I happened to be near a Walmart when they started their sale of early screenings for Man Of Steel, the movie that more and more looks like an interesting superhero movie while looking less and less like a Superman movie. So as this post goes live and braving a downpour (although I hear things are worse elsewhere in the East Coast) I should be sitting in a movie theater that I recall having a rather bad sound system and high prices because I wasn’t near a Walmart with access to the better theater in my area) watching a movie pretend it’s a Superman movie. Early reviews have been mixed but according to Newsarama none have been negative so the tale of Steelman should at least be interesting.
My early ticket also came with access to special online features…that required me to get an account with movie streaming service Vudu that I probably won’t use again. I could be wrong. One of those specials is an online comic…that contrary to what the salesman told me I cannot download and will lose forever if they take it down. Thanks for nothing. I was hoping for a print version when I bought the ticket. But hey, I could have gone to Sears and gotten a special variant cover of All-Star Superman #1 even though it has nothing to do with the movie and I already own a Free Comic Book Day printing with the original cover art. I’m not even in the theater and I’m already getting screwed over.
So before the comic disappears for all time, I thought I’d take a look at it to see the early days of Kal-El…who has nothing at all to do with this story except for one panel on the last page where he’s just standing on the fishing boat. So…yeah…….Let’s read it anyway.
Man Of Steel Prequel
DC Comics by way of Vudu (no date given)STORY: David S. Goyer, Geoff Johns, and Zack Snyder SCRIPT: Sterling Gates PENCILER: Jerry Ordway INKERS: Jerry Ordway, Bob McCloud, Joe Rubinstein, and Bob Wiacek COLORS: Hi-Fi LETTERER: Rob Leigh EDITOR: Kristy Quinn
Credits are given for the creators of Superman and Supergirl, but this is Steelman and some girl named Kara who has about as much chance of being Supergirl as Dick Grayson did being Robin in Nolan’s other superhero movie.
The comic starts off with an admitting interesting page, featuring (in order) John and Martha finding Kal-El’s rocket, said rocket hurtling to Earth, and then an establishing shot of a Kryptonian landscape. And hey, it’s not all crystally. Credit where it’s due, they’re not going with Richard Donner’s design but making their own. (Note to Brian Singer.)
The story begins with a group of cadets on a training mission to prepare them for whatever they may meet on a terraforming operation, which from what I can tell in the trailers is where the Kryptonian army is going to come from. Kara is in charge, which doesn’t sit well with one member of the party, Dev. Only the four best will move on and Dev takes a drastic step to that end…trying to kill everyone else off, including Kara’s boyfriend. (Apparently Krypton doesn’t have a problem with interracial romance. Think about it, Earth!) Kara is able to take him down, which is not the way anyone wanted to eliminate two cadets, one literally.
Kell’s murder is the first death on Krypton in 1000 years…and for a movie that’s going all “real world” on us that seems kind of strange. At any rate, Dev is sentenced to death by the council, but two councilers who are against the death penalty set him free. So I guess there’s no Phantom Zone in this version, which is where someone like Dev-Em would be tossed into. And the councilers? Big mistake you two idiots. Also, the Thanagarrians are name-dropped as “barbarians”. I guess we’re sticking with the high-and-mighty Kryptonians of recent versions. Maybe they want us to root for Krypton’s destruction or something. But like the Time Lords of New Who, I’m going with badly written.
Kara Zor-El, however, has been rewarded with command of a ship on its next mission. A mission that’s interrupted as Kev has snuck onboard and killed every in the stasis pods except for Kara, who has a dream that this time she was able to rescue Kell by flying. A nice bit of foreshadowing to her cousin’s future powers. (If they’re still cousins in this version.) Kara and Dev fight again and while Kara appears to win again the ship crashes in the Earth’s polar region, somewhere near what would become Canada, with someone escaping the crash. Years later Eskimos have found the crashed ship. Even more years later it sends a signal into the sky detected by US government and seen by bearded Clark Kent, leading into Man Of Steel.
Analysis: So how many ways is this not Superman? You know, besides focusing on Kara rather than Jor-El, Lara, or Kal-El? Prisoners sentence to death instead of being shoved into the Phantom Zone. Also, the idea that Krypton is sending ships out to expand Krypton when previous versions depicted Krypton as not yet prepared for space travel. That’s hwy Jor-El is creating a prototype rocket that ends up only being big enough to get his son to safety on another planet. Here, space travel is old hat, making me wonder how Jor-El gets his hands on one and why he can’t get all three of them at least to safety.
From the final pages it seems this crashed ship will play a part in Steelman’s origin story as “Clark” being on a fishing boat in the middle of a huge storm is part of the trailers. How well these events will connect to events in the movie I can’t tell as of this writing.
Beyond all of that, I have to admit the story, divorced from the Superman mythos, is a pretty good one. The art is good, the story interesting, and I hope (and yet doubt) Kara survives as I really like her beyond my childhood crush on Supergirl. (Blame Helen Slater.) It was a good read and I’ll miss it when Vudu eventually takes it down. Hopefully a print version will be released at some point because it is a good story that’s worth reading for anyone who happens to enjoy the movie.
Sometime tomorrow I’ll have a v-log posted here and at RU describing my thoughts on Man Of Steel. Until then, folks.