Friday, 2 October 2009

Why this era?

For as long as I can remember, I have been interested in Superman. In my early teens, I was fascinated by seeing the cover to Roger Stern's novelisation of the The Death of Superman storyline - The Death And Life Of Superman - displayed in bookshops, along with the relative popularity of Superman: Doomsday And Beyond radio series that was playing on UK radio at the time.

When I finally got hold of a copy of the novel, I was astonished at the depth of the universe contained within. Nothing was simple. Supergirl wasn't Superman's cousin, she was a shape-changing alien from an alternate universe where Superman had killed three alternate Kryptonian supervillains who had escaped into our own, gone crazy, become sane again, turned into Supergirl and shacked up with a young clone of Lex Luthor posing as Luthor's illegitimate son but with the brain of the original... wow, there was a lot more story out there than just the death and return of Superman.

On a subsequent holiday to America, I picked up my first comic book, an issue (sadly lost, and currently unidentified) from the build up to the Fall of Metropolis storyline from 1994. Diving into a storyline with multiple plotlines spreading back years might not seem to be the best way to start getting into comics, but again, the apparent complexity of the storylines had me hooked.

For most of the next decade, my exposure to Superman was limited to graphic novel reprints made available through my local library and bookshops, and dabblings through the internet to discover in more detail the stories that had happened before. Finally, in 2004, I took the plunge, and opened subscriptions to Action Comics, Adventures of Superman, and Superman, in the month that Chuck Austen, Greg Rucka and Brian Azzarello took over writing.

As much as I have enjoyed many of the stories published since I have regularly collected Superman, there is something that draws me to all the stories published since 1986. I think that a large part of it is the total reboot of everything that has come before. There is a definite starting point for Superman that require no previous knowledge of anything published before the Man of Steel miniseries. John Byrne and Marv Wolfman, along with the many writers who have contributed since their runs, were free to pretty much do what they wanted with the characters, and the fact that those who have come along since built upon their work for many years only strengthens everyone's work.

As I read these comics for the blog, many of them will be a second read for me. I have read them all at least once, and certain storylines have been reread many times thanks to their inclusion in various trade paperbacks and collections. Many issues, however, have never been collected. (DC are slowly getting there, thanks to their Man of Steel series of trades, but due to the constraints of the publishing industry, these are not being released as quickly as many would like.)

Many of the events within these comics are new to me. I knew, for instance, the ultimate conclusion to the alternate-Zod/Matrix storyline, but almost none of the details and, indeed, the whole section of the plot regarding Matrix's first appearance on the 'right' earth, or even the Time-Trapper, Legion of Super-Heroes, and pre-Crisis Superboy's involvement.

I'm looking forward to documenting my reactions to these comics, and I hope you'll enjoy reading them.

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