Sports and Comics: Superman Has a New Enemy

Guest columnist Scott Kanter ruminates on this most unlikely of crossovers.


Superman has a new enemy — KryptoNate shoes.

 


Nate Robinson’s shoes debuted during last month’s NBA Slam Dunk Contest. First, 6’11” Dwight Howard donned a Superman cape. Howard is built like a Tara dactyl. His dunk on a 12 foot rim resembled me dunking an Oreo into milk. Not to be outdone, Robinson appeared in a bright green New York Knicks jersey and a pair of neon green Nike shoes. The 5’9” Robinson has the wingspan of a sea monkey. His amazing leap over Howard won the contest in dramatic fashion. Ah kryptonite, crushing our heroes and basketball big men everywhere.

Fans’ demands for the shoes instantly grew. KryptoNate shirts quickly sprung. DC Comics claimed copyright infringement. Warner Brothers, Nike, and the NBA intervened and soon reached a shoe endorsement deal. This is the second deal struck between an athlete and DC. In September of 2004, Powerade and Cleveland Cavaliers’ star LeBron James released, “FLAVA23.” The red sour berry sports drink was tied in to a DC Comics’ book titled “King James.” In the comic, James competes in an underground tournament. He confronts and defeats a series of colorful court challengers earning the “King of Basketball” crown.

“I’ve always enjoyed reading comics, so helping to create a comic of my own is really cool,” James said. “I mean ripped muscles, impossible moves, scoring at will, and beating the ‘bad guys’ — who wouldn’t want to be a heroic basketball player in a comic book?”

This sentiment is shared by many athletes. Here are some of the high and lowlights of the complex and colorful love affair between sports and comics.

Home Runs

Todd McFarlane – People want to get a beer with him. He writes comics and makes toys. He hosts his own radio baseball show. He co-owns a NHL team and hopes to own a MLB team. He owns a boxful of record-breaking homerun baseballs, although they’re from alleged steroid users. He should make Violator a mascot. No matter the sport, no team wants to face THAT on the field.

Danny Granger’s Batcave – Danny Granger leads the Indiana Pacers. He’s building his, and mine, dream house in Albuquerque. The house will have a Batcave featuring: games, televisions, and what he calls his Batmobile, an all black BMW convertible with black windows. Strangely, his college teammate’s nickname was Batman and Granger admits loving Superman more. New Mexico isn’t right for a Fortress of Solitude, but he should still try to share his Sups love in architectural form.

Tom Creed – Perry Moore and Stan Lee are teaming up to bring Moore’s 2007 book, Hero, to Showtime. Tom Creed is a basketball star who must deal with his ex-superhero father’s disgrace, his own sexuality, and a murderer stalking the world’s heroes. The elements of teenage awkwardness, family strife, and coming to terms with superhero powers are Lee’s specialties. Mix in shades of Watchmen and this should be great.

Triples

Superman vs. Muhammad Ali (1978) – Ali is the greatest…in the universe. He crushes Superman and learns his identity. He saves Earth by defeating the best alien fighter. Plus, he rattles off prediction rhymes using alien names like, Hun’Ya. Sups is reduced to getting destroyed twice and donning blackface as he goes undercover as Ali’s corner man, Bundini Brown. It’s more Ted Danson than Robert Downey, Jr. Jimmy Olsen is the fight broadcaster which is like Carrot Top calling an intergalactic Super Bowl. This is the king of crossovers! It’s a shame Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, and Joe Montana never had similar chances. Oh and imagine Iron Man vs. Iron Mike Tyson, Flash vs. Usain Bolt, Hulk vs. Barry Bonds. The possibilities are endless.

NFL Superpro (1991) – Marvel considers this their Ed Wood. It lasted twelve issues. The premise of an ex football player with an indestructible football suit plays like a Mad Lib filled in by a concussed linebacker. The allies and villains propel this to greatness. Ally, Almighty Dollar, shoots pennies from his hands. Friend, Girth, an obese African-American with a belly immune to physical punishment, also aids. As for the villains, assassin Instant Replay slices through time. No villain compares to Quick Kick–a football place kicker turned ninja! Kickers are the least revered position in football, maybe in all of sports. Celebrate any work that makes kickers this cool!

