Monday, April 29, 2013

Adventures of Superman #1, Now 99% Controversy-Free!

So the first issue of the extremely controversial Adventures of Superman series has been released with very little fanfare. DC Comics hasn't even made so much as a Facebook post about it (UPDATE: They just made a Facebook post, at about 3:45pm EST).

You can get it for 99 cents on the Comixology App HERE.

If you haven't been following this particular controversy, I'll sum it up for you:

Last February, DC Comics announced it would be launching Adventures of Superman, a "digital-first" anthology series with a whole mess of awesome creators, including Marv Wolfman, Bruce Timm, Jeff Parker, Christos Gage, and a lot of my other "Must Buy" artists and writers. The announcement came along with a really nice piece of Superman art by Chris Samnee.

The trouble was, it was also announced that the first two issues would be illustrated by Chris Sprouse (who is a talented artist and seems like a nice enough dude), and written by Orson Scott Card (who is a beloved Young Adult author and also ONE OF THE MOST VILE HOMOPHOBES ON THE PLANET).

An aside: To be totally honest, I wasn't actually aware of Card's complete batshit assholery until this controversy started. I worked in a bookshop for five years, and sold literally hundreds of copies of Ender's Game - often on school reading lists - without hearing a peep about this; nor did I hear any mention of it when he wrote Ultimate Iron Man for Marvel Comics. I read Ender's Game as a teenager and wasn't a fan, so I never bothered looking him up or anything, I guess.

However, even the tiniest bit of internet research turns up that he is the great-great-grandson of noted polygamist horrorshow Brigham Young, he is a devout Mormon and has written Mormon musicals(!), he is a denier of both global warming and evolution, he has served on the board of directors for the poorly-disguised hate-group National Organization for Marriage, and he is one of the most ignorant and hateful little men in the fucking universe.

In 1990, Card called for homosexuality to be criminalized. In later years he backpedaled on that particular statement, alternately saying that he doesn't believe it anymore or that he never said it in the first place. However, he has continued writing some of the vilest and most ignorant things regarding homosexuality that I've ever read, including this essay where he claims that same-sex marriage will lead to the end of civilization, and this interview where he famously said "Gay Rights is a collective delusion." (The Salon interview - titled My Favorite Author, My Worst Interview - is definitely worth a read.)

Thus, when it was announced that this guy - this fucking guy - was going to be writing about Superman, many folks suspected that he may not be the best person to be talking about Truth, Justice, and The American Way. And things sort of exploded all across the internet. DC Comics pulled the "the personal views of individuals associated with DC Comics are just that" excuse, which doesn't actually fly with me. Retailers across the country were locked in a massive debate over whether or not they'd be willing to carry the printed collection of the comics. The media jumped all over the story. By March, Chris Sprouse decided to bail on the project, which was a possibly career-saving move. Last I've heard, the Card story has been pushed back... Though I don't know who the heck would be willing to draw the thing now.

So here we are. Jeff Parker and Chris Samnee have had their story bumped to the forefront, and I'm really glad for that. I sort of view Chris Samnee as the biggest victim of this whole mess: Any time anybody in the media discussed Card's disgusting views, it was accompanied by Samnee's promotional art.

Now, if you read my weekly reviews, you probably know that I am a dude who loves Jeff Parker's work. I rave about Red She-Hulk and Dark Avengers constantly, and he is easily one of my favorite writers in comics today.

So, after all that controversy, all the arguments, all the hard-to-read articles about hate-mongering and bigotry... We've ended up with a fun little Superman story.

The story itself is quite short: the digital version is broken up into handfuls of panels, but I'd say that in terms of a printed comic it's probably 8 or 9 pages. It's not perfect - Lex Luthor testing evil formulas on meth addicts is a little evil even for a supervillain - but it's overall just Superman trying to save people from a super-fight while also trying to save the person he's fighting, which I think really nails down the whole idea of Superman as a character.

So yeah. Ultimately, I'd say it's definitely worth a buck. If the Card story ever gets printed, don't buy it... but good folks like Jeff Parker and Chris Samnee deserve a bigger shot at Superman, and deserve our support.

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