Only been waiting for, oh, almost 43 years…
DC on Tuesday announced that it would be producing Superman ’78 — a new, six-issue comics series by Robert Venditti and Wilfredo Torres, based on the cinematic world of Richard Donner and Christopher Reeve’s Man of Steel. (Batman ’89 is coming too; click here for all the details. They’ll blow your mind.)
I can say without exaggeration that this is the one Superman comic book that I’ve only ever really, truly wanted to read – and here’s why:
When Superman: The Movie came out at the end of 1978, I wasn’t all that eager to see it. Even though it was a big comic book movie, I just wasn’t that much a fan of the Man of Steel.
I mean, I appreciated that he was the alpha male of comics and DC’s biggest hero and all that. But I was a Batman kid through and through and Superman comics kind of left me cold. Sure, I liked his cartoons and old TV show well enough, but really, his screen appearances paled next to the Caped Crusader’s and even the other guys’ Spider-Man.
But I did see it pretty soon after it came out while visiting a cousin and I loved it. For the first time in my almost 12 years, I understood what made Superman so great – his confidence and kindness, his bravery and humility. I ended up seeing Supeman in theaters three times during that initial run and once it hit HBO, I watched it over and over and over – at least 25 times overall. I memorized it – and have seen it dozens of times since.
Naturally, I gave the comics another shot, but – and no disrespect intended at all to the creators of the time – they just didn’t grab me. Just one of those things, but as much as I tried, the only Superman I loved, the only one I related to, was the one that Richard Donner and Christopher Reeve gave us.
And the same holds true today.
My first foray into regular Superman reading was when John Byrne took over in the ’80s; his version, which I really dug, was the closest to the Donner/Reeve version I’d seen and it’s stuck with me to this day as the best ever put to page. I’ve also loved the work of Geoff Johns (with or without Donner as a co-writer) and Gary Frank, not to mention the all-too-brief Peter Tomasi/Dan Jurgens/Pat Gleason Rebirth era.
What all those comics have in common is that Reeve’s Superman is at their core. For years now, whenever I’ve read Superman, if the Man of Steel says or does something that seems out of character – if I can’t imagine Christopher Reeve saying it or doing it — then I’m taken right out of the story and, just as likely, the series itself.
But even at their best, those versions of Superman are echoes of the magic captured by Donner and Reeve – not to mention Margot Kidder, Gene Hackman, Marlon Brando, Terence Stamp and the rest.
Superman: The Movie remains, more than 42 years after its release, the definitive version of the Man of Tomorrow – and now, finally, after decades of pining, I will finally be able to read a comic starring that very one. Not a reasonable facsimile, not one who is inspired by the landmark film. That Superman. (Unlike the 1989 Batman movie, there were never Superman: The Movie or Superman II adaptations, thanks to an onerous licensing deal with original screenwriter Mario Puzo. Adaptations of the execrable Superman III and IV featured a more generic Man of Steel.)
I have so many questions, as I’m sure you do: Who will be the primary villain? Brainiac, finally? Other members of the rogue’s gallery?
And how will they handle the “casting”? What actors are available – and which aren’t? Mike Allred got away in the Batman ’66 comic with basing his Poison Ivy on Ann-Margret and (thanks to yours truly’s drumbeating) his Ra’s al Ghul on Christopher Lee. But those were still just pastiches, thanks to legal issues. What tricks will we see this time?
Plus, there’s the million-dollar question: Will it be good? Writer Rob Venditti has the chops for sure and artist Wilfredo Torres has been showing off his Superman: The Movie bona fides on Twitter for a few years now. (Click here.)
All I can tell you is that I absolutely, positively cannot wait to find out. Because after four-plus decades, I will get to read the one Superman comic book series I have been waiting for.
Superman ’78 will debut digitally July 27 and will be collected in both print issue form and hardcover. (Click here for more details).
— 13 GREAT ILLUSTRATIONS: The SUPERMAN ’78 Art of WILFREDO TORRES. Click here.
— 13 GREAT ILLUSTRATIONS: The BATMAN ’89 Art of JOE QUINONES. Click here.
— The SUPERMAN ’78/BATMAN ’89 Comic Book Index of News and Features. Click here.