This is another video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video is me highlighting and celebrating Superman: Earth One, a 2012 graphic novel from DC Comics that gave us a unique version of the Man of Steel. Superman has had many iterations over the years. Some are more memorable than others. But Superman: Earth One gave us something special. As a story and a take on this iconic character, it delivered a Superman that has only gotten better with age. And I break down why in this video. Enjoy!
Tag Archives: Superman
Superman Earth One Video: The Most Underrated Man Of Steel
Filed under DC Comics, Jack's World, superhero comics, writing, YouTube
How The New DC Cinematic Universe Can Succeed (Or Fail)
This is another video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video is a deep dive into the past, future, and potential of the DC Cinematic Universe (a.k.a. the DCEU). Now that it’s all but official that the whole endeavor is getting revamped, I explore what the new DCEU needs to do in order to succeed and the potential pitfalls it might face. I’m genuinely rooting for DC and Warner Brothers to succeed. But they will face major challenges to become a full-fledged cinematic universe.
Filed under DC Comics, Jack's World, movies, superhero comics, superhero movies, X-men, YouTube
Thanking Henry Cavill And The Past, Future, And Importance Of Superman
Recently, fans of Superman, superhero movies, and DC Comics got some sad, but unsurprising news. In light of the new regime at Warner Brothers Discovery headed by James Gunn, Henry Cavill will not return to play Superman. This news came less than a month after he made a surprise cameo in a post-credits scene in “Black Adam,” which initially renewed hopes that he would return as part of a new direction for the DCEU.
Now, it seems that same DCEU that initially began with Henry Cavill’s Superman in “Man Of Steel” is officially over.
As someone who saw that movie in theaters the week it came out and was convinced that Cavill was the right man for this icon of icons, I’m quite disappointed, even if I’m not too surprised. I don’t deny that movie had its flaws. I also don’t deny that the DCEU has had many flaws since its inception. It tried very hard to catch up with Marvel Studios. And while it certainly had some hits like “Joker” and “Wonder Woman,” it had far too many misses.
But I’d rather not dwell too much on everything that went wrong with Warner Brothers, DC Comics, and how they went about making these movies. I’m sure there will be plenty more said and revealed in the coming years about how it got to this point. From the origins of “Man Of Steel” to the drama surrounding “Zack Snyder’s Justice League,” I suspect we still only know part of that story.
But regardless of what the full story might be, Henry Cavill and his approach to playing Superman was not the issue. He truly embraced the character. He really did seem to appreciate the spirit and importance of Superman and everything he stands for. Now, someone else will be wearing that iconic costume in the next Superman movie. We can only hope that, whoever it ends up being, he appreciates it just as much as Cavill.
That kind of appreciation for a character is not a trivial matter. I know you could say that about a lot of iconic characters that have made it to the silver screen, but Superman is different. Superman is unique with respect to his place in the world of superheroes, pop culture, and our collective imagination. He represents far more than simply being the prototypical hero by which all modern heroes are measured.
That may just sound like the inherent bias of someone who loves comic books and superhero media, but I promise there’s substance to that sentiment. And whenever I hear Henry Cavill talk about Superman, I get the sense he understands that substance more than most.
To appreciate it, you need only take a step back and look at who Superman is and what he represents. It’s not just that he’s perfect manifestation of our modern heroic ideal. Superman is a character who essentially casts a purifying light on a cynical world. For both the audience, as well as the fictional world he inhabits, he is someone whose power is great, but his motivations are simple.
He just wants to help.
He just wants to do the right thing.
There’s nothing complicated, nuanced, or elaborate. There doesn’t have to be with Superman. He is just a big, strong boy scout. He’ll engage in an epic, multiverse-spanning fight Darkseid one day and save a cat from a tree the next. Both are equally important to him. He doesn’t even see it as being a hero. Being good, being kind, and doing the right thing is just part of who he is.
He wasn’t born on our planet, but he embraces Earth as his home.
