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February 08, 2008



Cap giving in to German existentialism... Just doesn't seem right, does it?

Mark Engblom

LOL! I hadn't looked at it from that angle, Siskoid! You're right....after thawing out from his long sleep, most of his "recent" memories probably involved fighting Nazis...so to fall into the black hole of German existentialism is especially tragic for Cap!

Wes C

I've heard more than one person talk about how great Busiek's run has been.

I haven't followed Supes in 20 years (has it been that long since Byrne?!?!?!?) so I'm out of the know. From reading your post I know you obviously hated Berganza's run. What made Kurt's run so special?

I might have to pick up some of it when it's collected (has any of it been collected?)

Any thoughts on Byrne's handling of the Man of Steel?

I ask you because you seem to be the biggest Superman fan I've run across.



Wes, have you checked out All-Star Superman? I know it gets lots of raves.

Mark Engblom

"From reading your post I know you obviously hated Berganza's run. What made Kurt's run so special?"

As he alluded to in the interview, I liked how Kurt returned Superman to being a more confident and capable figure than he'd been for many, many years. First, he dramatically increased his intelligence closer to what it had been years ago (so he no longer needed to run to a constellation of smart guys for technical support). Second, his Superman tackled problems with grit and a largely positive outlook...a real contrast to the tentative, navel-gazing whiner the previous regime saddled us with. Third, he returned a level of leadership, moral authority and "gravitas" to the character that I thought had been gone for good.

"I might have to pick up some of it when it's collected (has any of it been collected?)"

Yeah, most of it's been collected. Here are some I'd recommend:

Superman: Up, Up, and Away! (co-written by Busiek and Geoff Johns), Superman: Back in Action, and Superman: Camelot Falls, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.

"Any thoughts on Byrne's handling of the Man of Steel?"

I wasn't fond of it. It seemed to be a classic case of "throwing the baby out with the bathwater", where the changes were either too jarring and radical (Krypton), capricious (hinting at psionic powers), or ultimately damaging (doing away with Superboy and effectively knee-capping the Legion of Superheroes). Yes, Superman definitely needed an upgrade, but Byrne's reboot was much more radical than I think it needed to be. Maybe that's why I like Busiek and Johns' run to much, since they're bringing back alot of the pre-Byrne vibe (at least the stuff that worked well).

"I ask you because you seem to be the biggest Superman fan I've run across."

I probably am!

Mark Engblom

"Wes, have you checked out All-Star Superman? I know it gets lots of raves."

I'll second that, Wes. All-Star Superman is a masterpiece (though I'm still warming to Frank Quitely's artwork). Thanks, Rich!


All-Star Superman is great! Your posts about the Busiek run make me really curious to read it-- i was a big fan of Marvels and an even bigger fan of Astro CIty, so I imagine he'd be a good fit for Supes-- he's one of comics' last great optimists. What did you think of Astro City, btw? I would think it fits in really well with the kinds of "old school" stuff you often blog about.

Interesting take on the Byrne run. I only read it for the first half-year or so. I picked it up because I so loved Byrne's FF run (I agree with what you posted awhile back-- the Fantastic Four is the best work he ever did), and was curious about what he'd do with superman, esp. given all the hype. And I was...underwhelmed. I didn't think it was bad-- I liked the Man of Steel miniseries-- but when it went to a regular monthly title, it just felt too spread out across the titles and not as compelling as it should have, but I also was not a regular superman reader, so I always felt like there might have been stuff I was missing (that said, I did enjoy the Lois and Clark series that drew heavily on Byrne's run-- that later years don't make sense, but the first two seasons are a fun, screwball spin on the characters).

Mark Engblom

"What did you think of Astro City, btw? I would think it fits in really well with the kinds of "old school" stuff you often blog about."

You're right, it really did fit in with the stuff I like. I loved the continuation of the "one off" perspective Busiek had such great success with in Marvels, which I felt lent a real feeling of awe and mystery to characters that may not have had the same impact if they were introduced the traditional "up close and personal" way.

My interest waned as the delays increased, mostly due to Busiek's serious health problems (he struggled....or is probably still struggling with, some nasty mercury poisoning), and the recent "Dark Age" storyline just seems too sprawling and ambitious to suit its infrequent schedule. However, the fairly recent Astro City Special: Samaritan (2006) is highly recommended reading. It's a done-in-one story featuring the history between Superman analog Samaritan and his arch-enemy Infedel, with fascinating sub-text on the strengthening aspects of conflict and the sort of bizarre "kinship" a lifetime of enmity can bring.


I was a fan of the Byrne run at the time, but ultimately it was a mistake to reboot him to such a point. Removing and restarting much of the Superman mythos diminished Superman's standing as DC's premier hero. Suddenly, he didn't seem like the first of them all, but the newest kid on the block as classic villain after classic villain (and concept) were introduced "for the first time".


That panel seems particularly ironic, with Bucky's return.


Busiek's "Secret Identity" is probably my favorite single TPB ever. It is comics writing at its pinnacle.

Mark Engblom

Yes! Secret Identity is a must-read.

Ivan Wolfe

If only Bucky were here

Of course, it turns out he is. And now Cap's dead.

See what wishing gets you?


(Spoilers from 1963 within)

I've been a bit puzzled by Cap's reaction to Rick Jones in Avengers #4. He seems convinced that Rick and Bucky are identical, have the same voice, etc., to the point he believes Rick is Bucky. I can see the mistaken identity momentarily or before Rick steps out of the shadows, but COME ON. That's just strange behavior. Then, just as quickly, Cap lets the notion pass when Rick says it isn't true. Eh?


I think Avengers #4 only makes sense if you assume Cap is suffering from serious (but fortunately temporary) brain damage as a result of being frozen.

How else to explain the bit with the Avengers disembarking their sub before him, Cap comes out, assumes the Avengers just stranded him for no particular reason, and sees life-sized sculptures in poses suggestive of "No! Don't turn me to stone!"

Cap's reaction ("Ah, I suppose art styles change a lot in 20 years") is not one of a man possessing all his faculties....

Mark Engblom

LOL! Exactly, Rich and Suedenim! I remember cracking a smile when I read those sequences. Poor Cap....the guy's JUMPY! However, I do note that he observes that "the girls are still as lovely as ever"....so he can't be TOO messed up.

Wes C

Thanks guys for the recommendations on the All Star Superman, I'll have to check them out!

It might take me a bit to get past some of Quitely's art(something about his linework both attracts and repels me), but I'm sure I'll enjoy myself

I really enjoyed the first year or so of Brynes run. Of course I was about 14-15 years old and Byrne was THE MAN as far as I was concerned. I think I was still on a high from his Fantastic Four work.

As an adult now I can really appreciate how jarring and senseless the Superman reboot must have seemed to the older fans at the time.


I was about the same age, but very familiar with the "pre-Byrne" Superman. I liked the idea of Byrne's reboot quite a bit, but wound up kinda disappointed with Byrne's actual comics. Lots of "retellings" of Silver Age stories that didn't really add much, and lots of the new stuff was kinda mediocre too (e.g., so-so villains like Bloodsport and Rampage.)

What I really *loved* was the oft-overlooked-at-the-time Wolfman/Ordway series. Jerry Ordway's still perhaps my #1 Superman artist. (Another oft-forgotten factoid is that the new Lex Luthor was basically Wolfman's concept.)

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