- Kal-El (Earth-One)
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Superman Atom Man vs. The Elite. It's a Bird It's a Plane It's Superman. Lego Superman. Lois Lane in other media Lex Luthor in other media Supergirl in other media. Batman franchise media. Batman Batman and Robin Batman Two-Face Scooby-Doo! Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Hush. Chase Me Strange Days. Barbara Gordon Robin. DC Animated Movie Universe. Constantine: City of Demons. Animated films based on DC Comics. To the Movies Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders Batman vs.
The Lego Batman Movie. List of unproduced DC Comics projects. What's New, Scooby-Doo? Scoob List of Scooby-Doo media. ThunderCats ThunderCats Roar. Haunted Holidays Scooby-Doo! Dracula Scooby-Doo! Pirates Ahoy! Music of the Vampire Superman vs. Bizarro League Scooby-Doo! Teen Titans Lego Scooby-Doo! Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Warner Animation Group Warner Bros. Feature Animation Warner Bros. Cartoons Warner Bros. But this page will always stand out as the moment he forged the culmination of his influences — a bit of Raymond Chandler, a healthy dose of Will Eisner, and a lot of Japanese manga — into something distinct, something that made superhero comics feel brand new all over again.
Superhero comics, for better or worse, have never fully stopped chasing Elektra, bleeding out into the street, as the man who killed her indifferently puts on his jacket and walks away into the night. Artist Wendy Pini, who had already made a name for herself as one of the first cosplay celebrities , conceived of her fantasy epic about competing tribes of elves in the early s, and enlisted her husband Richard to help her write it. The couple shopped the series around to all the major publishers with nothing but rejection to show for it, so they founded their own company, one of the first of the indie comics publishers, WaRP Graphics.
The series made no bones about being a high fantasy tale for adults. This is from one of the more notorious sequences, when the elves basically have an orgy before a big battle. Evolving attitudes about what comics were supposed to be — and who they supposed to be were for — clashed greatly with unevolved attitudes in the s. The book, a graphic-design orgy, showed writer-artist Chaykin at his densest but also most elegant, with pages enhanced by the lettering of the brilliant Ken Bruzenak.
Flagg was the first U. Flagg was media savvy, exploring postmodernity and artifice including its own. It also experimented with the remediation of other media through comics: more than two years before Frank Miller exploited the technique in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns , Chaykin was configuring panels as television screens, and commenting acidly on how TV could drive events. Watchmen also picked up on this idea. It was a mind-blowing revelation, handled so well by Moore and new series artists Stephen Bissette and John Totleben that no one could complain. This was the first sign that Moore was going to take the series into some disturbing new directions, showing Swamp Thing adjusting to his newly revealed status quo.
Many of them have faltered, but all owe a debt to this game-changing page of revelation. This page shows the full quartet of Renaissance-painter-named turtles for the first time. Unfortunately, there was a dark side to all of this, too: As back issues of TMNT climbed ridiculously high in value, publishers and retailers smelled easy money.
In the hopes of discovering the next Turtles, speculators started buying up all the sudden surge of black-and-white indie titles. An economic bubble was created, and it quickly burst, wiping out innumerable publishers and many retailers in what became known as the Great Black-and-White Boom and Bust. It was the worst thing to happen to the comics direct market, but far from its last catastrophe.
In the end, the heroes were able to defeat him, but not before the Multiverse was condensed to simply one Earth. This allowed DC to then reboot a few of their titles with new continuity. As a way of making the crossover feel like it was important beyond the reboot, DC decided to kill off a few major characters. One was Supergirl; the other was Barry Allen, the Flash. It was highly symbolic of the superhero who launched the Silver Age of comics dying in a comic that eliminated the multiverse entirely.
Subsequently, a new, darker age was born. Writer, penciler, inker, and letterer: Peter Bagge. They just had a need to get their stories out there. One of these creators was Peter Bagge, who spent the s honing his artistic style. His first series for publisher Fantagraphics was Neat Stuff. In , after ending Neat Stuff , Bagge aged his Buddy Bradley character and moved him to Seattle as a something for the follow-up series Hate , which became a major hit and defined the boom in alternative comics in the s and perfected the image of the slacker in popular culture.
