Special Edition Podcast

Booksplode #27 – Superman Blue, Vol. 1

Show Notes

Thanks to our awesome Patrons, we’re proud to present another Booksplode!

What’s a Booksplode? It’s a bi-monthly special edition podcast in which we take a look at a single graphic novel or collected edition, something we really just don’t have time to do on the regular show.

This month, Josh Flanagan and Conor Kilpatrick take a look at Superman Blue, Vol. 1 by Dan Jurgens, Karl Kesel, David Michelinie, Louise Simonson, Jon Bogdanove, Sean Chen, Scot Eaton, Ron Frenz, Tom Grummett, Stuart Immonen, Brett Breeding, Dennis Janke, Jose Marzan Jr., Denis Rodier, Joe Rubinstein, Glenn Whitmore, John Costanza, Albert Tobias De Guzman, Ken Lopez, Bill Oakley!

Running Time: 00:31:10

Music:
“She’s Electric”
Oasis

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Comments

  1. Super glad you talked about this book. Surprised but glad. I can’t say I’ve read this stuff since it came out but I did recently reread the Funeral For a Friend arc, which came out a few years before this with slightly different creative teams but was very much the same era, and I was shocked by how much I enjoyed it. There are a few things about these comics that are worse than today’s superhero comics – the dialogue, especially – but overall I totally agree with you that something has been lost over these past twenty (twenty?!? Holy hell, I’m old!) years.

    Quite what it is is hard to say but, in a weird way, I think it might have to do with what you said at the end there about Jeff Parker being the only modern creator who could pull something like this off. Most modern creators, including the ones of whom I’m a huge fan, just seldom seem to be at home in superhero comics or, at least, straightforward superhero comics like ’90s Superman. Rucka, Bendis, Remender, King, Hickman, even the late and absurdly great Darwyn Cooke: they’re fantastic writers who have written some great superhero comics but unlike still active veterans like Waid, Morrison or Busiek, there is a sense that they have to bend the superhero genre to fit their own styles, rather than the other way around. In many respects, these newer creators – and don’t even get me started on the guys over at Vertigo at the same time who were just operating on an entirely different level – can write rings around the ’90s Superman writers but I don’t think any of them could ever write something like ’90s Superman and that great mix of soap opera, classic superheroics and abject silliness.

    Also, and this is important, creators had extremely long runs during the 1990s and books followed a single direction for almost the entire decade. This allowed a certain amount of worldbuilding and character development that is hard to replicate in an age where the Universe is being rebooted, reset and mangled every couple of years and a run of twelve months is now considered a lengthy stay on a title. Obviously, there are exceptions to this (Batman by King and Snyder, especially) but there was a much greater trend to let things play out in the ’90s then there is now where it seems like editorial does nothing but get in its own way.

    Finally, just a point about DC in the 1990s: you do correctly assert that there was some terrible stuff in that decade in comics but DC was actually pretty much on fire throughout the decade. Sure, the Justice League books got pretty bad before Morrison and there were some obvious attempts to cash in on the Image boom but compare those to the following now-classic runs: Wadi’s Flash; Morrison’s JLA; PAD’s Supergirl, Young Justice and Aquaman; the “triangle” era of Superman; Grant and then Dixon’s Batman line, Robinson’s Starman, Ennis’ Hitman, the end of Giffen and Demaittes’ JLI; Kesel’s Superboy; the Batman Adventures (based on the animated series) and, oh yeah, the establishment of Vertigo in 1993 with stone-cold classics like Sandman, Hellblazer and Shade the Changing Man giving way to Preacher, Transmet and the Invisibles. How often in this century has DC had a lineup like that – especially in terms of their ongoing series?

    Anyway, terrific show as ever. I was kind of hoping to have more “off the beaten path” and indie books featured in these Booksplodes originally but I’ve been loving your recent excursions into comics’ (and your own) past. Keep ’em coming!

  2. So with this Booksplode I decided to buy the book as soon as you announced it, and boy am I glad I did. I was in high school when these came out, and had been out of comics for a while, so I missed these completely. I had an absolute blast reading this; in fact, I had to tell myself to space out my reading so that I wouldn’t just blow through the entire book in a weekend. You both kept saying “fun” when talking about it, and I think that is the perfect way to describe the book. Books of today have a different feel, and that isn’t a bad thing, but it can be so refreshing to go back and read something like this. I will be waiting patiently for the next Booksplode because I have decided to read along with each one from now on.

  3. Thanks so much for the show. Very enjoyable listen.

    You mentioned you didn’t know why Superman changed into Electric Blue Superman, so I figured I would explain this, as I do remember part of it, and to make this extra fun I will not confirm any of this via the web; I will only rely upon my memory, so here it goes!

    At the time there was a miniseries called Genesis written by John Byrne and drawn by Walt Simonson, and during this “event” we learn of this thing called the “Godwave.” The Godwave is responsible for the nature of superpowers (or something like that), it’s come by the Earth in the past (two times, I believe.), and it’s coming back again! On this third visit of the Godwave, Darkseid wants to take advantage of the waves power to strip heroes of their powers, or use it to alter their powers, or something-something (you know, doing Darkseid stuff). The series features the New Gods prominently, as they trying stop Darkseid from doing his Darkseid stuff. So in short the wave comes, changes the nature of various heroes powers, with Superman being one of them.

    I recall reading in an interview with John Byrne that it was communicated out to other book writers to feel free to use the “Godwave” as the means to be creative and change their characters as much or as little as they might like to tell new and novel stories. There was no specific direction anyone had to follow.

    So that was the genesis (pun intended) of the 90s Blue Superman.

    Again, I am completely going on my memory of this event/mini-series. I’m certain this could be researched on the web easily, I just find it more fun to do this “old school” and rely upon my memory of 20 years ago. 🙂

    • Close but no. Superman was already electric when Genesis happened. He’s electric on the cover to issue 1. http://dc.wikia.com/wiki/Genesis_Vol_1_1

      As someone who read all the Electric Superman stuff a year or so ago, I can tell you that they literally never gave a real “this is the reason” expalanation for his power shift. It was weird.

  4. I finally read my copy of this and listened to this podcast. Man, I loved both. I’m such a sucker for this era of Superman. The melodrama, the craziness moored by sort-of emotional reality (unlike the Silver Age), the solid and consistent characterizations, the tight continuity, the supporting cast, the fun! Ugh. I still love it so.

    As of yet, DC hasn’t announced the second volume of this series, which worries me a bit. I sure hope they release all four volumes, which would cover this entire storyline. And I hope you continue to check it out when it’s released. I remember Adventures of Superman #550 being particularly good with art by Immonen and a trial of Lex Luthor.

    Glad you all dug it and I’m super glad you recommended discussing it here, Josh. As a guy struggling and mostly failing to connect with modern comics these days, I loved hearing you two fondly talking about this book. Thanks.

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