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My old Superman Adventures stories collected!


#1

This is exciting. Volume 2 mainly collects Scott McCloud and others, but my first issue (issue sixteen) is in here too and both volumes 3 and 4 should thus be pretty much all me, which I can’t wait for. We have these as tiny little pocket books right now, but it’ll be nice to have them up on my shelf.

At the risk of sounding vain (ahem) I always really wanted my 19 issues collected over 2 volumes of my own. Just so the shelves are nice and neat with a simple 1 and 2 like my Ultimate stuff and so on. I was always surprised they didn’t do this in the wake of Red Son. Maybe one day…

MM


#2

I have the pocket size ones and their amazing. I can’t wait to give them to my nieces and nephews when they get older.


#3

I did that with my nephew when he was younger. I thought that they would be something that he would enjoy. Completely independently of anything I said to him, he asked his mother (my sister) to find plastic bags to store them in and to put them on a shelf in his bedroom. These were his “Special comics”.

The same nephew also once bought me a Spider-Man T-shirt for my birthday that was an adult version of one he had, so that we could be T-Shirt buddies.


#4

I’ve never read this!!

Yay: I finally get Millar Supes!


#5

How are the non-Millar issues?


#6

I bought the MM issues in a Comixology sale a while back. I’m still working through them. It’s fun stuff.


#7

You convinced me, I need these next to Red Son. :sunglasses: :thumbsup:


#8

I think some of the stuff I have is non-Millar. The books are pretty great. I think they got overlooked because a lot of people (myself included) wrongly assumed that they were just adaptations of the cartoons. There are some really great stories. The story that made me finally like Mr. Mxyzptlk is in one of these collections.

I highly recommend them especially if you’re a Silver Age Superman fan. This is one of the best modern representations of that character.


#9

Mister Millar, please keep your hands off my wallet!

I like to eat occasionally, y’know!


#10

Amazing news Mark, I can’t wait to read your Superman work! I STILL haven’t read Red Son :disappointed_relieved:


#11

A lot of the all ages stuff is really good. Fans moan there are no all ages comics nowadays and then completely ignore the ones that are. :smile:

I’ve been reading some of the Paul Tobin Marvel ones to my kids and they are great, entertaining for them and me. It’s rarer there is a dud book there in my experience than in the main lines.


#12

And there are some great writers and artists working on them as well. Dan Slott and Rick Burchett both worked on the Batman book. Scott McCloud did a stint on the Superman book. Fred Van Lente, Jeff Parker and Peter David all worked on the Marvel All Ages books.


#13

Yes the Jeff Parker books are great too,


#14

I’m a big fan of the classic DC superheroes, and Superman in particular has always been an interesting creative exercise (and, as a kid, he was always my favorite).

To me, Millar’s Superman Adventures, along with Morrison’s All Star Superman, was the model on how to do Superman stories. Even Alan Moore’s Supreme, which was his usual brand of great and meticulous, was too pastichy. However ridiculous it got in Superman Adv. - and it got big and ridiculous as anything - it always felt very genuine, played very straight. The humor was wit, totally unself consciousness.

Superman stories should be the MOST accessible stories in comics; you’ve got this really unviversally known and acknowledge mythology as your scaffolding, so you have to do very little introductory work. Every story should be one or two issues. 3 or 6 issue stories should be EVENTS.

Superman is for everyone.


#15

I’ve heard good things about his AGE OF SENTRY stories as a take on classic Superman.


#16

Here’s a thing I wrote about this run a while back:

Mark Millar is sitting pretty, these days. His new comic properties Jupiter’s Children (with superstar Frank Quitely) and Starlight (with veteran Goran Parlov) are highly reviewed and much praised, and with 3 movies from his creator owned projects at his back (Kickass 1&2, Wanted) he’s got another coming forthwith in “Kingsman: Secret Service”. The future looks bright indeed for Mark Millar, so it feels appropriate to reflect a bit on his past.