Doubles

The Super Globetrotters (1979) – The Harlem Globetrotters make opponents look silly. In this cartoon, they make villains look ridiculous. Freddy “Curly” Neal, Super Sphere, retracts his limbs into his basketball head enabling him to bounce, smash, and grow. James “Twiggy” Sanders, Spaghetti Man, uses his noodle body to make ropes and ladders. Louis “Sweet Lou” Dunbar, Gizmo, has an afro with an unlimited supply of gadgets. Nate Branch, Liquid Man, turns into water. Hubert “Geese” Ausbie, Multi Man, can clone himself. Despite this, they battle ineptly. They can only win on the hardwood. Phantom Cowboy and Count Bragula never stand a chance. Revel in bad puns, Hanna-Barbera canned laughter, and a floating basketball that assigns missions.

Singles

Wilt Chamberlain stars in Conan the Destroyer (1984) – Arnold Schwarzenegger has defeated predators, Satan, English pronunciation, and state legislation. Here he kills one of the greatest NBA players of all time. Chamberlain is Bombatta, the Captain of the Guard in Shadizar. The man can swing a mace. But his acting resembles my basketball skills, desperate and retina burning.

Captain America Goes to War Against Drugs (1990) – Mitch, a young star pitcher, cannot relax before the big game. That is until he is offered cocaine by an alien space monster. Cap solves Mitch’s drugs problems using moral support. In the 80s, the New York Mets and many MLB players consumed mass quantities of drug salads. The Mets won in 1986. Drugs might be for winners! Cap, start cleaning up: baseball, biking, and a slew of other sports. Administer urine tests in your shield. Apply the same advice you give Mitch to today’s stars. It’d bring a smile to my face and make me feel safe.

 


Strikeouts

Big Lob, William “The Fridge” Perry, Sgt. Slaughter (1982-1994) – Sgt. Slaughter appeared in the comics, but the others appeared in the cartoon and movie. Wrestler Sgt. Slaughter is the toughest of all Joes. He once used his thumb as a screwdriver to gain access to the circuitry of an electronically-locked door and shorted it open. He’s more useful than the others. What possible advantage could Perry, a 382 pound defensive lineman, have in defeating Cobra? Big Lob’s claim to fame is dribbling a bomb during an intense tank battle. You’re as pathetic as Cobra Commander’s plans.

Kickers, Inc. (1986-1987) – Marvel football comics fail. This only lasted twelve issues, too. A group of former professional American football players for a fictional New York team become a group of heroes and call themselves Kickers Inc. It’s as exciting as the titled position. Watching the winless 2008 Detroit Lions is far more entertaining.

Bison (1994) – This pile of clichés and stock types plays like Ghost Rider; the movie, not the comic. The differences are subtle. Replace a motorcycle stunt performer with a basketball star, Satan with an Egyptian God, and fiery skeleton with a man-bull creature. Somewhere, Nicholas Cage is dusting off his low-grade minotaur costume.

Shaquille O’Neal as Steel (1997) – We get it, Shaq. You want to be Superman. At one point in our lives, we did too. Then we grew up. We also didn’t take a giant crap on our childhood dream. Steel is basically Iron Man meets Robocop 3. Thankfully for Superman fans, it lost all references to the source material. Saying it all is Steel’s junkyard headquarters. The film’s saving grace was the fact Shaq temporarily stopped making rap music. His dream of stardom came to an abrupt end and he dejectedly went on to win four NBA championships

David and Victoria Beckham as Superheroes – Last October, Stan Lee told “Access Hollywood,” he wanted to turn David and Victoria Beckham into superheroes. He also revealed wanting to similarly immortalize Ringo Starr, Paris Hilton, and High Hefner. This is the superhero equivalent of The Surreal Life. Lee is ten years late. Becks now spends more time on the bench injured than playing. The most popular player can’t even use his powers to make Americans care about soccer. Unless his power is making villains sleepy and bored, then Lee doesn’t have much to work with.

 

 


Scott Kanter is a freelance writer who likes both sports and comics, as well as any cookies you might have available. He lived with Josh for a while, and in return for not admitting what he saw, he was permitted to publish this article.

Comments

  1. Those street urchins seemed mad that Cap destoryed "drugs" with his shield. 

  2. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    This is an awesome roundup.  Great work, Scott!

    Not directly related to comics, but I used to have a Charles Barkley versus Godzilla T-shirt and backboard for my bedroom door. 