The ending of Neat Stuff No. His family sucks. Life sucks. Everything sucks. In , the Macintosh computer was an ugly beige slab that was slightly bigger than a bread box and weighed and-a-half pounds. However, it was the most advanced computer for graphics yet available for the home user, and computer art was becoming more common. None of that mattered much. Saenz left the book after a few issues and subsequent artists figured out how to scan in art for a more fluid look , but he continued to experiment with digital comics for years. Shatter may not hold up artistically, but the feat of drawing with an Apple Mouse — like Stonehenge and the pyramids — proves that humans will suffer anything to express themselves.
Haunted and helpless, a middle-aged Bruce Wayne channel-surfs through news of one atrocity after another even as bursts of memory — of that memory, the murder of his parents by a mugger in an alley — flash through his tormented mind. Here Miller takes an idea that had been part of Batman lore almost from the start as we saw earlier in this list and fiercely reinterprets it, insists upon it, and makes it matter.
Miller seems to have intuited the often imagistic and disconnected nature of traumatic memory, and the result is a harrowing union of psychological violence and clinical form. But Batman is his most perfect example of that trope: a character born and reborn through suffering.
Artists and filmmakers have been referencing this sequence ever since. The FX television series Legion does a surprisingly good job, intentionally or no, of channeling the crazy-quilt visual style of the great comics artist Bill Sienkiewicz. You know, as one does. Rarely has a comics artist been able to so effectively depict the shifting states of mind that make up all our own internal monologues; in doing so, Sienkiewicz inspired many future superhero experimenters to come.
While Moore and Gibbons are far from the first to adopt this construction, their approach allowed the structure of their story to become its text in a way no one had seen before. Post- Watchmen , the nine-panel grid is often the mark of comics creators at their most ambitious. Keith Giffen, J. DeMatteis, Kevin Maguire, and others would use it to more comedic and heroic effect in Justice League International , while contemporary teams — perhaps most notably, Tom King and Mitch Gerads of The Sheriff of Babylon and Mister Miracle — embrace the grid for the ways it puts the strength of the medium front and center: With careful plotting and pitch-perfect cartooning.
Writer, penciler, inker, and letterer: Gary Panter. Man flayed, horse slayed, landscape laid to waste — this slashing black-and-white page is the pitch of the punk apocalypse envisioned by Gary Panter. King of the ratty line, Panter is one of the great modern cartoonists. And Panter, along with Lynd Ward and Will Eisner, is one of the few in his field to deal directly with God, and godlessness.
His drawings of the blasted-out post-nuclear zone called Dal Tokyo, first scrawled in the s, marked the end of the hippie phase of underground comix.
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Writer, penciler, inker, letterer: Jaime Hernandez. Hopey Glass was more anarchic, a troublemaker who pretended to never look back. Did Speedy take his own life, or was he killed by the rival gang? We never find out, which raises the question: Does the cause of a death matter as much as the raw impact? The final pages of the story — including a flashback to a much younger, innocent Speedy and Maggie — capture both the haunting past and the unknowable future that define every human moment. In , the comic was one of the most exciting things to happen in DC, a union between acclaimed artist Brian Bolland and Moore, who had just finished his epic Watchmen, the capstone on his landmark tenure writing for DC.
It all comes down to this page, wherein the Joker visits Barbara Gordon in her home and shoots her, shattering her spine and leaving her helpless on the floor. The Killing Joke arrived at the end of a decade that superhero comics had spent in the pursuit of a form of psychological verisimilitude in its stories. Heroes were recast as possibly mentally ill vigilantes, villains became truly depraved, and The Killing Joke , at the time, satisfied this call for a fight between good men and a monster to be a struggle truly monstrous.
It would be some time before the industry would contemplate the cost of this mission. Writer, penciler, inker, and letterer: Richard McGuire. Within this constant shape are smaller inset panels: embedded boxes denoting overlapping time periods and creating a kind of historical palimpsest. A single panel can contain myriad smaller panels and time frames: say, layered with and The original, drawn in black ink on white paper, maintains a steady six-panel grid, while the graphic novel, rendered in part digitally, uses full-bleed spreads and a lush color palette.