Back before Mark Millar was a bonafide in the comics industry, he was a struggling writer just trying to make ends meet. He had a few credits to his name from 2000AD and a number of smallish press endeavors, but he was still trying to hit that big break (a break that would come first in his continuation of Ellis’s Authority, and then fully with Marvel’s Ultimates).

Mark Millar’s Red Son is well known and oft cited as one of the better Superman stories in history, but I’m not talking about that (I wouldn’t, as I disagree with that opinion). I am, instead, talking about Mark Millar’s Superman Adventures.

Readers of this blog are very likely familiar with a 90s cartoon series “Superman: The Animated Series”. Masterminded by Bruce Tim and Paul Dini, it was a thematic successor to their smash hit “Batman: The Animated Series”, a precursor to the fan-favorite “Justice League/Justice League Unlimited”. What readers might be less familiar with is the all-ages comic book spin off series put out by DC, “Superman Adventures”, with various writers and artists playing with the look, style and continuity established by the animated series.

The majority of these stories were fun and light, often cheesy and almost always inconsequential bits of fun. Just what one might expect from a cartoon tie in comic book (not much). But something interesting happened with Mike Mckvennie – editor of the book – hired Mark Millar as the semi-regular writer. It got really good.

Millar had never actually seen the series upon accepting the gig, it having never aired in his native Scotland. And while he surely did eventually become familiar with the series with the help of his editor, it becomes clear that Superman Adventuers was Mark Millar telling the Superman stories that he always wanted to.

Lasting some twenty plus issues, Mark Millar’s run went about exploring as many elements and themes of the Superman mythology as he could. Over its course, the run looked at Superman’s relationship with the metropolis, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Lex Luthor, the Daily Planet, both his biological and adoptive parents, and a whole plethora of villains. More importantly, it did so in novel, often surprising ways, and without ever losing focus on Superman’s easy love for humanity and the people around him. This Superman is not only a consummate hero, he’s got a wonderful sense of humor about himself; his life truly appears to be joyous, and filled with love and affection.

Part of what make the run such a successful one is the way that Millar turned a potential limitation of the format into a strength. Superman Adventures was very much for kids and non-comics fans, and thus had a throwback mandate of each issue standing on its own. This is a very rare thing in modern mainstream comics, with our obsession on multi-issue storyarcs that grow into multi-comic crossovers and 19 issue mega stories. For many writers I suspect such a format would be considered too restricting, but Mark Millar made it work issue after issue (with only one or two two-part stories, which truly deserved the treatment). These hyper-compressed narratives somehow never sacrificed their emotional core, and always contained some essential truth about Superman, or characters in his world, in their pages. Not content with done-in-ones, with issue 41 Millar went even further and told a full story with every page, 22 one-page stories in all focusing on Superman or some member of his supporting cast. In an age of decompression, this feat seems all the more impressive.

Some of Millar’s very best work was done with Superman’s villains, chief amongst them Lex Luthor. Issue 27, heavily featuring Superman’s greatest human foe, can make a legitimate claim to being the best of the run. Millar constructs the issue around a fairly well-worn plot, as a replacement hero comes onto the scene to make Superman look irrelevant. This replacement hero is revealed to have sinister intent, masterminded by Luthor, and is efficiently defeated. What makes the issue work are the small touches, the characters that drive the story. Here Luthor is impossibly brilliant, forever imperious, and monomanically obsessed. The story is riddled with nods to class-conflict, the white-collar Luthor despising ‘the cogs in his machine’ as he forces a restaurateur to clear out a restaurant for his meal, making jokes about the weight of his wallet, brain washing and using a working-class Superman villain to effect his scheme, or featuring a flashback to Lex Luthor’s modest childhood origins as a source of his hatred for Superman. Towards the issue’s conclusion, in the midst of self-reflection comes what seems to be a rare moment of awareness, as Luthor questions what he’s genuinely accomplished with all his wasted effort and resources. This, however, spirals into yet another insane diatribe about Superman. Lex Luthor is, after all, always right and is forever limited by his own perceived infallibility.

