Published: October 8th, 2013 Written by: Geoff Johns, Richard Donner Art by: Adam Kubert
DC Comics, 252 Pages
I wanted to read this because it was the first official comic book appearance of General Zod, the made-for-the-big-screen villain from the first two Superman movies by Richard Donner.
What makes this even cooler is that Donner worked on this story with Geoff Johns.
This collection is actually two separate stories. However, they both feature Zod with the first one being primarily about the character and his introduction into DC Comics canon. The second story primarily features Brainiac as the antagonist.
Ultimately, this was a really good read and one of my favorite Superman trade paperbacks of recent memory. Both stories were solid and they actually connect in a way that makes wedging both of them together, a more enjoyable, overall narrative.
I thought that Donner and Johns came up with a pretty satisfying story to introduce Zod and his family. I also thought that the Adam Kubert art was top notch but I’ve also always loved all the Kuberts.
If you grew up with the two Donner Superman films like I did, this should definitely peak your interest. It’s a worthwhile story that was both engaging and entertaining while also being a great homage to Donner’s Superman film work.
Rating: 7.75/10 Pairs well with: other Superman comics featuring General Zod.
Published: September 25th, 2018 Written by: Robert Venditti Art by: Brandon Peterson, Rafa Sandoval, Ethan Van Sciver
DC Comics, 113 Pages
Man, this was a refreshing read after coming off of the massively disappointing and extremely long Age of Apocalypse. It took me a week to get through that beefy X-Men event and after finishing it, I needed something fun and cool. This was it!
I haven’t read much of the Green Lantern stuff after the Sinestro Corps War storyline, which is a decade old at this point. But the few arcs I’ve read from Robert Venditti have been pretty good and maybe I should read the whole run.
I picked up this one because it pitted two of my favorite characters against each other: Hal Jordan and General Zod.
The story is about the two men coming into conflict when the Green Lanterns discover Zod and his family, along with Eradicator, on a planet where they seem to be enslaving its people. In reality, the citizens of the planet worship Zod as a deity. All the while, he is there to harvest an element that could be used as a weapon in the future.
While there is a great battle between the core Green Lanterns and Zod’s family, this is primarily a political thriller that makes Hal Jordan walk the line between anti-hero and antagonist. You know that Zod is most likely up to no good but Jordan jumps the gun and takes the law into his own hands with his trusted allies behind him.
The story doesn’t have a true resolution and I’ve read a later story where Jordan and Zod have to be reluctant allies but maybe I need to read what happens in the arc just after this.
Zod’s Will was intriguing, fast paced, full of action with solid character interaction and dialogue.
Rating: 8.5/10 Pairs well with: the other collected volumes in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps.
Release Date: December 4th, 1980 (Australia) Directed by: Richard Lester, Richard Donner (uncredited) Written by: Mario Puzo, David Newman, Leslie Newman Based on:Superman by Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster Music by: Ken Thorne Cast: Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Ned Beatty, Jackie Cooper, Margot Kidder, Valerie Perrine, Terence Stamp, Susannah York, Jack O’Halloran, Marc McClure, Sarah Douglas, Clifton James, Marlon Brando (appears only in the Richard Donner Cut)
Film Export A.G., Dovemead Limited, International Film Productions, Warner Bros., 127 Minutes (original cut), 116 Minutes (Richard Donner Cut)
“Come to me, son of Jor-El, kneel before Zod!” – General Zod
In all honesty, I like Superman and Superman II just about the same. II gets a bit of an edge though just because I like the story better and the threat in the film is a credible threat, as it pits Superman against an adversary that matches his power level.
While I love Lex Luthor, the character, and I also love the mind versus might rivalry, the Gene Hackman version of the character just doesn’t hit the right mark. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy Hackman and his character in these movies but he doesn’t feel like the Lex of the comics I grew up with. He is to Luthor what Cesar Romero was to the Joker. He’s damn entertaining and enjoyable but he’s lacking the darkness that’s needed to truly be villainous.
General Zod, however, is an incredible opponent. He was created for this film series but he was so damn good that he would go on to be in the comics. Terence Stamp really brought some much needed testosterone to the table and his minions, played by Sarah Douglas and Jack O’Halloran, were pretty cool villains as well. Man, I was crushing hard on Sarah Douglas when I was a kid.
I also really liked the romance in this movie and usually I don’t care about that crap in these sort of films. I just like how Clark and Lois’ relationship blossomed and how it was really tested and pushed Superman into having to make an incredibly hard decision, which he then had to try and fix because saving the world is his destiny, even if that means he can’t love a human. Yeah, the story around this was actually weird and nonsensical but the point of it and the challenge made me accept it.
Getting back to Lex Luthor though, his role in this film seemed pretty pointless. Once again, he was the top billed star but it’s like they had nothing for him to do. He breaks out of prison, leaves poor Otis behind, breaks into Superman’s house and then aligns himself with Zod, who didn’t need Luthor’s help at all, let’s be honest. Luthor is just sort of wedged into the film just because they had to have a name as big as Gene Hackman’s, after Marlon Brando’s Jor-El was killed off in the first picture. I should note that Brando did film footage for the film but he wanted more money than the producers were willing to pay, so it was edited out of the final cut. He does appear in the Richard Donner cut of the film though.
