So, even though these Superman: Secret Origin are well-written and really, really good-looking (Gary Frank ranks just below John Romita Jr. and Frank Quitely in my contempo super-hero artist pantheon), they're more than merely unnecessary (no one needed another retelling of Superman's origin): by trying to retroactively connect the continuity dots from Johns' earlier stories, they seem to actively undermine one of the best features of those stories (and one of the best features of the recent work on the regular,monthly Superman comics).

Charitably, I might phrase this as "this just isn't the series for me," but I'd like to make a stronger case. The DC Mythos is a unique pop cultural phenomenon. It not only has the potential to be very powerful inspiration to creators like Johns and Morrison, but it's an interesting, fascinating thing in its own right. That said, from my perspective, it always seems like DC editorial is confusing the importance/power of the Mythos with the importance of micro-managing all the continuity details.


Mark said...

How are the storylines in current issues of Superman? Was there a recent shake-up in the creative team? I put together a spreadsheet recently, and the data indicates that the title has experienced a steady (and noticeable) decline in sales over the last 14 months.

Anonymous said...

I am big fan of super hero movies and superman is my all time favorite. Not only kids love to watch this movie but people of all ages are fond of superman series.