It’s a theme that Mark Millar will later play with in Red Son, but is echoed in another of Millar’s best Superman Adventure stories, the two part “Family Reunion”. This story concerns as Superman caught in an anti-matter blast that throws him one year into the future and, as it turns out, into another dimension entirely. There he comes face to face with a living Kryptonian city, saved and governed by Jor-El and Lara. The joyous homecoming is short lived as Kryptonopolis is not what Superman hoped it would be (heaven, once reached, rarely is) and Superman is forced to confront the insanity of his people and his own mother, as he fights side by side with his father to save earth. While the twist of Lara into a racist madwoman is uncomfortable (made moreso by Millar dedicating the story to his mother and father), it allows Superman to confront his cultural heritage, his direct parentage, and (allegorically, at least) the concept of racism. The story ends as it tries to underscore the importance of Ma & Pa Kent to Superman over his biological family (a conclusion, I have to admit, not quite earned by the preceding story). In the aftermath of “One Year without Superman” in this side dimension, we also have a look at the old question “Must There Be a Superman?” and, curiously, Millar’s answer seems to be “not necessarily”. With Superman gone, Lex Luthor has stepped up and transformed the world for the better (albeit in uncomfortable ways, such as forcibly reprogramming criminals’ minds). Luthor and a cadre of reprogrammed criminals become Earth’s first line of defense against the Kryptonian invasion and even Superman later admits “It seemed to be doing okay in the year Superman was missing, Pa. In fact, guys like Luthor actually bloomed.” For a two part story it’s dense with relevance and subtext and is extremely specific to Superman and his world. It’s an accomplishment by any standard.

The art for the majority of the run is provided by Aluir Amancio, with inks by the incomparable Terry Austin. The effect is sublime, with Amancio’s clear, expressive characters far exceeding the vitality of their moving-picture inspirations, and Austin’s ink giving the whole thing a gritty, illustrative texture that makes it feel fuller. The characters truly act here, like something out of Toth; there’s no cheating, no shortcuts, no flourishes-without-purpose. This is pure, old school storytelling, with every line a deliberate choice, action and page layout that flows as naturally and inexorably as if it really were animated. There were a number of great artists on the book, including Mike Manly, but Millar was especially blessed to get Amancio as his regular collaborator.

Millar’s Superman Adventures regularly explores the complex relationship between Superman and the world around him; his fear at what he’s capable of, the expectations of others and of himself, the way his villains simultaneously hate him and need him (Millar’s favorite, Mr. Mxyzptlk, especially) , his place in the greater DC superhero milieu. It does so with energy, density and novelty, each and every issue communicating just what puts the “Super” in “Superman”. It is, truly, quite the adventure. You should see for yourself.


#17

Age Of Sentry was fun but very pastich-y, quite tongue-in-cheek. Enjoyable though.


#18

You summed up my own feelings about Superman far more eloquently than I would be able to.

I recall that Warren Ellis did a tribute to Millar’s Superman Adventures run back when he was writing his Come in Alone column on CBR. If I can find a link to it, I’ll post it here.

Edit: Have just checked the Come in Alone archive…It wasn’t there. Must have read it somewhere else. Sorry.


#19

I’m not sure if it’s the same one, but he wrote a column that’s titled something like “DC Will Never Let Me Write Superman”, that essentially posits that Superman’s story is, primarily, a love story, between he and Lois.

It’s an interesting take, but more narrow than I prefer. I’d say it’s a love story, but it’s a love story between Superman and HUMANITY.

“The suchness of things when unchained from the Law, each molecule an orchid, each atom a pearl to the attentive consciousness–this is our cult. – This is Superman.”