This chapter in the Superman movie saga is a great extension of what the first movie was. Really, they just feel like two halves of a whole. The movies did a lot of their filming simultaneously because the producers knew there would be a sequel. Some of the filming on II got put on hold though, as it was holding up the production of I and the studio wanted to make sure it wasn’t going to miss its Christmas time release. There was a lot of conflict, behind the scenes, and Richard Donner was fired after directing most of II. He wasn’t given credit for his work and Richard Lester took over. Lester would also go on to direct the terrible Superman III, showing that he wasn’t as skilled as Donner. On a side note, the Richard Donner Cut was released years later, which most people seem to enjoy more.
Despite the backstage politics, this still ended up being my favorite film in the franchise.
Rating: 8.5/10 Pairs well with:Superman: The Movie, the 1980 Flash Gordon.
Published: July 11th, 2018 – August 8th, 2018 Written by: Robert Venditti Art by: Rafa Sandoval, Jordi Tarragona, Tomeu Morey, various
DC Comics, 76 Pages
I haven’t read a Green Lantern comic since the Geoff Johns era. But one of the guys at my local comic shop keeps telling me that the current stuff is on par with the Johns era. I don’t quite agree that this is that good but it was still a call back to some of the elements that made the Johns stories so friggin’ great.
Former Green Lantern Tomar-Tu, son of the more famous Tomar-Re, has left the Corps and is leading a different intergalactic police group, the Darkstars. Hal Jordan, along with Green Lanterns John Stewart, Kyle Rayner and Guy Gardner team up to stop him. But they also align themselves with former villains Hector Hammond, General Zod and Sinestro Corps member Arkillo. Kilowog and other Lanterns are also in the story as the wage a big battle elsewhere that is tied into the showdown between Jordan and Tomar-Tu.
The downside of reading this is that I didn’t have much context to draw from. I understood the story but you’re just sort of thrown into things if you pick this series up with this arc. That’s how comic books are nowadays though, as stories are told over massive arcs made up of smaller arcs. This was really a smaller arc within a larger arc. I know Tomar-Tu but I don’t know what lead to his fall.
The backstory is discussed by the characters though, so you get the gist of the context but it is missing the long term emotional weight that probably would have been there had I read the 47 issues before the start of this tale.
I still thought this was enjoyable and it entertained me. Mainly, I want to know why Hammond, Arkillo and Zod are quasi good guys in this.
This arc is covered in Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps issues 48 through 50.
Rating: 7.5/10 Pairs well with: All the current Green Lantern series, as well as the Geoff Johns era.
Release Date: December 10th, 1978 (Washington D.C. premiere) Directed by: Richard Donner Written by: Mario Puzo, David Newman, Leslie Newman, Robert Benton Based on:Superman by Jerry Siegel, Joe Shuster Music by: John Williams Cast: Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Christopher Reeve, Ned Beatty, Jackie Cooper, Glenn Ford, Trevor Howard, Margot Kidder, Valerie Perrine, Maria Schell, Terence Stamp, Phyllis Thaxter, Susannah York, Jack O’Halloran, Marc McClure, Sarah Douglas, Harry Andrews, Rex Reed (cameo)
Film Export A.G., Dovemead Limited, International Film Productions, Warner Bros., 143 Minutes, 127 Minutes (1980 video release), 151 Minutes (2000 restoration), 188 Minutes (Extended version)
Few films feel as vast and epic as the 1978 Superman film. This was also the first superhero movie where the comic book medium was actually taken seriously. Years before the Marvel Cinematic Universe, DC knocked it out of the park with this, the first real superhero movie.
It hasn’t aged too well and I’ve always had some issues with the story and the use of Superman’s powers in this film but this is still a true classic that opened a lot of doors for comic book films, even if it still took a long time for the genre to reach the level it has in the 2010s.
The thing that makes this film work is that it understands the spirit of Superman. It was made and written with great care, Christopher Reeve was fantastic in the role and for years, he was who I saw as the character, even when reading the comics. I know that some people had reservations about him and his portrayal of the character but he was wholesome and believable as far as creating the two personas: Superman and Clark Kent.
I was never crazy about Margot Kidder as Lois Lane but I see things differently now and I do like her take on the character. I like her attitude, her sass and her no nonsense persona. She feels like a tough New York girl (Metropolis in the movie) that can handle her own.
I was also never crazy about Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor, especially since he refused to shave his head. I also thought his scheme was goofy and bizarre but not completely outside of what classic comic books were. Looking at this in the context of the original source material, the scheme isn’t too far fetched.
As a fan of the character and the comics, I liked that Superman had his normal power set but the script was written in such a way that it invented powers just to solve problems in the movie. Like the scene where he flies so fast he changes the direction of Earth’s orbit to time travel back before Lois was swallowed into a fault was beyond stupid even for 1978. It created a lot of plot holes, not that some didn’t already exist. At this point it became pure fantasy nonsense, ignoring any sort of real science or staying grounded in the source material.
Richard Donner did a fine job as the director and this is also one of John Williams’ best scores of all-time. The music really set the tone and enhanced Donner’s visual style.
I loved the Krypton stuff in the beginning and Brando was great even if he wasn’t completely on his A game. However, the bit with General Zod and his crew feels unnecessary within this film, as they don’t have an effect on anything until the second movie. Sure, they contributed to Krypton’s problems, which led to its destruction, but they didn’t need to be on screen characters.
Despite my issues with the picture, it’s still damn good and a lot of fun. I also grew up watching this a lot and I can’t not feel nostalgic for it.
Rating: 8.25/10 Pairs well with:Superman II, the 1980 Flash Gordon.