Many happy returns, last son of Krypton, but take it easy blowing out the candles on your cake, eh.
The story of Superman is the story of Truth, Justice, and The American Way. He is a symbol of hope and . He will always be an American Icon.
Sometimes people think of Superman as a god or an angel, in some cases this is not far from the truth. Superman’s birth name Kal-El is similar to Hebrew meaning ‘Vessel of God’. The suffix ‘el meaning ‘God’ is shared with a few angels such as Gabriel and Uriel.
Makes sense really, the 2 gentlemen are responsible for his fictional existence are Jewish after all.
Never mind Kal-El‘s ice breath inconveniencing a bunch of party free-loaders and Hebrew trivia. What’s he been doing for 75 freakin’ years?
Superman has been protecting Metropolis for 75 years now and he is celebrating his birthday with a new title by DC Comics; Superman Unchained
Warning: plot spoiler!
When 13 satellites fall from the sky in one day, the logical suspect is Lex Luthor, never mind the fact that the bald genius is firmly behind bars. The last satellite targeted to fall was stopped, avoiding catastrophe. Thus, if Superman didn’t stop the last satellite from falling, then who did?
Who else but the caped Kryptonian has the power to thwart such disaster? My initial guess would be Batman. He is the man after all.
Sorry Kal-El, it’s your birthday, therefore it’s your show. There’s more than just the usual hyperbolic action you’d expect. A decades old mystery haunts Superman every step of the way.
Your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor strongly recommends that you don’t miss the debut of the newest Superman shenanigans, brought to you by 2 of the comic industries rock stars Scott Snyder and the invincible Jim Lee.
The first issue will also includes a bonus two-sided, tipped-in poster measuring that is part of the reading experience and can be easily removed for display! Bonus.
Superman’s success is partly owed to his unique origin story as an infant from the planet Krypton too many light years away to count.
The S symbol emblazoned upon Superman’s chest had only meant Superman, like the way a primary school student writes their name on their stuff. As both character and storylines developed, it became the Kryptonian symbol for Hope and according to the Kryptonian alphabet it can also simply mean the letter ‘s’. Upside down the symbol takes on the new meaning of Resurrection.
Real Kryptonian name Kal-El, was just a baby when his planet was dying, and in a selfless act of parenting was sent to Earth. He landed in Kansas on a farm in Smallville.
He was discovered by Jonathan and Martha Kent, and after a display of freakish strength involving their automobile, decided to raise him as their own child, rather than more realistically running for their very lives away from a supers strong toddler from outer space. Adopted by the Kents he also took their name as his own to integrate into this new strange society.
Superman may be surrounded by Batman, (who I must point out has decked Superman twice and saved his life 8 times. They are on first name terms), Spider Man, the incredible Hulk’ Thor etc. but back then he was one of a kind, the world’s first ever Superhero, thus making him the template for all our beloved super powered characters we have today.
Siegel and Shuster originally created a bald telepathic villain named The Superman, hell bent on world domination. The character warranted an appearance in The Reign of the Super-Man in Siegel’s fanzine Science Fiction issue 3 in 1933. This evil version of our birthday boy did not impress the masses.
Wondering where he had gone wrong, he revamped the character over and over until in 1934 he had an epiphany, and we have our Superman. Yay.
Siegel and Shuster then began a 6-year mission to find a publisher. Titling it The Superman, they presented it to Consolidated Book Publishing. Although the duo received an encouraging letter, Consolidated never again published comic books. Shuster took this to heart and had his own private book burning party, during his tantrum. The character survives today only because Siegel managed rescued the cover from the fire.
As part of the deal which saw Superman published in Action Comics, Siegel and Shuster sold the rights to the company in return for $130 and a contract to supply the publisher with material.
The readers of Action comics were so enamoured with the Kryptonian do-gooder, that DC had little choice but to grant him his very own comic. And about freakin’ time. Initially Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster wrote the story and produced the art for all the strips published.
However, Shuster’s eyesight began to deteriorate, corrupting his usually excellent work. Shuster then established a studio to with a full complement of staff to assist in the production of the art, although Joe Shuster insisted on drawing Superman’s face in every issue the studio produced. In 1945, Superboy made his debut in More Fun Comics 101. The character moved to Adventure Comics in 1946, and then finally his own title, Superboy, was launched in 1949.
The 1950s the extra characters we know and adore began to show their illustrated faces Jimmy Olsen (1954) and Lois Lane (1958). The comics popularity was such that in 1948 Kirk Alyn played Superman in a show series that lasted for only 15 episodes and was screened exclusively in movie theatres.
There was a movie sequel in 1950 called Atom Man Vs Superman
In June 1951, George Reeves was offered the lead role in The Adventures of Superman TV series. At first reeves was reluctant to take the role, he felt that theatre was more important, and like many actors of the era, that this new fangled TV gadgetry was a fad, and not enough people wouldn’t see his work.
Eventually he was convinced and / or conned into it and donned the iconic cape and briefs from 1952 to 1958.
