Wednesday, April 9, 2014
Look! Up on the shelf...
Have you ever really liked a band, comedian or an artist or anyone creative for that matter, followed their work for a while and then had some hipster store clerk let you know they think the new stuff is crap and that they like their early work better?
Because everyone knows all artsier-than thou retail store clerks are psychic, they can look at you and your purchases and know for a fact you couldn't possibly have any taste. Success ruins anything and anyone with a job buying current works of anything or anyone good must just now be jumping on the band wagon.
Well, hold on to your Barrista apron...
Sure Superman is everywhere. Always has been. These days he's got gritty new costumes, and he's fighting planets and rapey new versions of older villains. He's starring in TV shows, cartoons, big budget movies with big budget stars and snazzy computer effects. But I like his early work much better.
Sure the earlier work it was rough around the edges, crude in it's execution, still inventing itself, possibly even unrecognizable in some ways to modern comics readers. But this is a Superman who takes on real issues, the important issues of his time, and while the stories and characters are simplistic, way smaller in scale than the mass genocides and mega-crossover epics of today, they are seemingly loftier and more important. More real. The villains and perils were part of peoples real lives. Our lives. Bullies, corporate fat-cats, union busters, corrupt businessmen and politicians. The hero in these tales, is saving us.
What could be more relevant today, as we face frustrating unemployment, and underemployment, during the greatest income disparity we've ever known. Bankers and Wallstreeters admitting to corruption, yet paying no real price as the real victims lose their homes, their retirement savings. Corrupt politicians infringing on peoples rights. Senseless mass violence. So many of the hardships we suffer today harken back to the days when we could see a still rough around the edges super man standing up for the little guy.
DC Comics has been re-printing of the earliest Golden Age Superman adventures in a series of books called Superman Chronicles. You can still find them online, or in your local comics shop or local booksellers. I highly recommend you do. I've read the first five volumes already, and they are great fun.
Some other time we'll talk about the old time radio show or the early animated shorts. Or George Reeves...