Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Thoughts On Zack Snyder’s Superman

I’ve always felt that Superman was one of the more difficult superheroes to make good stories for.

I like the old-timey nature of the character, and I appreciate the values he represents, but for the most part; Kal-El of Krypton is just too damn powerful for his own good.

Seriously man, you could probably count all of Superman’s known weaknesses/vulnerabilities on 1 hand,

Taking that into account, it’s hard to deny the difficulty writers face when trying to create drama for the man of steel.

Inevitably, most Superman stories end up being centered around a villain scheming to do destroy the Earth/Metropolis/Jimmy the Cub Reporter; thereby testing the heroes’ mettle in an indirect fashion.

Oh Silver Age comics, how I love thee.

While said storytelling device is indeed effective for the most part, honestly; it gets kind of old after awhile.

Watching Superman race to save Lois, or pick up a mountain to save a busload of school kids is fun, but prefer my superheroes’ biggest threats to be of the more direct sort.

In short, I prefer it when my heroes are in just as much peril as the people they are trying to save.

I suppose it should be no surprise that, of all the Superman trades I own; The Death of Superman is easily my favorite.

FUCK YES.

Which brings me to Zack Snyder’s upcoming film, The Man of Steel.

Very little has been publicized in regards to the film’s plot or cast, other than the fact that it’s a *gasp* REBOOT, but given that Snyder is the director; I think we all know what to expect.

Over-the-top imagery and color correction, an overbearing soundtrack, absurd levels of graphic violence, and more than a handful of gratuitous slow-motion fight sequences.

Bingo.

While all of the above do in fact add up to a pretty extravagant audio/visual experience, the sad fact of the matter is that Zach Snyder’s shtick just doesn’t do it for me.

The man definitely has an eye for angles and gorgeous visuals, but of the films of his that I’ve seen, I felt the pacing was meandering at best, and there was a distinct lack of “heart” to the presentation of the story.

That being said, while I have an idea of what to expect from a Zack Snyder Superman, in truth it’s very hard for me to comprehend why he was selected to do it.

Superman fuckin’ is heart.

That's right Mati, show 'em what heart's all about!

Richard Donner’s first 2 Superman films with Christopher Reeve did an incredible job in capturing this aspect of the character, that to this day many people, myself included; still think of Reeve as the finest representation of Superman in any medium.

That's a pretty goofy smirk, but even so; he's still Superman in my book.

In that sense, the new Superman, Henry Cavill; as well as Snyder himself have their work cut out for them.

Hmm, I seem to have gone off on a tangent.

The reason I started this post tonight came as a result of reading that Michael Shannon will be playing General Zod in The Man of Steel.

While I have no doubt that Shannon will do well in the role, as I was very impressed with his performance in Revolutionary Road; it bothers me to know that General Zod is being re-used for the film.

It’s as if the producers/writers are afraid to stray away from the success of Richard Donner’s films.

Superman has a pretty solid gallery of rogues to pick from, and truth be told; aside from Terrence Stamp’s brilliant portrayal of the character in Superman II, General Zod has never really been one of my favorites.

*Sigh* I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of that.

Knowing Zack Snyder, and his penchant for going over-the-top with things; I’m guessing there’s going to be several villains in the film, if not an entire army or some shit.

I’m sorry, but I just can’t picture a Zack Snyder film without a SLOW-MOTION 100-on-1 fight sequence.

In that sense, I’d bet that the movie will reference the recent Last Son and New Krypton storylines; thereby giving Mr. Snyder an excuse to have hundreds of Kryptonians flying around chucking cars at each other.

Pictured: Promotional art for Zack Snyder's Superman.

While that could be fun I guess, honestly I’d at least prefer to see a different villain take center stage.

How about fuckin’ Brainiac?

He’s pretty much at the top tier of Superman’s list of baddies and his back story has been ret-conned to have ties to Kal-El’s origins, what more could you want!?

 

Holy shit, he looks like fuckin' Kojak...

Better yet, since Christopher Nolan’s been kind enough to put Bane in his upcoming The Dark Knight Rises, why not throw everyone a bone and put Doomsday in the new Superman movie?

Sure, he’s not interesting enough to carry a whole movie, but goddamnit; Superman’s at his best when he’s punching things, and Doomsday’s one of the only baddies he’s got that he can really slug it out with.

While I’m the topic of punching things, why not give us some Metallo action!?

 

Who the fuck wouldn't want THIS in their movie!?

Oh yeah, ’cause Metallo’s boring and nobody likes him…

But c’mon man, he looked like James Coburn in the cartoon, surely that has to count for something:

 

"You know what time it is? Time me for to kick your ass..."

I apologize, I’m rambling.

My point is:

Superman Returns made the mistake of playing it way too safe, and in the process brought nothing new to the table; least of all villains or characters.

While Zack Snyder’s excessive style can be obnoxious at times, he has an opportunity to really try something different with his take on Superman; and I’d hate to see that hindered by a story that recycles villains used in films made almost 40 years ago.

That being said, here’s hoping that for fuckin’ once we get to see a Superman movie with some different villains; hopefully not including Nuclear Man.

Wow, you mean there actually exists a photo of Nuclear Man where he isn't screaming or shooting lightning bolts!?

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Luthor Review

What the fuck kinda' 'roids is Superman on in is picture?...

Let me just start this review off by making it clear that I’m not all that familiar with Brian Azzarello’s writing.

My brother has told me (on numerous occasions) that I’d probably enjoy 100 Bullets, but to date I have yet to crack open an issue.

My only firsthand experience I have in reading Azzarello’s work, was his and artist Lee Bermejo’s more recent graphic novel, Joker.

I was deeply impressed with Joker.

From a visual standpoint, Bermejo’s painting and pencils served to give the story a striking, cohesive, and altogether unique look that in many ways make it one of the handsomest comics on the stands.