    I was rooting for Godzilla.  

  3. Heh, Big Lob. I wish I could hate the old GI Joe movie, but I can’t.

  4. I claim to be the only person in my area to have watched Steel all the way threw towards the end.

    I should win a damn purple heart for that

  5. Spider-Man had shoes made recently through Nike.  As did Star Wars Strom Troppers & Batman.

    Wish I had some.

  6. there was a comic that went with the Barkley vs. Godzilla campaign.

    @TNC – well done sir.  I barely made it throught the trailer on youtube.

  7. McFarlane is a "homerun"?  He bought those baseballs and couldn’t make his money back now if his life depended on it. 

  8. @Paul – I totally forgot about the Godzilla vs. Charles Barkley.  How foolish!  Thanks also for your kind words.

    @BrianB – The G.I. Joe movie is impossible to forget and the live action onecoming in August might be for the same reasons.

    @TNC – "Steel" is an epic disaster, but it’s part of its enduring…er…charm.

    @ultimatehoratio – Yep, the baseballs themselves probably couldn’t pass any administered urine test.  However, the fact that McFarlane loves baseball, comics, and toys is the ultimate dude to hang with or to be.  I might have ranked him too high, but those factors catapult him.

  9. Where does staging the Spider-Man/Mary Jane wedding at Shea Stadium the night of Darryl Strawberry’s return to baseball fall?

    Or did OMD undo that?

  10. Kickers Inc. > NFL Superpro by a hair.  😉

  11. You know what’s funny about Steel?

    Everyone says ‘Wanted was the worst comic film ever!’ or ‘X-3 was a pile of shit!’

    People should go back and watch Steel, Howard the Duck, and Nick Fury….Now those are peices of shit and today’s bad comic adaptations are gold compared to these.

    I do love it that Howard and Robinson has brought Superman mythos into basketball. It feels so surreal hearing Charles Barkely talk about it.

  12. @BC1 –  OMD was responsible for "If You Leave" but had nothing to do with undoing the Spider-Man wedding.

    (How many or how few will get that reference?)

  13. Has anyone seen that Wonder Woman movie starring Kathy Lee Crosby where she’s in a white jumpsuit or something?  I have vague memories of it.

  14. Due to my Cubs and White Sox bias, Spiderman at Shea was missed.  I will read it, however.  It appears basketball players feel the biggest connection with sports and I wonder why that is. 

  15. Punisher War Zone was the worst comic book movie ever.

    It’s fact.

  16. @josh: This century? Yes.

    But your gonna tell me it’s worst then Steel or She-Hulk….No.

    Btw: The Super Globetrotters? Best cartoon ever. When I mean best, I mean it’s the worst….but it’s so funny to watch it’s great

  17. Don’t you remember that I never ever listen to your critical advice?  For all I know, Steel was the greatest film ever.  I wouldn’t know though, because it really looked like a piece of shit, and there’s no reason to waste the time in the first place.

  18. "Steel" makes "Punisher War Zone" look like "Citizen Kane"…or "Supergirl" with Helen Slater.

  19. ESPN has reportedly said the hoop Dwigh Howard dunked on was 11 feet, but the announcers on television said 12.  Still impressive.

  20. @josh: Ha, yes it is a complete waste of time, but when your with a bunch of friends and they are huge MST3K fans; then it isnt a waste of time.

    @scott: Oh why are you ruining the fun? Supergirl? Really? 🙂

  21. I think I might have seen more bad superhero movies then good ones…and with that I will never write again for this wonderful site.

  22. @scott: Spider-Man at Shea wasn’t in a book- it actually happened.  Marvel set up a live-action wedding to take place pre-game at Shea Stadium, complete with people dressed up as other Marvel characters.  Stan Lee "officiated."  The game at which it took place also ended up being Darryl Strawberry’s return game following his first stint in rehab, and some of the people helping him worried that the extra hype would be harmful to his situation.  Yes, a fake comic-book wedding may very well be responsible for Strawberry’s multiple relapses ;).

    @ultimatehoratio: I asked Mephisto to get rid of that song from all history.  He told me he gets too much joy playing it on Hell’s PA system on constant rotation with "Don’t You Forget About Me" by Simple Minds.  Apparently, he has an affinity for the soundtracks of John Hughs’ movies. 

