According to court testimony, the character "Superman" made his first appearance in comic books on April 18, 1938. It happened to be in the first issue of a title called Action Comics, a new anthology book containing several short stories about action heroes with Superman featured on the cover and in the opening story.
Also debuting in that issue were the characters of "Clark Kent", Superman's alter ego, and "Lois Lane", both reporters working for a big-city newspaper called the Daily Star. The Daily Planet, editor-in-chief Perry White, photographer Jimmy Olson, arch villain Lex Luthor, even the name of the planet "Krypton" would not appear until later, added to the Superman mythos as his popularly grew, expanding into his own featured title Superman a year later and then beyond the printed page into other entertainment media: the Fleisher Brothers' animated shorts, a radio series, the Kirk Alyn movie serials and the George Reeves television series.
So, today officially marks Superman and Lois Lane's 75th birthdays.
Happy Birthday, you two!
Perhaps not coincidentally, this week also marked the debut of the third and final official trailer of Superman's latest appearance on the big screen. This new trailer for "Man of Steel" runs three minutes long and features several new scenes including the debut of cinema's newest take on the world of Krypton and the major villain of the film, General Zod as played by Michael Shannon.
And like the trailers before it, it continues to reveal a more grounded, intimate tone to Superman's character. While we certainly get the point that there will be lots of action in the film, we find that the the man who would become Superman has been growing up as a man who fears what mankind will think of him, a boy who is told he isn't even from this planet and at first doesn't realize how he fits in to this world.
All he wants is to be his father's son.
As a result of that scene revealed in the new trailer, featuring Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent, much discussion among comic book geeks around the Internet this week has been about the film's screenwriter David Goyer (Blade, the Dark Knight trilogy) and a scene from a comic book story first published in 2009. Superman: Secret Origin was written by Geoff Johns, a superstar writer who's success crafting stories with heart and action for characters such as Green Lantern, Flash and Superman among others has garnered him a huge fan following, and drawn by Gary Frank, whose model for illustrating Superman in this story was obviously inspired by an actor who inspired generations not only for his portrayal of the hero fighting for truth, justice and the American Way but for his courage in his personal life.
The next year, the six issues of Superman: Secret Origin were collected and released as a trade paperback, and Goyer wrote the foreward for it. What fans of the new movie trailer are keying in on are these words from that foreward.
There is a heart breaking moment halfway through the first chapter in which young Clark is told the truth about his heritage. He races out into the night, sobbing, stumbling through the cornfields. Eventually, his foster father, Jonathan, finds him.
He goes on to say:
As I write this, I am midway through my first draft of a new Superman screenplay. It’s a task that has stymied many talented fimmakers in the years since Donner’s film. And for all I know, it will end up stymying me as well.
And the following pages from the first issue of Secret Origin are also being circulated with acknowledgments to Goyer's quote.
I love sharing this because it's given me an ideal opportunity to share with folks who may not read them or who even regard comic books with little significance of the quality, artistry and heart that this medium, occasionally loftily referred to as "sequential art", is capable of.
I think it's awesome and among the reasons why I continue to read comic books enthusiastically every week that new issues come out. It's not everyone's cup of joe, but it is mine.
And, just like he successfully did writing the screenplays for the Dark Knight trilogy, it looks like with "Man of Steel", which opens June 16, Goyer found inspiration from some of the best comic books out there to read.
George Lazenby (in plaid)
Remember my last blog about hiking to the Hollywood Sign? No, well go read it!
For the rest of you, I headed back to the same area yesterday. I had a ticket to watch On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the third film in the Alex Theatre's five-week event series "James Bond 007 50th Anniversary" which featured an appearance by that film's Bond, George Lazenby. The trail leading to The Batcave is on the way to the Alex Theatre in Glendale. And since my New Year's Eve mission this month was to "Visit the Batcave", I did just that!
The Batcave I'm talking about is the actual shooting location used in the 1960's Batman TV series starting Adam West and Burt Ward. It's located in an area just east of Hollywood called Bronson Canyon. I discovered this area last month while researching ways to get to visit the Hollywood Sign, my March NYE mission.
Now I've been a Batman fan for practically all my life, through both comic books and the 60's TV series. Watching it as a little boy, the infamous camp humor of the show was nowhere to be found. Instead, all I found were the brightest colors of the Dynamic Duo fighting against the forces of evil. Caped Crusaders to the rescue!!
So when I discovered where the actual Batcave was, where they shot the scenes of the George Barris-designed Batmobile roaring out of a secluded cave that was supposedly outside Wayne Manor, I was more than thrilled to check the place out for myself.
So nearly a month after I was here, I was back again! Back to the Camp Hollywoodland sign in Bronson Canyon to trek up the other pathway leading away from the Hollywood Sign and onto the bygone lair of Batman's secret underground headquarters.
Viewing the trail on Google maps, it was certainly a much shorter hike than the hike up to the Hollywood Sign. But I was surprised by how much shorter. It's about a ten minute walk from where I parked. Just up a curvy hill and you're there.
Me and The Batcave
I'll be honest. The entire moment was a little anti-climactic, not the least of which was due in part to the fact that there were a lot of cars parked in the area! Apparently, I showed up on a day when a music video was gonna be shot here. Also, it looked different than how I remembered it. I'd been told by a friend who'd been there that it'd be different, but it's a lot more striking to actually be there and see the difference.
I asked a nearby security guard if it was okay to roam through the area, and he said it was fine since they hadn't started shooting yet. I walked to the cave, walked through the cave, found more set ups for filming, and was pleasantly surprised to find a beautifully framed view of the Hollywood Sign from the other side of the cave. There's a road that circles around that leads you back to the front of the cave and that was the end of my tour.
I brought with me a small die-cast model of the 60's Batmobile and a DVD movie titled "Return to the Batcave". I had hoped to showcase them in the foreground of a shot of the Batcave somehow. But there were no rocks or low hills in front of the cave that I could use as a stand to put them on, the ground here being very level and plain. Plus there was production people walking around and the winds today were really gusty, so the notion went away fairly quickly.
But I was glad I got here in the afternoon, with the sun was behind me and flooding The Batcave area with a lot of natural light. I'm sure I got better shots at this time than if I'd decided to avoid freeway traffic and get here in the morning.
So that's my short visit to The Batcave. All told, I was there for probably just over a half hour. Nothing like my hours-long trek to the Sign. It was a productive little trip. And with some Adam West Batman action figures coming out this summer that might inspire better ideas for some pictures, methinks I'll be back...TO THE BATCAVE!
You can see the rest of my Batcave photos at my Flickr site.
All About Me
A fan of Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Batman, comic books, Blu-rays, Disney, soundtracks, taking pictures, theatre and...Barry Manilow!