Reeves’ first role as Superman was the movie / pilot episode Superman and the Mole Men, was intended to screen as a B-movie. Immediately after completing it, Reeves and the crew began production of the first season’s episodes, all shot over 13 weeks in the summer of 1951.
He was given low pay and only during production time. Each 30 minute episode was produced to a tight schedule, the bosses wanted it churned out cheap and fast. They made a minimum of 2 shows within 6 days, multiple scripts would be filmed at the same time, taking advantage of the standing sets, so that all the scenes for set in one particular location; Such as Perry White’s office would be filmed for 3 or 4 episodes consecutively. The continuity personnel had the hardest job making the shows.
The entire filming of the first season’s episodes took only 13 weeks to produce. Reeves was surprised at his doubts about playing Superman on TV, he was becoming a national celebrity and in 1957 ABC Network purchased the show, giving him greater exposure and more fame.
As his popularity grew, he was offered appearances on radio and TV to be interviewed, these extra earrings meant he could live comfortably, rather than slumming it on the pathetic wage he got from filming Superman.
His affection for his fans was genuine, an he would always take time to chat and sign autographs for fans, he took the mantle of Superman seriously, molding himself into a role model became very important to him. After 2 seasons, Reeves was dissatisfied with the awful working conditions and the atrociously low salary.
He had just turned 40 years old and wished to quit and move on with his career. The producers looked elsewhere for a new star, contacting Kirk Alyn, he turned them down. No decent actor wants to work in such poor conditions and be paid a pittance.
“It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman”
March 29th 1966 Broadway saw Superman on stage in the Alvin theatre. The plot revolved around Superman’s efforts to defeat Dr. Abner Sedgwick, a ten-time Nobel Prize-losing scientist who sought vengeance on the scientific world’s dismissal of his brilliance by attempting to destroy the world’s symbol of good.
Additionally, Superman comes into romantic conflict with Max Mencken, a columnist for the Daily Planet newspaper, who resents Lois Lane’s attraction to Superman. The title of the theatrical rendition is where the iconic catchphrase was born.
TV special, and yes, beloved reader, it was awful
“It’s a Bird…It’s a Plane…It’s Superman” was insulted by an abysmal straight to TV adaptation on February 1975. The show was significantly shortened and the script was changed to dire and predictable dialogue. The sound of the musical score was mutilated in an attempt to appeal to the 1970’s sensibility.
Broadcast on the ABC network under its Wide World of Entertainment late-night slot, ( i.e late night bored unemployed people’s entertainment), it received poor critical reception.
It starred David Wilson as Superman/Clark Kent, Lesley Ann Warren as Lois Lane, Loretta Swit as Sydney Carlton, David Wayne as Dr. Abner Sedgwick, Allen Ludden as Perry White, and Kenneth Mars as Max Mencken. Don’t see much of those actors any more, eh.
The Death of a Superman
The Los Angeles Police Department filed a report, between approximately 1:30 and 2:00 a.m. on June 16, 1959, George Reeves had died of a gunshot wound to the head his home in Benedict Canyon. Present in the house at the time were Leonore Lemmon, (his fiancee), William Bliss,writer Richard Condon, and Carol Van Ronkel. Police arrived within the hour.
There has been much speculation as to whether or not it was suicide. Many of George Reeves family, friends and fans refused to believe he would kill himself and have pointed out that no gunpowder from the weapon’s discharge was discovered on Reeves’ corpse; indicating that the gun would have been pointed at least several inches away from his face.
However, the gun was too thickly coated in oil to hold fingerprints, making circumstances even more suspicious and gunshot-residue testing was not commonly performed by the Los Angeles Police Department in 1959.
Reeves wasn’t a Superman fan, nor was he into comics, though he had watched Adventures of Superman starring George Reeves; so he knew to a fair extent what the character was all about. Being an actor that liked a challenging role though, Reeve thought the role with it’s dual identities offered a suitable challenge.
Budding actors, take note. Now.
When Reeve took on the task of becoming the Man of Steel, he really rose to the challenge. He was already a well-rounded athlete in various sports, although they were mostly cardiovascular fitness orientated. Thus, he was lean but not Kryptonian buff.
He refused to wear fake muscles under the suit, he would not resort to such meagre measures, so he sought advice and supervised training from former British weightlifting champion David Prowse, who is the colossal gentleman who donned Darth Vader’s duds on the set of the Star Wars films.
Needless to say, the workouts were intense and productive, resulting in an added thirty pounds, (14 kg), of muscle to his thin 189 pound, (86 kg), frame. A lot of the footage seen in Superman 2 used the exact same film set as the first film, Superman II was filmed at the same time as the first film.
He pumped up even more for Superman III (1983), though for some ill-informed reason in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) his focus was on the cardiovascular fitness, losing much of the iconic Superman muscular look.
The Actual death of Superman
In 1992 DC released The Death of Superman crossing over all of DC Comics’ 4 Superman titles. An unstoppable killing machine called Doomsday. Of course this results in hyperbolic fisticuffs that are off the scale. Any scale. At the fight’s conclusion, Superman defeats Doomsday, but then slowly dies in the arms of Lois Lane from his own injuries. That’s right beloved reader, Doomsday is one of the very few that can harm the last son of Krypton. Fear him.