He’s not human, but he embodies true goodness of humanity to the utmost.
You can call him corny, basic, overpowered, or any number of things that are born of cynical outlooks. But that doesn’t change who Superman is or why he matters so much. Whether he’s played by Henry Cavill or the late Christopher Reeves, his presence offers light in a world that seems so dark. His inherent goodness reminds us that there’s real power in kindness and compassion.
It doesn’t matter how overpowered he is or how much those powers have changed over the decades. You could keep giving him more and more powers. It still wouldn’t matter. Superman would still use them to help people. He would still use them for good. He’s a direct counter to the notion that power will always corrupts or heroes will always become jaded or bitter. Superman will keep doing what he does. He’ll never let the worst of humanity outshine what makes them good.
That, more than anything, is what makes Superman such an important character. He dares us to believe that doing good is more powerful than any feat of strength. The world might have changed a great deal since his creation in 1938, but the importance of doing good hasn’t. Even if Superman is perfectly good, the world around him is not. And his willingness and ability to do so much good with this vast power he possesses offers others perspective, as well as a beacon for hope that we can be better.
You could argue how much or how little “Man Of Steel” embodied that spirit. But you can’t argue that Henry Cavill embraced the hope that this character embodies. I also believe the world will need that hope for whenever the next Superman movie comes out, whoever ends up playing him.
Superman has endeared for as long as he has because what he stands for still matters. The world today has plenty of issues the likes of which Superman’s original creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, never anticipated. We’re a world so divided and torn, struggling to see the forest from the trees at a time when everyone insulates themselves in their own comfortable bubbles. But Superman’s inclination to just help people and do the right thing transcends all of that. The hope he inspires goes beyond arbitrary divisions.
We need that hope now more than ever.
We need a character like Superman to remind us that a man can fly, move worlds, and save the day for no other reason than it’s the right thing to do.
Henry Cavill did his part for this character. For that, an entire generation of fans will be forever grateful.
But as sad as it is to see him move on from the role, let’s be ready to embrace a new version of Superman for a world that still needs him. I certainly am and I hope he can continue being that beacon of hope we’ll always need, inspiring us to both do better and be better.
Filed under DC Comics, movies, superhero comics, superhero movies
Justice League Gods and Monster: An Underrated Animated Gem (And Why DC Comics Should Revisit It)
The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video revisits DC’s underrated 2015 animated movie, Justice League: Gods and Monsters. It was a bold movie that dared to retell and revamp the stories of its most iconic heroes, Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. Both the movie and the comic book tie-ins proved unique in so many ways. And while not much else came from this world, I try to make the case that it’s worth revisiting. Enjoy!
Celebrating (And Clarifying) The New Bisexual Superman
I’ve been reading comics for most of my life. In that time, I’ve seen many major upheavals and big events. A few of them even made mainstream news. I still remember how big it was when the Death of Superman first came out. That event made for some big headlines and its effect on the comic book industry is still felt today.
At the same time, reading comics for so long has given me a knack for sensing when an event will make mainstream news. It has also helped me get a feel for the kind of reaction it’ll get from those who don’t follow comics that closely. As a result, their reaction tends to be somewhat misguided.
With that in mind, I’d like to talk about Superman coming out as bisexual, a big reveal that made national headlines earlier this week. When I saw this, I was temped to post my immediate reaction. However, I held off because I suspected the oncoming storm of outrage would obscure any sentiment or point I made.
Sadly, it didn’t take long for some of that outrage to take hold.
Plenty of reactionaries whined about it for plenty of non-surprising reasons, ranging from your traditional anti-LGBTQ whining from religious zealots to people who just whine about comics becoming “political.” I put “political” in quotes because by political, it usually denotes “politics I don’t like.” It’s still just whining at the end of the day.
For me, personally, I’m all for this. I love that DC Comics is doing this with one of their characters. It’s something that I think fits the spirit and principles of Superman. He is someone who has love, compassion, and understanding for all. He saves men, women, and everything in between. His capacity for connecting with others knows no gender or preference. That’s what makes him Superman.
