Friday, April 30, 2010

I Shouldn't Even Be Writing This Right Now...

It's been a crazy week. At the beginning of the week, I was informed that I won a Fellowship to the prestigious Writers Boot Camp program, with a development deal on the line. Of course, assignments, which I'll be getting every two weeks for the next six months, start immediately.

Yesterday, I found out that I was a semifinalist in the Storyboard TV Writing Competition. This time, a potential production deal is on the line. They requested a rewrite (in addition to a bunch of paperwork) by May 1st. Yeah, THAT May 1st. Like, tomorrow. Like, yeah, I found out yesterday.

Add to this the fact that I have a weird work situation which I won't get into here, but the bottom line is I have a bunch of catching up to do in that arena as well, plus I recently hired a script consultant who gave me a bunch more work for two weeks from now, and I find myself in a ridiculous workload/deadline situation.

I read once that being a writer is like having homework for the rest of your life. Seems that the teachers are piling it on this week.

Anyway, that's why the blogging is suffering (no excuse for why it was suffering, say, three weeks ago, but then, my stated policy is not to make excuses for not blogging).

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Five Comic Book Series Where Superman is the Bad Guy

In my parents' generation, Superman was the be-all and end-all of superheroes. However, by the time I got to reading comic books, readership had gotten a little more sophisticated, and a lot of people realized that a hero who could do anything and couldn't really be hurt (except by the contrived use of Kryptonite, or a villain who was "even stronger" than Superman) was not that interesting.

Today, that generation is largely the one writing (and reading) comics, so the take on Superman has gotten a little different. In effect, a number of writers have realized that it's much more interesting if Superman is the bad guy. Not a temporary bad guy, like when Superman is under the effects of red kryptonite, but really a nearly all-powerful being of questionable morality. If you like your Superman evil, here are five guys you should definitely take a look at.

The Plutonian (Irredeemable; Mark Waid, Peter Krause)

In probably one of the best examples of the genre going today, Mark Waid explores the idea of the evil Superman with a character who didn't start out that way. That is, he was the same do-gooder Superman was, day in and day out, despite his growing umbrage at the complete lack of appreciation and feeling of being taken for granted by the citizens he protects. Until something really bad happened. After that bad thing, the Plutonian decided he might as well take the world for his own, destroying anything or anyone that got in his way, including, for example, the nation of Singapore, which he utterly destroys when they unite to resist him. What was the really bad thing? Can anyone stop the Plutonian? Check out Irredeemable.

The Homelander (The Boys; Garth Ennis, Darick Robertson)
Is the Homelander evil, or just supremely self-interested? In a world where virtually all superheroes are raging fonts of pure id, this Superman fits right in. He does lead a "Justice League" type group (The Seven) dedicated to saving humanity. On the other hand, that group is in the pocket of a mega-corporation, and he takes time out from his good deeds to, for example, force a young new female recruit to the group to perform oral sex on him, so he's pretty far from a "good" guy.

Hyperion (Supreme Power; J. Michael Straczynski, Gary Frank)

40 years ago, Roy Thomas and John Buscema created the Squadron Supreme, a group designed to be Marvel Comics' answer to the Justice League of America. Each JLA member had its Squadron alternate, with Hyperion, of course, being Superman. Ten years later, Mark Gruenwald reimagined this group with the revolutionary idea that a team of unbeatable superheroes would naturally decide it was appropriate for them to govern the world (this idea reached its apotheosis in the groundbreaking The Authority, by Warren Ellis). In the 21st century, J. Michael Stracyznski reimagined Hyperion again. In this incarnation, the U.S. government, seeing the unidentified object streaking through the sky, took the young alien away from "Jonathan and Martha" immediately, raising him from infancy to be a super weapon. Naturally, spending your life as a government tool gets grating after awhile, and as soon as Hyperion was old enough to know better, he set about using his Supreme Power to rule the world.

Ultraman (Earth-2; Grant Morrison, Frank Quitely)

While these others are merely imitations of Superman, Ultraman really IS Superman, the Superman of a parallel universe where good and evil are reversed, going back at least as far as Benedict Arnold heroically betraying the British for the cause of the United States. In Earth-2, it's a given that the supers run things, and the real conflict is between these godlike being themselves. The biggest conflict, naturally, is between Ultraman and his world's Batman counterpart, Owlman. The main point of contention? They're both sleeping with Wonder Woman (Superwoman, in this reality).

Omni-Man (Invincible; Robert Kirkman, Cory Walker)

Invincible tells the story of Mark Grayson, a seemingly charmed teenager whose father happens to be Earth's greatest hero. Things get better and better for Mark, as he develops his own nearly limitless super powers and gets a hot girlfriend to boot. Of course, this wouldn't be much of a story if things didn't go downhill, and they do in a big way, when Mark discovers that his father, Omni-Man, is no hero at all, but in fact the lead scout of an alien invasion force. Eventually, after fathering children with aliens from two different worlds he was supposed to conquer, Omni-Man seems to have a change of heart, but it may be too late.

So to repeat, if you like your Superman on the wrong side of the law, head to your local bookstore and check out one of these titles.