In it, the inmates have literally taken over the asylum and the Caped Crusader has to fight his way through the entirety of his rogues gallery to free the captive staff; as he descends deeper and deeper into the house and learns its horrific history, he creeps closer and closer to madness himself.
When Neil Gaiman, Mike Dringenberg, and Sam Kieth created The Sandman , it was heralded as an uncommonly good horror comic, one where the endless potential of a story about the lord of dreams and his kingdom of vapor was realized. This is how the massively popular character of Death was introduced in A deliberate inversion of the traditional take on the ghoul, this Death was friendly and funny, a psychopomp less cryptic and more humane.
She also signaled a shift in purpose for The Sandman , from occult-tinged horror — which the book would still still do plenty of — to something akin to a box of fables, one where someone like Death could just show up, win you over with a joke, and smile sweetly as you remember that Death always shows up for a reason. Afterward, comics were never the same. Writer, penciler, inker, and letterer: Julie Doucet. Her caricature of herself as a fearless grunge sprite gave even the most outlandish tales an inviting charm. Often, though she was a force of nature. She turned to other fields, including poetry and commercial work, and even made a short film with Michel Gondry.
But her comics made a lasting impact, and a collected edition of Dirty Plotte is coming out this fall. That collectibility was specifically being driven by a group of young artists at Marvel whose books sold much better than others. During his stint on the book, a number of characters were introduced, including Cable, a grizzled cyborg from the future who became the new leader of the team of youthful mutants. When the longtime writer of the series, Louise Simonson, left Marvel to go write a new Superman series, Liefeld became its main plotter, as well.
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After Liefeld left Marvel, Deadpool continued to be developed into a more metafictional comedic and heroic character. But beyond the specific success of Deadpool, this page also encapsulates the violent, scratchy, weapon-filled style that Liefeld and his peers pioneered to such great success in the s.
Writer, penciler, inker, and letterer: Jeff Smith. The stars of Bone are cute, almost naked, white, four-fingered, pudgy, bald creatures who come from Boneville. For all its cuteness, though, Bone crossed many boundaries. It is, in fact, a masterpiece of comics mix-and-match, combining the look of fantasy fiction comics with the plots of other-world epics and funny-animal comics. The characters are a mishmash too. And the Rat Creatures, fanged, red-eyed, slow-witted, bloodthirsty monsters obsessed with cooking technique, would fit nicely into the The Lord of the Rings, the epic to which Bone is often compared.
One of the artists at Marvel Comics in the late s helping to drive record sales for the company was Todd McFarlane , who took over The Amazing Spider-Man in after a popular run as the artist on The Incredible Hulk.
McFarlane decided to leverage his popularity by leaving The Amazing Spider-Man and having Marvel let him write a comic-book series that he would draw. He was shocked when they not only agreed, but gave him his own Spider-Man series. Over time, though, McFarlane began to chafe from what he felt was too much editorial influence.
Marvel refused to show the actual stabbing, feeling it was too graphic.
Why I No Longer Care About Superhero Movies
It was one change too many for McFarlane, and he left the book. Soon, he would take his very valuable brand to a new company, Image Comics, where he would debut the ultraviolent hit character Spawn. More important than that, however, was the business revolution that Image kicked off: it allowed creators to own their characters, rather than handing them off to corporate overlords, and its model continues to great success to this day. Without poor Juggernaut, it might never have happened.
Writer, penciler, inker, and letterer: Art Spiegelman. What can you do when the very ground of your reputation and your art is the Holocaust; when genocide is the precondition of your success? If anyone had doubted why Maus Volume One devoted so much energy to capturing the circumstances of its own making, then Volume Two gave an answer: a Holocaust comic, indeed any artistic representation of the Holocaust, ought to be forthright and knowing when it comes to admitting its own role in making art and profit out of catastrophe and trauma.