That being said, there is some important context to add to this. If you just read the mainstream headlines, you might get the wrong idea. For the most balanced take, I recommend the following NPR piece. It nicely sums up what’s going on here.
NPR: Superman’s son comes out as bisexual in a new comic. It’s a big deal — sort of
By now you’ve likely heard.
He’s queer now.
Yep: Superman, Champion of the Oppressed, the Man of Steel, the Man of Tomorrow, the Last Son of Krypton, the Big Blue Boy Scout, Mr. Not-A-Bird-Nor-A-Plane Himself.
Queer. All of a sudden.
And at 83 years old, no less! Bless his heart.
But that’s not what’s happening here. Comics being comics, the truth is a lot more granular.
We’re not talking about the classic, original-recipe Clark Kent/Kal-El Superman that’s been around since the June 1938 issue of Action Comics #1 first hit the stands. It’s not the Superman who’s infiltrated the global zeitgeist to become a part of our collective consciousness via comics, serials, radio, television, film, toys, roller coasters and the bedsheets I got for Christmas 1979.
No, it’s his son, Jonathan Kent. Whose precise backstory in the comics has been so ruthlessly pummeled by a series of reboots, retcons, space missions, time-travel and rapid aging as to render it so incomprehensible that it sends even diehards like me scurrying to the nearest wiki.
He’s slated to come out as bisexual in the pages of Superman: Son of Kal-El #5, written by Tom Taylor with art by John Timms, which will published on November 9th. Jonathan and his male friend Jay, introduced earlier in the series, will share a kiss.
I hope that clears things up. You don’t need to know all the complex continuity behind the details. You just need to know the basics.
In short, the Superman who came out as bisexual isn’t the primary Superman we’ve known since Action Comics #1. It’s Superman and Lois Lane’s son, Jon Kent. He’s actually a relatively new character, having debuted in 2015 just before DC’s Rebirth event. In that time, he’s grown and developed a lot, becoming one of the best Superman offspring characters we’ve seen in years.
He’s certainly grown on me in that time. This latest twist to his story only makes me love him more. I also encourage everyone curious about Jon Kent to read about him. If you need a starting point, I highly suggest a series called Super Sons. That firmly established Jon as someone who could wear his cape proudly.
In addition, it gives Jon something that further sets him apart from his father. Clark Kent will always be Superman, but that’s a title that need not be restricted to one man. Plenty of other characters have gone by that title and not all of them are directly related to Clark like Jon is. The title and the values behind it have always mattered more than the person.
Clark Kent understands that.
Jon Kent understands that.
The longtime fans of Superman also understand that.
Everyone who wields that cape protects, defends, and champions the values behind that name. Truth, justice, and the American way need not be the exclusive domain of a straight white man from Smallville. Someone like Jon Kent can also fight for them, but doing so doesn’t require that he be exactly like his father.
He can still be his own person and part of that persona just happens to involve bisexuality. That doesn’t at all detract from his ability to fight for those same values. It doesn’t change the importance of those values, either. At the end of the day, what matters most is that he fights for them with the same spirit and passion as his father.
That’s what makes him Superman.
It doesn’t matter whether or not he’s bisexual. He’s still Superman and one worth celebrating.
Filed under Current Events, DC Comics, superhero comics, superhero movies, Uncategorized
New Comic Book Day August 25, 2021: My Pull List And Pick Of The Week
We all need an escape every now and then. Sometimes, the world is just such a mess that we need to take a step back, close our eyes, and pretend we’re not in the middle of an unfolding shit storm. Needless to say, we needed a lot of escapes last year for obvious reasons.
For me, personally, I needed a lot of escapes when I was younger. As I’ve noted before, I was a pretty miserable teenager. I had a lot of issues and whenever I needed an escape, comics were there for me. In my house, the TV wasn’t always available and we didn’t have smartphones yet. Sometimes, the best thing I could do for myself is just dig into my comic collection and forget about the world.