  23. @BC1:  Mephisto has excellent tastes.

    In a fit of masochism, I watched Punisher War Zone.  I didn’t hate it for the first 20 minutes or so, but then it suddenly turned on me like a pet monkey and tore off my face.  I wonder, was this movie trying to be Saw with guns?  Maybe a Dario Argento movie with guns?  I dunno.  In Blu-Ray I noticed how nice some of the shots were, so the director and cinematographer are not completely without talent.

    Fake five-o’clock shadow aside, could Lundgren’s Punisher be the best one of the three?  It had Louis Gosset Jr for God’s sake!  He was the Cuba Gooding Jr. or Mira Sorvino of the 80s!

  24. @scott: Oh no that wont do. You need to post your best and give us some good material for this site. if your a fan of Supergirl then more power to you.

  25. I was really hoping that you would post a link to the Shaq "Superman" song 🙁  Still, very entertaining.

     @TNC-Don’t ever talk shit about Howard the Duck

  26. I liked Howard the Duck.  Why?  Lea Thompson.  She could do no wrong back in the day.  Not even banging a duck sullied her in my teenage eyes.

  27. @horatio: That’s really horrifying if you think about it.

  28. @TNC:  horrifying or incredibly erotic.

  29. you know, once The Phantom Manance came out it offically made Howard the Duck Goerge Lucas’ second worst movie ever.

    and i think there is one connection between sports and comics that Scott forgot to mention. that is, of course, that every comic reader posting on this site was a one point beaten up by a fellow that played sports. am i right, iFanbase? (especially TNC? )

  30. Being English I understood nearly none of this article. But I would like to point out that Jonas Gutierrez dons a Spider-Man mask when he scores a goal. However he plays for Newcastle United so none of us has seen it yet. 

  31. @edward – Cheap joke!

    Conor was that jock.  I played basketball every day in high school. Ron….soccer?

  32. Ron looks like a badminton kinda guy. 

    My brother played football, but I think getting beat up by your older brother doesn’t count.  

  33. Amusing that, Mitch, the star pitcher from "Captain America Goes to War Against Drugs" turns to cocaine for relief from his anxiety.

    Shaq’s wandering eye makes it tough for me to accept him in any acting role.

    @scott – I can’t help but laugh as i read about Marvel’s intentions to immortalize "High" Hefner. Was this a mistake? I might never know.

  34. @face — http://www.exposay.com/v/24891/comic-book-creator-stan-lee-turn-beckhams-superheroes/  There’s no mistake Stan "Stripperella" Lee wants to immortalize these horrible celebrities.  I think Hef should have a magic smoking jacket that gives him special powers.

    I was not a jock in high school–wrote for the high school newspaper and did theatre.  Freshmen year in college, Conor was always doing soccer tricks to impress the ladies in front of our dorm.  Josh and I did attempt to play basketball in L.A., but feared for our lives when real players came on the court. 

    Athletes feel like superheroes, obviously, and the love affair between them is amazing to me.  They are the closest thing we have to watching them on some level.

  35. @edward: Oh there’s so many scars and bruises. When I have a kid that’ll be his/her storytime. 🙂

    No I was decent at sports! I won a trophy for soccer…that counts…right?

  36. @TNC- "Best Sportsmanship" trophies don’t count

  37. I can’t believe these some of these properties actually existed.  I think I was like 10 when ‘Steel’ came out, and even then, I thought it was s horrible idea.

  38. @TNC and Josh. yes. it was a cheap joke. i spent 10 years playing rubge union. i just keep quite about the comic when i was in a scrum

  39. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    I played…wait for it….tennis.  

  40. @paul. sorry, mate, we’re talking about actual sports here. not what the ladies in the knitting circle play between cups of tea

  41. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    It aint the game, son.  It’s how you play it.  

  42. @drake: It’s a trophy, you can call it whatever you want but I earned it.

    Yup 2nd place….lost in the finals….that’s life for ya.

  43. I ran track…but I was also on the academic team.  They cancelled each other out.  The girls on the academic team were much hotter though.

  44. @ultimatehoratio. agreed

  45. I played Magic: The Gathering.  That’s a sport, right?

     

     

    No, I didn’t .  But I did get my varsity letter by managing the girls’ volleyball team.  That turned out well for almost no one.  Does being a swim instructor count?