On this much-studied page, Spiegelman confronts the awfulness of the story he has set out to tell, and the awful consciousness of his own temerity, by adjusting his persona — now not that of a mouse, but of a man with a mouse mask tied on with string. Further, he shows mouse-like corpses that pile at his feet like so many crumpled, discarded drafts, and discloses, for the first time in the text, the death of his father and informer, Vladek.
About Thomas Mets
In the late s, the various Superman series tried a new approach, where the creative teams on the three Supes-starring titles would coordinate their stories so that they would flow from one book to the next. After adding a fourth series in , DC Comics now had, in effect, a weekly Superman series that was just split through four different periodicals.
Then a funny thing happened: Warner Bros. So the comic book series had to hold off on marrying them. Sure enough, they decided that they would simply kill him off! Which he did, but at the cost of his own life. Never had a mainstream audience connected so much with a comic-book event slow news days helped and the death of Superman became a cultural sensation. Black-bagged copies of his death complete with a black armband sold millions.
Some would say the returns are diminishing and the swift resurrection of Supes just a few months later certainly undermined some of the impact , but a staple aspect of superhero comics was born. Writer, penciler, inker, and letterer: Joe Sacco. So Sacco went there himself, armed with a sketchbook, to report on local conditions in comics form. At first, Sacco planned to do more of a straightforward travelogue, but as he made his way through Gaza and the West Bank, learning the daily struggles of ordinary people, he was inspired to create a much more ambitious work, as dramatic as any fiction.
Here is the first page of that work, Palestine, which would win an American Book Award for its collected edition. During the early s comic-book-sales boom, when it seemed like any given comic-book company could launch and sell , copies of their first issue, there was a noticeable lack of ethnically diverse superheroes.
It was so noticeable that a group of comic creators decided to do something about it. Dingle, and Christopher Priest who bowed out before the company became official , formed Milestone Media in , a comic-book company dedicated to delivering diverse superheroes. A clever inversion of the Superman origin story, Icon was an alien who landed on Earth in the 19th century and took on the form of the first human he saw, who happened to be an African-American slave.
The alien did not age, and over time, he amassed a small fortune and became a political conservative. He kept himself cut off from the world, until a young, liberal teen challenges him on his isolationist views, ultimately compelling him to become a superhero. Though Milestone would fall on hard times and disappear, it left a legacy of increased representation, and this page was essentially their mission statement.
For those hanging around illustrators studying comics in college at the time, it was all anyone could talk about. The book introduced nonlinear storytelling on paper years before these concepts would be fully developed often by McCloud himself by webcomics pioneers.
At the start of the s, there was a strange, dichotomous relationship between comic books and animation. The world of animation looked down on superhero comics. Sure, there had been plenty of superhero cartoons over the years, but they rarely actually adapted the comic-book stories themselves, instead using the characters in simplistic new setups, like the Justice League becoming the Super Friends. A lush, beautifully drawn collection of tales, the Batman animated program was a smash critical and commercial success.
The comic was a major success, winning the Eisner Award for best single issue. Bone, to break into the mainstream comic-book world. Looking at the great experimental artists in comic-book history, they rarely start off in their most experimental form. Take Mike Mignola: While he was always a stylish artist, when he was drawing The Incredible Hulk and Alpha Flight for Marvel, his art looked relatively normal for the era. As he grew more popular, though, he started to experiment more with things like form and design.
One of the areas where he really started to shine was with the use of shadows in his work. Few comic-book artists ever had as much black ink on a page as Mignola. After a while, he realized it made more sense to come up with his own character that would fit his style rather than try to place established Marvel and DC characters into that style.
Superstar artist Arthur Adams recruited Mignola to join a creator-owned line of books at indie publisher Dark Horse, where Mignola invented Hellboy, a heroic half-demon who investigated the paranormal, giving Mignola consistent avenues to tell dark, shadowy stories. Hellboy eventually became its own comic-book franchise and has inspired two movies with a new one forthcoming , making it one of the most successful creator-owned comic books ever. Writer, penciler, inker, and letterer: Charles Burns.