Flash forward a couple decades and things have gotten even easier, at least with respect to diving into comics. Thanks to Comixology, I can access my vast collection of comics through my smartphone and tablet. I don’t have to go digging through any boxes. I just have to have an internet connection. On Wednesdays, it’s even more satisfying with a new batch of comics to choose from.
After this past week, anyone who has followed the news in any capacity probably needs an escape. The world is in an objectively awful place right now and it’s probably going to get worse before it gets better. It’s a depressing thought, I know. That’s why we should all make the most of New Comic Book Day. It’s a temporary escape, but one I think we all need.
To that end, here is my pull list and pick for the week. I hope it helps you escape the awfulness of this world, if only briefly. Enjoy!
My Pull List
Spider-Man: Life Story Annual #1
Symbiote Spider-Man: Crossroads #2
My Pick Of The Week
Superman: Son of Kal-El #2
Filed under Jack's Quick Pick Comic
Why Superhero Secret Identities Are More Relevant Than Ever
You don’t have to be a lifelong fan of superheroes to know the role that secret identities play in their over-arching narrative. It’s one of those story elements that often goes hand-in-hand with a hero’s journey. Part of becoming a hero involves forging an identity and, more often than not, this identity can’t function alongside the one they start with.
It’s a story that has roots in the early days of modern superhero comics. It wasn’t just a common plot point. It was practically a given. It was as necessary as capes, colorful costumes, and punishing masked criminals.
From a practical standpoint, having a secret identity has some legitimate merit. There are things Bruce Wayne can do as Batman that he cannot do and vice versa. The same goes for Superman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man, and many other iconic heroes. In “Batman Begins,” Bruce Wayne set the stage for his secret identity by crafting Batman as a symbol, one that conveyed an idea that went beyond the person in the costume.
In recalling that scene, I think that idea was more prophetic than Christopher Nolan initially intended. When I look at how secret identities have come to define many characters, I believe they’re more important today than they have been in any other era.
I don’t just say that as a long-time fan of superhero comics who has used his knowledge of the genre to explore serious issues. I believe that we, as a society, are entering uncharted territory when it comes to how we manage our identities. The influence of the internet, social media, and an increasingly connected world is more powerful than any fictional hero. It’s already finding its way into superhero media.
This topic became especially relevant for Superman fans because back in late 2019, the release of “Superman #18” officially revealed Superman’s identity as Clark Kent. Now, it wasn’t not the first time Superman’s identity has been exposed, but this time it wasn’t a gimmick. Now, Superman had to learn how to be Superman without a secret identity.
Over the past decade, the value and vulnerabilities of secret identities have been under fire. One of the most jarring moments of the original “Iron Man” movie was the very end when Tony Stark didn’t attempt to hide the fact he was Iron Man. For those not familiar with the comics, it might not have seemed like a big issue. Trust me, it was a major shift.
While Tony Stark debuted as Iron Man in 1963, his identity didn’t become public until the early 2000s. That’s nearly four decades of him operating with a secret identity. In the context of his journey, this was not a trivial decision.
What happened to Spider-Man at the end of “Spider-Man: Far From Home” was even more jarring. While his secret identity has been revealed many times in the comics, it’s almost always retconned. Like Batman and Superman, he has to have a secret identity. He has to have a civilian life that’s separate from his superhero life.
There’s even a notable episode of “Superman: The Animated Series” in which Superman flat out admits that he’d go crazy if he couldn’t be Clark Kent. Think about that for a second. Superman, one of the most powerful and iconic superheroes of all time, admits that can’t handle a life without a secret identity. This is someone who can handle Lex Luthor, Darksied, and Brainiac. If he can’t handle it, then what hope do we have?