More importantly though, the writing was strong throughout.

The dialogue was sharp, with all the various character’s “voices” and diction coming across in the text boxes as if they were being read aloud by the cast members themselves.

The one aspect of the storytelling that really made it all work though, was the decision to cast an associate of the Joker’s, Johnny Frost; as both the narrator and main character.

Writing from the Joker’s perspective is one of those things that requires an insanely talented writer, either that or it’s just plain impossible.

The character is simply too impulsive, crazy, and altogether unpredictable, to the point in which reading his thoughts would probably as difficult a struggle as the process of writing them.

By using Johnny Frost as our ambassador into the Joker’s world however, Azzarello effectively gave us a ground level look at the seedier denizens of Gotham city; all while avoiding any of the confusion that may have resulted from trying to get inside their heads.

For Luthor however, Azzarello; once again teamed with Bermejo, chose to cast Lex Luthor as both the narrator and central character.

In case you haven’t figured it out already, this didn’t settle with me.

Lex Luthor is not really one of my favorite characters in the DC universe.

Most of the Superman stories I’ve enjoyed over the years barely included Luthor, and for the most part I think of him as a character that is doomed to be portrayed in the same fashion over and over and over again.

The Joker lends writers a degree of flexibility that makes him an intriguing figure to explore.

Sometimes he’s batshit crazy, sometimes he’s surprisingly lucid, sometimes he kills people with fish.

He’s a playground of insanity that writers are free to play around in and add to on a whim.

Lex Luthor however, is kind of one note.

He hates Superman, he’s rich as fuck, he has an ego, and occasionally he has goofy homoerotic moments with Supes that most of us would probably prefer to forget.

Outside of a brief stint as a red-head with an Australian accent, the only real difference between Luthors that I’ve read, is that sometimes he wears power armor, and sometimes he wears a power tie.

The version we get in Azzarello’s Luthor, is of course of the power tie variety.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

On the contrary, I prefer power tie Luthor.

What I don’t particularly like about the Luthor featured in, uh, Luthor; is the fact that despite the whole story being presented through his thoughts, he never really develops a clear voice.

Luthor’s voice in Luthor is written using vocabulary and pacing that is meant to appeal to the reader as being provocative and “deep.”

Sadly, as I made it through the first few chapters of Luthor, I became disenchanted with Luthor’s supposedly “heady” ruminations.

While I won’t post any spoilers here, the basic plot of Luthor involves Lex Luthor enacting a plot to eclipse the fame of, and potentially deface the heroism of the alien being known as Superman.

Using a variety of seedy connections, and equally seedy methods, Luthor establishes his own brand new defender of Metropolis, a super-woman named Hope, making a media darling of her in the process.

Long story short, Hope stands as a living metaphor for Lex Luthor’s aspirations, Superman fights Batman (briefly), and Lex Luthor whines and schemes for 90% of the book.

Luthor isn’t a bad story, nor is the writing anything less than average; my main issue with the whole thing is the fact that the center of the plot, our vehicle by which we explore the entire universe Azzarello has created for his story, is just not all that interesting to read.

Far be it from me to demand outstandingly cerebral writing and plotlines from my comic books, but I found Luthor’s voice to be more tedious than “deep.”

Tedious, and redundant, most likely due to the story’s original publication as a series of issues as opposed to a graphic novel format.

It’s funny though, most of the dialogue and storytelling outside of the stuff coming directly from Luthor’s brain and mouth is pretty solid.

In particular, Azzarello’s playboy-to-the-extreme version of Bruce Wayne is fun to read, and wholly believable given the way he is presented to us.

Much like Batman in Azzarello’s more recent Joker graphic novel, Superman and Clark Kent have almost no physical presence in the story.

In both stories, the characters are spoken of, hinted at, but rarely seen; giving them a sense omniscience and menace uncommon to both characters.

While the story is told from Luthor’s perspective, and it indeed makes sense to do so, I found myself smirking at the sight of Lee Bermejo’s flame-eyed and uber-pissed Superman.

Go ahead and call it blasphemy, but I’m one of those guys that still thinks of Christopher Reeve whenever he pictures Superman.

Seeing Superman portrayed as a total beast of superhero is both a striking visual, and a unique perspective on the character, but personally; I just couldn’t take it as seriously as I did in the case of Batman in Joker.

You look up badass in the dictionary, and I’m sure you’ll find an image of Lee Bermejo’s rendering of Batman from Joker.

Speaking of Lee Bermejo, his art is just as fantastic, if not moreso than was the case in Joker.

Bearing a borderline photorealistic style, Bermejo’s greatest panels are the ones that are painted.

In the case of both books, Bermejo painted a large number of the panels, however the ratio seems to be somewhat higher in Luthor, most likely a result of it’s gradual release schedule as opposed to the “all-at-once” format of Joker.

While I favor the creativity in the design, and the darker color palette of Joker, Bermejo’s renderings of the towering skyscrapers of Metropolis, and it’s delightfully fashionable citizens are still some of the best comic art around.

Additional kudos to colorist Dave Stewart, as some of the weather phenomena and night scenes really stand out thanks to his work.

While his angles and panel layouts may not be the most intricate or unique, Bermejo’s character art is his strength, and Azzarello wisely keeps his story grounded so as to allow his artist to shine.

Anyway, I really don’t know where I’m going with this review anymore.

Like I said, Luthor is a pretty enjoyable story, particularly if you happen to like Lex Luthor as a character; (I don’t…) but bear in mind there are some pretty heavy-handed (and redundant) metaphors, as well as some instances of “big words for the sake of big words” that you’ll have to get past to find said enjoyment.

Thanks for reading, hopefully you’ll try before you buy unlike I did!

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