Talk about an opening. The moment, like Black Hole itself, bridges genres; part trippy horror and part sardonic comedy. By the end of Black Hole , Burns has you convinced that nothing is ever that neatly divided — not the slick suburbia so popped with one satirical scalpel-swipe, not this startling early page that finds seduction amid abjection, an existential crisis in Biology In its decade of serialization, and even more so in its eventual collected edition, Black Hole inspired comics creators to explore the horrors of our bodies and our teenage selves.
Writer, penciler, inker, colorist, and letterer: Chris Ware. Abrams, and Ira Glass, just to name a few. Superhero comics had gone too far. Disaster strikes when these younger, edgier heroes, in their recklessness, inadvertently cause a nuclear disaster in the American heartland, causing Superman to come out of retirement to lead a crusade for the ideals he once stood for. It builds to one remarkable full-page splash of Superman, making his presence known with a striking, darker shield on his otherwise classic costume, lawless vigilantes helpless in his grasp.
Being good for its own sake is still enough. Writer, penciler, inker, colorist, and letterer: Daniel Clowes. When he came to issue No. It centers on two outsiderish high-school girls, Enid dark hair, glasses, lots of self-loathing and Rebecca blonde bob, conventional good looks, slightly less self-loathing. The two go around town looking for perverts to befriend and people, music, and cornball retro diners to make fun of.
Enid and Rebecca are post-punk flaneurs , with a fuck-you attitude toward just about everything. Rebecca has now assumed some of the qualities that Enid once had — spectacles, short hair, an anxious look, a chewed straw. His rarest gift, though, especially in the comics world, is his evocation of the inner lives of critical, curious girls wondering about the world and their place in it. Luckily, they were saved by the launch of an unusual series by writer Garth Ennis and artist Steve Dillon called Preacher , which gave Vertigo their first big hit in years.
Preacher told the story of a small-town Texas reverend named Jesse Custer who suddenly received the Word of God: he can make people do whatever he says. Along with his former girlfriend now working as an assassin and his new best friend an Irish vampire , Jesse traveled across the United States trying to find God who had abandoned Heaven as soon as Jesse received the Word. They ran afoul of the Grail, a secret religious organization that manipulated the world from behind the scenes through their control of the Messiah, the inbred descendant of Jesus Christ. Preacher became famous for its violence and pitch-black humor, both of which are on display in this riotous page.
It was quintessential Preacher : Ennis would come up with twisted ideas and Dillon would deliver them in such a way to make them almost seem matter-of-fact. In , Warren Ellis took over the series Stormwatch — published by Image imprint WildStorm — about an international superhero team. Ellis put a darker spin on the title and introduced the concept of Stormwatch having a black-ops team to do their dirty work.
Production delays led to a fill-in arc by the relatively unknown artist Bryan Hitch. Paired with Hitch, Ellis was newly inspired. After just a year, he ended Stormwatch in the most shocking way possible: he had the aliens from the Aliens films kill most of the cast, leaving only the black-ops team standing. They were now renamed the Authority and they would appear in comics that told stories on a scale never before seen in superhero comics. In their first arc on The Authority in , Ellis and Hitch decided to have the Authority take care of the biggest villain in the WildStorm Universe, Kaizen Gamorra, who had built a superpowered army and took advantage of the absence of Storrmwatch to have his army destroy Moscow.
When they tried to do the same to London, the Authority showed up and stopped them. After Brian Michael Bendis, dialogue in comics would never be the same again. In the s, he first drew attention for his work on crime comics, like A. Goldfish , Jinx , and Torso. The highlight of early Bendis work was his dialogue: Akin to that of David Mamet, it was a rapid back-and-forth that often saw characters overlap with each other — something unusually naturalistic for comics of the time.
In this page from Powers No. Writer, penciler, inker, and letterer: Craig Thompson. Until the aughts, the most influential autobiographical comics creators — R. Crumb, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Justin Green, Chester Brown, and others — had been swimming in masturbation, bodily secretions, and clinical self-loathing. In swirling, inky pages that radiated emotion, Thompson told of his upbringing in a strict evangelical Christian household and his fateful meeting with a girl named Raina at Bible Camp.
