Soup R. Man: My Favorite Superman Comics

As I’ve written on here before, people are dismissive of comic books. But they’re REALLY dismissive of Superman.

He’s corny. He’s old. He’s a “boy scout” (often said with a sneer). He has too many powers.

There’s all sorts of excuses for why people don’t enjoy Superman, or wouldn’t read a Superman comic, but the fact is…most of these people have NEVER read a Superman comic book.

I won’t argue that these people aren’t right in some way to carry some preconceived notions about Superman, but if I might get all analogical on yo asses for a second: There are more bad pizza joints in the world than good, but people are still willing to eat pizza so…OK, this is just collapsing on itself. I really want pizza right now.

Anyway, yes, there are probably more bad Superman comics than good, but there are some GREAT Superman comics out there. There are a bunch on sale RIGHT NOW at Comixology: http://www.comixology.com/Superman-Unchained-plus-Sale/comics-collection/1257

Here’s some of my favorites:

All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely

Screen Shot 2012-12-22 at 7.56.05 AMI’ve mentioned it numerous times before. This is THE Superman comic. It’s earnest yet never corny. Morrison and Quitely pay tribute to what has come before them without a wink or a smirk, but don’t get lost in nostalgia. Their Superman is not only one that is “super” by having powers, he’s also trying to be the best in all possible ways.

Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 8.39.18 PMThis isn’t a Superman that takes Lois on some cheesy romantic flight. Or gives her an amnesia kiss. This is a Superman that analyzes Lois Lane’s entire DNA sequence and figures out to give her superpowers for 24 hours. And he even sews her a super-suit!

Not only is he a hero that has saved the world a thousand times over, he is the best scientist/boyfriend ever. In the opinion of your humble comic book recommender, it is the best Superman comic ever done. It’s all the best parts of the character told by two of the best storytellers in the medium.

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Also written by Grant Morrison, with art by Rags Morales and Andy Kubert, is Action Comics (volume 2). It features a modern update to Superman, with a brasher, more idealistic Clark Kent/Superman.

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He knows a bit less about his heritage or where he fits in. What he does know, is he hates corporate fat-cats, and goes after them hardcore. It’s a great examination of what any of us would do with super powers after taking our first mind-blowing college course about how unfair the world is. And I say that without dismissing how that feels. Rather than getting lost in the wonder of super powers, this Superman is about what happens when powers and raw ideals collide.

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SPEAKING OF IDEALS. Superman: Red Son, by Mark Millar and Dave Johnson is a 3 part tale about a Superman that crash-lands in the Soviet Union rather than the United States. It then jumps back and forth as Superman and Lex Luthor act out their own Cold War until it culminates in a fun, Twilight Zone-y ending.

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Also, it has freedom-fighter Batman!

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Building further on the “what if Superman ____ in ____” theme, Superman: Secret Identity by Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immomen is…well, it’s friggin beautiful is what it is.
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Immomen can do really stylized, cartoony art. This is not it. This is realistic, but not over-realistic. It’s just…gorgeous.
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Oh, yeah. But the high concept. It’s “Superman in the real world,” where a young man named Clark Kent, who has endured Superman jokes all his life just happens to wind up with the exact same powers as the fictional Superman. It’s really, really good. He even meets and falls in love with his own Lois.

I’ll follow up with a few more Superman favorites, but these are my top Superman comics. There’s no barrier to entry for these. Just good stories, that happen to feature an all around super man.

 

 

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“Would you prefer yellow spandex?” LOL, Movie Cyclops! New X-Men by Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely, Etc

There’s two things I really love about Grant Morrison’s New X-Men and BOTH of them begin with the letter U. But first, for those  hearing about X-Men and mutants for the first time, mutants are super-powered beings whose mutations (super powers or deformities) manifest at puberty. The X-Men are a team founded by Professor Charles Xavier to protect mutants from a world that fears and hates them. And on a metaphorical level, Mutants are young people, they’re teenagers, they’re minorities, they’re anyone who FEELS like a minority (again, teenagers).

1) Uniforms: Grant Morrison and his artists put the X-Men back in uniforms (for awhile they all wore…whatever. There were pouches…so many pouches). The first X-Men movie did this first a few years prior, but these were way cooler. There’s kind of a variation of these in the film X-Men: First Class, but I think they worked a lot better on the page.

2) Ugly Mutants: For the most part, “ugly mutants” in X-Men comics were blue. Fuzzy and blue. Essentially Muppets. Yeah, there were some weirdos living in the sewer, but where would they fit in a swinging soap opera with super powers? No one wants to bang an ugly mutant. Well, except for OTHER ugly mutants, and the trashy girl who smokes (she makes out with this dude).

But Morrison really took the X-Men to a point where he boiled them down to their essential concepts.

  • Mutants are feared and hated.
  • Mutants are the next stage in human evolution (And he makes it FOR REALS this time, when we find out that humans will be extinct within a few generations).

For the sake of not having an absurdly long title, I cut mentions of the artists. BUT, here’s who collaborated with Morrison on New X-Men: Frank Quitely, Ethan Van Sciver, Igor Kordey, Lenil Francis Yu, John Paul Leon, Keron Grant, Phil Jiminez, Chris Bachalo, and Marc Silvestri. Each one contributes their own unique style, but maintains the “try to keep up, gonna throw a lot of weird stuff at you pace” that comes with a Grant Morrison comic book. Lenil Francis Yu draws one of the more experimental issues of the series, which is entirely “widescreen,” in which the character of Xorn, a mutant with a star for a brain in an iron prison (see weird stuff, thrown at YOU!), is introduced while Cyclops, Wolverine and the gang indulge in some espionage.

This is probably the best X-Men comic. Period. Whether you’re new to the concept, or coming into it from the movies, or grew up with them as a kid. Morrison and the artists he’s paired with never let you forget that this is all inherently weird.

Hmm…I don’t think I’m doing a great job selling this, but I’m still gonna publish it, and keep this line in pondering it. BUT, this is the best X-Men comic. Beyond boiling the X-Men down to their basic concepts and doing it right, there’s ALSO aliens, evil twins, designer mutant drugs, harvesting of mutant organs, and as I’ve mentioned, weird bird guys making out with skanky girls with wings. If any of my terrible musing on this has interested you, you can buy this on Comixology, or get a couple of beautiful trade paperbacks like I have (that I am TERRIBLE at photographing as you can see from the panels above).