That question might not have been too relevant 20 years ago. Before the age of smartphones, broadband internet, and social media, a superhero might have been able to get away with having their identity exposed. You could say the same for anyone who happened to have a dirty secret or a double life. Whether it was an affair or a secret hobby, you didn’t have to work that hard to keep it secret.
Back then, not everyone had a fully-functional camera in their pocket or a means of sharing their media on a mass scale. Even if someone did manage to take a compromising picture or video, it wouldn’t be a huge revelation unless it was published by a major news source and even then there was no guarantee it would have staying power, especially if other major stories broke at the same time.
Now, anyone with a smartphone and an internet connection can capture compromising footage of anyone and share it with the world in seconds. In the world of superheroes, it makes keeping an identity harder than ever. Spider-Man found that out the hard way at the end of “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” Ordinary people and major celebrities are finding that out as well in the real world.
The internet and social media has created an unusual, yet potent system that skews the dynamics of having an identity, secret or otherwise. On one hand, it’s easier than ever to create an anonymous persona on the internet. With that persona, people are unbound by the propriety of real-world interaction.
It’s part of why the comments section of any website or social media feed is full of deplorable rhetoric that highlights the worst in people. Ordinary people can use the anonymity of the internet to say thing they would never say to another human being face-to-face. At the same time, celebrities and people of influence have the opposite problem.
In this hyper-connected world, every word and every action is permanently archived and subject to greater scrutiny. Every mistake or misstep is amplified and blown out of proportion. Every bit of subtext and nuance is completely lost in the various biases and agendas of the public. In essence, public figures have little to no control of their identity. They are very much at the mercy of how others perceive them.
That kind of scrutiny can have benefits and drawbacks. You could argue that the added scrutiny of social media has held celebrities and people of influence to a higher standard. They can no longer operate in the shadows with impunity. Dirty secrets will come out. Bad behavior will be documented. The O.J. Simpsons and Bill Cosbys of yesteryear could not get away with their deplorable behavior in today’s environment.
That may be a good thing on some levels, but it comes at a cost and not just for those who have had their lives ruined by the internet. In a world where anonymous identities are easily created and valued identities are easily ruined, how can anyone hope to maintain a balanced perspective? Whether you’re an accomplished celebrity or just some random blogger, don’t you still need a persona that feels true?
For people who are stuck in difficult situations, such as those belonging to racial, religious, or LGBTQ minorities, having that secret identity might be the only one that feels true or genuine. If that gets exposed, then those individuals could be in legitimate danger. There are parts of the world who will punish these individuals in ways far more serious than online trolling.
In the past, these kinds of people didn’t have an outlet or a means of connecting with others who share their struggles. They either had to organize in secret or set up their own communities, which often meant making themselves real-life targets. The ability to create an identity, secret or otherwise, can be a powerful mechanism for helping people forge an identity that feels true to who they are.
To some extent, superheroes embody the importance of these identities. They can’t do what they do without them. They can’t remain connected to the people and the world they’re trying to protect if they’re always in costume, trying to maintain this persona they’ve created. Without it, they become disconnected and overwhelmed. As a result, they can’t be the heroes they need to be.
For people in the real world, having these identities is more important than ever. You don’t have to be a superhero to appreciate their value, but as our world becomes more connected, it’s become a lot easier to understand why Spider-Man and Batman work so hard to preserve their secret identities.
The fact they still struggle, despite having super-powers and billions of dollars, is a testament to just how difficult it can be. As the world becomes increasingly connected and increasingly tribal, it’s only going to get harder.
Why Lex Luthor Is The Ultimate Villain
The following is a video from my YouTube channel, Jack’s World. This video is a brief exploration of one of the greatest fictional villains of all time, Lex Luthor. There has been an ongoing trend in recent year to develop more complex villains with equally complex motivations. However, there’s still room for the kind of old school, pure evil villain and nobody epitomizes that more than Lex Luthor. Hopefully, this video gives everyone a new appreciation of that. Enjoy!
Filed under DC Comics, philosophy, superhero comics, superhero movies, Villains Journey, YouTube