The funeral that followed was attended by many of Superman’s fellow heroes and friends, including most of the Justice League of America, and a a mausoleum was built in Metropolis in honor of the Man of Steel.
During this time, every hero in the DC Universe, (even Guy Gardner and Green Arrow, neither of whom had ever personally gotten along with him), sported a black arm band featuring the S-Shield logo, out of respect. Superman’s body was stolen from his mausoleum, which had been ironically provided by his longtime foe Lex Luthor, by Project Cadmus .
It was hypothesized that they were attempting to clone him. The body was recovered by Lois Lane and clone him. The story was also collected into trade paperback titled World Without Superman.
Reign of the Supermen
After a 3 month pause on all the Superman titles, they were relaunched. Four new ‘heroes’ crawled out of the wood works in attempt to take Superman’s place, one in each title, all of them staking a claim to be Superman. Each of the ‘Supermen’ were designed with ideas taken from some of the monikers that Superman is often associated with. The four new heroes were:
The Man of Steel: John Henry Irons was an ironworker and an ex-weapons designer for the military who wears a suit of armor and wields a hammer. Of the four, he is the only one who did not claim the name of Superman. Instead he vowed to carry on the spirit of Superman and continued his legacy. He later changed his name to simply Steel. How very 80’s.
The Man of Tomorrow: also called the Cyborg Superman, arrived with augmented Kryptonian technology. He was scientifically ‘proven’ to be Superman, but claims amnesia in explanation to his part-mechanical nature. It transpired that he was a former NASA astronaut Hank Henshaw. Later he became a major supervillain.
The Metropolis Kid: Who hated being called Superboy, (teenagers and their hormones, eh), is a reckless teenage clone of Superman. Of the three ‘Supermen’ with super powers, he was the only one that did not claim to be the real one. He is the result of the brief time Project Cadmus attempted to clone Superman.
The Last Son of Krypton: Was a visored, energy-powered alien who dealt with criminals lethally. The Last Son of Krypton appeared in Action Comics. He claims to have the memories of the original Superman, but his emotional distance makes Lois uncertain. He later was discovered to be the original Superman, a reformed Superman enemy.
In 2006 the long anticipated Superman Returns hit the cinema; screen directed and produced by Bryan Singer. Following on from of Superman 1 and 2, but thankfully ignoring the events 3 and 4. It tells the story of Superman returning to Earth after a 5 years.
He finds that Lois Lane has moved on with her life, what did he expect? He didn’t even write, not even a post card. Lex Luthor is still at a midway-point-destroy-the-world-plan, (just for a change), intent to start with the US-of A. It’s a hobby I suppose. The movie was a flop. Nuff said.
Man of Steel
Cinemas on Friday 14th June 2013 will be screening Man of Steel in the UK. Produced by Christopher Nolan, (who did an awesome job with the latest Batman movies), directed by Zack Snyder and scripted by David S. Goyer, this film should be incredible.
Starring Henry Cavill in the title role, it reboots the Superman franchise, telling the tale of Kal-El’s origins. with Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Michael Shannon as General Zod, Diane Lane as Martha Kent, Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent, Laurence Fishburne as Perry White and Russell Crowe as Jor-El. An all-star cast, there is no reason for this movie to suck, and hopefully leading to DC hitting back at Marvel eventually with a Justice League movie.
Now, beloved reader, a superstitious a dubious tale: The Superman Curse
The Superman Curse refers to a superstition, (unfortunate sequence of coincidences), based on a series of accidents, maimings and deaths involved in adaptations of Superman. Particularly ‘cursed’ are the actors who have actually played the role of our hero in nice red briefs.
This so-called ‘curse’ began with George Reeves, who died of a gunshot wound at age 45 under suspicious circumstances; and Christopher Reeves became paralyzed in a 1995 horseback riding accident, and died nine years later at age 52. That event actually made your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor cry.
More actors have been ‘slag-tagged’ with the alleged ‘curse’
Margot Kidder: who played Lois Lane in the Christopher Reeves movies, endured bipolar disorder. She was discovered by police in a paranoid and delusional state in April 1996.
- Richard Pryor: The talented comedian, who had previously suffered illegal drug addiction, which led to a near fatal suicide attempt. 3 years later, he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He died of cardiac arrest on December 10, 2005 at the age of 65.
Bud Collyer, Lee Quigley, Kirk Alyn, and Reeves widow Dana Reeve are also considered to have been affected by this ‘curse’.
That’s an upsetting Way to end this, up-until-now rather relevant Kryptonian essay. Why Rogue Advisor? Why sadden your ‘beloved reader’ in such a manner
My dear beloved reader, did you really believe your friendly neighbourhood Rogue Advisor would leave things on such a sour note? Have Faith true believers
We’ve already covered Superman Doomsday, but there are many more: His team ups with Batman, (That’s a story for another post), His role in the Justice League animated series, and good selection of stand alone movies. See below for hyperbolic satisfaction, from the well plotted Superman Vs the Elite.
Until next time. Stay informed.