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Wednesday, October 24, 2012 

Superman leaves the Daily Planet so he can become a blogger, but I think they've scuttled the potential already

USA Today's told that the Man of Steel is going to leave his job at the Daily Planet to work on websites:
In Superman issue 13, the Man of Steel's alter ego, mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent, quits the Metropolis newspaper that has been his employer since the DC Comics superhero's earliest days in 1940.

But that's just one of many plot points of note in the new issue, available digitally and in comic shops Wednesday. Superman pushes the limits of his powers, Clark sees a disturbing text message regarding Lois Lane and her new boyfriend, and a new Kryptonian threat is also introduced that will begin a crossover story involving the stars of Superboy and Supergirl.
This sounds vaguely like the time Hal Jordan quit his job with Ferris Aircrafts in 1966, all because he was sad that Carol was getting engaged to another man before he could propose, and couldn't bring himself to continue working there afterwards, a move that wasn't popular and led to sales declines for Green Lantern. But it also ties in with the shades-of-Quesada editorial mandate that Clark and Lois can no longer be together, and with that kind of bias overshadowing everything, that's one more reason why this isn't bound to impress. The crossover doesn't help matters either.
"I wasn't going to test the waters. I was just going to do a cannonball in the Super-verse," says new Superman writer Scott Lobdell, who began his run on the book alongside his Red Hood and the Outlaws artist Kenneth Rocafort last month with a special zero issue.

DC's "The New 52" relaunch a year ago changed a good bit of Superman's status quo, such as the fact that Clark and Lois weren't married anymore. He's moved on, of course — Superman and Wonder Woman recently shared a kiss in the pages of Justice League.
Lobdell doesn't need to test anything; it's already been done, and badly, with the editorially edicted affair with Wonder Woman. (Honestly, if they really had to conjure up a romance between 2 heroes, why not Green Lantern and WW? Even that wouldn't be so obvious.) That's one of the reasons why he's leaving the Daily Planet for now, and if they're going to be that negative with Lois, then they're not helping anything.
However, his still-strong feelings for Lois, combined with Daily Planet editor in chief Perry White getting on his case for not enough scoops on the Superman beat and his boss' boss Morgan Edge also giving him a hard time, leads to a Jerry Maguire-type moment where he quits in front of the whole staff and rails on how journalism has given way to entertainment — in a not-so-mild-mannered fashion. (The Daily Planet has also been moving more toward the real world, too, with the newspaper becoming part of the multimedia corporation Galaxy Broadcasting.)

"This is really what happens when a 27-year-old guy is behind a desk and he has to take instruction from a larger conglomerate with concerns that aren't really his own," Lobdell explains.

"Superman is arguably the most powerful person on the planet, but how long can he sit at his desk with someone breathing down his neck and treating him like the least important person in the world?"
The funny thing here is how in a way, they're reflecting the situation with Time Warner, who've long marginalized the comics publishing arm in favor of all the toys, movies and TV shows they could make out of them instead. And in a way, that's what even Lobdell is doing - taking cues from conglomerate heads for what they think makes the stories tick. It's also close to hilarious how Superman's made to argue how reporting's given way to tabloid storytelling when that's what DC's come down to for many years too: they've gone the way of cheap publicity stunts since the 90s and meaningless character deaths/villifications, which is almost the same thing. Yet making an argument to that effect in comics is meaningless if they don't make any attempt to fix the errors they've made.

Curiously enough, Lobdell seems to be trying to placate the audience with the following, or is he?
Lobdell's favorite part? When Clark calls for his peers to stand up for truth, justice "and yeah — I'm not ashamed to say it — the American way," a nod to the Man of Steel's history.

"While it has its problems, there are a lot of good things to say about America and the American way, and I'm glad Clark is standing up for her," says Lobdell, who also writes Superboy and Teen Titans for DC. "I'm happy to be involved in that and his declarations."
Granted, the American Way has been one of the best components of Superman lore for many years, and great if he thought to include it here. But the sad part is that he may have hinted he's got a problem with it for the same reasons the 2006 movie did, and doesn't have a high opinion of the idea either. If so, then he's only dampened the impact his announcement could've had.
Entertainment reporter Cat Grant also quits the Planet with him, and Lobdell says she'll be bringing "a whole other set of skills" to their next venture. It probably won't be at another media outlet in Metropolis, though.
And I'm betting her son who was murdered by the Toyman in 1993 won't be in the DCnU either. That's another grave mistake unrepaired.
"I don't think he's going to be filling out an application anywhere," the writer says. "He is more likely to start the next Huffington Post or the next Drudge Report than he is to go find someone else to get assignments or draw a paycheck from."
Alas, there's every chance he'd be written as more interested in setting up a site more like the former than the latter. Huffpo is one of the crummiest left-wing news sites around, with too few positives and far too many negatives.

On the surface, the idea of Clark working on building an online news site is intriguing, but doing it all at the Daily Planet and Perry White's expense doesn't help. Besides, news about Superman isn't the only thing Perry ever employed him for, and unlike Peter Parker and J. Jonah Jameson, their relationship until now has usually been much more respectable.

On the crossover called H'el on Earth, they say:
H'el is another man from Superman's long-dead home planet of Krypton and will be "a pretty horribly tragic character" in the mythology rather than a villain such as Lex Luthor, according to Lobdell.

When H'el first meets Superman, the writer says, his first inclination won't be to destroy the Man of Steel. Instead, the reaction will be more akin to him thinking, "Here is a guy who speaks Kryptonese with a Kansas twang."

"He sees Superman as an embarrassment, a Kryptonian who's been completely watered down and sullied by having spent his entire life on Earth," Lobdell says. "It's only going to be over the course of several issues that H'el starts to realize that, yeah, Superman is somebody who can complicate his plans moving forward."

The animosity is going to grow over several issues, though, and H'el's intentions are so noble that he'll be pulling Supergirl, Kara Zor-El, into his orbit, Lobdell adds. "So Superman is going to have to not only worry about He'l but worry about He'l and how it affects his cousin moving forward."
I can guess where this is going - Supergirl is going to either go bad, or get badly injured by this new ex-Kryptonian. The only embarrassment here is writers like Lobdell who're willingly going along with this mandate.
While many crossovers and events in comic history sometimes causes a series to slam on the brakes to accommodate the bigger story, "H'el on Earth" won't waylay Lobdell's other subplots. For example, in issue 14, the first seven pages include Lois banging on Clark's door and wondering what his reasons were for quitting the Planet.
For the answer, she should turn to Matt Idelson, one of the insider staff who broke up their marriage and intends to see to it that they remain that way. And just because Lois turns up in the following issue doesn't mean the crossover won't be in effect, or that it won't be a time and money waster.
"It's a big day for Superman every day," he says. "This notion that we're going to wait till next year to see Superman in all his Super-glory is a misperception. It starts with issue 13."
It ended long before.

The most absurd thing about a story that seemingly argues about print becoming a dying medium is that it's taking place in a book with a pamphlet format, something that's long become outmoded and is bound to expire sooner or later.

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See, since nothing they do is from the heart, nothing is going to last. It's just endless churn for its own sake marketed with spin that would make a Barry Soetoro apologist blush.

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