That, too, is the heart of Clark Kent for me. There are a lot of competing, equally valid takes on the Superman/Clark Kent dynamic, but to me Clark is Superman engaging in art, with Clark is greatest artistic achievement. A living, breathing, thinking person, a perfect reflection of the glory of the humanity he sees around him, a glory of fragility, of failure. Rarely are praises sung to it, but ephemerality no doubt has an enviable beauty to it, seen from a position of endlessness. Pain is the result, after all, of sensitivity, and all that entails.

Briefly back to Ellis, he did an interesting take on the Superman mythos with SUPREME: BLUE ROSE, which was one of my favorite minis from last year (behind Sandman Overture and Annihilator). It’s basic thesis, in hindsight, was that superheroes, and Superman in particular, are catastrophe. That not only does the universe not need them, but that they tend only to break things - bones, hearts, the laws of physics.


#20

Here’s the Superman/Ellis thing I’m talking about (1998)

WHY THEY’LL NEVER LET ME WRITE SUPERMAN

Brief, Disconnected Notes On An American Mythology—Warren Ellis

I’m not a superhero fan. I had to learn the subgenre when I began writing for the States. I’ve had to learn to read them. Now, I can appreciate some of them. Not many, it has to be said… but some.

The one I always wanted to like was Superman.

Superman is a uniquely American icon, and the first true myth of the electronic age. One special facet to it is that it began as a myth told to children by children. Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster were youths when they created Superman, a far cry from today’s handful of twentysomethings and carloads of middle-aged men who give today’s children their superheroes.

(Perhaps this is why, to me, a strong adult story told with Superman would seem curiously inappropriate – and, conversely, the 20th Century social nightmare given inky form that is The Batman seems to me strangely inappropriate as figure of children’s tales.)

Superman, then, is the agent of modern fable – the most compelling fable the 20th Century gave us. Soap opera is unworthy of him, and, as has been proved many times, is not big enough to contain him and the central concepts of his story. At the heart of myth and legend is Romance. That is not the same as the weak, whiny demands of soap opera that begin with “characterization” and crap on with demands for ever more levels of “conflict”, “jeopardy”, “ensemble writing”, “tight continuity” and all the rest of that bollocks. These things are unimportant. Many of them just completely get in the way of the job at hand.

SUPERMAN requires only the sweep and invention and vision that myth demands, and the artistry and directness and clean hands that Romance requires.

SUPERMAN is about someone trying their best to save the world, one day at a time; and it’s about that person’s love for that one whose intellect and emotion and sheer bloody humanity completes him. It’s about Superman, and it’s about Lois and Clark. And that’s all there is. That’s the spine. That must be protected to the death, not lost in a cannonade succession of continuing stories.

That’s what, in the continuing rush to top the last plotline, I see getting lost.

I understand, accept and even to an extent agree with what’s going on; The SUPERMAN creators are trying to keep the books vital, keep them moving, keep those sales spikes coming. But they seem to me to be getting away from the sheer wonder of the Superman myth.

(The single title that does seem to be hewing to the line I’ve just scratched in the sand is Mark Millar’s charming and energetic SUPERMAN ADVENTURES.)

What SUPERMAN must avoid is genericism. It must live up to its billing. The comics must crackle with invention and mythic power. They must always resolutely be of Now, be utterly modern – if not utterly of Tomorrow. They must thrill and frighten and inspire and give us furiously to think.

Crucially, they must not simply offer us a parade of costumes and odd single name/titles. There must be stories where something important is at stake. Something worth saving, be it the life of a human, the soul of a city, the fate of a world, or the future of a child.

Mike Carlin always characterizes the ongoing thrust of the Superman titles as the “Never-Ending Battle”. Those battles must have stakes beyond those of smacking about this month’s new costume with an odd name.

(Superman tackles natural disaster and human crime. It’s his belief that nothing else falls within his purview. War and the politics of famine, he feels, are part of human government, and so not his place. He will not interfere in the growth of the human race, as much as it sometimes breaks his heart.

He merely, obliviously, shows the human race, by example, how to be great.)