Me vs. My Inner Child: Superman Blue

 

Superman Blue 1It’s said that we look back on the past with rose-colored glasses; I’m not entirely sure what that is supposed to mean, but those would have turned the subject of this article purple, so that’s fun.  I’m always quick to tell people that I was actually a fan of the time Superman turned into a bright blue energy dude, but that was fifteen years ago. Lately, it’s been coming up a lot, so I thought I would put my money where my mouth is by sitting down with 11-year-old me and re-reading all of my comics featuring “Superman Blue.” Also, the red one. How did it hold up? What new discoveries were made? How is this even possible? Read on.

(For those of you who are fussy about details, the issues I read are: The Adventures of Superman #545-6, 555; Action Comics #732,742; Superman: Man of Steel #67, 77; Superman #123, 132; Superman Red/Superman Blue #1; and JLA: Secret Files and Origins #1)



JORDAN: Well, first of all, I want to thank you for taking the time to sit down and have this improbable chat with me.

YOUNG JORDAN: Sure. Can we hurry though? The Simpsons starts in twenty minutes, and I have to pretend to practice the clarinet while I watch it in my room.

JORDAN: Um, yeah, sure thing . . . heh, ya know I had forgotten that I used to do that---

YOUNG JORDAN: Nineteen minutes.

JORDAN: Right, yes. So, first thing's first, you only read comics sporadically . . . why did you decide to pick up these issues?

YOUNG JORDAN: Mom put them in my Easter basket.

JORDAN: Yeah, that’s right . . . ok, so let’s start with the issues where Superman’s powers change and he gets his new costume: what did you think of them?

YOUNG JORDAN: It’s cool. I like Superman’s new costume, it looks cool. His new powers are cool, too.

JORDAN: If you had one word to sum up this whole arc, it would be---?

YOUNG JORDAN: Cool.

JORDAN: Yeah, I probably should have seen that one coming. I completely agree with you here, though: that is one cool costume. It definitely holds up, in my opinion. New 52 Supes looks regal, but this guy, this guy is just . . . cool. Reading this again today, I can’t help but be a bit cynical, as DC seems to be almost begging you to like this change. I mean, there are ads in the book for Superman’s new look, with the amazingly tacky tagline, “This time we’ve changed more than his hair.” Also, I love that one of the subplots in the book is a faction within the Daily Planet printing sensationalized headlines as a hacky cash-grab . . . seems to hit a bit close to home. Still, most big changes in comics, good or bad, are an effort to get more attention and readers, so I guess we have to take the good with the bad. Overall, though, despite the art and dialogue being a bit dated, this holds up. It was a pretty ballsy move at the time; and yes, a cool one. I especially liked Kyle Rayner’s comment in JLA supporting the change, saying he thought everyone needed to switch things up a bit now and then to stay fresh. Best Green Lantern ever.

Superman Blue 2YOUNG JORDAN: He’s the only Green Lantern.

JORDAN: . . . no, he isn’t.

YOUNG JORDAN: Yeah huh. All the other boring, old ones are dead. Also, you talk way too much.

JORDAN: Whatever. Is there anything you didn’t like about these issues, little me?

YOUNG JORDAN: Don’t call me that. It’s weird.

JORDAN: Sorry.

YOUNG JORDAN: I didn’t understand everything else that was going on. I want to read about Superman, not about Jimmy Olsen trying to keep his job. I thought Jimmy Olsen worked for the Daily Planet? Why is he a TV reporter? Who are all of these other people? I don’t care about them, and I didn’t know what a lot of them were talking about.

JORDAN: Yeah, there were a crap load of things going on at once. I think that had something to do with there being four or five concurrent Superman titles at this time. With a new issue coming out each week, I’m sure they had to have a lot of story threads running at once. If I could answer my own question, though, I think the worst part about this story was that the only thing that makes it interesting is that it’s about Superman. His new powers are pretty generic, energy-based, comic book powers---nothing too exciting. If the story wasn’t about Superman, it wouldn’t be anything special, but as it stands, it’s a fun challenge for the character. It makes for great fish-out-of-water fare, and it retains the essence of who Superman is . . . as one bystander points out, it doesn’t matter what he looks like or what he can do, he’s still Superman. Of course, that guy turned out to be some kind of deranged serial killer, which was weird---

YOUNG JORDAN: Eleven minutes.

JORDAN: All right, geez man, I get it. I’ll talk less. So, how about this whole Superman Red/Blue business? When did you pick those up?

Superman Blue 3YOUNG JORDAN: My grandpa bought them for me one night when he took me to a comic shop to play Magic the Gathering.

JORDAN: You were wearing a flannel shirt, no doubt.

YOUNG JORDAN: Flannel is cool.

JORDAN: Sure it is.

YOUNG JORDAN: Cooler than you! You have dumb hair.

JORDAN: No, trust me; you’re the one with dumb hair.

YOUNG JORDAN: Nuh-uh. You look like a butt.

JORDAN: God you’re irritating. The red and blue thing . . . talk about it.

YOUNG JORDAN: It was cool. Red Superman looks just as cool as Blue Superman, and both of them look way cooler than an old guy who spends all his time reading comic books and talking to kids.

JORDAN: I’m not that old.

YOUNG JORDAN: You’re super old.

JORDAN: All right, well, I thought that the story seemed a bit weird. It’s not without its moments, but it feels really gimmicky and pointless. I don’t have the whole run, but from what I can tell the end of it was basically the two recombining, resulting in Superman returning to his familiar, recognizable self. Kind of a sad, sweep-it-under-the-rug ending to what I thought was a bold new direction for the character.

YOUNG JORDAN: Six minutes.

JORDAN: Of course, it’s nowhere near as sad as finally getting the courage to ask your girlfriend to kiss you, only to have her burst into tears and run away.

YOUNG JORDAN: Hey! She said it was just startling!

JORDAN: Nope, it’s because you’re such a lame little kid. That’s why no one wants to kiss you. Way to blow that, by the way . . . she gets way hot when she grows up.

YOUNG JORDAN: Shut up! You’re just mad because you’re old and you don’t have a job!

JORDAN: I do too!

YOUNG JORDAN: Ooh, you’re a big, rich waiter! How cool . . . not!

JORDAN: I’m waiting for something better to come along.

YOUNG JORDAN: Yeah, you’re waiting---tables! And, you smell.

JORDAN: Well, you’re a little turd who hasn’t gone through puberty, and your voice makes you sound like a girl!

YOUNG JORDAN: Yeah, well---you---I need to go practice my clarinet!

JORDAN: Everyone thinks the clarinet is gay!

YOUNG JORDAN: Shut up! I’m going to go to my room to listen to show tunes!

JORDAN: YOU ARE NOT HELPING YOUR CASE!


He wouldn’t come out of his room after that, so that’s as far as we got. Basically, despite our differences, we agreed that, while flawed, the whole “Superman Blue” time period was pretty cool. It may not have been the most well thought out thing that has ever happened to Superman, but it was definitely fun (which is unfortunately not true of Big Blue’s current adventures).

That’s it for this installment. Maybe if I can ever get little me to speak to me again, we could try this a second time. Have an idea for something that I could re-watch/re-read/re-experience with childhood me? Leave it in the comments, or hit me up on Twitter, @jordancallarman.

 

 

 

Last modified on Friday, 21 June 2013 01:34

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