Raina is a Christian as well, but her faith is rooted more in the real world, and as they fall for each other, Craig begins to question a rigid faith that denies that human love can also be sacred. That spirituality and romance are beautifully captured on this page as Craig and Raina experience nature and physical longing together. Named the graphic novel of the year by Time , Blankets propelled its original publisher, Top Shelf, to prominence, and Thompson to a huge deal with Random House for his next graphic novel.
The zombie virus provided a much-needed shock to the system of Image Comics, which was in danger of losing its relevance in the new millennium. Nothing succeeds like success, particularly in Hollywood. Darwyn Cooke was taken from us too soon when he died in , but boy, he left a mark in the time he had. When comic-book work did not pay enough, he went home to Toronto and worked as a graphic designer for the next 15 years.
Animation, where he was hired by Bruce Timm to work on the Batman animated series. The tale led up to this iconic scene at the end of New Frontier No. They walk out for their possibly fatal mission in the same slow-motion walk used for the astronauts in The Right Stuff. It was visually rich, but also paved the way for a deepened appreciation of Silver Age earnestness in superhero comics.
New Frontier established Cooke as one of the greats in the industry, and he continued to prove his mettle for the rest of his life. In the late s, Grant Morrison tried unsuccessfully to become the regular writer on Superman , as part of a collective pitch where he and writers Mark Waid, Mark Millar, and Tom Peyer would take over the four monthly Superman titles. It was a bold plan and DC seemed to be on board initially, but ultimately they went with another pitch. Morrison teamed up with longtime collaborator Frank Quitely to create All-Star Superman , which spent 12 issues telling timeless stories starring the legendary hero.
Morrison was intent on making the reading experience easy for both longtime fans and total newbies. The series was an instant classic and its hearty optimism has informed the treatment of Superman by writers ever since. Writer, penciler, colorist, and inker: Alison Bechdel. He loves the idea of being able to change oneself into other things, like a truck that can become a battling robot. In its trio of interconnected stories, American Born Chinese plays with fire as it invokes racist types and tackles internalized racism, so much so that some booksellers initially refused to sell it.
Yet it has become an oft-taught classic of contemporary comics and Asian-American literature.
In the 21st century so far, one of the few hopeful spots in the otherwise struggling mainstream publishing industry has been comics. And as of , roughly 5 percent of overall graphic-novel bookstore sales came from the pen of one woman, Raina Telgemeier. The click sounds of a tape printer are different with each letter it prints, and by studying my recording of the sounds, I found it had printed Problem of Batman's Identity Insoluble!
In fairness, elaborate ruses drove the plots of so many comics of this era because they enabled a comic's cover to catch your eye on the newsstand. Superheroes were almost required to perform in a wildly and putatively intriguing out-of-character manner if they wanted to shift copies. One of the earliest encounters between Spider-Man and Daredevil came after Spidey has been taunted by a series of criminals dressed up in Daredevil costumes.
When Peter Parker finally comes across the real Daredevil, he attacks. Both Superman and Spidey mistakenly believed the other hero responsible, and slapped one another around for a bit. The reason is simple: superhero universes teem with all manner of evil mesmerizers, hypnotists, brainwashers and mystical beings who can take over even the most jacked super-body at will.
When a creator needs a reason to bring heroes into conflict, these villains are the lowest-hanging fruit. Superhero stories work on us, if they work at all, on a primal and emotional level. Mind control stories key directly into one our most essential fears — that of losing ourselves, of feeling helpless, and of surrendering our will to something more powerful than ourselves.
Probably the most intrinsically relatable of the devices employed by writers to get heroes into a fight. A conflict spurred by jealousy feels fundamentally different than the ones previously listed because it comes from character, not plot necessity. One hero stands against another. In another issue of the Marvel comic Runaways , for example, an evil police detective convinces a team of impressionable super-powered teens to attack heroes Cloak and Dagger by telling them the two have kidnapped a child.
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Cue the punching. The Defending a Friend trope is used effectively in Captain America: Civil War , because the friendship between Cap and Bucky has been established over the course of two previous films. We know Cap, and we know how much his loyalty to Bucky means to him.